Tag Archives: Hawaii

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.

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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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Public Schools that Work: Discussion with Amy Perruso, Part 2

I had been thinking about writing on public schools, particularly the ones that just seem to work. This got me thinking of doing a second discussion with Amy Perruso. Originally from Southern California, she is a graduate of USC. She is Social Studies department head at Mililani High School and has a Ph.D. in Political Science. She was recently elected as the Treasurer of the Hawai’i State Teachers Association (HSTA) on a progressive slate that is seen as a kind of upheaval that could lead to radical changes in the direction of the union. She is an award-winning teacher, recipient of awards from Walmart and the Hawai’i Council for Humanities History Teacher of the Year in 2012. Her students perform at a national level in History Day, Mock Trial and We the People, all of which are social studies civics and history competitions. She has taught, among other things, AP US History, Modern Hawaiian History and Participation in Democracy. We had a second chat on what works (and doesnʻt work) for public schools. You can read Part 1 of our discussion here.
UPDATE: Since this interview, Amy Perruso declared her candidacy as a progressive Democrat for the state legislature in District 19.
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Umi Perkins (UP): One thing thatʻs so strange about Hawaiʻi is that you can pay $1 million or much more for a house, and end up in a bad school district. On the “mainland” what youʻre paying for, often, is precisely the schools in the district. In Hawaiʻi, there are good public schools in moderate income communities. From what I can tell, Mililani High School is very successful across a range of academic measures, as well as athletic and scholastic competitions – you appear to be good at everything. Moanalua High School is similar, and both districts, which are moderate to middle income, are solid from elementary through high school. How do you account for this success, such as it is?
Amy Perruso (AP): I think there is a direct correlation between the relative success of the students in Mililani and their socio-economic status of their families. Not only did higher ‘original’ test scores when NCLB first rolled out buffer our Mililani schools from the most draconian measures for a long time, but those buffers (protection from intrusion of privatizing corporations like Edison, imposed mandated curricula, and hyper-control of teachers that pushed the most experienced and professional out of the classroom) continued to allow for exciting, interesting and student-centered approached to learning, focusing on inquiry and interdisciplinary exploration. This began to disappear even for us with Race to the Top. Any signs of academic excellence you now see are either echoes from the past or tightly tied to the corporatist neoliberal agenda.
UP: But that doesnʻt explain the relative mediocrity of other schools in affluent districts…
AP: I see your question. It is interesting and has everything to do with the ways in which public education is funded in Hawaii. We are funded not by property tax but primarily by General Excise Tax (GET). This a direct result of a historical refusal on the part of the socio-economic elite in Hawaii, beginning with plantation owners, to allow property taxes to be used for education of workers. In Hawaii, we have a radically segregated education system (public v. private), divided both along class and ethnic/racial lines. The public schools educate primarily the children of the ordinary worker, while private schools have flourished by appealing to more affluent families, especially in urban areas like Honolulu. Did you know that almost 40% of all school age children in Honolulu attend private school? From my perspective, children are the most important element of a school, and public schools in places like Honolulu are being robbed of a huge chunk of the children whose families are most focused on and supportive of education. We do not struggle with that problem as much in Mililani in part because of geographical distance from private schools.
UP: One more question (and itʻs admittedly a hard one): what do you see as the biggest challenge in Hawaiʻi public education and the best solution to this problem?
AP: I think that the most important problem facing public education is that we have unfortunately adopted of a model of educational reform that has been clearly debunked by international research. We need to move away, as rapidly as possible, from the model instantiated by NCLB, that is, a model based on competitive ranking, standardization, test-based accountability, deprofessionalization of teaching, and privatization. I agree with Pasi Salberg and other international advocates of progressive education who argue for investment in equity (not just excellence), collaboration and teams, time for play and creativity, existing and available innovation, and creating a culture that encourages resilience by celebrating the importance of risk-taking and failure. I think in Hawaii that means we have to do something we have never done before, and that is to fundamentally and systemically challenge the injustice of how young people in Hawaii’s public schools are being treated and educated, as if they don’t deserve the kind of education afforded to private school students.

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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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The Greatest Hawaiian Books of All Time (in English or translation)

I donʻt include many recent books – only two from the 21st century – because their legacy has yet to be determined.

  1. Samuel Kamakau, Ruling Chiefs of Hawai’i – The Sheer volume of history in this tome makes most other work pale in comparison. Kamakau also issues stern warnings, even to the King, of excessive Western influence.
  2. S.N. Haleole, Laieikawai – Translator Martha Beckwith (author of the definitive book The Kumulipo) had this to say of Haleʻoleʻs book:

