Another Perspective
Haunani Apoliona

Sunday, April 3, 2005

Scientific poll
shows majority favors
Hawaiian programs

Hawaiian sovereignty foes William Burgess, Sandra Puanani Burgess (Star-Bulletin, March 27) and Ken Conklin (March 21) are heaping praise on the Star-Bulletin for conducting an online "big question" survey regarding the Akaka bill.

What the three of them ignore is that in its own words the Star-Bulletin acknowledges this informal device "should not be used to determine the general public's opinion." The "Big Q" is an unscientific survey that allows all kinds of mischief to skew the results.

The response to the Star-Bulletin's "big question" was opposite of what Ward Research found in 2003.

Ward Research is a highly reputable, professional polling company that has been used extensively by many firms, including local media. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs commissioned Ward Research to do a poll, and here is the federal recognition question -- word for word -- that Ward Research posed, individually and directly, to 604 Hawaii residents.

"The Akaka-Stevens bill proposes that Hawaiians be formally recognized as the indigenous people of Hawaii, giving them the same federal status as 560 Native American and Alaska Native tribes already recognized by the U.S. government. Do you think that Hawaiians should be recognized by the U.S. as a distinct group, similar to the special recognition given to Native Americans and Alaska Natives?"

» Eighty-six percent of the 303 Hawaiian residents polled by Ward Research said yes. Only 7 percent said "no," with 6 percent unsure (saying "don't know." )

» Of the 301 non-Hawaiians polled, almost eight in 10 (78 percent) supported federal recognition, 16 percent opposed it, with 6 percent unsure.

Again, those numbers are exactly opposite the results reported in the nonscientific online survey posed by the Star-Bulletin on the Akaka bill.

The Ward Research poll also asked about self-governance and nationhood. Here was one question asked by Ward Research: "Hawaiian governance means the right of Hawaiians to make decisions about their land, education, health, cultural and traditional practices, and social policies. Do you believe that Hawaiians have a right to make these decisions?"

» Eighty-five percent of Hawaiians said yes, only 8 percent said no and 7 percent were unsure.

» Seventy-nine percent of non-Hawaiians also said yes to self-governance by Hawaiians. Sixteen percent said no and 5 percent were unsure.

Another question involved the formation of a new Hawaiian governing entity:

"There has been talk about creating a Hawaiian nation or a Hawaiian government that would represent the Hawaiian people in their dealings with the state and the federal government. Do you agree or disagree that a Hawaiian entity of some kind should be formed?"

» Seventy-two percent of Hawaiians agreed a Hawaiian entity should be formed, while 20 percent disagreed and 8 percent were unsure ("don't know.")

» Non-Hawaiians split down the middle, with more than half (53 percent) agreeing with this proposal, 38 percent disagreeing and 9 percent unsure.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs understands the Akaka bill and other programs that help Hawaiians have opponents, including those in the Hawaiian community. But this professional poll by Ward Research found that the silent majority of all segments of Hawaii support the continuation of those programs, and passage of the Akaka bill.

As for William Burgess and Conklin, we believe readers should consider the source. They are well known for their opposition to all the federal programs that help Hawaiians, in addition to the Akaka bill.

Burgess is the attorney for wealthy clients trying to kill all programs set up to right the wrongs of the past. Those include Thurston Twigg-Smith, whose grandfather was a major player in the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893.

Conklin operates an anti-Hawaiian Web page in which he refers to the apology bill passed by Congress and signed by the president in 1993, acknowledging the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. Conklin writes: "The resolution gave an apology for the minor role of the U.S. in that event ..."

Even Congress saw the U.S. role as more than "minor" in apologizing for the overthrow.

Public Law 103-150, enacted by Congress and signed into law by the president as the apology bill, "apologizes to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the people of the United States for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii on January 17, 1893 with the participation of agents and citizens of the United States, and the deprivation of the rights of Native Hawaiians to self-determination."

Perhaps what Burgess and Conklin are afraid of are the other questions posed by Ward Research.

Poll question: "There are over 100 federally funded programs for Hawaiians in the fields of health, education, employment, economic development and housing. Do you believe that these special programs should continue?"

» Ninety-three percent of Hawaiians said yes, and 82 percent of non-Hawaiians also agreed that the programs should continue.

Another question about litigation led by Burgess and vigorously supported by Conklin.

"Recently in a court case called Arakaki vs. Lingle, formerly called Arakaki vs. Cayetano, the plaintiff challenged the legality of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs as illegal, race-based programs. Do you agree or disagree that these agencies are illegal because they are race-based?"

» Seventy-three percent of Hawaiians disagreed with the lawsuit, along with just over half (55 percent) of the non-Hawaiians. Only 15 percent of Hawaiians agreed with the lawsuit, along with 25 percent of non-Hawaiians.

OHA doesn't dispute the media's right to conduct free online surveys about issues instead of hiring professional research firms. We understand these samplings are generated by the many voices being heard in our democratic society about these important issues.

We urge all Hawaii to be skeptical of and scrutinize unscientific samplings.

Haunani Apoliona is the chairwoman of the Board of Trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

E-mail to Editorial Page Editor


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- http://archives.starbulletin.com