Who is behind the Latest Lawsuit Against the OHA and the DHHL

By Rowena Akana
May 2002

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA

In my last Ka Wai Ola article, I wrote about the latest case against OHA: Arakaki v. Cayetano. Our readers and beneficiaries should be aware of exactly who is behind this lawsuit and what their mission is.

The plaintiffs in the case are: Earl F. Arakaki, Evelyn C. Arakaki, Edward U. Bugarin, Sandra Puanani BURGESS, wife of attorney William Burgess who is one of the lawyers filing this suit, Patricia A. Carroll, Robert M. Chapman, Brian L. Clarke, Michael Y. Garcia, Roger Grantham, Toby M. Kravet, James I. Kuroiwa, Jr., Frances M. Nichols, Donna Malia Scaff, Jack H. Scaff, Allen H. Teshima, and Thurston Twigg-Smith.

The most infamous plaintiff is Mr. Twigg-Smith who is still trying to change his ancestral past. What is the motivation for this case and who is funding these cases? Look at the list of plaintiffs, who among them has the finances to continue this legal assault; who among them has continued as his ancestors did to try to make extinct the native people of our islands? At the core of this issue is the fight to control our lands. Mr. Twigg-Smith’s attorney sums it up clearly when he said “we want to sink these two ships” (OHA and DHHL)

In a letter to the editor on March 22, 2002 to the Honolulu Advertiser written by Professor Jonathan K. Osorio of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, he wrote:

“It’s ironic that one of the plaintiffs in this case is Thurston Twigg-Smith, former publisher and owner of your newspaper and the grandson of Lorrin Thurston, who, in 1887, drafted the first race-based constitution in the kingdom’s history, which immediately deprived hundreds of Chinese citizens of the right to vote and created special voting privileges for the wealthy.

“The plaintiffs want fairness right this moment and care nothing of the mockery made of democracy and fairness by the ancestors of Twigg-Smith and Freddy Rice, who led the illegal takeover of the kingdom. How odd that these two should now lead the fight to end Hawaiian ‘entitlements’.”

This latest case requests the court to find and declare that the provisions which create OHA and the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act are unconstitutional. It is important to note that some of the litigants in these cases have written frivolous articles in the newspapers using terms like “race-based” and “taxpayers’ dollars” to incite the community. these people have not done their homework. Ceded land revenues are NOT taxpayer dollars. And for the record, Hawaiians never heard of the word “racist” until foreigners came here and brought their prejudices with them. there is no word in the Hawaiian language that describes a “racist.” I also believe that in our fair state of Hawaii, we have shown the world that all nationalities can coexist and live harmoniously with each ogther. I am certain that William Burgess’ opinions are not shared by the general community. Hawaii is unique not just because of its climate, but most especially for its people.

Again, we must not grow weary of these lawsuits–we must continue to show up en masse and voice our opinions on our entitlements. We must continue our fight on the Federal level as well and support the Akaka bill, SB 2899, the first bill introduced in the Fall of 2000 by the Indian Affairs Committee. This bill continues to carry the support of the Hawaiian people and community leaders who had great impact on the language of the bill itself. I urge all of you who support Hawaiian sovereignty to write to the Hawaiian delegation and to ask them to support SB 2899, the Bill of the People.