Holo I Mua
Christine Donnelly, project coordinator/reporter
Lucy Young-Oda, project editor
In wake of Rice vs. Cayetano,
what happens now?
AUDIO RECORDING AND
PANORAMA OF THE SESSION
Question: In light of the Rice versus Cayetano ruling, there seems to be an emerging consensus among sovereignty supporters that special federal recognition of Hawaiians is needed. If you agree, please discuss the feasibility of gaining that status and how you think it would best and most quickly be achieved. And please be as specific as possible as, for example, what you think Hawaiians should be willing to accept, what you think Congress will grant, or strategy; those type of things. And if you disagree with seeking special federal status, please explain that. Robert Klein: . . . .I believe the time is ripe after Rice to begin pushing that process even more than it has. And I believe it's being pushed, actually, right now as we speak. And I certainly support efforts to, at the national level, have that process move as quickly as possible.
Clayton Hee: Well, Rice makes, if nothing else, one thing very clear. And that is that so long as the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is a part of the state infrastructure, challenges like Rice will continue to erode the Hawaiian entitlements. Rice also casts a very dangerous message; and that is that OHA is but one of the targets on the radar screen...... other agencies such as Kamehameha Schools' admissions policy, such as Queen Emma Foundation and Queen Lili'uokalani Children's Center, and all other agencies, including the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, becomes part of the radar screen as well. So it's in the interest of not only OHA (but) all the Hawaiian agencies, including the service agencies ... to look at ways to keep the Hawaiian entitlement for Hawaiians within the structure of the opinion of the Supreme Court. To that extent, the success of the effort will be, in my view, dependent on the success of Hawaiians in carrying the initiative to non-Hawaiians.
Mililani Trask: I think that there is a growing consensus in the Hawaiian community that there needs to be a concerted effort now for federal recognition. Not of Hawaiians, but of a native Hawaiian nation. And I think that this comes out of the work of many organizations who have been working on consensus building for the last four years. ... It grows out of an understanding and a recognition on the part of Hawaiians and Hawaiian agencies that this is really the only appropriate mechanism available within the U.S. government system. ... The other reason why I think that there is support for it is that many Hawaiians continue to go back to the report of the Hawaii Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, which found several years ago that there had been 73 consecutive years of Hawaiian civil and human rights being violated by the state. And in their report, the first and second findings and recommendations call for the Congress to pass legislation conferring federal recognition and the status upon native Hawaiians. And this is a report of a federal advisory agency to the U.S. government. It's been out for seven years and it hasn't actually been implemented. Now, the appropriate way, I think, to go about achieving this status -- I do think it is very feasible, and I think the appropriate way to pursue it is through Project Hawaiian Justice which ... is a multifaceted approach and strategic plan for moving the issue of federal recognition and status through the U.S. Congress ... So I think that not only is it feasible, and consensus is building on it, but there's actually a strategic plan . . .
Kekuni Blaisdell: Our position, that is the position of Ka Pakaukau (a coalition of Hawaiian independence groups) is that if by federal recognition ... based on federal Indian law that we as a kanaka maoli nation become a domestic dependent nation (and) continue to be wards under the plenary power of the United States (then) we cannot accept it at all. We have to oppose it. We have to reject it. Our position is that we are a separate nation. We are a colonized people and nation. The United States is a colonizer. We kanaka maoli are the colonized people. And therefore, it doesn't come under U.S. domestic law at all, but international law. We have two separate nations here. And under international law, we as the colonized people, have absolute equal political power. So we do not accept the position that places us under the authority of the United States at all.
Robin Danner: ... I would have to absolutely say that, yes, that Hawaiians deserve and should receive recognition by the federal government of our sovereign political status. Kekuni discusses probably the content of that political status. That can be defined in many, many ways. So I don't think that political status should be automatically assumed to be the domestic status of Alaskan natives or American Indians. I think that has yet to be defined. Today ... Hawaiians are recognized as a racial minority class, and we're recognized as U.S. citizens. But clearly, we are deserving of a third classification that has political autonomy, political status, and autonomy from the state and federal governments. As for your question asked about feasibility. And again, history, from day one of the beginning of the United States, of this country, supports the fact that getting political status for native Hawaiians is absolutely feasible, because they've done it 558 other times (for Native Americans and Alaska natives) as recently as 1999 for the 558th native government ... The bottom line for achieving that, though ... is passing federal legislation. The content of the legislation is where the details of how much sovereignty we're allowed to exercise (is defined), whether it's within the domestic policy or whether it's beyond into the more international arena. . . .
