Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Musings: On the Table

With Secretary of State John Kerry being asked to weigh in on the legal status of the Hawaiian nation, will the U.S. finally address its hypocrisy in how it deals with independence movements in its own back yard?

I mean, just last week Kerry was denouncing a planned Ukraine independence referendum as “bogus” and said it would not be recognized by the West. Meanwhile, he hasn't said squat about the Hawaiian Roll Commission, a state-supported initiative that is busily registering folks to create a Hawaiian nation — a process that many independence activists have denounced as bogus.

But trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a state entity that has bankrolled the Roll Commission and given it political and administrative support, want to keep sweeping the bigger question under the rug.

And that question is this: Is the Hawaiian nation still a sovereign entity, even though it's been claimed by the United States? If it is, what impact does that have on legislation like the Statehood Act and the bill that created the Roll Commission?

As has been widely reported, OHA Trustees quickly rescinded a letter that OHA CEO Kamana’opono Crabbe sent to Kerry, asking for a legal opinion on the sovereign status of Hawaii.

Crabbe, to his credit, did not back down, and instead defended his decision to seek the ruling as being in the best interest of the beneficiaries that OHA is supposed to serve. Kauai Trustee Dan Ahuna withdrew his initial support for the letter to rescind, and other Trustees are reportedly considering doing the same.

Though OHA Chair Colette Machado has tried to pass the huhu off as a “breach of aloha,” Crabbe's bold move has finally brought the core issue to the forefront. And one aspect of that makes OHA understandably skittish. As Crabbe identified it in his letter to Kerry:

If the Hawaiian Kingdom continues to exist and the sole-executive agreements are binding on the United States, have the members of the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, Trustees and staff of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs incurred criminal liability under international law?”

That is a question Machado most definitely does not want answered, seeing as how she and OHA have repeatedly aligned with the State of Hawaii and federal legislators who support the “nation within a nation model” laid out in the Akaka Bill. OHA also has given the Roll Commission office space and nearly $4 million in operating funds, with another $3 million allocated.

The Native Hawaiian Roll Commission was created by the state Legislature. Gov. Abercrombie, a staunch supporter of the Akaka Bill, signed it into law in 2011 as Act 195. It established a governor-appointed commission charged with determining just who is a Native Hawaiian. The goal was to create a roll of persons eligible to participate in a process that could lead to the formation of a self-governing entity. Since then, about 130,000 persons have been registered under the Kana`iolowalu process.

From the onset, however, Act 195 met resistance from those who objected to the state, which they view as illegal, creating the framework for a native governing entity. At the Commission's first meeting, Laulani Teale, an Oahu community activist and cultural peacemaker, testified:

As you all must know, there are many who stand in very strong opposition to this process, just as many of us oppose federal recognition as a means to sovereignty. I believe that we all know that the strong-spirited warriors of the independence movement, like our kupuna before us, and many of whom have been fighting against the occupation and colonization of HawaiĘ»i for decades, will not change their views, nor participate in a 'roll' under any circumstances. These are the front-line warriors whose voices and actions have brought us to where we are today. I think we all know that any form of nation built without these voices would simply not be pono.”

Former Gov. John Waihee, who heads the Commission, has dismissed concerns about undue state influence:

It's not like the State of Hawaii's forming this government for us. What the government is doing is recognizing we are the indigenous people and giving us the opportunity, through the kindness of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, to have the means to go and do that, to ultimately form our own government.”

Commissioner Na`alehu Anthony previously told me the panel is basing its work on a premise shared by many Hawaiian nationals — that Hawaiians never relinquished their inherent sovereignty. It stems from the fact that Liliuokalani refused to give up her throne during America's illegal overthrow of the monarchy in 1893. As he noted:

"I think we're all on a similar path. It's just a question of how we get there."

But many are concerned that federal recognition is the one and only goal, which would extinguish long-held dreams of resurrecting an independent Hawaiian nation.

