Archive for July, 2010

Organizing Against Reorganization

I am not a Native Hawaiian, nor do I play one on TV.  But, let’s say for the sake of argument that there was a proposal to create a new tribal government for us Hapa Filipinos.  There’s one or two of us in the islands, right?  And now, let’s say that there was a substantial trust and land value tied up in the issue.  (I know, I know.  This part may be hard to imagine, given that many of us have grandfathers who consider the family trust to exist in a coffee can in the sock drawer, but this is a hypothetical exercise.  I have a point, after all–I’m just kinda slow getting there.)  Anyway, being that I’ve never been in a room of more than two Filipino women who didn’t have an opinion on anything from the quality of the homily at church on Sunday to the proper way to make lumpia, I have trouble imagining that there wouldn’t be a strong push for public comment on the proposed Filipino reorganization.

So I find it hard to understand why we haven’t had opportunity for comment on the Akaka Bill yet.  This is the most transformative piece of legislation to hit Hawaii since we became a state.  (Heck, some people might say since the revolution.)  And yet, there’s no push for public hearings on it?  Well–let’s be fair here.  There certainly is a push for public hearings on the part of the public.  Strangely, the politicians involved seem to be more interested in keeping all the wheeling, dealing, and negotiations at a more exclusive level.  And if that’s not enough of an argument for hearings, I don’t know what is.

Therefore, even though I’m not the world’s biggest fan of online petitions (No, I am not going to stop watching TV today in order to send a message to Big Oil.  Burn Notice is on tonight, for goodness sakes!), I think that this one is a worthy one.  It’s a call to stop the Akaka Bill until the people of Hawaii (as well as Native Hawaiians in other parts of the country) get their opportunity to weigh in on the matter.  So click on this link and make your voice heard in the fight to  . . . um . . . make your voice heard.


Promises, (Com)promises

It is, I confess, too easy to mock and criticize politicians.  Maybe it’s the endless weighing of polls and legacies and that finger held constantly to the wind.  Or maybe it’s the obfuscations, the justifications, and the ill-considered legislation.  But politicians do have to think about a lot of things that most of us never bother about.  I mean, do you have any idea how much time they spend fretting over what tie will make them look like a leader of people without conveying a privileged, upper-crust background?  It’s why they all go grey so quickly.

All of this to explain why Gov. Linda Lingle was in a pickle.  Supporting the Akaka Bill gets her grudging accolades from various normally critical groups and looks great on the ol’ legacy meter.  Opposing it . . . doesn’t really do much, politically speaking, except get her the temporary approval of those who secretly think that she’s an unreliable ally.

Oops.  Guess who was right?

As you may have heard, Lingle reversed her previous opposition to the Akaka Bill in a dramatic and widely-trumpted press release and letter to the Senate, explaining at length why she’s totally hunky-dory with the most radical piece of legislation ever to transform an entire state’s culture.  To be fair, I thought that Lingle’s reservations–primarily concerning whether members/leaders of the new Native Hawaiian government would be immune from certain Hawaiian laws–were valid.  And yes, it’s a good thing that they’ve been resolved.  Sort of.

But let’s not pretend that everything is better now.  Notably, one of Lingle’s reservations was not, “will this have enormous unforseen consequences for the economic and social health of my state.”  (See above rant about the concerns of politicians.)

Here’s the part that really gets me about the letter though–the hubris that seems to suggest that now that our illustrious Governor is on board, there’s nothing left to say on that matter.  Au contraire.  I have a lot to say.  Like, “It’s totally disingenuous of the Governor to say in her letter to the Senate that the Akaka Bill just brings Hawaii into line with the other US states that recognize Indian tribes.  This is a completely new and different situation–not the recognition of a tribe, but the creation of one out of a racially mixed former country.”  And, “Just saying that the Bill is constitutional doesn’t make it true.  There are a lot of people hoping to sue the U.S. if this is passed and use the unconstitutionality of Akaka to test other civil rights issues.”

Regardless of what Gov. Lingle’s press office claims, her approval hasn’t solved anything for those of us who truly understand the problems with Akaka.


Certified Hawaiian

When you’re Hapa, you get used to people playing, “guess the ethnicity” with you.  Especially on the mainland.  (In Hawaii, the game is generally much shorter.  In part because one of your cousins will inevitably walk by and put an end to things.)  I actually don’t mind it though.  I’ve always liked the way that our racial/ethnic mix gives us a broad feeling of connection on the Islands.   Like we’re all in this together.  After all, even if you may not be Portuguese/Japanese/Filipino/Samoan/Hawaiian/Chinese/Haole/Etc., it’s a pretty fair guarantee that you’re at least related to someone who is.