Davelyn Noelani Kalipi: As you know, the (Hawaii congressional) delegation last week decided to form a task force to address some of the issues pertaining to native Hawaiians. Senator Akaka has always looked at resolving the longstanding issues regarding self-determination and political status. And for those of you who participated and are familiar with the reconciliation process, you know that these things were discussed and are being looked into at the federal level by the delegation, by the Department of the Interior, and by the Department of Justice. There are several methods on recognition and I think that legislation would be the strongest way. It can also be done through Executive Order, although that's more of an antiquated way of doing it. ...
Lilikala Kame'eleihiwa: You know, my job at the Center for Hawaiian Studies is education. So when I looked at all of this, I tried to think of that angle of it. Of course, I have long supported federal recognition. And I think it'll resolve a lot of the problems we have worrying about entitlements and this idea of being just a racial minority. The federal government has, in many of the bills that serve native Hawaiians, has defined us as ... having a political relationship with the American government. And so it's very appropriate, I think, that we move on with that. I think in the heart of every Hawaiian, we would like to be independent, we would like to have our country back. We would like to be where we were when Lili'uokalani was so wrongly overthrown. And when I look at that, I worry about if we got independence tomorrow, what would we do being a minority in that country. I would like to look at what our land base is. So at the Center, a couple of things that we're looking at is, what does reconciliation mean? What are the different avenues to reconciliation? What are the pros and cons of different kinds of models? ... How do we spread that information out into the rest of the community? ... Federal recognition ... is a buzz word now, but we really haven't had a lot of discussion about exactly what that means. What are the federal entitlements in education and housing? In health? What's the advantage? What are the cons? What are the ways that federal recognition has been different for the native Americans as well as the Alaska natives? How can we learn from past instances that they've experienced? How can we do better perhaps in negotiating with the American government? All those things are important. My small area of expertise is on land and land tenure in Hawaii. And I'm very curious to know what are all the lands, exactly what (is) the ceded land base? And I think maybe two people in the state of Hawaii know about the ceded lands today. Somebody in OHA and somebody in the state. The rest of us are sort of in the dark about it. ... So we're running a research project at the Center for Hawaiian Studies, putting together a database, looking at the ceded lands list ... looking at what's good for farming, what's good for fishing, where's the water resources, toxic waste, sacred sites, military uses. And from that database, when we get around to negotiating over the land -- and I think that should be done separately from federal recognition -- that we all know, and especially Hawaiians on every island know, where those lands are, what they want. And if perhaps there are state lands which are not on the ceded lands list that are good for our purposes, then maybe we can make a swap for lands that have toxic waste.
Keali'i'olu'olu Gora: ... Ka Lahui Hawai'i unequivocally supports federal recognition of the Hawaiian nation ... and has enunciated that position since 1987, since our creation, and we have been at the forefront pushing that particular mana'o (idea) ...
Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele: ... I'm very reserved about federal legislation. And basically, because I believe in independence, I believe that they stole Hawaii, and that it is a crime to steal any place in the world. No matter how small or how large the item is. In this case it's Hawaii, a whole country. And I'm just not sold on the idea that federal legislation can do it. And I have a lot of concerns. It's basically -- if you go into the international arena or international level, that was a big-time, gross violation, I guess, what happened to our to people. I would rather them recognize that. ... And it would be safer working with them at that point. Which means that I think the State Department should be involved in this, not just the Department of Interior. I can see the benefits if you start off working with them through federal legislation. And it can also mean a trap too. You know, that sticky trap they catch all the rats inside. First one feet go inside, cannot pull that feet out, so the other feet go inside. And that's what we feel we walking into. Now unless somebody can convince me that we will never lose the right to independence, because there's no other example out there that has gone into a nation-within-nation that came out an independent country. So I'm here for total independence, and I have lots of reservations about federal legislation of any kind.
