The Rule Change

The effort for Federal recognition of Native Hawaiians for the purposes of creating a governing entity went through three stages, or attempts: The Akaka Bill, direct recognition by the Department of Interior and the rule change.

Dept. of Interior (DOI) Hearings:

In this latest (and what seems to be the most successful) attempt DOI looked to reestablish government-to-government relationship between Federal government and Native Hawaiian community. On June 18, 2014, the DOI stated,

The Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) is considering whether to propose an administrative rule that would facilitate the reestablishment of a government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian community, to more effectively implement the special political and trust relationship that Congress has established between that community and the United States. The purpose of this advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) is tosolicit public comments on whether and how the Department of the Interior should facilitate the reestablishment of a government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian community. In this ANPRM, the Secretary also announces several public meetings in Hawaii and several consultations with federally recognized tribes in the continental United States to consider these issues.

Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell stated “The Department is responding to requests from not only the Native Hawaiian community but also state and local leaders and interested parties who recognize that we need to begin a conversation of diverse voices to help determine the best path forward for honoring the trust relationship that Congress has created specifically to benefit Native Hawaiians.” Public hearings throughout Hawaii, from June 23 to August 8, 2014, which I wrote about in the Nation magazine, asked 5 “Questions to be Answered:”

  1. Should the Secretary propose an administrative rule to recreate a government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian community?
  2. Should the Secretary assist the Native Hawaiian community in reorganizing its government?
  3. What process should be established for drafting and ratifying a reorganized Native Hawaiian government’s constitution or other governing document?
  4. Should the Secretary instead rely on reorganization 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?
  5. 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?
Chang_Williamson _1

Prof. Williamson Chang

On September 29th, 2015, the DOI released the rule change. UH Law Professor Williamson Chang released the following statement in response:

The Department of Interior issued its long awaited proposed rule as to a Native Hawaiian Governing body. It was not much. The Federal Government is giving very little. If this is the last word on the federal government and Hawaiians, from the point of view of the United States’ the history of Hawaii ends with a “whimper not a bang”
1. It starts by noting that only the written comments counted, not the vehement oral testimony.
2. It is premised on false history: At page 6 of the long document, it states the Republic of Hawaii ceded its lands to the United States and that Congress passed a joint resolution annexing the Hawaiian Islands. Accordingly, all that follows flows from a flawed premise: The United States acquired the Hawaiian Islands and has jurisdiction. Moreover, it claims that the United States has title to the crown and government lands.
3. Even so, it gives very little. It would make a consenting Native Hawaiian government “just like” a tribe, but not a tribe.
4. The law that applies to tribes would not apply to the Hawaiian entity. Congress would have to explicit[ly] write Hawaiians in to Indian programs—just as it is today. No gain.
5. It admits that the purpose of the proposed rule is to protect Hawaiians from constitutional attacks on Hawaiian-only entitlement programs. The Department of the Interior, however, does not control the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court would still be free to strike down Hawaiian only programs if it so desired.
6. The Hawaiian governing entity gets no lands by this proposal
7. The proposal does not affect Federal holdings or title to the Crown and Government lands.
8. There is to be no compensation for past wrongs.
9. The rule limits the Hawaiian government to Hawaiians only.
10. Only one Hawaiian government can establish a relationship with the Federal Government under this proposal.
11. It precludes federal recognition of a restored Kingdom of Hawaii, or Provisional Government that would become a State either as a Kingdom or any other.
12. The Hawaiian Government cannot be in violation of “federal laws” such as the prohibition on ‘titles” in the U.S. Constitution—thus no quasi-Kingdom either.
In summary—and this is from a very brief reading. I may be in error, I may have overlooked various important sections, but in the name of getting this to you as soon as possible. Here is the link to the proposal, its supporting documents and frequently asked questions.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking read:

The U.S. Department of the Interior is proposing to create an administrative procedure and criteria that the Secretary of the Interior would apply if the Native Hawaiian community forms a unified government that then seeks a formal government-to-government relationship with the United States.  Under the proposal, the Native Hawaiian community — not the Federal government — would decide whether to reorganize a Native Hawaiian government, what form that government would take, and whether it would seek a government-to-government relationship with the United States.

