take Trask to task
'I thought she had
more class'than calling Inouye
a 'one-armed bandit,' says
Dennis 'Bumpy' Kanahele
Workshops will gather inputBy Pat Omandam
Some Hawaiian leaders say Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee Mililani Trask should not have called U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye a "one-armed bandit" last month because it did nothing to help the sovereignty movement.
And they say Inouye has done much for Hawaiians throughout his years in the U.S. Senate.
"I thought she had more class than that," said Nation of Hawaii leader Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele.
Former OHA trustee Kina'u Boyd Kamali'i said Inouye helped to write the first draft of what would become the 1993 U.S. apology resolution.
Chairwoman of the 1980 Native Hawaiian Study Commission, Kamali'i said Inouye helped write a minority report that recommended the United States formally apologize to Hawaiians for the involvement of American citizens in the January 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom.
Much of what was written became part of the U.S. apology resolution passed by Congress in November 1993, she said.
Kamali'i, who believes Hawaiians must be unified to achieve independence, said it is unfortunate Trask has turned to name-calling.
Native Hawaiian Convention delegate Poka Laenui, also known as Hayden Burgess, agreed Trask's remarks were inappropriate because they diminished the self-determination movement to personal attacks.
Inouye lost his right arm in combat during World War II. He was traveling in Arizona today and could not be reached for comment.
Sovereignty, Laenui said, addresses fundamental human rights at the international level. But Hawaiians can't talk about fairness if they go out and denigrate the dignity of someone who wants to help, he said.
"I hope people don't see her remarks as representative of many of us," he said.
Laenui said Inouye's record on Hawaiian issues is excellent.
"I have strongly disagreed with him many times, but I still cannot take away the fact he has his hand in the cause of indigenous people -- not only in Hawaii but throughout the United States -- far beyond any other person that I have known or have studied about," Laenui said of Inouye.
Between 1993 and 1998, native Hawaiian programs supported by Inouye have received $500 million in federal funds, according to Inouye's office. They include $22.9 million for health, $91.2 million for job training, $184.7 million for education and $8.9 million for teacher training and recruitment.
Trask, during an Oct. 13 OHA committee meeting, referred to Inouye as a "one-armed bandit" while talking about the upcoming reconciliation meetings in Hawaii with U.S. Justice and Interior department officials early next month. Those talks were called for by the 1993 apology resolution.
Because Inouye will host a Senate Indian Affairs Committee meeting here at about the same time, Trask was worried he might meddle in those talks. The time has passed when OHA deferred to the Hawaii delegation in Washington, she said.
Trask this week said she did not mean to offend anyone who is disabled or of Japanese ancestry, but she did not apologize to Inouye for her remarks. She compared the reconciliation talks to when the Japanese-American community two decades ago decided to seek reparations from Congress for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
The strategy then was that the Japanese-American community would take the lead in pushing the measure through, while others, including the Hawaiian community and OHA, were asked to support it, she said. "Now we issue the same call. Hawaiians will proceed with (reconciliation). We need the Japanese community to stand behind us," she said.
Still, Trask's name-calling doesn't help, said Kanahele, who has learned to be respectful of others because "it all counts" in the long run. Kanahele said Inouye has done a lot for Hawaii, but there's a lot more he can do to help the Hawaiian people.
Kekuni Blaisdell of Kanaka Maoli Tribunal Komike said it was wrong for Trask to say those words, but he understands her frustration. Blaisdell believes there is a grand scheme to place Hawaiians under a trust relationship with the United States, something he and others do not want.
Blaisdell said the ongoing Native Hawaiian Convention, the Rice vs. Cayetano case as well as the federal reconciliation talks could place Hawaiians under such a trust status.
The sovereignty group Ka Lahui Hawaii is conducting workshops to gather input from Hawaiians on the upcoming reconciliation talks with federal officials and to encourage native people to define what they want from those talks.
Workshops will gatherStar-Bulletin staff
input on reconciliation
The Project Hawaiian Justice workshops will be held here and on the mainland between Nov. 13 and Dec. 12. The goal is to find out what people would like to see in a recognition/reconciliation bill to Congress. The completed forms will be included in Ka Lahui Hawaii's testimony to officials from the U.S. Justice and Interior departments.
John Berry, Interior assistant secretary of policy, management and budget, and Mark Van Norman, director of the Office of Tribal Justice, Department of Justice, will be in Hawaii from Dec. 4 to 13 to meet with Hawaiians.
To confirm workshop dates or for more information, call 845-6246 or (808) 821-0004.