Charles Rose: ... Let me just point out to you as inoffensive as I can, to anybody sitting at this table. I'm the chairperson of the Aha Hawai'i 'Oiwi (Native Hawaiian Convention) ... I've been involved in the uplift of the Hawaiian people for 29 years. Not too many people, except for Kekuni, can say that they've been involved longer than that. Anyway, during that time ... Hawaiian organizations have been organized, various efforts, some strong, some weakened after a time, some have just specific concerns that they wanted to be addressed. But not one of those organizations, myself included, and anybody here, can actually say that we speak for all of the Hawaiian people. Because the Hawaiian people have never been asked. So this is my effort. I want the Hawaiian people to make the choice. And . . . . I specifically want a commitment that the federal government will not interfere with the Hawaiian people in our effort to choose an entity that is of our choosing. ... I've got a lot of respect for the various groups that are represented here and the efforts that we've all made. But we need to figure out a way where we can present to the people to choose. And once the people have chosen, then the leaders of that group, whoever they may be, would be the ones that would be doing the negotiation on our behalf . . .
Danner: I just want to follow on his comments, that it is up to the Hawaiian people to make these kinds of decisions. They're huge decisions. They're not for any one person to decide. And I think almost every poll that I've read that's been done by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs or other polling, that the native Hawaiian people have said very clearly that they're not ready to choose, because they need more education, they need to understand what are all the options. ... There needs to be a lot more effort put into providing real information. Not "what if" information, but "what is" information, factual information that is available to us that we can give our people. . ... In the Year 2000, I would like to see leadership by all of you, and by the trust organizations, to once and for all bring our people together for the purpose of discussing programs, the day-to-day life, housing, health, education, all of the services that our trust organizations provide for us. KSBE, OHA, DHHL -- bring our beneficiaries, bring the Hawaiian people together to discuss that. Because we get lost in the word sovereignty. But when you really look at the word sovereignty, it is all of those things. Housing, health, how am I going to pay my medical prescriptions. And out of those issues, program-based issues, bringing our people together, every year -- every single year, not one shot, not just let's have a meeting and bring them all together because we have Rice v. Cayetano hanging over our head. Let's get our leadership to really take a stand, to be fearless, and to say I'm not afraid of my Hawaiian people, I am not afraid to hear their mana'o, I am not afraid to have differing opinions, and bring them together and say, we will fund this, we will commit to this, every single year, the same month, the same week of every single year. So that Hawaiians know that there is an opportunity for us to gather once again and to have the great debate. . . . Having differences is not a negative thing. ...
Klein: I think Rice v. Cayetano is simply a call to the urgency of all of these things that you're talking about, that we're all talking about. Because while we're all talking, many of the programs that are deemed preferential or affirmative action or what-not, run the risk of being dismantled. And that is the danger of the decision in Rice v. Cayetano. The ambitious campaign of going through many options. It's taken Mr. Rose 29 years to work on Hawaiian issues. Mr. Blaisdell, I don't know how many years you've put in, man hours, innumerable. Ms. Trask, same way, everybody else at this table has put in tons and tons of hours. And in the meantime, we're still talking. Maybe we're talking at a higher level, but our programs that exist presently are endangered. And in Congress, I don't sense a spirit of -- and I mean in general in Congress, not in any particular case -- I don't sense an urgency particularly with respect to so-called affirmative action programs. As a matter of fact, I think dismantling them is (considered) more favorable. If you look at the (recent) decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court ... there's a lot of backsliding on programs that help minorities. And that's the danger that we risk when we talk until the cows come home. We need action.
Kame 'eleihiwa: I would agree with that. I really am very worried about all the benefits we currently enjoy, especially for education. You know, I look at education as a way of raising our people up out of poverty. ... And certainly a land base is another way to do that. Federal recognition is probably not the cure-all of the problems and challenges that face us, certainly. But if we are going to stop further legal erosion of what is due to us, then it seems to me we need to proceed as quickly as possible to federal recognition. The question of independence, which is dear to our hearts -- I think that anybody I've talked to feels that way. It's not something we're ever going to let go. It's not something we're ever going to say we forget. That will always be dear to our hearts and we'll always be working on it. And right now, we have people going to the United Nations to work on that very thing, about reinscription. Until that can happen at the international level, I'd like to have something in place that takes care of our people now. ... We need our federal entitlements, especially for education, health, and housing. And those will be the next things attacked if we don't have our political status clearly defined. So I want to see us work on that now, and I want to see us discuss it a lot more. But I want the federal recognition to come and discussions about pros and cons to be ongoing.
