Unlike previous Ka Wai Ola governance articles, this month I share with you Native Hawaiian “images” 50 years into the future about a recognized Native Hawaiian government’s impact on a Native Hawaiian family – the Makani-West ʻohana. These images focus on stable housing, employment and education. I also share general explanations of how this future is possible.

First, let me briefly introduce you to the Makani-West family. Momi Makani is a Hawaiian mother and wife. Kurt West is Momi’s non-Hawaiian husband. Ikaika is their 7-year-old son. Momi is also a citizen of the Native Hawaiian government and maintains her U.S. citizenship.

Stable Housing

In this future, the Native Hawaiian government provides housing to its citizens and reduces Hawaiʻi’s housing shortage. The Hawaiian government acknowledges that its citizens need affordable housing to remain in their homeland and as a result makes housing available on its land base at-cost.

The Hawaiian government makes housing available independent of the state and county governments since it has governing authority on its land base.

Momi buys and moves her family into an affordable three-bedroom, two-bathroom single-family home on the land base and no longer worries about having to leave Hawaiʻi to own a home.

Employment

In this same future, the Native Hawaiian government enacts an employment ordinance on its land base with a preference for citizens of Native nations and their spouses. This citizenship-preference is consistent with the U.S. federal policy supporting indigenous self-determination as well as relevant Supreme Court cases.

The Native Hawaiian government has several job openings on its land base; both Momi and Kurt respectively apply for policy advocate and water management supervisor positions. Momi and Kurt go to several interviews and are listed with other equally qualified candidates comprised of citizens and non-citizens. Later, Momi and Kurt are hired in a manner consistent with the employment preference ordinance. Momi and Kurt have stable jobs on the land base that include valuable benefits like healthcare insurance.

Education

The Native Hawaiian government increases student academic achievement and cultural fluency by partnering with Native Hawaiian charter schools and others on its land base.

The Hawaiian government is primarily a supporter of these charter schools while also serving as a type of “regulator” to ensure student success. Because the Hawaiian government takes care of the charter schools’ main expenses, including facilities, school officials spend less time fundraising and more time educating keiki.

Momi wants Ikaika to have a well-rounded education infused with Native Hawaiian culture and values and enrolls Ikaika in the charter school on the land base. Ikaika grows academically and with a strong cultural identity with support from his community. For the Hawaiian government, an adequate cultural education is necessary for ensuring Native Hawaiian identity. The government and Momi share the same vision for Hawaiian education.

Quality of Living

The Native Hawaiian government significantly enhances the Makani-West family’s quality of living.

Affordable home ownership and well-paying employment opportunities on the land base allow the Makani-West family to focus on other goals and dreams for themselves and their community. Perhaps they will focus on improving their health. Or maybe they will get involved in more community or cultural activities since they no longer need to work multiple jobs just to pay the bills. The point is, the Makani-West family get to make more lifestyle choices for themselves.

The Native Hawaiian government’s citizenry is important to its success. The government responds to its citizens’ needs and advances their interests. The Native Hawaiian government and its citizens work together to make this all possible.

Now, imagine the future you want for your family and the Native Hawaiian people collectively. Then, think about what a future Native Hawaiian government can do to support those “images.”


OHA’s Governance Program examines different governance models, issues, etc., and shares information with our beneficiaries through monthly KWO columns.