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View Point

By Charles Rose

Saturday, March 11, 2000

OHA logo

Hawaiian convention
is more important
than ever

THE U.S. Supreme Court decision relating to Rice vs. Cayetano has caused great concern within the community, especially among people of Hawaiian ancestry. At hearings throughout the state, Hawaiian voices have again been raised in protest.

Our people are very upset and rightly so. There have been calls for civil disobedience. While this remains a viable option, I believe that this is NOT the time, when we still have other approaches and alternatives available.

In my view, this high court decision and its ramifications make the efforts of the Aha Hawai 'i 'Oiwi (Native Hawaiian Convention) more compelling than ever. Information indicates a need to have a quasi-sovereign entity that would be the voice of the Hawaiian people.

As many are aware, the mission of the delegates of Aha Hawai 'i 'Oiwi is to present a form of government for the Hawaiian people to ratify. We are a people's process. We want to provide the opportunity for every person of Hawaiian ancestry to participate.

Twenty-two years ago, at the state Constitutional Convention of 1978, delegates recognized the plight of the Hawaiian people and proposed amendments that created the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

THOSE amendments were ratified by a majority of all voters, not just Hawaiians. They created OHA's Hawaiians-only election process, which has been in effect for 20 years.

In fact, in 1998, some 64,000 Hawaiians voted, the largest turnout by far. But now that this process has been ruled unconstitutional, where do we go from here and what do we do?

Conventional wisdom indicates that, in order for us to obtain true self-determination and sovereignty, we must now deal with the federal government. The State of Hawaii cannot grant us sovereignty. OHA as designed is not quasi-sovereign and thus cannot be the entity that represents us.

At last December's reconciliation hearings, Assistant Secretary of the Interior John Berry committed that he and his department would not interfere with the Hawaiian people as we determine the entity that would be our voice. However, they would be ready to enter into reconciliation talks once we have created our nation.

In other words, the venue for self-determination is available.

Aha Hawai 'i 'Oiwi delegates have worked since February 1999 to carry out that mission. They have developed an operational plan that calls for a ratification process to be held this fall.

THE plan has flexibility and is subject to modification as needed. The delegates also voted to circulate 1) a constitution for an independent form of government, and 2) a constitution for an integrated form of government to the people. They have approved draft outlines for both.

Our next general assembly will be held on the campus of Kamehameha Schools at 9 a.m. March 18 and 19 at the Kalama Dining Hall, and I anticipate that the documents will be finalized by then. We welcome everyone to join us.

We believe that we have acted honorably in this effort. To those who are hostile to us or who see us as a threat, I ask that you reconsider and re-examine your position.

Let us sit down and try to resolve any differences that we may have. The Hawaiian people need to unify. We cannot do it by calling each other names and publicly condemning each other.

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

Charles Rose is chairman of Aha Hawai 'i 'Oiwi.

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