The charge of working both sides of the street came up numerous times during last night’s Kauai hearing on the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ proposed settlement with the state over money it’s been screwed out of for the past 30 years.
The two sentiments voiced most frequently were that OHA, a state agency, cannot be trusted to fully represent kanaka maoli in negotiations with the state, and that such negotiations represent a tacit acceptance that the state has jurisdiction over the 1.4 million lands in question. (Another 400,000 acres are held by the fed.)
“You’re promoting a fraud,” said one man.
“You’re asking us to be collaborators with the enemy,” said another.
About 100 kanaka maoli attended, and a few non-kanaka, with at least two DOCARE officers and some federal agents keeping an eye on the crowd.
State Attorney General Mark Bennett was not there, reportedly because a sinus infection prevented him from flying, although I think Elaine Yadao’s comment that he was “too chicken” to face the group was probably more likely. Charlene Aina, a sweet, mild-mannered deputy AG of Hawaiian descent, was sent in his place.
I’m only assuming she was native with a capital N, as opposed to small n, which denotes those of at least 50 percent Hawaiian blood. As many asked at the meeting last night, when is the state going to stop that archaic system of delineation and begin referring to all indigenous people as kanaka maoli?
Another interesting tidbit that surfaced is the state Capitol is made from “stolen sands” from the so-called ceded lands. In others words, it was yet another commodity taken from lands that once belonged to the Hawaiian monarchy for which the kanana were never compensated.
There was a fair amount of anger expressed, although in a non-threatening way, especially after attorney Bill Meheula, who helped OHA negotiate the settlement, acknowledged — in response to a question as to whether the settlement is a “done deal” — that nothing he’d heard so far would cause him to change his recommendation that the Trustees accept the package.
Hale Mawae asked if some of the money awarded in the settlement would be used to support Kau Inoa, the registry of Native Hawaiians that many see as being tied into the Akaka Bill, which would effectively end all hopes of independence.
When OHA staff member Jonathan Scheur said some of it likely would, Hale said that was a good enough reason to oppose it.
In short, most of those present seemed to resent the idea that the land was illegally taken from the Kingdom during the overthrow “and now the Hawaiians are begging and suing day in and day out” to get some scraps of compensation for the theft.
As the media and bloggers debate whether Tuesday’s Democratic caucus was conducted inappropriately and possibly resulted in a fraudulent vote, they’re missing the bigger picture. The entire State of Hawaii is a fraud.