Trask: I just want to say something in support of what Bumpy and Kekuni have said. And Lilikala, I think, is underscoring it now. There isn't any doubt that there is significant basis for us to move for independence. In fact, when you read the U.S. apology bill that was passed by the Congress, they acknowledge violation of international law, unequivocally. But that is not something that can be pursued at the Congressional level, because the Congress doesn't operate under international law. And this is why for many years, Hawaiians have been active in the international arena. ... As recently as two years ago, we got the (treaty) study report now calling for Hawaii to be reinscripted as a colony, which would give us the right to vote for independence. And that was directly the result of the Hawaiian people''s efforts in the international arena. I think the thing is, is that we have to realize that when you look at federal recognition, there is this limitation. ... I also wanted to very much support this concept of a beneficiary gathering. ... If we're serious about building on a consensus, working together to get to the Congressional level, it will not be achieved with a handful of trustees and politicians calling the shots for Hawaiians. That is not going to fly at this point. What we need is the funding to bring together the Hawaiian peoples so that we might begin the appropriate way of exercising our right of self-determination. But it's true, for Hawaiians and for this state, for the whole state, we need to focus on these programs: education, health, housing. You know, the state of Hawaii and its taxpayers cannot pick up the tab. They cannot bear the burden and they should not have to. We should be in a position to receive the federal benefit as Hawaiian nation. ... It's critical at this point that we have the old guard step aside and provide the funding so that we can bring together our peoples and move as a collective unit. . .
Question: ... I hear...on one hand, the need and desire to have a broad, grass-roots, nonpolitical (beneficiaries conference). On the other hand, also this increased urgency, given the Supreme Court loss, for quicker action at the federal level to protect the current entitlements. ... How do you reconcile those two?
Kanahele: You know, I think the urgency was because of the social conditions we're going through right now. ... And ... just maybe we're spending a little too much time on the political side. And we should look at the economic side, on how we can create an economic base or foundation for our people now. I've been working with a Hawaiian organization group in Maui which has just announced that they will be opening up a native Hawaiian bank. And the reason why I bring up economics, and it goes back since the 1400s and all that stuff, and the sayings go back as like true democracy requires economic independence. ... The Rothchilds was a clean example of it. It says, you know, let me issue and print a nation's money and I care not who makes the laws. So that brought to mind for me that it ain't necessarily the politicians, but it's the money that's making the moves, especially in Hawaii. Just so happen the money belongs to our people. A lot of the monies that are put in these banks, in particular First Hawaiian and Bank of Hawaii -- which stems from people that overthrew our government, the Damiens, the Bishops -- after learning this, not to bring up the old stuff and use that against them today, but after learning this stuff, then you start to look at you know, maybe we're playing too much with the political status or the idea of political status. Because it's too important to make decisions on that right now. Our people are not educated. And you know, it's spooky because something can be done to where all of a sudden you said, 'yeah, we'll go with that.' Just because it looks juicy, it looks so ono, but yet it's dependent. And so this economic strategy that's going on right now does include every Hawaiian. (He explains an initiative to create a bank with majority ownership by native Hawaiians, an enterprise that he speculates could grow into a holding company to protect the assets of Hawaiian trusts that might be under legal challenge in the future.) That's ... the fastest thing I can think of to protect our assets, protect our agencies that may fall. OHA is the first one going down. I have no doubt in my mind that it's going down. Even though we don't get along, I don't get along with some of the people there, they're still our people, they're still our agency, they're still our beneficiaries. I mean, that's our right. . . . (Building an economic base) . . . is a strong way of trying of unite our people, you know, because everybody understands money. You put the money on the table, they going look ... You know, the point is, how else can we say that without running to the feds and saying 'Hey, we need some kind of recognition so we can take care of our social conditions.' I'm worried about that. But I'll go in and say, 'You know what, we want to apply for a national charter'... that is much, much safer. It doesn't put our political status on the line. So I just wanted to bring up another avenue. ... I think we better be careful. 'Cause the economic base is coming and we going flush out all the thieves that still exist today. You know, a lot of our people has been playing ball with these guys. Cannot help, the position that a lot of them been put in has not been overnight, it's been for over a hundred years it's been going on. And finally I think it's pushing us all in one corner where we really gotta look at, OK what do we do now. . . .
Kame 'eleihiwa: I have a question about that, Bumpy. About the economic side of it, if we have a bank for native Hawaiians. If we don't have a political status and we're a racial minority. ... couldn't somebody argue that it's racial discrimination just to have a bank for native Hawaiians? And see, I think that's the issue that we're looking at for federal recognition. ... Are we gonna get a lawsuit because of this, as a bank only for Hawaiians?
(Kanahele explains how a legal partnership might work with native Hawaiians as the majority shareholders utilizing a nonprofit holding company.)
