Wednesday, May 19, 1999

independence group
lines up its goals

A 22-member executive
group seeks to flesh out its
independence moves

By Pat Omandam


Delegates elected to champion self-determination for Hawaiians are expected to make some big decisions in the next month.

There are many proposals before the group's 22-member executive committee, including an educational summit and a constitutional convention this summer, said Ikaika Hussey, a delegate and spokesman for the group.

For now, people can expect to see and hear more from delegates as they step up public education. For example, as chairman of the independence subcommittee, Hussey plans to set up public meetings at beaches, parks, and wherever people can gather to "talk story."

Hussey, a peace and future studies major at the University of Hawaii, believes discussion of Hawaiian independence is neither a bad nor crazy idea, but has a viable future.

"We're trying to be as open as possible because that's the only way we can do this," he said yesterday. "At the same time, we're not going to rush this and try to do this haphazardly. . ."

The delegates were chosen in elections last fall sponsored by Ha Hawaii, a nonprofit group that is continuing the self-determination movement based on the 1996 Native Hawaiian Vote held by the disbanded Hawaiian Sovereignty Elections Council. In that vote, 73 percent of those who voted favored an election of delegates to propose a native Hawaiian government.

Critics of the plan point to the poor voter turnouts for both the HSEC and Ha Hawaii elections -- less than 30 percent and 9 percent, respectively -- as reasons to reject this movement.

They also worry that this effort will negate Hawaiian independence at the international level.

Nevertheless, the Ha Hawaii delegates push on.

Maui resident Charles Maxwell said yesterday that the group has had two preliminary meetings, in February at Kamehameha Schools and in late April at Waiakea, on the Big Island.

Maxwell said the goal is to gain more support and to educate the public and other Hawaiians about the efforts.

Although there is little funding available, he remains positive that what delegates are doing advances the self-determination movement. Maxwell also serves as chairman of the Hawaiian Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

Since the Ha Hawaii results were released in January, delegates have formed 10 committees, six of which address administration and four subject matter.

The administrative panels deal with the logistics of a convention, operations, rules and protocol, among other things.

The subject committees focus on population, fixed territory, government, and international relations.

Hussey said the population committee is looking at who is included as Hawaiians, and whether things such as blood quantum will apply. The government committee is studying forms of a Hawaiian sovereign government, mainly through the work of three subcommittees on independence, free association and integration or dependence.

The fixed territory group is considering what lands are to be part of an independent Hawaiian nation; the international relations panel is dealing with how Hawaiians relate with other nations and groups.

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