By: Trustee Rowena Akana
Source: Letter to various newspaper editors, May, 2009
While those opposed to Native Hawaiian programs may see the recent 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision regarding the Arakaki lawsuit as a victory, we at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs were actually pleased that the 9th Circuit denied the plaintiffs any standing regarding the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands or ceded land revenues.
I believe that the Arakaki lawsuit is just another one of a long history of challenges that Hawaiians have had to overcome since 1893. Like all of those challenges in the past, the Hawaiian community will meet them head on and work diligently to overcome it.
In these difficult times, I truly appreciate the non-Hawaiians who have had the courage to step forward and speak out in support of their Hawaiian friends and neighbors. People like Robbie Alms, who thoroughly impressed me with his speech during the Kamehameha Schools’ Unity Rally on Saturday, August 6, 2005 at ‘Iolani Palace.
Alms spoke from the heart when he said that he has never felt deprived because he could not attend the Kamehameha Schools. He sincerely felt that his friends who were able to attend were blessed, but their blessing involved no loss on his part.
Alms also showed great insight when he said that it should disturb all of us greatly, both Hawaiians and non-Hawaiian, that laws designed to “lift the yoke of slavery from black Americans are used as weapons to harm native people.”
I would like to send out a warm mahalo nui loa to all of the non-Hawaiians out there, like Robbie Alms, who continue to speak out for the Hawaiian community in its time of need. As for the Arakaki lawsuit, make no mistake, none of the programs currently working to assist disadvantaged Native Hawaiians will ever fall victim to its terrorization.