Kame 'eleihiwa: I'd like to ask another question of people who have expertise in this area. My understanding with federal recognition for say, Alaska natives, was that they had a bill, it wasn't perfect, every year they'd go back in and they negotiated changes. Is that correct or is that an option that we would have?
Danner: ... The Alaska native experience was this ... and their history really parallels native Hawaiian history in terms of our loss of land ... and the wake-up call for Alaska natives in terms of this sovereignty issue. They got their political status established in the 1940s, where they were recognized, they had native governments within the state. ... Thirty years later, having had that political status and being able to build the legs underneath them to exercise more sovereignty and self-determination, they went back ... in 1971 to the federal government to negotiate land claims. Claims against aboriginal lands, entitlements, and reparations for lands lost. So the Alaskan natives did it in a bifurcated manner. They achieved political status first so that they were racial minorities, U.S. citizens, but dual citizens in a political status so they had the third classification. ... The Alaska natives empowered themselves to political status first. Strengthened themselves, gathered their people up to educate them, to bring them together, and then they went back for land claims.
Kalipi: I want to say a couple things. First of all, I think everybody is pretty much saying the same thing. Everybody at this table, and I think the community, would like to see a better future for native Hawaiians, and as such, that would create a better future for all of the people of Hawaii, because native Hawaiians currently lead the statistics in negative areas. So that's good, that's a nice start. ... There is an urgency to do something within the time frame that we have. At the same time, however, I think Senator Akaka and the delegation understands the need for the community to be heavily involved. And along the lines of the discussion about federal recognition and models, I think we need to look at how other indigenous peoples and native Americans have addressed similar situations, and come up with a manner in which we can address the native Hawaiian situation. We can take what has been learned from the Alaska natives, we can take what has been learned from the American Indians, and we can use that to the advantage of native Hawaiians, with their support and assistance, to come up with a viable option. ... I'd like to stress ... that there are other groups who have been through this process. And we need not make the same mistakes they have already made, but learn from them. ...
Danner: And learning from them doesn't mean that we're going to become them. ... The point about learning from their history is so that we can capitalize on their successes and avoid their pitfalls. And go for things that they were unable to achieve. I mean, it's not about becoming them. We are Hawaiian. And there is going to be a unique resolution to this. But to ignore the history and valuable data that's available to us, I think would be a mistake.
Kalipi: And to address, Bumpy, your point. I think that this whole process involves economics, it involves health, education. It involves all of it. So I think in looking at it, we need to keep that in mind. That it's all connected. And I think it's important to say we're all going in the right direction. I think in addressing the need for urgency, it's urgent that the people be educated about the different aspects and that there be a level of understanding out there, so that people can arrive at a consensus for which ... the people at the federal level can then take action that's representative. So it's not unilateral, but it's together.
Kanahele: ...If Hawaiians have billions of dollars in cash and assets, and millions of acres of land, then why are we the worst economically distressed community in America? Okay, why? Now, that only says that whoever's supposed to take care of the piggy bank, they're not passing on to the rest of the family ... So I think we should take care of that piggy bank ourselves. As partners in one business, like this, and do 'em that way. We don't give up anything. ...When we going stop saying ... let's work on it, let's work on it? When the bank's over there smiling, watching us guys sit down, fight each other. I mean, that's where the problems stay ... It's not about our political status at this point (but about building economic power.) ... That's the bottom line. If we have that, then Clayton them could be on the board's bank or something like that. I don't know if I would vote for him as one member (laughter from the group) but anyway, the idea is that if we had that, then we wouldn't have to worry about agencies being mismanaged, you know, whether it's our land and natural resources or funds. That's what I was talking about.
Hee: What I'm concerned about is that your discussion tends to be exclusive. In other words, what you see as a solution rejects others, is at the cost of other institutions and -
Kanahele: Well, tell me what political status not being exclusive.