The proposal, which takes the form of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), builds on more than 150 Federal statutes that Congress has enacted over the last century to recognize and implement the special political and trust relationship between the United States and the Native Hawaiian community.  The NPRM comes on the heels of a robust and transparent public comment period as part of an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) process that began last year and included public meetings.  More than 5,000 members of the public submitted written comments to the ANPRM, and they overwhelmingly favored creating a pathway for re-establishing a formal government-to-government relationship.

Members of the Hawai’i Congressional delegation predictably responded in favor of the rule change, as did Governor Ige. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s statement was perhaps the most substantive:

Many indigenous groups in the U.S. have the right of self-determination, and today’s announcement acknowledges that that right also belongs to the Native Hawaiian people, one of the largest native communities in the country. These rules incorporate over 5,000 public comments submitted to the Department of Interior (DOI), and should they be adopted, the Native Hawaiian community will have the option to re-establish a unified government and self-determine their future relationship with the federal government. I encourage all interested parties to submit their comments to DOI during the 90-day public review period to ensure a collaborative final ruling.

The list of candidates for delegate to the constitutional convention was released by Na’i Aupuni the next day. It can be viewed here, but prominent candidates included John Aeto, Keoni and Louis Aagard, OHA trustee Rowena Akana, former Mayor Dante Carpenter, Prof. Williamson Chang, Jade Danner, Prof. Lilikala Kame’eleihiwa, Senator Brickwood Galleria, Adrian Kamali’i, Sovereignty leader Dennis “Bumpy” Kanahele, Colin Kippen, Prof. Daviana McGregor, former OHA administrator Clyde Namu’o, and Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. director Moses Haia, among many others.

There is a question of whether the rule change gives the kind of legal protection that was the point of Federal recognition, or if it is merely a Federal sanction of a process already happening. The Hawai’i Independent ran a story questioning the validity of the rule change:

“We have to remember that this process started with the State of Hawai‘i, not the Hawaiian people,” [Andre] Perez told The Independent over the phone. “Hawaiians did not initiate or pass Act 195, which created Kana‘iolowalu. The state legislature did, and gave the governor the power to appoint members to the commission. True self-determination does not come with a state-initiated, state-controlled process like this.”

Keanu Sai happened to speak to my class the day after the rule change. As I pondered the question of whether this was a victory for the Fed Rec set, it seemed to have no effect on Sai’s view that it was simply more Federal legislation inapplicable in foreign (Hawaiian) territory.


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On Consciousness

This is number 5 in my “On” series. Others include On Capitalism, On Privilege, On Freedom and On Constitutionalism. Forthcoming: On Fear and On Democracy.

The philosopher Daniel Dennett tells a funny story: he says when he’s at a party and someone asks him what he does, and he says he’s a professor, their eyes glaze over. When he’s at a party of professors and one asks him what his field is and he says “philosophy,” their eyes glaze over. And when he’s at a party of philosophers, and one asks him what he studies and he says “consciousness,” their eyes glaze over. So the philosophy of consciousness is not something that inspires excitement in even the most scholarly among us, but I argue here that it is precisely where we’ve gone astray and is the solution to most of the problems we – the modern world – face.


Daniel Dennett

I’ve written at some length about the idea of development, that is, that we change and grow over time. This is an idea about which most modern societies have some ambiguity; we both know and do not know that it is going on. We all know that children develop – that phases of development are natural and normal, and it is normal for your two year old to be self-centered in a way that would make an adult appear like a psychopath. But then we have the idea that development somehow stops at some magical age – between 18 and 21 – after which we are “all equal.” And yet we also know that this is not true, which is why you have to be 35 to be president of the United States, and no undergrads are tapped to be university presidents. What I’m saying is not new agery, but standard developmental psychology: development continues on throughout adulthood and most never come anywhere near the “end” point.


