by Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D.
Kana’iolowalu is a racial registration process supported by the Hawaii state legislature and using government money. The word as described by its supporters seems benign and friendly: striving together to achieve a goal, like the droplets of water in a stream. But the word has much more violent, warlike undertones. Kamehameha the Great was called “Kana’iaupuni” where that word “na’i” means “conquest” or “conqueror.” “Olowalu” means “to rush or attack in concert” and also “dodging the onslaught of spears.” So “kana’iolowalu” can best be translated as “conquest through swarming” — a method of warfare like the blitzkrieg, whereby attackers surround, rush, and overwhelm an enemy.
The main trouble with Kana’iolowalu is philosophical and moral. The state legislature is creating a list of people who have at least one drop of Hawaiian native blood. Once the list is created, the legislature intends to grant governmental powers to that racial group and then hand over state government money and land to it. Should our government be supporting a process intended to divide the lands and people of Hawaii along racial lines?
There are also many important practical and legal troubles with the actual process currently underway, including the fact that over a hundred thousand names are being dragged onto this racial registry without asking permission. These are the names of individuals previously certified as having Hawaiian native blood by race-based institutions like OHA and Kamehameha Schools, and by the Board of Health which will confirm that they have “Native Hawaiian” on their birth certificates. None of those institutions asked any of these people to affirm support for the political views expressed in the Kana’iolowalu registry. The Kana’iolowalu registry wants to give the impression that it is creating a political entity affirming the “unrelinquished sovereignty of the Native Hawaiian people”; but the overwhelming number of names in the registry will have been dragged there without permission and based solely on racial ancestry.
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