Hee: Let me try finish, OK? You had your say, let me try finish. And I'm happy to respond if you have questions. I don't see your discussion as mutually exclusive from political status. There is a wealth of successful Indian nations that enjoy economic autonomy as a result of political status. So the suggestion that one way is the way, in point of fact may not be accurate. Your point that economic autonomy is part of the segue to self-determination is well-taken, well-spoken, and I wouldn't disagree with you. However, the suggestion that there is only (one) way to become economically autonomous, I would respectfully disagree. As I would the suggestion that there's a bunch of good guys and a bunch of bad guys. It doesn't work that way. It's not the new guard versus the old guard, the new boys versus the old boys, the new girls versus the old girls. Because if that were the case, the majority of us around this table would be either the old boys or the old girls. This is not about us versus them. This is about kakou. It's not 'oukou. It's not makou. It's not lakou. It's kakou. It's not makou banako. It's not my bank. It's ko kakou banako. It's our bank. It's not ko'u aupuni. It's not my nation. It's ko kakou aupuni. It's our nation. So it's the success of this effort. And kakou means not just us as Hawaiians. It's us as a people. Because as we become better, society becomes better. As society becomes better, we benefit by it. And so I don't think the discussion should be taken to a level where it's either mutually exclusive or a one-way only type of deal, but rather it's mutually inclusive. And although you may have in your mind the way to proceed, that may not be the only way to proceed. That's all I'm saying. ... And that's the great privilege and opportunity we have as a result of Rice. Rice gives us a launching pad to move forward. It's ringing the bell. And you can't unring the bell. ... So really, what this is, is a privileged opportunity to move forward, together. And I agree with Noe. That I'm hearing the same thing, although it's stated in different ways. You know, and I agree with Lilikala. I mean, she's got the long view on education. But we're hearing the same thing. ...
Rose: If I may, I'd like to kind of like focus in on some things like in a practical sense. We already have expressed on this table a concern that some of the Hawaiian entitlement programs that are at the federal level may be in jeopardy as a result of the decision in Rice v. Cayetano. So I'm wondering if we can try to address that, first things first, and say to the federal delegation, first (thing) you do is to protect that . . . . And I don't agree with the judge that they're gonna diminish them tomorrow. Because Rice v. Cayetano took four years . . . (Rice's lawyer) has made a public statement he's gonna attack every one of those programs. But that's wala'au as far as I'm concerned, because those take time. And I work with lawyers every day, seven of them, and I know. Lawyers, they analyze everything, so it takes time ..... All due respect to the lawyers in the room. (Rose continues by asking what OHA is doing to try to protect its assets and management from further legal challenges, citing a story he read in the newspaper about a proposal to redesign OHA. Hee explains the draft is an attempt to protect OHA and its assets. Trask follows by saying the OHA leadership has been too secretive about the proposal and that it's been floated among "Democratic insiders" at the state Legislature before OHA's native Hawaiian beneficiaries know what's in it. She offers a copy of the draft to anyone in the room who wants one. Hee responds that the proposal is being circulated as widely and quickly as possible and in accordance with state laws requiring public hearings. He describes Trask's criticism as "unfair" and "nonsense." Since this discussion, the OHA board has voted to officially send bills to the Legislature that would transfer OHA's assets to a newly created non-profit private entity and has scheduled public hearings on the measure.)
Trask: (After talking about the OHA bill). (Another) thing I wanted to say was that I never appreciate when the press tries to create a conflict when in fact there is none. And the conflict that you propose to us, there's a sense of urgency now. But yet there's this need to delay and educate people. That's a conflict that you proposed in your question. That's not where we are now. ... There's been a strategic plan in writing that's gone through the Hawaiian community twice, since 1996, called Project Hawaiian Justice. In seven months last year, the advisory sovereignty committee to OHA, Paepae Hanohano, created a two-step democratic process for elections that put everybody on the ballot. It was placed in writing, and it was filed with the federal government three months ago at the reconciliation hearings. It is feasible, it is affordable, it's democratic, it's elective, it includes every initiative including independence, a two-step ballot process that we could pay for you know, probably with $500,000 or $600,000. That is also on the books. In the last seven years, there's been five pieces of federal legislation sent to Washington, to address federal recognition. Five pieces. Ka Lahui sent one up. OHA worked on one. The Hawaiian Kingdom sent one up. Why has that not been covered? There's several initiatives that have come from the Hawaiian community for consensus building, strategic process to take it all the way through the Congress, groundwork laid for support from the native American Indians, as well as financing coming in. They've been funding our effort for three years. Not only have they funded Project Hawaiian Justice, but they have funded the native Hawaiian vote initiative by which we have already registered 100,000 voters in this state. You put that together with the ... two-step initiative to have an election, and the basis is laid. We could have a beneficiary conference in 60 days. There's no reason why we can't have it in May. We don't have a conflict between the need to educate our people and the immediacy. We have laid the groundwork, and it's been laid over many years by the Hawaiian people. What we need is the funding from our own trust dollars to bring together all of us and the rest of the Hawaiians who are not at this table ...
