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Wednesday, September 13, 2000

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Sovereignty activist Haunani-Kay Trask holds the X-rated sign.

Some protest
Trask’s obscene sign

Some Hawaiian leaders say the
language was inappropriate and
detracts from the real issue

By Treena Shapiro

Many Hawaiian leaders have criticized Haunani-Kay Trask's use of an obscenity in a protest against Gov. Ben Cayetano's appointment of five interim trustees to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Some said they support Trask's sentiment, but not her language.

Trask printed "F---" on a piece of posterboard above the name "Ben" and joined 150 others protesting in front of Washington Place on Monday afternoon.

"It was an obscene word to describe an obscene man, namely the governor, who has committed an obscene act," she said.

OHA logo The word isn't as obscene as the action he took by removing the trustees, including her sister Mililani, and appointing his buddies in their place, she said, but it's one everyone recognizes as an obscenity.

She said her reason for protesting wasn't only because her sister was involved.

Cayetano criticized the Trasks and Vicky Holt Takamine for organizing the protest outside the reception for visiting Philippine dignitaries.

He said Monday "was the first time that children were exploited in the process, holding signs with profanity. The organizers of the demonstration -- Vicky Holt Takamine and Mililani and Haunani Trask -- should be embarrassed and ashamed that they involved children in such a way."

The governor said their actions reaffirm "my decision to appoint people who will discuss issues critical to native Hawaiians in a rational, meaningful and productive way."

Kahu Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell said that, as a reverend, he doesn't think that kind of language is becoming to anyone, particularly someone of Trask's caliber, but he understands her frustration with Cayetano's actions.

"The governor brings out the worst in people," he said. "That's what he's looking for. That's what he's getting."

Maxwell said he supports Trask's sentiment. "We as Hawaiians are frustrated, and you cannot blame the Hawaiian people. They are being attacked from every angle," he said.

OHA Chairman Clayton Hee, one of two trustees reappointed to the board, said the interim trustees Cayetano appointed will raise the level of discussion and dialogue, but he still supported the Hawaiian community's protests.

"We live in a country that was founded on protests," he said. "The thirteen colonies that left England were under protest. Protest is part of democracy.

"But speech has its consequences, and unacceptable speech has no place in a civilized society," he said.

As for Trask, he said: "Frankly, for a tenured professor at the University of Hawaii, behavior like that is unacceptable. And for someone who is at least 50 years old, it's a great disappointment, insofar as the message she is sending to younger people."

However, Trask said she was aware of the presence of children at the protest and was using the sign as a form of communication.

"Hawaiian children are going to suffer from the actions of Gov. Cayetano. And that is obscene," she said.

Kekuni Blaisdell, of Kanaka Maoli Tribunal Komike, said the OHA protest and Trask's sign weren't worth commenting on because they detract from the major issue, namely U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye's efforts to push the amended Akaka bill through the Senate, despite "vigorous and overwhelming" protests against it from the kanaka maoli.

"That's the one that keeps the colonial establishment in power and subjugates us as second-class citizens," he said.

As for OHA, and Monday's protest, Blaisdell likened it to "children squabbling."

"It's an issue, but it's minor," he said, adding that it had nothing to do with the kanaka maoli, the return of stolen land, or the Hawaiian people's self-determination.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs
State Office of Elections

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