It seems reasonable and long overdue to ask Kerry to respond to the core question, seeing as how the U.S. takes positions on independence movements across the globe. Let the U.S. publicly and openly state its legal rationale for colonizing Hawaii, for all the world to see.

It's time to lay this issue on the table, regardless of whether Colette Machado or the OHA Trustees want to deal with it. 


Anonymous said...

Kane Pa and Henry Noa and the Reinstated Government has been saying this all along. Gotta look to international law. They had an expert at the Kahoolawe trial testify about the same thing.

Anonymous said...

OHA on sovereign nation : Don't ask don't tell.

Anonymous said...

How would the Indians feel about the Hawaiians being a sovereign nation in the Sate of Hawaii? Many Hawaiians are standing on false hopes. What are the Hawaiians willing to give up on what they have now(benefits, livelihoods, rights, educational opportunities, protection under the US Constitution, etc) as US citizens to be a nation by itself. Will they be able to exist as a nation to rule its people. The reality is it will never happen not now or in the future. Running a Nation is a complicated endeavor. There are too many self appointed Hawaiians who want to build their own nation and not have the ability or qualified to to step-up and govern a nation of Hawaiians! OHA? Hawaiian Sovereignty is full of false hopes, tell me another joke! Hawaii is already the 50th State how can you not accept that?

Anonymous said...

4:01 with the usual racist theme that "those people aren't sophisticated enough to run a nation". Never mind that "those people" ran their nation here before the overthrow by american guns.

As for losing constitutional protections, might it occur to you that the Hawaiian Nation's constitution might actually grant its people more protections that its US counterpart? It might not even have domestic surveillance.

The Reinstated government is a democracy so your concern about self appointed leaders is based on misplaced.

And one might think the American Indians would want the Hawaiians to avoid suffering some of the same subjugation and lack of true sovereignty imposed on them. You seem to imply that the Native Americans want the Hawaiians to suffer the same fate. I can pretty much assure you that among educated Native Americans, the sentiment is exactly the opposite.

Anonymous said...

Really? Are the Hawaiians suffering? From what? How would you know that the Hawaiians had a better government than now? Too many chiefs! International Law, forget it! Can't you face the reality? The Hawaiians have more rights than you and me! I truly believe that sovereignty for the Hawaiians is long gone. They are better off today than yester-year. Just dream!

Anonymous said...

Hawaiians and fake Hawaiians you should be very careful with what you wish . Think about a fish that was born and raised in a fish tank and then is released into the ocean.... It won't last long.

Anonymous said...

The blood tests along would bankrupt any would be nation.
Just run a few straw polls to see how the what the people want!

Anonymous said...

Hawaiian sovereignty is a bogus idea. No way will the majority of the citizens of Hawaii accept a reinstated Hawaiian monarchy or any other type of government for that matter. No government can be legitimate without the consent of the governed. Less than 10% of the population does not get to decide what form of government for the rest of us. OHA and all race based Hawaiian programs should be abolished. Time for a Con Con.

Anonymous said...

I am the only one who believes that all else aside the legal concept of laches would carry the day in any court and that reinstatement is a pipe dream?

Anonymous said...

Or all the kanaka living in diaspora all across the world will return to their motherland to become part of their beloved lahui (nation). One need only know world history and current events to know sovereignty is no "pipe dream". For all who migrated here, they can either embrace it or leave it. If Japanese Americans can have justice, so too must Kanaka Maoli.

Anonymous said...

You correctly stated "those people", did run a country, and the monarchy ran up huge debts, causing them to give up their crown lands, and still the the debts rose.
You also didn't understand 4:01's point, even if there was a new constitution, it couldn't offer all the benefits that many happily take today, creating generational welfare families.
This is the 50th State, that will not change, work towards some self governance, but pay for it yourself, I don't want to support a supposed independent nation.

Anonymous said...

Native Hawaiians already have self governance just like the rest of us. We all participate equally in local and State government. Nobody is "special" due to the circumstances of their ancestry.