State airports and harbors, University of Hawaii facilities, Mauna Kea on the Big Island and other sites are being targeted for protests by a coalition of Hawaiians.
Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Mililani Trask said today Hawaiian groups will meet this Sunday to discuss strategies for their civil disobedience in the wake of the Rice v. Cayetano decision and Gov. Ben Cayetano's reaffirmation today that he will replace the current elected OHA board with interim trustees.
Trask said today that "tempers are very high in the Hawaiian community" and that she, and probably the rest of the OHA board, will not vacate their office.
"Well, I don't know how he's going to remove me from my chair, unless he sends the police," Trask said during a press conference on plans for nonviolent protests.
Trask said she has been arrested and jailed in the past for protesting burial issues in Halawa Valley.
Cayetano this morning rejected Trask's call for civil disobedience.
"I think it is irresponsible," he said.
Cayetano defended his decision to replace OHA trustees after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Hawaiians-only OHA election was illegal.
The governor declined to discuss the situation in detail until he met with Attorney General Earl Anzai later this morning. He also plans to meet with OHA Chairman Clayton Hee.
"From where I sit, those positions are vacant," Cayetano said. "The attorney general so advised me, so working on that advice, I have decided that I have to replace the trustees."
OHA chairman Hee said yesterday he believes civil disobedience has a role to play, but this is neither the time nor place, especially since the trustees have yet to meet personally with Cayetano about his plans. The majority of the board doesn't support Trask's plan, Hee said.
Trask said the coalition is targeting the airports and harbors because of past-due revenue from ceded lands owed to OHA by the state. But Department of Transportation director Kazu Hayashida said today the state will not tolerate blocking the airports.
"If they do that, we will take whatever kind of action is needed," Hayashida said after meeting with the governor this morning over Trask's statements. "We'll call the police or whatever we need to."
Trask, who said she's speaking on behalf of herself and the 30,000 Hawaiians who elected her in 1998, said UH facilities will be targeted because UH has refused to provide tuition waivers for Hawaiians. "The University of Hawaii is built on ceded lands. They've never paid rent to our people," Trask said.
Native Hawaiian groups also object to the University of Hawaii's plans to expand the number of observatories on Mauna Kea.
"We believe and will push for peaceful, nonviolent civil disobedience to stop the further desecration of our native places and the attempts by the state to further diminish our trust assets worth in the billions of dollars," said Piilani Smith of Makawalu: Native Hawaiian Women's Initiative.
Healani Sonoda of Ka Lahui's political action committee said Cayetano wants to steal OHA's $320 million trust. The Rice ruling, she said, opens the door to further legal challenges that could erode all native rights and entitlements.
"Putting ourselves on the front line in an act of civil disobedience will certainly distinguish the grassroots Hawaiians from the Hawaiians who have sold out to the state of Hawaii and the Democratic Party," Sonoda said.
Trask joins move forBy Rod Thompson
HILO -- Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee Mililani Trask has joined those calling for "quasi-sovereign" status for the agency.
She says it includes the idea that OHA would pay for its own elections.
Trask urged the new status for OHA last night at a state Senate committee hearing at Hilo High School on how to deal with the Supreme Court decision.
The thinking is that an OHA that is not part of the state government would not have to follow the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling which prohibits limiting OHA elections to Hawaiians only. "We need a bill separating OHA elections from state general elections," Trask said.
OHA trustee Colette Machado noted that Hawaiians must now register separately to vote in OHA elections. She urged them to continue to register so there would be "some kind of distinction" between voting in OHA elections and in other elections.
Although non-Hawaiians could not be barred from registering under the Supreme Court ruling, they would have to take the added step of requesting registration, she said.
Hawaii County elections chief Al Konishi told the Senate committee his personal opinion is that state law still requires separate registration for OHA.
He later said he would meet today with election officials from other counties who believe the Supreme Court ruling may invalidate separate registration.
Others speaking to the committee had broader interests. Arthur Hoke noted that federal officials are now seeking "reconciliation" of Hawaiians and the federal government. He said that was the wrong solution. Since something was stolen from Hawaiians by the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom, the goal now should be "restitution," giving something back to them, he said.
Puna Lerma rejected applying U.S. legal concepts. "We are a spiritual people. We cannot separate church and state," he said. "The Constitution of the United States is a brilliant document, but it protects American citizens, and we are not that."
U.S. Public Law 103-150
OHA Ceded Lands Ruling
Rice vs. Cayetano
U.S. Supreme Court strikes down OHA elections
Office of Hawaiian Affairs