Category Archives: Hawaiian history

Kahoʻolawe

#23 in the Moʻolelo series

Also known as Kohemalamalama o Kanaloa, Kahoʻolawe was populated by a small number of Hawaiians in ancient times. In 1793, Captain George Vancouver introduced goats to the island as a gift to King Kahekili of Maui. In the Kingdom period, the island was used first as a penal colony, then after 1852, as a ranch. According to the Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC), “by the late 1890s, there are 900 cattle and 15,000 sheep on the island” (kahoolawe.hawaii.gov).

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Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana logo

In December 1941, Kahoʻolawe was seized during martial law and used as a bombing range. This use was continued after the war, even though “President Dwight D. Eisenhower transfers title of Kaho‘olawe to the U.S. Navy with the provision that it be returned in a condition for ʻsuitable habitation’ when no longer needed by the military” (KIRC). In the early 1970s, led by those involved in the struggle at Kalama Valley, a wave of Hawaiian activism swept through Hawaiʻi, mirroring to some extent radical movements occurring globally such as the Black Panthers and American Indian Movement. The Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana (PKO) included George Helm, Kimo Mitchell, Davianna McGregor, Emmett Aluli and others, who landed on the island four times protesting the bombing. (A fifth landing occurred, including Terri Kekoʻolani Raymond, which was disavowed by PKO).

helm

Helm was a charismatic young leader who was a talented falsetto singer and well-versed in Hawaiian culture. When he and Kimo Mitchell disappeared under mysterious circumstances, they became, in a sense, martyrs of the new Hawaiian movement.

According to the PKO website:

Operation Sailor Hat was an underwater and surface high-explosive test
program conducted in 1965 by the U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships (BuShips) under the sponsorship of the Defense Atomic Support Agency (DASA). This program consisted of two series of underwater explosions, three surface explosions at San Clemente Island, California, and three surface explosions at Kaho`olawe Island, respectively. The three 500-ton Trinitrotoluene (TNT) charges were constructed on the beach above the water line on the southwest coast of Kaho`olawe. The crater resulting from the first detonation was subsequently back filled and is no longer visible. The second and third detonations were conducted at the same site; the result is the present “Sailor’s Hat” crater. Sailor’s Hat crater has formed an aquatic ecosystem which has become habitat for two endemic species of shrimp: Halocaridina rubra and Metabataeus lohena.

The KIRC website states that “litigation forced an end to the bombing,”  neglecting the activism that was in concert with that litigation. PKO did indeed file suit in Aluli et. al. v. Brown in which the Federal Court enjoined the Navy to:

survey and protect historic and cultural sites on the island, clear surface ordnance from 10,000 acres, continue soil conservation and revegetation programs, eradicate the goats from the island, limit ordnance impact training to the central third of the island, and allow monthly PKO accesses to the island (protectkahoolaweohana.org).

2048px-Haleakala_and_Kahoolawe

My mother, who was an anthropologist, went on one of these accesses in 1980 – a time when visiting Kahoʻolawe was nearly unheard of. Between 1990 and 1995, a gradual process of transfer of Kahoʻolawe occurred from the Navy to the Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission. This included funding in the 1994 Department of Defense Appropriations Act to provide for:

ʻclearance or removal of unexploded ordnance’ and environmental restoration of the island, to provide ʻmeaningful safe use of the island for appropriate cultural, historical, archaeological, and educational purposes, as determined by the State of Hawaii’ (protectkahoolaweohana.org.)

Over the next few years, roughly 70% of the surface and 10% of the subsurface were decontaminated.

On November 11, 2003 the access control was transferred from the US Navy to the State of Hawaii. The transfer was recognized in a commemoration ceremony a day later on November 12, 2003 on the grounds of Iolani Palace.

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Recentering Hawaiians

#20 in the Moʻolelo series

This is the beginning of several posts I will be writing as I review this book.

Noelani Arista’s book The Kingdom and the Republic (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019) is part of a now decades-long project of Hawaiian revisionist history. Some use this term as an epithet – as if “standard” histories (in the case of Hawaiʻi, that would be Kuykendall’s The Hawaiian Kingdom) are not, and will never be, in need of revision. Revision is itself neutral – it can be well- or poorly done. Arista’s is, I think itʻs safe to say, in the former category – the dissertation it is based on won the American Historical Association’s dissertation of the year award (AHA is the academic association in history in the US).

