A big rain fell shortly before I crawled out of bed, and so the land was thoroughly drenched when the dogs and I went out walking. The sky had patches of blue, streaks of gray and snakeskin patterns of white, which led me to think that a colorful sunrise was in my future.
But just as the sun was rising, another big squall blew in, giving the earth a second wet blessing and leaving me to gaze upon the splendor of a thick-banded double rainbow, its shafts piercing the foggy clouds that nestled atop the verdant peaks and ridges of Makaleha.
Come tomorrow, the kanaka maoli will be getting a different kind of shaft as Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who campaigned as a supposed champion of Hawaiians, signs Senate Bill 1520 into law. It sounds innocuous enough, even noble, the way it recognizes Native Hawaiians as the only indigenous, aboriginal people of the Islands, which bill co-sponsor Sen. Malama Solomon likes to claim finally puts kanaka on equal footing with their occupiers.
But what the bill in its final incarnation is really all about is giving the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a state agency that many kanaka revile, the power to create a Hawaiian governing entity. Adding insult to injury, this state-orchestrated usurpation of native rights and privilege is being formalized at Washington Place, the former home of the illegally deposed Queen Liliuokalani.
The bill aims to do what Sen. Daniel Akaka could not: turn kanaka maoli into a tribe that forever relinquishes all claim to sovereignty while keeping those pesky upstart Hawaiians firmly under the state’s thumb. Worse, it does so by using a divide and conquer strategy that will serve only to tear the Hawaiians apart, which is quite an effective way to delay justice for another century or so.
Specifically, the bill calls for the Guv to appoint a five-member Native Hawaiian commission — and who do you suppose might get those plum positions? — to determine just who is a kanaka and who is not for the purpose of creating a “roll.” Consider one criterion (emphasis added):
Has maintained a significant cultural, social, or civic connection to the Native Hawaiian community and wishes to participate in the organization of the Native Hawaiian governing entity.
In other words, if you’re already working toward sovereignty through Reinstated Hawaiian Nation or Kingdom of Atooi, you’re out, because that’s not the Native Hawaiian governing entity. So right off the bat, totally legitimate independence efforts are aced out.
And really, can you think of anything more insulting than publishing a list of those who are deemed by the governor’s appointees to be “qualified Native Hawaiians?”
Here’s the big kicker:
Consistent with the policies of the State of Hawaii, the members of the qualified Native Hawaiian roll, and their descendants, shall be acknowledged by the State of Hawaii as the indigenous, aboriginal, maoli population of Hawaii.
While those who choose not to participate in this state-sanctioned charade, and those who are not added to the roll, for whatever reasons — say, petty political retribution — become what, exactly? Non-indigenous, non-aboriginal, non-recognized, non-members of the population? Or in other words, persons whom the state can ignore?
Once you get on the roll, then you can help organize the governing entity by participating in a convention that is bound to create exactly the sort of compliant, powerless, puppet government that the state wants.
Here's another insult upon injury: All of this will be funded by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which gets its money from the so-called "ceded lands" revenues that are supposed to benefit ALL Hawaiians. In other words, kanaka will be charged for creating the government the state wants them to have.
And if you have any doubts about OHA's impartiality and fairness, consider this. When I attended a workshop on preparing a grant application to OHA, the representative told applicants they had to submit a list of their Board members so trustees could ensure that they “played well in the sandbox.”
In other words, OHA will give you money so long as you’re willing to carry out its agenda, which is in large part directed by the state that gives it money and the many OHA trustees in the state Legislature.
And they’re the ones who are going to be determining the roll of qualified kanaka, shepherding the creation of a Native Hawaiian governing entity? What a farce. What a travesty.
Or as Hawaiian National Pilipo Souza wrote in an email:
July 4th is the real day of infamy of the Hawaiian Nation for on July 4th, 1894, The Republic of Hawaii was created by the very thieves that stole the Hawaiian Nation. Less than 3,000 foreigners and Hawaiian Citizens in convention created a new government by burying alive 98 % of the Hawaiian Nationals. Fortunately, the graves were shallow but full with deceit and fraud. More than 90% of those Hawaiian Nationals never left their homeland and have remained in protest for 118 years. But the signing of SB1520, "First Nation Government" will pile on new dirt on the burial sites of those 40,000 plus Hawaiian Nationals. We must not let the dirt stand and be compacted as the final resting place of the Hawaiian Nation. We have a duty and responsibility just as good Americans believe they have on their July 4th.