Klein: I would just like to say, on this issue of urgency, I don't believe there's a dichotomy either. We have to be cognizant of the pitfalls, but we also have to worry about moving ahead with all due speed. I don't care what seven lawyers you talk to, Mr. Rose. Any one of them you should ask about things like restraining orders, things like motions for summary judgment in the wake of these decisions. You should also ask them about the effect of this decision on other planned initiatives which may not occur because this case is on the books. Any one of these programs could be subject to stoppage legally through the court system. And while you're appealing it for four years, you may find that there are injunctions in effect. Injunctions can be had rather quickly. That is a danger. And there is an urgency on the legal side to get these matters straightened out promptly, so we don't necessarily have to reinvent the wheel by having another case go through the federal court system all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to get legal action taken that's contrary to our best interest. And anyone who would believe that is not square in the legal system and fairly naive, if I might say so.
Rose: Let me apologize, then, right now to any lawyer here that I may have said something that maybe was improper. It wasn't intentional ...
Blaisdell: There's no doubt that the needs of our people are urgent. And they have been urgent. With respect to health, for example, the situation is worse in the 1990s than previously. There's no doubt about that. But to have to work within the colonial system and fight off what are called entitlements, which means they decide on what we get. And to talk about beneficiaries, as if we are wards. Wards of trustees, and they know better than us. It's really insulting and a violation of our inherent sovereignty and right to self-determination. So all of what I hear going on in response to the Rice v. Cayetano decision, to me is just playing with the colonial system. It doesn't get down to the root cause. And that is that we are a separate people and nation, and we have to deal with this problem as equals. Not subservient to the colonial system. And that's essential. So whatever is going on now - I've heard the term transition, that's an appropriate term. It is a transition toward what must be our eventual independence. But these are processes by which we, kanaka maoli people -- not OHA, not the Legislature, not the justice system of the colonial government, but we kanaka maoli people decide on our political status. And we decide on our social, cultural, economic development. But the system that's set up now traps us into federal recognition, traps us into this wardship.
Kame 'eleihiwa: We don't exactly have an option for independence right now with the American military occupying our country.
Blaisdell: That's the point.
Kame 'eleihiwa: And it's very difficult to get them to go away. Remember in '93, I asked them to leave very politely and they haven't left. So we've got a problem there. ... So what I'm looking at, Kekuni, is I really strongly urge that we consider federal recognition as a transition, if you like ... but to protect our federal entitlements now. You can say that they are a way of capturing us or they're a way of keeping us within this nation of America. We're in the nation of America. It is here. Every time we drive past a military base, we know that it's here, we can't even go on those bases. ... Every time we make an initiative about how we want to form a government, we've got the military bases worrying about if we're going to storm them and preparing plans to storm us back. I mean, this is an interesting conundrum that we have. What I would like to do is proceed in a peaceful manner and look at what we can do with what tools are out there. It's not a happy situation. But it only seems to me to get worse if we don't have federal recognition. So can we at least look at that. Do we (have to) say federal recognition cancels out the idea of independence forever?
Danner: ... In fact the Indian nations are not excluded from seeking total independence. As a matter of fact, it is a significant discussion that they are having together. Because they recognize that independence for them is not going to be achieved by one native government. There's going to have to be a collective effort, a groundswell of information across the nation. It's gonna have to be all of them together. They have been going ... to the (United Nations) for years. ... So I just want to make sure that everybody does know that they have not given up their vision for independence. But they are certainly empowered collectively by putting the legs underneath them and taking control of their rights and their funds, their economic assets and all of the entitlements that are available to them to push that next level for independence. They will never give it up. They will never give it up, nor should they, and nor should we ever give it up. But we have to look at a transition, as discussed today. But I want to follow also what Clayton and Kekuni were saying, and Judge Klein, about this urgency. Yes, there is an urgency. But my concern is that we let the urgency of legal documentation take precedent over our people. That happens all the time. The overthrow happened over a hundred years. There was an urgency in 1894. And 1899, right after annexation, there was an urgency. But ... we have to do what our ancestors did. They went around, they got petitions, they went out door by door by door, and they brought their people with them in that resistance. And I'm afraid that in this urgency, in this climate, throwing that word around, that we're gonna leave our people behind. Because self-determination really is a people's self-determination, it's a people's right. And I would like to see our leadership, every single organization, the leadership here, all the trusts, to say we believe in our people. We're gonna put our trust in them more than we are gonna put our trust in a quick law that's gonna be a quick fix to protect assets. Because I think that most Hawaiians would give up those trusts, those dollars. ... for sovereignty, for being Hawaiian. ... $325 million in the OHA banks was not there 50 years ago. And I don't want it to be the reason, Judge Klein, I don't want the money to be our guiding force. I want our people to be the guiding force, to listen to them. I don't know what they're going to say, but I'm willing to take what they have to say and I'd just like our trust, our leadership to bring them together and let's listen.