Graham Hancock

But what I want to address here is not so much the level of consciousness, but the state of consciousness prevalent in the modern West (and increasingly, the East). I was prompted to this by a “banned” TED talk by Graham Hancock, who makes a strong case that there is something like a conspiracy against certain states of consciousness. Now Hancock holds that these preferable states are accessible through certain psychotropic plants – he is not the first I’ve heard say that it is highly likely that the substances used in the ancient mystery schools (of which Plato was probably a member) were psychotropic. I don’t condone the use of these substances, in fact I’m fairly neutral on them, but Hancock also argues persuasively that the societally approved drugs – particularly ones like caffeine and ritalin – promote a state that, while good for problem-solving, is not conducive to examining the moral questions we face. This may be why the “best and the brightest” of our societies have brought us the nuclear bomb, GMOs and a generally more dangerous world. They know “what” to do but not “why” it should be done – it shouldn’t.* This “rational” state that we are encouraged to remain in makes us good cogs in the gigantic machines we are all part of, thoughtlessly commuting to jobs that generally make the world worse.

It is my view that these preferred states are accessible without any substances; through introspection and perhaps meditation, though they probably do require the elimination of the “approved” substances and daily stresses. Hancock is quite compelling in his argument that the prevalent state of consciousness has created most of the problems we see around us and that they cannot be solved from that same state of consciousness, but require another.

  • For those who would accuse me of being anti-science: I’m not recommending going back to what was before science, but going beyond it – putting science into a larger framework which factors in moral considerations.


Filed under academia, Education, Environment, Globalization, intellect, mind

On Constitutionalism

As the Hawaiian constitutional convention, or aha, approaches, for better or worse, some questions arise as to the intent and legitimacy of the process. This is the fourth in my “On” series.

In a few short months, a group of elected delegates will meet to write a constitution for what it sees as the Hawaiian nation. Many oppose this process, myself included, but it will be difficult to stop, and to get a majority to understand the problems with its authority. We must then ask whether this group will have expertise in constitution-making. It’s worth remembering that this is the second time we’ve been through this. The vote, or plebiscite, in 1996 created Ha Hawai’i, which began to convene in 1999, but ran out of steam (that is, funding around 2001-2002). Members of this original group may indeed have given serious thought to constitutionalism. This post is a brief reminder of what goes into constitutions, starting with the first constitution, the one Hawaiians would be breaking away from – the US constitution.

Aside from the Magna Carta forced upon King John in the 13th century, the US Constitution is the first modern constitution. Considering the slowness of a process such as “constitutionalism,” we should appreciate the fact that the Hawaiian Kingdom had a constitution only 50 years after the US – this is a very quick response to the trend of devolving power from monarchs to people, ideas and rules. Noe Arista reminded me that no books have been written on any of the three legal constitutions (there is one one the illegal Bayonet Constitution – Jon K. Osorio’s Dismembering Lahui.)

The US Constitution was drafted in a hurry, in a crisis and wasn’t expected to last long – maybe ten years. It was also the second American constitution – the first was the Articles of Confederation, which was such a failure it nearly caused war between the states! The US constitution had and has serious flaws, such as the three-fifths compromise and its very restricted voting rights. But its genius lies in the division of power between the branches of government, and its general approach of making laws difficult to pass, and power very difficult to concentrate. Some take a negative view of this – holding that it guarantees mediocrity and the the compromises necessary in such a system create absurd “catch 22s.” But we need to ask ourselves if the group elected will have the same desire to spread power among many rather than concentrate it among a few – perhaps themselves.

Further, we should ask where the influences underlying their approaches will be broad or predominantly American. Hawaiian elites in the Kingdom and their foreign allies (such as William Richards and John Ricord) knew that neither Roman law nor English common law could alone be the basis of a Hawaiian constitution and that it must choose the best of each. This is a serious question: will delegates have any familiarity with various legal systems or will they suffer from an American provincialism? Finally, questions as to the legitimacy of the entire process cannot be left unasked.


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Capitalism 3.0 – Arnie Saiki

Moana Nui conference organizer Arnie Saiki responded to my post On Capitalism, and specifically to my concept of its three phases (1.0 – 3.0 I call them). Arnie is one of the people in my sphere (also known as “the umiverse”) I feel follows and critiques the changing landscape of capitalism most closely. I asked him to expand this response into a blog post, his third guest post for the umiverse. 