Arista locates herself in this intellectual genealogy, beginning with Lilikalā Kameʻeleihiwa’s Native Land and Foreign Desires, which she notes “illustrated the power of metaphors framed out of a deep literacy in Hawaiian language” (Arista, 2019, 6). She continues this genealogical framing with Noenoe Silva’s work on Hawaiian resistance to annexation and colonization, Puakea Nogelmeier’s illustration of the historical counter-narrative seen in Hawaiian language newspapers and Kamana Beamer’s reframing of the Hawaiian Kingdom as a functional nation-state. To these one might add David Chang’s The World and all the Things Upon It, and Kealani Cook’s Return to Kahiki as illustrations of Hawaiians as discoverers, rather than “the discovered.”

Even my own work on the māhele and Kuleana Act is part of this same project – of showing Hawaiian agency – I show in my dissertation that, rather than passively accepting Euroamerican land tenure, Hawaiians co-created a land tenure system along with non-Hawaiians like William Richards. And it is with Richards that Arista’s book begins.

Richards was involved with what is known as “the outrages” and accused a British ship Captain named Buckle of buying a Hawaiian woman. This led Buckle to charge Richards with libel. An ʻaha ʻōlelo was convened to address these charges, based as they were in the space between Hawaiian, British and American law. Of which country was Richards a subject? Richards made an eloquent speech in Hawaiian claiming that his fate lay in the hands of the chiefs, and he said it in a way that evoked the ʻōlelo noeau “I ka ʻOlelo nō ke ola, I ka ʻōlelo nō ka make” [in the word is life, in the word is death]. As he had done with his concept of “three paths to foreign mana,” Richards shows again here his capacity as a translator of cultural concepts in what Arista calls a “world of words.”

The British Consul to Hawaiʻi, Charlton held that Captain William Buckle:

purchased a female slave at the island of Maui for the sum of one hundred and sixty dollars [and] as the purchasing of a slave is by the laws of Great Britain declared to be piracy, Andy instructions regarding slaves are very explicit … that the offender be brought to justice.

Arista, 2019, 204.

David Malo was brought before the ʻaha ʻōlelo for his advice and he used a precedent from Kaʻahumanu’s own past, asking: in Hawaiian traditional law, was it the messenger that was punished or the offender? Kaʻahumanu responded that it was the offender – her lover Kanihonui in this case, who was put to death by Kamehameha – who was punished, not the one who told Kamehameha. Arista notes that this use of tradition to navigate new legal concepts such as “libel” shows Hawaiian agency in facing Western modernity.*

*Note that Maloʻs statement assumes that Buckle is indeed guilty, which is what Buckle was contesting. This shows that Western concepts like libel and slander were perhaps indeed complex ones for Hawaiians to negotiate.

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Hawaiian Leadership

#3 in the Moʻolelo series

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Much is said about leadership in the Hawaiian community today. The movements surrounding Kalama Valley, Kahoʻolawe and more recently Mauna Kea have naturally produced leaders. In Hulīli journal, Guy Kaulukukui and Daniel Nahoʻopiʻi created an “inventory of exemplary Hawaiian leadership behaviors.” The quote above is from a participant in their study. So it behooves us to look back at traditional Hawaiian leadership to establish a baseline for leadership characteristics in ka wā kahiko. Malo’s chapter “No nā aliʻi a me nā kānaka” [Concerning the aliʻi and the people] is helpful in this regard.

Malo states that:

as for the nature of the aliʻi and the common people of Hawaiʻi, they were of the same sort, a single race … it was perhaps in the generations after Wākea that a separation developed between the aliʻi and the people.

Malo enumerates the duties of aliʻi, noting that “everything was under his control, so long as he acted properly” [emphasis mine, quotes are from Malo, edited by Langlas and Lyon]:

  • to gather men together in time of war
  • he said who should live and who should die, among commoners and aliʻi
  • care for the soldiers
  • “to him belonged the wealth given during the makahiki festival”
  • “to him belonged the right to take away the land of commoners or aliʻi”

But the surprising part for me was in the preparation of a chief:

…the future ruler first lived under another aliʻi, so that he experienced poverty, scarcity, hunger and hardship, and reflected as a result of those troubles: he would learn to care for the people with patience, humbling himself below the commoners; he would learn to be religiously observant, not disregarding the kapu; he would live justly, not [be too quick to] shed blood, being kind in his rule over all the people.

