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Wednesday, March 1, 2000

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Hee says Inouye,
Akaka help needed

Their support is essential to
a Hawaiian nation, the
OHA chairman says

State House Judiciary Committee spikes
OHA bills as not needed

Cayetano: Civil disobedience 'irresponsible'

By Pat Omandam


If Hawaiians want to establish a federally recognized nation, the plan must have the support of U.S. Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, according to Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chairman Clayton Hee.

"It's my view it goes through the open doors of Inouye and Akaka," he said. "If those doors are closed, it's my view it doesn't get done."

Hee said the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion a week ago that the state's OHA elections are unconstitutional has prompted Hawaiians to be less critical of their contemporaries and more focused on self-determination. The missing link in the sovereignty movement is a unified voice in Washington D.C., he said.

"It's very clear in my mind, listening to the different communities, the opinion has struck a strong message that any kind of Hawaiian privileges or preferences must be out from under the state's umbrella," Hee told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin editorial board yesterday.

"That in itself, I felt over the years, was a tough message to convey. The Supreme Court has made it a lot easier. It's almost like an epiphany has occurred in some ways. No one needs to explain now federal status and recognition." Hee, 46, who is nearing his 10th year as an OHA trustee, said he believed there would be a sovereign nation by this year, given the "very powerful" observance during the 100th anniversary of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in January 1993. That event at Iolani Palace drew thousands of people who rallied for a restored Hawaiian nation.

Hee envisions an annual summit conference of 50 Hawaiian leaders that would determine Hawaiian sovereignty. But now he believes such a summit should be expanded to include everyone who wants to participate, a model used successfully by Alaskan natives.

Under one possible scenario, the functions of OHA could be absorbed by a sovereign entity. OHA itself would remain a state agency and act as a liaison to that new Hawaiian nation, he said.

But such a nation can't stand alone, Hee said.

"This nation can only be successful as its ability to work with non-Hawaiians ... It must function as a part of the larger community," he said. "If not, it's my view it fails."

Hee said he's surprised by the praise and encouragement he's received from people who appreciate the way the board is handling the situation.

For example, while picking up a rental car on Monday on Maui, Hee said a Hawaiian man came up to him and told him: "Keep up the fight." While having lunch at Columbia Inn yesterday, three people tapped him on the shoulder and said: "You don't know us, but we really like what you're doing."

"That's a new phenomenon; that's never happened," Hee said.

Hee was "on call" for a meeting today with the governor. Cayetano was also expected to meet today with House and Senate leaders regarding the Rice decision.

According to OHA attorneys, the Supreme Court justices have signed the Feb. 23 order in support of Harold "Freddy" Rice's appeal, but the court clerk has yet to certify it. Once it is certified, Hee said, there is a 25-day period in which the parties can petition to rehear the case, although Cayetano has said he won't do that.

Once that period is over, the decision goes back to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is expected to send it back to the U.S. District Court in Honolulu so the order can be implemented.

OHA this week has filed a motion in federal court to intervene on any action resulting from the Rice case. A hearing on that motion is scheduled for April 24.

House Judiciary Committee
spikes OHA bills as
not needed

Associated Press


Three bills to change state law to reflect the U.S. Supreme Court's decision regarding voting in Office of Hawaiian Affairs elections were spiked last night by the House Judiciary Committee.

The bills aren't needed, since the Supreme Court's decision last week that all people -- not just Hawaiians -- can vote in elections to choose the nine OHA trustees nullifies the existing state law allowing only Hawaiians to vote, said Rep. Eric Hamakawa (D, South Hilo), the committee chairman.

While the state Constitution still needs to be changed to reflect the court's decision, that doesn't have to be done right away, Hamakawa said.

"The attorney general's office told us we do not necessarily need to do that cleanup right now," he said. "The Supreme Court effectively conforms our statute in the Constitution."

Two of the bills would have changed the law to read that all people can vote in OHA elections, while the third bill would have created a system where the trustees were appointed, not elected.

He said his committee would consider any legislation passed out of the Senate.

Bullet U.S. Public Law 103-150
Bullet OHA Ceded Lands Ruling
Bullet Rice vs. Cayetano
Bullet U.S. Supreme Court strikes down OHA elections
Bullet Office of Hawaiian Affairs

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