And this leads us to one of the things that so puzzles me about how the Akaka Bill is supposed to work–namely, how do you even go about defining who counts as “Hawaiian Enough” to be part of a Native Hawaiian government.  After all, we’re talking about a culture that includes the concept of hanai adoption.  That’s about as far from a “one-drop rule” as it’s possible to get, culturally speaking.

But, of course, since we’re talking about laws and stuff here, there has to be a way to legally define who gets to play in a Akaka government.  But would you believe that, as the Bill currently lies, a significant number of those who would consider themselves Hawaiian wouldn’t count as such for the purposes of the Akaka Bill?  In fact, one analysis found that more than 73% of those who defined themselves as Hawaiian for the purposes of the census would now be counted as such for the purposes of the Akaka Bill.  Here’s why:

Under the conditions set forth in S1011, Section 3(12), for an Hawaiian to become a “Qualified Native Hawaiian Constituent” all five of the following conditions must be met:

  • (A) Must be direct lineal descendant of indigenous people living in Hawaii on or before January 1, 1893 or of a person eligible in 1921 for Hawaiian Homelands.
  • (B) Wishes to participate in the reorganization of the Native Hawaiian governing entity
  • (C) is 18 years of age or older;
  • (D) is a citizen of the United States; and
  • (E) maintains a significant cultural, social, or civic connection to the Native Hawaiian community, as evidenced by satisfying 2 or more of 10 criteria

Of the five, Parts (B) and (E) are the most likely to exclude Hawaiians from becoming “Qualified” to participate in the Tribe.  Part (B) most likely means excluding all persons who do not sign up for Kau Inoa.  The December, 2009 Kau Inoa Newsblog proudly announces: “Those who register in Kau Inoa will help shape the Hawaiian nation to come….We are happy to share that at the end of November 2009, 108,118 people were registered in the Kau Inoa Native Hawaiian Registry….”

The 2000 US Census counted over 401,000 Hawaiians in the US.  A 2004 estimate by the US Census Bureau counted 279,651 Hawaiians in Hawaii, down from 283,430 in 2000.  The out-migration of Hawaiians is a direct result of the lack of economic opportunity created by OHA-funded shake-down artists and their environmentalist allies.  The Kau Inoa number is less than 27% of all Native Hawaiians, but it gets worse.

Rule (E) excludes many of the roughly 122,000 Hawaiians living outside of Hawaii.  Exceptions are made for for college students, military personnel, federal employees (such as Congressional staffers) and their dependents,  Hawaiian Homelands beneficiaries, their children and grandchildren.

By making “Native Hawaiian Membership Organization” into the following two separate rules, an activist or other OHA operative who has been a member of two Native Hawaiian Membership Organizations thereby meets the “two of ten” qualification in Part (E):

  • (viii) Has been a member since September 30, 2009, of at least 1 Native Hawaiian Membership Organization.
  • (ix) Has been a member since September 30, 2009, of at least 2 Native Hawaiian Membership Organizations.

The bill does not contain a list of such organizations, leaving the door open to all sorts of games as some organizations are accepted and others are not.

I don’t know about you, but I find the notion of having to “prove” your Hawaiian-ness by virtue of what clubs or activities you belong to be . . . mind boggling.  Especially when you consider that the Akaka Bill includes a loophole for those who might not have Hawaiian blood, but are “regarded as Hawaiian” by the Native Hawaiian community (whatever that may mean).  By that logic, a haole with the right connections can be part of the Native Hawaiian government while a 100% local, ethnically Hawaiian guy who likes to keep to himself might not.  Seriously.  Only politicians and huge sums of money can combine to create something so ludicrous.  Don’t tell me that’s what most people are thinking of when they say that Native Hawaiians deserve some kind of recognition.


A new children’s book filled with racially inflammatory historical falsehoods should be recalled — Kim Hunter (author) and Patti Carol (illustrator), “Ka Pu’uwai Hamama — Volunteer Spirit”

A book published in May 2010 seems intended to serve three noble and benevolent purposes: show well-deserved appreciation to an elderly volunteer, Mrs. Anne Jurczynski, who has given 24 years of service to Iolani Palace; celebrate the importance of the Palace in Hawaii’s history; and help children learn Hawaiian language by telling a story in simple words where every page has a paragraph in English and the same paragraph in Hawaiian.

But the book “Ka Pu’uwai Hamama — Volunteer Spirit” contains some commonly repeated historical falsehoods which serve the purpose of arousing resentment, anger, and racial hostility. In an essay-length book review, the worst falsehoods are quoted and disproved with explanations of what is true and citations where proof can be found. The book is poisonous to the souls of innocent schoolchildren, and should be recalled just like Tylenol was recalled in 1982 when several people died from cyanide-laced capsules, and Toyota vehicles were recalled in 2010 because of sticky accelerators.