In 21st-century globalization, this binary construct between Capitalism and Socialism is more elusive now than ever. It’s important to understand that since the 19th-century, Capitalism and Socialism were predicated on ideological conflicts over how to aggregate the frame of economics, each side a variable of how to measure the four pillars of economics: Production, Consumption, Distribution and Exchange.

Fundamentally, if you can imagine that economics as both practice and ideology is a ceiling, ideally, you’d want the four pillars to be of equitable mass to hold that ceiling up. For example, a viable economy makes things, consumes things, takes things from point A to point B, and trades with other countries. Accordingly, manufacturing, agriculture, labor, wages, purchasing power, currency valuation, transport and trade all take place within this system. How these pillars are regulated will differentiate economic systems. Generally speaking, a free-market economy would liberalize regulations of these pillars. Marxism would regulate protections for workers and wages and distribute profits across labor, production, and/or the state, depending on what kind of Socialism you’re looking at.

There are a lot of ways to measure a country’s economy, but the index that has been internationally used since 1953 is GDP. The measurement of Gross Domestic Product is attributed to Simon Kuznets in the 1930s, and it was adopted as the economic indicator that would be used by National Accounting Systems to mainframe a standard measurement of a countries economic health across all cooperating countries (as one of the by-products of Marshall Plan economic cooperation). This is important because the system that measures the value of national economies also determines the value of its currency, as weighted against other currencies in international trade. Without this stabilizing system, international trade would be very slow as merchants and producers would not know how to quickly value widget A with widget B, and so on.

Although it’s a convoluted history, the nutshell is that all cooperating countries deposited a percentage of their assets into the US Treasury, and it was the duty of the IMF to stabilize those currencies and assets against the dollar, which is always measured as “1”, while other national currencies fluctuated around it. As a side note, this was not the original mandate of the International Monetary Fund. The US co-opted the post-war financial and trade institutions as part of their Economic Cooperation. Since the US co-opted this structure, the drafters of Economic Cooperation also wrote the rules of how economies would be measured, and the US expanded upon its own GDP measurements as it favored its own free-market rules.

Both the problem and benefit of the GDP is that it was malleable. The US privileged its own economic strengths in GDP measurements, and soon the OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development) utilized GDP and would occasionally revise its indicators to meet the needs of the partner countries, while excluding developing countries who were essentially the resource rich countries that OECD members would leverage their economies off of.

So to make a long story short, many of the recent international conventions on the environment, biodiversity, trade and security issues, health and well-being indicators, human rights, etc. are being included into the National Accounting System, and measuring and aggregating all that data into the four economic pillars has gotten a lot more complicated and makes less and less sense, particularly when there is an immediate need to embrace both ecological biodiversity and some of the other international conventions. Many of these conventions have already been aggregated or embedded into new national accounting frameworks, but what is being adopted is still being overly influenced by the US/OECD countries, and no where are these more evident than in the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Framework on the Convention of Climate Change.


Arnie Saiki

But as I write this, the statistical accounting rules are in flux with the rise of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) economies (all non-OECD), and the push by the US to conclude the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), two massive Free Trade Agreements that seek to perpetuate US dominant influence over the rules of how international economies will be measured. As a side note, for decades Europe has been unsuccessfully trying to revoke the US’s veto power in the IMF. So when China launched the new AIIB (Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank), many of the European countries joined up.

Anyway, this was more of an outline of your Capitalism 2.0– and what you call Capitalism 3.0 would include the financial shenanigans that were constructed around insurance schemes, derivatives, procurement and debt. I would argue, however, that that this Capitalism 3.0 is close to dead, and the only reason it’s on life support is because the global investment regime is pumping money into this system at a loss through another financial instrument called “Bail-Ins.” This is a recent IMF obligation where investors put money into a system knowing that it will take a loss on returns, and does so to enhance attempts of resuscitating the neoliberal 3.0. It’s really a form of corporate subsidizing and is ironically anti-capitalist.

We should really be speaking about Capitalism 4.0, because this is where we are trying to determine how biodiversity and human rights are going to be accounted for and weighted as another pillar in economics.

Right now the Capitalism-Socialism construct only makes sense as a kind of historical revisionism as globalization is now a struggle between Liberalization and Regulation, or Capitalization and Public Trusts.

Globally, new rules over regulations and public trusts could generate an entirely new economic and ecological order that will relegate the Capitalist-Socialist construct to the history bin of Feudalism and Mercantilism.

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On Freedom

This is number 3 in the “On” series. The first two are On Capitalism and On Privilege.

One thing I’ve noticed this year in particular is that when I explain to my students that according to a report out of Princeton, the United States is no longer a democracy, or when I show them an overview of the Kamehameha trustee scandal of the 1990s, it doesn’t seem to bother them. Can it be that they are growing up in a world in which freedom is no longer a given?

Robert Reich pointed out years ago that our newfound “freedoms” as consumers and investors (where choice really has increased) are counterbalanced by our increasing unfreedom where it really counts: at the ballot box.

We all think we know what freedom is, but do we? One person’s freedom often infringes on another’s. So John Stuart Mill gave us the most widely used definition that addresses this paradox: the greatest amount of freedom that does not infringe on the rights of others.

Slavoj Zizek is a theorist greatly concerned with freedom. Zizek warns us that our apparent freedoms are bound up in a complex set of conditions, that is, they are conditional.

There is a constant tension between freedom and security. Most people know that the US has moved steadily in the direction of security since 9/11.

But freedom, as Zizek hints at, is a tricky thing, and sometimes insecurity can be its synonym. Many advanced countries have found a reasonable balance between the security (financial security) of their citizens and their social freedoms.

For the US, this has been stifled by a political climate in which taxes have even been called a form of slavery (this is not normal, by the way, but quite an extreme position globally). It is precisely the tax burden in, say, Scandinavian countries, that allows the citizenry the time and leisure to be able to think in ways that are critical of the state. The perpetual motion required to survive in the US (and increasingly, in Britain) is a kind of bondage disguised as freedom.

Such a situation, in which one’s choices are constrained by economic dictates in a way that obscures the unfree nature of social life, amounts to a kind of colonization of the mind. It is perhaps for this reason that some are proposing a guaranteed minimum income, which, while sounding outrageous, has already been implemented in moderate ways in a few places (such as some Indian reservations). Such an income would free up time to prepare our minds for real freedom of a kind we have not yet known.

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On Privilege

Number 2 in my “On” series. The first was On Capitalism.

Privilege is usually invisible. Wellesley scholar Peggy McIntosh took an inventory of all the things she, as a white American woman, could take for granted. The list was quite long, and she was a woman! It included things that many minorities cannot take for granted on a regular basis. Imagine a white man’s list – it’s no wonder the article “White guys happiest, study finds” has become of mainstay of ethnic and social studies. Add to this the fact that the poor in the US are positively middle class by global standards (although methods of calculating this vary), and the idea of “privilege” becomes a relative concept.

There’s a campaign, or a trend, in the Ivy Leagues in which people of color remind ethnic majorities to “check your priv.” It is worth remembering that there are more poor whites (by sheer numbers) than any other group. By percentage Native Americans are the poorest. A white person at Harvard is most likely extremely privileged, but one cannot assume this by their mere presence there. Malcolm Gladwell tells the story of a man with one of the highest IQs ever measured (he was 30% smarter than Einstein), whose upbringing in extreme poverty seemed to stunt his ability even to finish a college degree. Most people are not at this extreme end of the bell curve (or curves) of poverty and intelligence simultaneously. Occupying such a position is probably fairly rare, as recent research suggests that the surface area of the brains of children of parents who make $25,000 is 6% less than that of children whose parents make $150,000. Privilege is mainly about environment, and contrary to the claims of conservatives (who say it’s all about “choices” – it is about choices, but only partly), environment matters. Studies show (also from Gladwell) that you’re better off in a bad (dysfunctional) family in a good neighborhood than you are in a good family in a bad neighborhood.

