Discourse on Hawaiian Sovereignty

As we move forward towards certifying the list of over 125,000 Native Hawaiians on the Kanaʻiolowalu registry and then to the next steps of nation building, engaging discourse continues. The May 11, 2014 Star Advertiser editorial titled “Hawaiian sovereignty?” gives interesting insight from State Senator Brickwood Galuteria on the importance of unity and having a collective voice of Native Hawaiians as well as OHA candidate Keliʻi Akina on his concerns about some Hawaiians opting for a tribal status at some point in the future. Once the list is certified and we move to the election of convention delegates and the governance convention itself, it is important that we continue this discourse and dialogue. Standing up, unifying, engaging, and being a part of the process - that is exactly the goal of creating and certifying the Kanaʻiolowalu registry of Native Hawaiians who are ready to take the next steps.

If you agree with Senator Galuteria that now is the time for our people to unite and move forward in self-governance, sign the Kana`iolowalu petition. All – Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians – may support this historic cause.

For Native Hawaiians, unity is our most precious possession
By State Senator Brickwood Galuteria

Recent public discussion on the issue of nation building has missed the bigger picture of how creating “one voice” for Native Hawaiians will affect Hawaii politics. Let’s put it into perspective: More than 125,000 Native Hawaiians are listed on the Native Hawaiian Roll, and out of this number, more than 100,000 live in Hawaii. Many suggest that 65 percent of them are registered voters. What does this mean?

This means that a movement toward greater political influence by Native Hawaiians is imminent. This means that Native Hawaiians will impact political consequence, which affects all aspects of life in Hawaii. By conservative estimates, even if only half of the Roll engages as “one voice”, it outnumbers some of the largest political entities currently in play. As a sitting State Senator, it is clear to me that the sheer numbers of civically engaged Hawaiians will impact State policy, not only for Hawaiians, but for all people of Hawaii. To realize this substantial political sway we must stand together and seize the moment. He waiwai nui ka lokahi…unity is our most precious possession.

With thousands on the Roll, momentum is on our side. Kana‘iolowalu has allowed for a much-needed forum bringing people together for impassioned discussions and decision-making on the path toward a governing entity. Let us move diligently through the next steps and place that dialogue within a formal process. The current proposed timeline, albeit ambitious, has election of delegates in September, an ‘Aha (convention) to draft a governing document in October/November, and the vote on this document by all listed on the Roll as early as January 2015.

Suggestions have been made to extend the process by 6-9 months for more education. To be fair and factual, the Kana‘iolowalu campaign was launched on July 20, 2012, that’s almost two years of active list enrollment, public education and awareness initiatives. There is more than enough information out there for people to learn and understand.

For too many years, we have been a people divided by varying visions of self-governance. That is a healthy debate that will soon have its voice. The ‘Aha is where these debates should take place. Derailing or slowing efforts now will only stall a good process that gives those who’ve chosen to engage in this historic initiative a hand in crafting a government model.

OHA has served well as a “neutral and fair facilitator” in the people’s nation-building effort thus far. But, the recent controversy has been quite telling. As a learning takeaway we recognize that despite the varying degrees of what self-governing looks like, we all share the common goal of doing what is pono for the Native Hawaiian community. What I’ve also learned is that perhaps OHA is better suited to simply fund the initiative from its trust portfolio and turn the actual process over to a third party or a consortium of entities better suited to do the job. There are trusted and credible Native Hawaiian groups with skill sets to take on the challenge. If there ever was a “kakou thing”…this is it.

The impetus behind Kana‘iolowalu is, in essence, to bring those who wish to participate to the table, and ultimately move our people forward – united – toward a political solution and greater political authority sooner than later…that’s the bigger picture.

printed with author's permission