A webpage identifies numerous historical falsehoods and distortions with quotes from the book, plus detailed analysis, internet links, and citations of documents proving that each item is false or distorted and telling what is true. There’s also further explanation of why books like this are poisonous to the souls of innocent children, and why books like this should be regarded as defective products that should be recalled. See

July 4 is a triple holiday for Hawaii — 1776, 1894, 1960

July 4, 1776 marked the creation of the United States through the Declaration of Independence. Hawaii proudly celebrates that date as part of our heritage because Hawaii joined the union.

July 4, 1894 marked the creation of the Republic of Hawaii through the publication of its Constitution. At least five delegates to the Constitutional Convention were native Hawaiians; the Constitution was published in both English and Hawaiian; the Speaker of the House was former royalist John Kaulukou.

July 4, 1960 marked the date when the U.S. flag with 50 stars was first officially displayed, by being raised at 12:01 AM at the Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore, Maryland (where Francis Scott Key had written “The Star Spangled Banner”). Although Hawaii’s statehood was ratified by 94.3% of Hawaii voters and proclaimed by President Eisenhower in 1959, the tradition is to make the date for official display of an updated flag the following July 4.

A webpage provides a description of what Hawaii was like on July 4, 1776; the significance of the creation of the Republic of Hawaii on July 4, 1894 and annexation of Hawaii to the U.S. in 1898. It includes links to the Constitution of the Republic of Hawaii; a political biography of President Sanford B. Dole; photos of the original letters personally signed by emperors, kings, queens, and presidents of 20 nations on 4 continents in 11 languages recognizing the Republic as the legitimate government of Hawaii; a proposed treaty of annexation to the United States written in 1854 by King Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III which failed of the King’s signature by reason of his death; the Morgan Report of February 1894 (an 808-page report of the investigation into the events surrounding the Hawaiian Revolution of 1893, and the alleged role of U.S. peacekeepers in the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani); full text of the Treaty of Annexation between the Republic of Hawaii and the United States of America (1898), and of the resolutions whereby the Republic of Hawaii legislature and the U.S. Congress ratified it; Hawaii Great Statehood Petition of 1954 — 120,000 Signatures Gathered in 2 Weeks On a Petition for Statehood for Hawaii; the Statehood vote count in 1959, broken down by representative districts; The Native Hawaiians Study Commission report of 1983; and other items relevant to the significance of our July 4 holiday. See

OHA’s Official Grant Goals

Break out the champagne and the 12-pages of Hawaiiglish, it’s OHA grant application time!  (What is Hawaiiglish?  It’s the name I’ve come up with for the bizarre hybrid of English and Hawaiian that is especially popular in the field of obtaining Hawaiian grants or talking about Hawaii when you’re running for office.  You know . . . when you get sentences like, “The kapuna understand the matrix of needs required to foster care of the ohana.”  Yes, this is a pet peeve of mine, since I feel like it’s pandering–as though Native Hawaiians are going to applaud anything you say just because you stuck the word “pono” in the sentence.)

By Malia Blom Hill

Anyway, as part of its announcement of the new granting year, OHA also published its list of priorities.  And, to be scrupulously fair, many of them are completely reasonable and even necessary.  For example, there is a huge emphasis placed on increasing economic self-sufficiency for Native Hawaiians, with a specific goal of increasing family income and housing stability.  There are also laudable mentions of the need to exceed education standards and preserve Hawaiian culture.  Heck, I don’t even have a quarrel with the emphasis on preserving the environment and protecting the land.  There are places in this country where I might not be moved by that (I’m looking at you here, Newark), but Hawaii . . . well, that is some beautiful, beautiful stuff.

Of course, what I’ve done here is once again (like a broken CD or KPOI’s playlist) come back, yet again, to the same theme.  In effect, laudable goals do not equal laudable programs.  That’s why this exercise in transparency is so necessary.  Native Hawaiians deserve to know if all of these efforts to increase their family income, preserve their land, and protect their culture are actually good and effective program, or if they’re nothing more than vanity projects, giveaways to favored groups, or noble ideas that just don’t work in the real world.  Or whether they’re working like crazy and just need some more publicity and support to really help.  Some people get threatened by transparency efforts like 4HawaiiansOnly.  They think we’re trying to attack people or take away their support.  That’s a very defensive and short-sighted view.  All we’re doing is giving people the information they need to make an informed judgment about how their money is being spent.  You have to wonder about the motivations of those who want to prevent people from having that knowledge.