Both monarchs in Europe and wealthy people in the West find difficultly with this problem of the spoiled heir. If a man is self-made and has gone through hardship to get there, he provides opportunities and luxuries to his son, which become the reason the son canʻt duplicate the father’s success. Among monarchs, Peter of Russia, son of Peter the Great was one such example – he was overthrown by his own young wife, who became Catherine the Great.

Thus the Hawaiian practice of subjecting an heir to poverty and hardship was an effective way of developing both grit and compassion for the plight of those over whom they would rule. (In the translation, the generic heir is male, but it isnʻt necessarily so in the Hawaiian – usually chiefs were male, but there were some examples of female ruling chiefs).

Much of Malo’s chapter is about genealogical succession, including the practice of nīʻaupiʻo – incestuous mating among the chiefly class. When I teach my students about this practice, I try to emphasize that nīʻaupiʻo is really about the right to rule. I look to Kamakau here for an explanation of chiefly rank, and its relation to nīʻaupiʻo.

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Hawaiian leader George Helm

RANKS OF CHIEFS (ACCORDING TO KAMAKAU)

Aliʻi Nīʻaupiʻo – father was a high chief with no one of low rank on either side

Aliʻi Piʻo – the product of two nīʻaupiʻo chiefs (brother and sister)

Aliʻi Naha – product of nīaupiʻo half siblings

Aliʻi wohi – One parent is nīʻaupiʻo, the other is a high chief

Lō aliʻi – “The chiefs of Līhuʻe, Wahiawā, and Halemano on Oʻahu were called lō aliʻi. Because the chiefs at these places lived there continuously and guarded their kapu, they were called lō aliʻI [from whom a ʻguaranteedʻ chief might be obtained loaʻa]. They were like gods, unseen, resembling men” (Kamakau, 1991)

Aliʻi papa – product of a nīʻaupiʻo or piʻo and a kaukau aliʻi

Lōkea aliʻi – Father was nīʻaupiʻo and the mother was aliʻI nui, sometimes called wohi

Laʻauli aliʻi – parents both chiefly

Kaukau aliʻi – Father was high-ranking, mother was lower rank

Kūkae Pōpolo – Father was of little rank, mother of no rank. Children were called hana lepo popolo.

For modern leadership, surely other factors come into play – media presence, rhetorical skill, credibility of background and others. But it may be useful not to completely lose sight of traditional leadership traits in identifying and developing leadership talent in the Hawaiian community. As Malo states, “it is hardly possible to for all the people as a group to manage the government, acting to gather to solve problems, lift burdens, and clear up difficulties. That is probably the reason one person was made the aliʻi…”

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The Best Films about Hawaiʻi

I show my students the 1966 film Hawaii, based on James Michener’s book, partly so that we can deconstruct it. Students can see that it demeans Hawaiian culture, but then I ask them if things are any better today. Hawaiʻi and Hawaiian culture continue to be misrepresented in mainstream media. Exhibit A: Aloha the film about how everyone in Hawaiʻi is white (except Bumpy). I reviewed The Descendents and Princess Kaʻiulani when they were released. There isnʻt exactly a deep reservoir of films to choose from for this list, but as Puhipau and Joan Lander are being honored this week in the ʻOiwi Film Festival, here are some gems of the Hawaiian silver screen:

A Mau a Mau: While some may dispute John Kaʻimikaua’s oral histories, it’s hard to deny the quality of the filmmaking. Nalani Minton’s film captures the Hawaiian sense of connection with the most subtle aspects of the natural world: the wind, the sea, the sea spray.

Unknown

Hoʻokūʻikahi: To Unify as One – This telling of the events of Puʻukoholā heiau, both historically and today (beginning with the 1991 ceremony of rekindling the ties between Kaʻu and Kohala after 200 years of bitterness) is one of the films that shows Hawaiian culture as living and vibrant – not museum culture. John Keola Lake says in the film: “we don’t want to use [Puʻukoholā] as a memorial, let’s use it as a living place.”

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Puʻukoholā heiau (photo: wikimedia commons)

O Hawaiʻi: Of Hawaiʻi from Settlement to Unification – an invaluable curriculum resource for teaching traditional Hawaiian society, Iʻm not sure whether the film was ever released on DVD. Tom Coffman’s film shows the renewal of the field of Hawaiian history itself  (with the help of archaeology and linguistics), from something static, relegated to “the mists of time” to a vibrant, dynamic era, full of change.