Klein: I understand that completely. All I'm saying is, when you have assets and you have the wherewithal to help your people, you should protect them. And there's an urgency to protect them now. Because if one lesson has been learned, it's harder to get something back than it is to preserve it in the first place.
Hee: Well, let me follow up with you, Robin. I mean, when I flew to Kauai to see you, we had this discussion there, and that's part of the cohesiveness that needs to take place. I mean, this isn't ... an us or me or ...
Hee: It's not about that. It's not about them, it's not about those guys over there. It's not. So long as one identifies the effort like that, it will not succeed. Period. And we don't need to look at history. History is smacking us right in the face. Why haven't we been successful all of these years? You know? So if nothing else, Rice has taught us a lot of lessons. One is, I agree with you, we need to listen to each other. Maybe we need to lower our voices. Maybe we need to put our arms down. You know, but we need to listen. And so I think that's what the effort is. It's not about placing blame. It's about dusting off your back pockets and moving forward. It's about chopping trees. It's about finding a way.
Danner: And it's about bringing our people along.
Danner: Up to your understanding. Because our people have all different levels of understanding of what's going on today. ... And why haven't we been successful? What is one of the key things that is going to bring it together, it is unity. As difficult, as time consuming as it is, we need to gather up our people ... and say I'm not afraid to hear your opinion, I'm not afraid to disagree, to agree to disagree. ... And that's why I offer, I would look for the leadership, the leaders around this table and from the trust to commit, to commit to our people that they will at a minimum, regardless of what has to be done tomorrow or next week in the Legislature, that we can get a commitment, that you will commit to bring us together at least once a year or twice a year.
Kanahele: I gotta go. So anyway, I wanted to just again put on the table that we cannot forget the violation that they did, OK, because that violation, under international law, allows us restoration of our government. Bottom line. ... Right now, we're only talking one side (about seeking federal recognition). The other side will eventually bring (Hawaiians) around to saying, What? You mean we can't go out and proclaim the restoration of our kingdom? I believe we can. ... But again, if we going take out one, we gotta take out the both. Getting to inclusive. You know, I real selfish, me. I willing to pay the price. And I believe our people first. And I get plenty relatives, non-Hawaiian and you know, my own in-laws and stuff like that. But it's always been you know, now gotta be all of us. And I get one hangup about all of us first. I mean, you know, before our people get together. And so that's what I meant by not inclusive in the way it's done, maybe the way I explained about the bank was dakine. But again, I'm selfish. I'm not greedy. I'm willing to pay the price. Greedy, I'm not. So with that, wherever this group going take off after this, I really like be a part of if we going sit down and have more of this kind discussion, and make things work. Because I ready for do something. And it ain't on this table. So I thank you for being with you folks ... and I'm just honored to be on the same table. See you folks, I gotta go pick up my wife. (Kanahele leaves)
Gora: I just have a closing comment ... Ka Lahui Hawaii really calls upon all Hawaiians to unite. And we really believe that it's time for us to put down our spears and come together, stand in solidarity, and seize this tremendous opportunity. This is a once in a lifetime chance for us to build this nation by uniting our people, by keeping everyone informed. Both those who are professionals as well as those who are the taro roots Hawaiians. ...
Danner: Before we close, I haven't heard from Judge Klein, and it's important to me -- and Clayton -- ... I can't get a feel from either one of you about what you think about the role ... of the trust organizations of bringing our people together (for a beneficiaries' conference). Do you see any value in that?
Klein: I see great value in that. ... That's what we're talking about as far as protecting resources. And the urgency of doing that. I feel that is very important from my standpoint. You have to have resources. I don't care where they come from. Whether they're entitlement resources or other resources. That's how you take care of people today. So we do need to do that, it is urgent, and we have to do it in a responsible way.
Trask: And along that line, there's $243,000 that was already voted on by the OHA board for sovereignty work. And I've suggested several times that we take this funding and bring together at least the first beneficiary conference to have all the groups and all the mana'o for our people put together. ...