Speaking of revoking expired permits, I was chatting with a Honolulu attorney yesterday, and he was wondering how the county thought it could get away with its unprecedented interpretation of the SMA permit for the Wailua Beach portion of the Path. The permit, which was issued in 2007, specified work must begin in two years and be pau in four, which the mayor's team is interpreting to mean a total of six years. “I've never heard of anything like that,” said the attorney, who does a lot of land use work. “Boy, are they opening a can of worms.”
Speaking of worms, the County Council today is being asked to approve $25,000 for special counsel's “continued services” to represent former Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho in the civil suit filed by Councilman Tim Bynum, and another $50,000 to represent planning inspector Sheilah Miyake.
So is this gonna be the one lawsuit against Shay that the county will actually fight rather than settle? Not that I wouldn't enjoy the spectacle of court proceedings, or learning more about the role that former Councilman Kaipo Asing planned in this whole debacle and the planning department's uneven application of the inspection process.
Shifting gears, I recently ran across an intriguing and poignant essay entitled, ““Hawaiian at Heart” and Other Fictions.” Posted on the Facebook page "Huna is not Hawaiian," which you can read about here if you're not on FB, the essay gets right to the core of some key issues, as these excerpts reveal:
The most widespread American mythology about contemporary and historical Hawai‘i revolves around the vision of the melting pot, a multicultural paradise where elements from every group combine into a rich whole that all can share.
The pleasure of this vision erases a violent, coercive, and tragic history. The multiplicity of races and cultures in contemporary Hawai‘i was born in the deliberate attempt by plantation owners to divide and conquer their workforce. Differences in language and culture were meant to prevent cross-racial organizing and solidarity among workers. This multiplicity of culture was also built on the bones of dead Hawaiians. By the most conservative estimates, the importation of diseases from Cook’s men and all the westerners who followed killed 90 percent of the Native Hawaiian population within a hundred years. The population collapse, from 300,000–800,000 Hawaiians in 1778 to fewer than 40,000 in the 1890s, created a gaping emptiness that was filled with non-Hawaiian immigrants
Hawai‘i has been sold endlessly as a place of exotic escape from real life. As a direct consequence of overexposure in the tourist market, Hawai‘i and all things Hawaiian have become kitsch.
Some Hawaiian-culture aficionados cross a line and begin to claim a Hawaiian identity, either as Hawaiians who mysteriously cannot locate or discuss their families, or as “Hawaiians at heart,” an ultimate appropriation, which has unfortunately been supported by too many Hawaiians concerned about others feeling left out. Being Hawaiian for non- Hawaiians carries no history of pain and loss.
“Hawaiians at heart” are joined by “Hawaiians of the spirit” in the New Age spiritual industry’s marketing of “huna” practices. Like the American Indian–focused plastic shamans, it never seems to occur to these Huna practitioners that if their “Huna” was secret ancient Hawaiian healing, perhaps it should be directed first and foremost to Hawaiians, who have among the worst health demographics in the United States.
The disrespect, exploitation, and cultural distortion and appropriation of Hawaiian culture and identity would be hard enough to deal with in the best of times—but these are not the best of times for Hawaiians.
The ignorance of the US public about issues of sovereignty and the trust lands of the Hawaiian people, the miscategorization of indigenous issues as “racial,” and the right-wing resistance to “minority rights” have brought us to a point where Hawaiians are in great danger of losing the limited entitlements that already exist, much less the immensely greater resources and rights to which we are legally entitled and do not currently receive. We are Hawaiian at heart, history, and bone, in ancestor and child. Moke Kupihea has reminded us, “The past does not disappear, it is merely silenced” (2001, 124). As contemporary Hawaiians we are charged with filling that silence because others are too willing to fill it for us.