Act of War: The Overthrow of the Hawaiian Nation – What is there to say about what is almost certainly the most watched film on Hawaiian history, it is also the only film Iʻm aware of that has a footnoted script!

Stolen Waters – While Puhipau and Joan Lander were clearly on the side of Windward farmers (as the title implies), they do a fine job of showing the arguments of the Leeward (Big 5) interests and their pawns. Another version, Kalo Paʻa o Waiahole, can be use alternately to emphasize the hearings or the more esoteric meaning of wai for Hawaiians.

Noho Hewa: The Wrongful Occupation of Hawaiʻi – Keala Kelly attempted something very difficult with her film; to have a story without a narrator. The characters, interviewees and events themselves tell the story, and few films are more brutally powerful. While not as aesthetic as the first two films in this list, Noho Hewa is nevertheless a must see (leave the kids at home).

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On Ownership

This post is part of the continuing “On” series: others include On Capitalism, On Freedom, On Constitutionalism and On Privilege.

In Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Gordon Gecko – famous for the line that defined the 80s, “greed is good” – relates the secret of his success: “I own stuff.”

By acquiring ownership of appreciating assets, investors buy low and sell high, and real estate is a prime example of this. But as Iʻve come to own property, it has begun to dawn on me that one never really owns anything. There are many ways that a property can be foreclosed on, beyond simply failing to pay the “mortgage” (you actually pay the loan, the mortgage is the contract allowing foreclosure): failure to pay taxes (a tax lien), failure to pay maintenance fees, failure to pay any “mechanic” who does work on your house (a mechanic’s lien). Taxes in some high-value areas can be in the thousands per month, so even if you own your property free and clear, the cost of living there can be prohibitive, as much as a “mortgage.” Further, you donʻt really own property at the most fundamental level. The legal concept of “dominium” means that the sovereign owns all property at a level “beneath” your “ownership” – what you have is actually a bundle of protected rights to the property: the right to use and enjoy, exclude others, etc. (though this last right is abridged in Hawaiʻi due to Native Tenant Rights).

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At a conference on occupation at Cornell last May (my attendance was due to this article I wrote for The Nation), we looked at the term from various perspectives, including the simple occupation of land

As I write this, Hawaiʻi is in crisis. The basic necessity of a roof over oneʻs head is one of the most difficult “commodities” to afford, and hereʻs the thing: many of us are responsible for this state of affairs. Homeowners benefit from raises in housing prices, and have a vested interest in the continuation of this state of constant increase – that is, as individuals. Even this benefit is, in a sense, short term. When you sell your high priced property, you have to buy back in to an inflated market. Also, housing becomes much more expensive for your children, who youʻre trying to help get along in the world. It becomes a form of generational warfare. The situation is so extreme, that even renting is becoming a difficult proposition for many – credit checks, first and last monthʻs rent and/or deposits can make renting something only for the very well-off. (If you had great credit wouldn’t you be buying instead of renting?). According to an article in Civil Beat, thirty percent of renters are spending half of their income or more on rent, making them very vulnerable to shocks, like divorce, death in the family or medical problems.  Add this to the fact that most Americans donʻt have $1000 for emergency expenses, and the situation is dire indeed.

Ironically, some long-term studies show that property, when adjusted for inflation, has not had real increases in a century. Any exceptions to this are bubbles. So are we in the midst of a very protracted bubble? If so, we may want to change our long-term approach to wealth management. I wrote earlier that the wealthy are beginning to thinking about access rather than ownership, an this has begun to trickle toward the middle class and working poor. We need to begin to question the very fundamental assumption that the market is the best mechanism for allocating scarce resources, like real estate. There are some small moves in this direction: Kamehameha Schools (normally a very aggressive developer) is developing its Oʻahu North Shore lands in a way that takes some other factors into account. Priority for a new development in Haleʻiwa will be given to local (that is, North Shore, and often Hawaiian) families who fall into the “gap group” – imagine a teacher married to a fireman. They arenʻt in lucrative positions, but are a stable bet to pay their loan and stay in their house for decades, rather than sell at the first uptick in prices.

Perhaps we should try to return to traditional Hawaiian ways of thinking about ownership. According to a source I cite in my dissertation, Hawaiians had very few possessions. A man, for instance would own only a handful of items related to his trade. So the idea that one could own land was certainly foreign – even chiefs didnʻt own land – they controlled it for a period of time, until the next kālaiʻāina (land division).

