This post is based on the best information available to me at this time. I will be updating it as I developments unfold and I receive more information.
With the bifurcation that has taken place in the Hawaiian community, all issues pertaining to Hawaiians’ status must be view from two perspectives. One thing I want to make clear from a “mainstream, Fed Rec” perspective is that as suspicious as the timing is of the DOI visit, there’s no evidence that it is in response to Kamanaʻopono Crabbe’s letter to the State Department. Due to the amount of bureaucracy at the Federal level, it has taken DOI about a year to schedule these visits, so their timing, just weeks after the crisis at OHA is coincidental. Also, their visit, it seems, is not directly connected to the nation building process forwarded by the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission and Kanaʻiolowalu. It is, rather, strictly for the purpose of protecting Hawaiian entitlements. I have not been able to verify whether or not there are to be four “bands,” (sub tribes) said to include the Statewide Council of Hawaiian Homes Associations (SCHHA), the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) and possibly the Royal Order of Kamehemeha, which would be recognized as a confederated tribe. This would, however, be consistent with the form of Federal Recognition being pursued now: because Hawaiians have not had a convention to decide on their form of government, the DOI is forced to recognize already-existing entities.
Another thing that I realized only recently is that this strategy is actually the third in a sequence of attempts at Federal Recognition; the first, as we all know, was the Akaka Bill, the second was recognition by Executive Order, this third attempt is recognition by the Department of Interior.
From an independence perspective, the question that needs to be asked is: “on what authority are you (DOI) in Hawaiʻi?” It’s as simple as that. There’s no real need for lengthy history lessons. Under international law, the only entities allowed to enter foreign territory are officials of the State Department (as diplomats) and the military (whether by permission or under occupation). Other entities simply have no authority outside their own borders. The principle of presumption holds that it is presumed, lacking evidence to the contrary, that Hawaiʻi remains sovereign. The burden of proving otherwise lies, in this case, with the DOI.
What has happened is that an entity whose legitimacy is questionable has set up institutions which are not only quite real, but which Hawaiians have come to depend on. It is this balance between the principles and the institutional realities of Hawaiians’ situation that makes our position particularly precarious.
Below is the agenda for Oʻahu visits: