New moon day brings vast expanse of blue mountains, all their rough edges smoothed away, rolling beneath a canvas streaked with clouds — puffy, streaky, wispy — in shades of pearl and dove gray, raising the ever-present desert question: is it going to rain?
Traveling north along U.S. 285, through some of New Mexico's Native American reservations, I got to thinking about how the feds are in Hawaii now, asking kanaka maoli about self-determination. Independence, which many of those testifying really want to talk about, isn't on the table.
Instead, the Department of Interior has much more specific consultation goals:
Should the Secretary propose an administrative rule that would facilitate the reestablishment of a government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian community?
Should the Secretary assist the Native Hawaiian community in reorganizing its government, with which the United States could reestablish a government-to-government relationship?
If so, what process should be established for drafting and ratifying a reorganized Native Hawaiian government’s constitution or other governing document?
Should the Secretary instead rely on the reorganization of a Native Hawaiian government through a process established by the Native Hawaiian community and facilitated by the State of Hawaii, to the extent such a process is consistent with Federal law?
If so, what conditions should the Secretary establish as prerequisites to Federal acknowledgment of a government-to-government relationship with the reorganized Native Hawaiian government?
In other words, do kanaka want a version of the Akaka bill dished up entirely by the feds, or the state/OHA dominated process launched by the Hawaiian Roll Commission?
It's odd the DOI should be asking about a process for drafting a native Hawaiian government constitution when a perfectly good one already exists — the one that was in place when the independent Hawaiian nation was illegally overthrown and colonized by the United States.
And it's telling that the feds are interested in dealing only with a reorganized Hawaiian government, as opposed to one that is reinstated, which apparently would require an admission of wrong-doing well beyond the Apology Act.
But cutting through the rhetoric, the long and short of it all is this: how shall the colonizers dictate the terms by which they recognize the colonized?
I pondered the “value” of federal recognition as I drove past gaudy billboards hawking 24-hour casinos, smoke shops selling tax-free cigarettes, liquor stores peddling cheap booze. Yes, those are the goodies the feds have handed down to Native Americans as paltry payment for land theft, cultural annihilation.
Federally recognized tribes have the right to cater to the lowest possible human vibration, to invite onto their reservations the destructive substances and elements that can help complete the process of genocide.
Oh, and as a further salute, their tribal names and traditional designs are painted onto the overpasses of highways that cut through their reservations.
Where is the value in federal recognition for kanaka maoli, especially when it means permanently extinguishing the hope and promise of an independent nation? Surely they can do better than that.
The DOI meetings on Kauai will be held form 6 to 9 p.m. Monday, June 30, at Waimea Neighborhood Center and Tuesday, July 1, at Kapaa Elementary School.