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Means and Ends: Process and Results Orientation

With the Naʻi Aupuni convention under way, different styles of negotiating are being brought to light. Professor Williamson Chang wrote a public grievance against one participant who he saw as being obstructionist and belligerent. I heard that the group adopted, and insisted on, Robert’s Rules of Order (I happen know that Pokā Laenui, a participant, is a strong advocate). But the “debates” in the movement, and even more tellingly – their after effects, have often been focused on outcomes at the expense of process.

The very fact that Naʻi Aupuni is meeting at all is the outcome of a results orientation. The US Supreme Court (whose jurisdiction the organizers accept!) enjoined the election pending review. Following the letter of the law, rather than its spirit, Naʻi Aupuni organizers simply sidestepped the ruling and cancelled the election but continued with the convention.

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Which mode Hawaiians should adopt and encourage comes down to one question: Do you believe in democracy? Even though the Hawaiian Kingdom was an emerging democracy, not all Hawaiians in either the independence or Fed Rec movement do. But many more claim to believe in democracy, while being unwilling to tolerate its slowness, and tendency to produce compromises-that is to say, compromised results. The current Republican style of “all out war” – against Obama, Democrats, and it seems, sanity – does not serve as an inspiring example.

But a simple question faces us: do we want our way, or an outcome that everyone involved can live with?

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Stevenson in the Pacific

This is the continuation of the long-delayed “In Hawaiʻi” series, which includes posts on Mark Twain, Herman Melville and John Coltrane. I called this one Stevenson in the Pacific because Sāmoa features so centrally in his story.

When I was nine years old, I visited Sāmoa (then called Western Sāmoa) on the way to Tonga. My family was at the Tusitala Hotel, and in the lobby was a picture of Robert Louis Stevenson that has always stayed with me in memory. Tusitala was a Samoan name for Stevenson, meaning “teller of tales.” The hotel was in Apia, below his hillside home of Vailima – five waters. (We visited another great writer in Apia, Albert Wendt.)  Vailima was described by the great writer Henry Adams:

a two-story Irish shanty with steps outside to the upper floor and a galvanized iron roof … squalor like a railroad navvy’s board hut …

And so was Stevenson himself:

…a man so thin and emaciated that he looked like a bundle of sticks in a bag, with a head and eyes morbidly intelligent and restless…

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Stevenson painted by John Singer Sargent

Stevenson sought a climate that would restore him to the health damaged from cold British winters, but I always wondered why he chose Sāmoa, as Pago Pago is, to this day, the most humid place I’ve ever been.

Thinking myself an adventurous nine-year old in 1981, I marveled at Stevenson adventuring to what was at the time an incredibly remote place. This was, in fact, what attracted him; he had considered living in Hawaiʻi:

Honolulu’s good – very good … but this seems more savage

I fancied myself following in his footsteps, moving to Tonga, but looking back, more likely, it was his stepson Lloyd’s footsteps I was following. I was familiar with his novels Kidnapped and Treasure Island, and of course Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, and saw the difference between them and Sāmoa, a testament to his versatility. It was perhaps the insights in Jeckyll and Hyde, of “man’s” dual nature that gave him the ability to accept, then embrace Polynesian people and culture. The Biographer Rice said of his arrival in Sāmoa:

…at first … he is extremely nervous about their menacing appearance. ʻThere could be nothing more natural than these apprehensions’ he wrote for The Sun, ʻnor anything more groundless.’

(Rice, 1974, 109)

He was a vocal critic of Victorian hypocrisy, and “was not afraid to live as he wished,” marrying a woman ten years older than he who was probably part African American.

Stevenson took four trips with his family to the Pacific, and two to Hawaiʻi at auspicious moments; one before (1889) and one immediately after the overthrow of the monarchy (September 1893). And unlike other Europeans, Stevenson was a royalist and his sympathy was with the Queen. Upon landing in Honolulu he went directly to her and expressed his sympathies. He had already written at length about colonial activities in Sāmoa, criticizing Western powers right at the moment that Germany and the US were dividing Sāmoa in two.

On his first trip, Stevenson became friends with Kalākaua and Princess Liliʻuokalani. He also met another famous writer of his age who had visited Hawaiʻi, Mark Twain. He wrote to Twain from Sāmoa as it descended into civil war:

I wish you could see my ʻsimple and sunny haven’ now; war has broken out…

But his closest association was with his fellow Scot Archibald Cleghorn and, famously, his daughter Princess Kaʻiulani. He wrote to a friend, “how I love the Polynesian!” and seemed particularly fascinated that one of them, heir presumptive to the throne, was an Edinburgh Scot, like himself, on her “worse half.” The poem he wrote her before she left for an English education is fairly well-known:

Forth from her land to mine she goes,

The island maid, the island rose,

Light of heart and bright of face:

The daughter of a double race.