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    La‘ieikawai is a Hawaiian romance which recounts the wooing of a native chiefess of high rank and her final deification among the gods. The story was handed down orally from ancient times in the form of a ka‘ao, a narrative rehearsed in prose interspersed with song, in which form old tales are still recited by Hawaiian storytellers. It was put into writing by a native Hawaiian, S.N. Hale‘ole, who hoped thus to awaken in his countrymen an interest in genuine native storytelling based upon the folklore of their race and preserving its ancient customs – already fast disappearing since Cook’s rediscovery of the group in 1778 opened the way to foreign influence – and by this means to inspire in them old ideals of racial glory.Hale‘ole was born about the time of the death of Kamehameha I, a year or two before the arrival of the first American missionaries and the establishment of the Protestant mission in Hawai‘i. In 1834 he entered the mission school at Lahainaluna, Maui, where his interest in the ancient history of his people was stimulated and trained under the teaching of Lorrin Andrews, compiler of the Hawaiian dictionary, published in 1865, and Sheldon Dibble, under whose direction David Malo prepared his collection of “Hawaiian Antiquities,” and whose “History of the Sandwich Islands” (1843) is an authentic source for the early history of the mission. Such early Hawaiian writers as Malo, Kamakau, and John Ii were among Hale‘ole’s fellow students. After leaving school he became first a teacher, then an editor. In the early sixties he brought out La‘ieikawai, first as a serial in the Hawaiian newspaper, the “Kuokoa,” then, in 1863, in book form.

  3. Moses Nakuina, Wind Gourd of La’amamao – UH Mānoa Professor Niklaus Schweitzer says:

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    The Wind Gourd of La ‘amaomao enables the reader to understand important values of pre-contact Hawai’i, such as the role played by the ideal attendant of an ali’i, which was characterized by a caring attitude both towards the lord as well as towards the maka’ainana, the common. ers, and which included expertise in a variety of useful skills, such as canoe carving, canoe sailing, fishing, bird catching, and a host of others. Generosity, kindness, loyalty, honesty, justice, filial piety, patience, are values of old Hawai’i emphasized in this saga which was considered sig.nificant enough to be published in several versions in Hawaiian and English, beginning with Samuel M. Kamakau’s serial, Moolelo no Pakaa (1869-1871), in the newspapers Ke Au Okoa and Ka Nupepa Kuokoa. The present version by Moses K. Nakuina is based on Kamakau but draws from a number of other sources as well.

     

  4. Davida Malo, Hawaiian Antiquities/Mooolelo Hawaii – While some might put this first, as its importance is unquestionable, itʻs more of an anthropology than a history, as Malo seems to dissect and critique Hawaiian culture. He had the “zeal of the newly converted” as Emerson put it, and it shows. Itʻs still crucial for all scholars of Hawaiian studies.

  5. Lili’uokalani, Hawai’i’s Story – A first-hand account of the most important event in Hawaiian history, from its most aggrieved victim – the Queen shows tact and grace beyond what can be expected.

  6. Noenoe Silva, Aloha Betrayed – the first very theoretical book on Hawaiian history and politics, Silva invokes Spivakʻs question “Can the subaltern [the oppressed underclasses] speak?” and goes beyond it to articulate the ways in which they do.

  7. John Papa I’i, Fragments of Hawaiian History – 

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    Iʻi was the patrician who chided the upstart Kamakau, and told us in incredible detail how it really was in the time of Kamehameha II.

     

  8. Mary Kawena Pukui, Olelo Noeau – Of all Pukui’s work, this is perhaps the most valuable, because the meanings  – the kaona – of Hawaiian proverbs may have been lost without it.

  9. Joseph Poepoe/Steven Desha, Mooolelo no Kamehameha/Kekuhaupio – So apparently Desha plagiarized (if such a concept exists in Hawaiian thought) from Poepoe, whose work is yet to appear in published form. It is still a valuable supplement to Kamakauʻs account of Kamehamehaʻs conquests. The Kamehameha Schools Press English translation is called Kamehameha and His Warrior Kekūhaupiʻo.

  10. Haunani-Kay Trask, From a Native Daughter – 

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    A masterpiece according to Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, a mere collection of speeches according to others; its impact cannot be denied. It galvanized the Hawaiian movement in a way no other book has.

  11. Lilikala Kame’eleihiwa, Native Land and Foreign Desires – While my own research opposes some of her conclusions on the Māhele, her work on Hawaiian metaphors will stand as a lasting contribution to Hawaiian perspective.

  12. Keanu Sai, Ua Mau ke Ea: Sovereignty Endures – 

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    It’s a bit hard to find, but Sai’s contribution to revising Hawaiian history cannot be denied. This is also a useful primer on occupation and the legal aspects of Hawaiʻi’s history and status today.

  13. Pi’ilani, Kaluaikoolau – The heartrending story of Piʻilani and Koʻolau has been recognized by W.S. Merwin and many others. Gary Kubota’s play is only the most recent tribute to this moving account of a familyʻs resistance to the “Pu Ki” [PG: Provisional Government].

  14. John Dominis Holt, Waimea Summer – Holt seemed often to feel uncomfortable in his own skin, with frequent references (including in The Sharks of Kawela Bay) to his fair skin and blond hair, despite being nearly half Hawaiian. But this may have been what allowed him to write about the hapa-haole and Hawaiian experience with such skill; probably the only book to include pidgin, Hawaiian language and Faust.

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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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