An issue that underlies many of these debates is the notion of meritocracy. The idea that people should be socially sorted based on merit – intelligence, perseverance, strength, etc. – is one that, perhaps unknowingly, always functions in the back of the minds of social reformers. As Alain de Botton notes in his excellent School of Life series of videos, a true meritocracy is impossible, as there are just too many random and capricious factors affecting performance in the marketplace of status.

Personally, I am a relatively privileged person – not financially, but academically – I have ridiculously over-educated parents, and some of my grandparents were very highly educated for their time. People like myself need to keep in mind the environments that others come from and how these environments tend to lead to certain outcomes – economic, political attitudes, etc. Rather than making one smug, this practice can allow one to appreciate others’ achievements and realize that one’s own achievements represent not so much merit (or at least not always), but merely a playing out of personal and family scripts.

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Interview with George Cleveland, reconciliation advocate and grandson of President Grover Cleveland

This is the third in my interview series. In the first two posts, I speak with publisher Ikaika Hussey and “super-teacher” Amy Perruso. I met George Cleveland through Kahu Dr. Kaleo Patterson, with whom Cleveland has done work on reconciliation, a topic about which I’m very keen.
‘Umi Perkins: Can you tell us (as briefly or extended as you like) about your background? I understand you went to prep school in my wife’s hometown, for instance.
George Cleveland: I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. A wonderful town even though back then people used to cringe when you said you are from Baltimore. ​

George Cleveland often stands in as President Cleveland for historical reenactments

​It was a pretty sheltered upbringing that changed a lot when I got out of town and went to boarding school in Lenox, Massachusetts. It was an unusual school in that it was extremely culturally diverse for that time; the late 1960’s. We had what became the only seriously successful program for Native Americans in an eastern prep school. Interesting that at that time, there were around 8 prep/boarding schools in Lenox. Now there are none. Without significant endowments, even the oldest school couldn’t make it through the 70’s.
I lived in Boston for a couple of years after high school and moved to New Hampshire. Among other things, I worked as a professional clown, was backman on a lobster boat and sold waterbeds. College and I never seemed to get along too well.​
How did it come to be that Grover Cleveland’s grandson is so young and spry in 2015?
​Who me?? My family stretched out the generations. Grover Cleveland was born in 1837. He married my grandmother in the White House in 1886. She was 21… Grover knew her prenatally as she was the daughter of his law partner in Buffalo, NY. My father was born in 1897. He met and married my mother in 1943 when she was teaching his children from his first marriage. We dropped two generations.​
​Oddly, I am always asked what he was like. He died in 1908, so our paths did not cross. My grandmother died in 1948, so I just missed knowing her.
I like to remind people that I had TWO sets of grandparents. My maternal grandparents were from a tiny village in Scotland. My grandfather went to sea when he was 14 and worked his way up to captain.​
I find it interesting that you, like Lorrin Thurston’s grandson (who is still alive) seem to side with your grandfather. You’ve said things to that effect.

​Well…he was right!

It can be a little tricky siding with someone from that long ago whom you did not know personally. But…it is my understanding that my grandparents and Queen Liliuokalani admired each other. And I know that one of the first things Grover tried to do when he came back into office in 1893 was to get the overthrow overthrown. AND I know that not seeing the Kingdom reinstated was one of the big disappointments of his life. ​

​When I speak as part of Grover’s ohana, I try and keep it to what I know from historical record and not what I think he thought. That being said, it is my understanding that when news reached him that the Queen would not be reinstated, he said something to the effect of, “So, Hawai’i is ours.” ​I see this simple statement as sadness that “manifest destiny” and greed had won out over what was just and right.

–there is a bit of irony that I am writing this only two days before Liliuokalani’s birthday and on the day when President Obama is about to officially rename Mt. McKinley in Alaska.
Like you, I have some illustrious ancestors, though no presidents:). A great-granduncle of mine is Lew Wallace, for instance, the man who wrote Ben Hur. My grandfather’s name is Wallace Perkins, after that line of the family. I’ve become somewhat obsessed with him. How much do  you think ancestry shapes us?

​That is a really tough question to answer. Would I still be a nice guy if a grandfather had been a serial killer? How would that guilt and shame inform my life choices? How hard would it be to move beyond those feelings? Would my life involve atoning for that?

I don’t know what it’s like NOT to be the grandson of a President. It has been a burden at times, but I’m way beyond that now.

Somewhere ALL of our ancestors did things we may not be proud of. Maybe the simple answer is to learn from their mistakes and do what we can to make the world more livable for more people. Do it because it’s the right thing to do and not an offshoot of ancestral guilt or shame.

I’m a White Anglo Saxon Protestant of Northern European and Celtic descent as far back as the Dark Ages. I think it’s safe to say that this race has done more to impact this planet than anything since the Big Bang. So much potential has been misplaced…
What’s your plan? (vague question, I know) – by that I mean what has driven you in life?
​Sheesh… This has changed a lot over the years and will probably change a few more times. ​
​I’d like to be a simple beacon to help people off the rocks…​
Can you talk about your work on reconciliation (which is how we came to meet)?

​Around 10 years ago when I was first contacted by Kaleo Patterson and Ha’aheo Guanson, I knew next to nothing about Hawai’i and its history. When I first visited (2006?) I was incredibly honored to stay with people like Kekuni Blaisdell and Meleanna Meyer. The things they showed me; the people I met, melded into my soul.

Kumu John Lake’s halau did a presentation for me. I sat in a chair and watched slackjawed as Kumu John translated for me in my ear. It was quite simply one of the most profound experiences of my life.

Reconciliation. It’s that which makes us able to move forward unshackled. It’s a vital process whether from one person to another or one people to another.​
​It would be presumptuous of me to say what I think is right for the Hawaiian people. ​BUT…I DO have some thoughts. The United States has done a bang up job of banging up Hawai’i; probably more than any other country. I believe the US has a moral obligation to continue and COMPLETE the removal of all potentially dangerous ordnance from Hawaiian lands and waters. And all the junk that goes with it. I haven’t been there, but I’d like to see substantial effort (money) put into doing whatever is necessary to get Kaho’olawe back together.
I love space exploration, but that doesn’t mean putting a telescope on a sacred site. If I have to pee in New York City, I don’t do it on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Reconciliation isn’t just about trying to mitigate and correct past wrongs by governments and armies. Reconciliation includes reaching out to friends, neighbors, strangers, smelly people and seeing what we can do for them right NOW. Just be there for someone in some kind of helpful way.
Promote peace. One of my great mentors defined “peace” as “the absence of emotional urgency”. It works for me. –when I let it!
What are your thoughts on history? I know you were the keynote speaker at National History Day, for example, which my students participate in.
​What is more important than history? It’s what we are as individuals and as humans. Even if you have no idea of your lineage, you still have history. It informs our present and our future.
There are some GREAT history teachers out there at the middle and high school levels. They are trying to teach history not as a linear progression of dates to be memorized, but as a living thing that is with us now. These teachers are doing what I see you trying to do, Umi. I have a good friend in Buffalo, NY who is trying to teach the teachers how to better befriend history; he takes them on field trips all summer.
I think it’s important for people to realize that NO ONE has a boring history. I work in a senior center. We have many participants who saw horrible and dramatic action in battle. We have many participants who saw incredible life changing events on the homefront. Some of those homefront stories are pretty dramatic too.
National History Day is a tremendous program. But as I said when I spoke to a group there, how many who have won History Day awards will get the same reception when they get home as the football team ​
​would?? Will the mayor recognize their feat? Will they ride through their village on the fire truck? Gotta fix that…​

Any final thoughts – for Hawaiians or others?
​My final thoughts are ones of gratitude for the patience and understanding shown to me by the people I’ve met who are working FOR Hawai’i. Not just for preservation, but for continuation.
The spiritual nature of things is more palpable in Hawai’i than any place I’ve ever been.
I have very close friends in Hawai’i, even if it’s only a Facebook friendship at times. AND, I’ve gotten flamed a few times for hanging out with and agreeing with some of them!
I send much Aloha to all of them, to all your readers, and to you, Umi. Mahalo for all you are doing.

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