Her islands here in Souther sun,

Shall mourn their Kaiulani gone,

And I, in her dear banyan shade,

Look vainly for my little maid.

But our Scots islands far away

Shall glitter with unwonted day,

And cast for once their tempests by

To smile in Kaiulani’s eye.

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End of Federal Recognition as Indian Tribe is beginning for “Real” Hawaiian Sovereignty – Williamson B.C. Chang

I took my UH Manoa students to Professor Williamson Chang’s class last week. I was surprised and honored to have Prof. Chang write a guest blog on a topic that couldn’t be more relevant right now – the seeming failure of Fed-Rec. Continue reading

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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:

https://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/interior-considers-procedures-to-reestablish-a-government-to-government-relationship-with-the-native-hawaiian-community

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?

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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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Filed under academia, Education, Globalization, Hawaiian history, intellect, law

Response to Gerald Smith’s “Host Culture in Hawaiʻi is just a Myth”

Gerald Smith was right and wrong in his Civil Beat article “Host Culture in Hawaiʻi is just a Myth.” Hawaiians may not be the “host” culture, and it’s true as he says, that neither Hawaiians nor other non-indigenous groups are here by choice, nor by invitation. In fact, Kamehameha II gave the first group of foreigners to ask permission, the Congregationalist missionaries in 1820, a probationary period of one year. The deadline for reviewing their stay was neglected and within a generation they were entrenched in government and the economy. I often wonder if the term “host culture” is merely a convenient one for the tourism industry, as it creates the impression – a questionable one – that tourist are welcome guests. Smith is wrong, however, on several counts. His claim that “Many Native Hawaiians would like us all to leave and restore the kingdom that was taken away by the United States,” is unsupported by any evidence. Just as the Hawaiian Kingdom never ejected even its most troublesome residents, the Hawaiian movement has not called for non-Hawaiians “all to leave.”

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Kūkaniloko march opposing Stryker brigade, 2006. Thatʻs me looking in the wrong direction as usual. Photo by Michael Puleloa

What is problematic is Smith’s assertion that everyone in Hawaiʻi is equal in the eyes of the law. Putting aside the quite valid claims of independence advocates for the moment, the State of Hawaiʻi recognized Hawaiians as the Indigenous people of Hawaiʻi in 2011. Over one hundred pieces of Federal legislation, beginning with the 1921 Hawaiian Homes Commission Act do the same. To simply brush aside these forms of recognition that Hawaiians are unique in the eyes of the law, is troublingly close to what has been called “white indigeneity.” What can be said of narratives of white indigeneity is that they are widespread. Such claims are seen in New Zealand, Australia, the US and elsewhere. What cannot be said is that they are taken seriously. I happened to observe the phenomenon in the New Zealand parliament: one conservative member cited the respected historian Michael King to support his contention that pakeha (Caucasians) were Indigenous. To this another member asked if the “honorable member” was familiar with the UN definition of Indigenous.

Smith establishes his kamaʻāina credentials by stating that he observed the attack on Pearl Harbor. If this is the case, he certainly did not take Hawaiian history in school, even if he went to school here, as it wasnʻt required until the 1970s. So one is left to wonder where his understanding of Hawaiian history comes from. Likely its from Gavan Daws’s Shoal of Time, still the most read general history of Hawaiʻi. The book’s chapter on Statehood is entitled “Now we are all Haoles.”

Smith’s contention that “the people who live here voted to become a state, so some will never accept their fate.” was roundly and very publically critiqued on its 50th anniversary in 2009, with very little in the way of counter- arguments.  The link in his article that ostensibly supports this “fact” takes the reader to history.com – as Hawaiian history is not well-known in Hawaiʻi, citing an external source does not inspire confidence in the reader. This was taken into consideration by the UN; in 1996 the Star bulletin headline read “UN may find statehood illegal.” It was even tacitly recognized by the local majority. There are fireworks in Waikiki every Friday, but none on the 50th anniversary of statehood. Apparently Friday is a more important event.

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Filed under Environment, Hawaiian history, law