Let us make room for all voices and respect each other’s views no matter how different they are from our own.
ʻAnoʻai kakou… Many of us still mark August 20, 2003 as a black day in Hawaiian history when a federal court judge forced Kamehameha Schools to enroll a non-Hawaiian student. This act was so egregious that on September 7, 2003, the Trustees and staff of OHA marched side by side down Kalakaua Avenue with more than 5,000 supporters of Native Hawaiian rights in a powerful show of unity. The marchers included representatives from Kamehameha Schools, Hawaiian Aliʻi Trusts, Royal Benevolent Society members, and sovereignty advocates. Also showing their support were many non-Hawaiians. The march was organized by the ʻIlioʻulaokalani Coalition and ended in a rally at the Kapiʻolani Park Bandstand. It was encouraging to see that people who often found themselves on opposite sides regarding nationhood could come together to support justice for all Native Hawaiians.
On February 26, 2016, the majority of the Naʻi Aupuni ʻaha participants voted to adopt The Constitution of the Native Hawaiian Nation. Again, it was moving to see people who were often on opposite sides of an issue come together for the good of the whole. There were several participants that frequently came to OHA to protest our positions on nationhood and yet we were all able to put those differences aside and finally draft the governing documents needed to restore our nation.
The governing documents drafted during the ʻaha must be voted on and approved by the Hawaiian people before they can be implemented. The Hawaiian people currently have the opportunity to examine the documents before deciding whether to accept them. Once the provisions of the governing documents are ratified, they can finally be implemented and the officers and legislative arm of the nation will be selected.
What we face today as Hawaiians, the indigenous people of our lands, is no different than what occurred over 100 years ago. We are still fighting to protect our culture, rights to our lands, and our entitlements. Times may have changed but people are still the same. Greed is still the motivation behind efforts to relieve us of whatever entitlements we have left. The fight is even more difficult now that our enemies have become more sophisticated in ways to manipulate us and the law.
We are one people. We cannot afford to be divided, not when so much work remains to be done. The struggle to regain our sovereign rights requires unity and the strength of numbers.
As the federal court decision regarding Kamehameha Schools proved, the future of OHA and other Hawaiian Trusts are certainly at risk. Hawaiian leaders will have to work together and use whatever resources that are necessary to protect those last remaining Hawaiian Trusts.
Let us work together for the cause of nationhood. Let us agree on the things that we can agree to and set aside the things we differ on and move forward together for the future generations of Hawaiians yet to come.
We cannot continue to let others decide our future. We will be one nation and one people.
“I appeal to you…that there be no division among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.” I Corinthians 1:10
Let us embrace each other’s views no matter how different they are from our own. Only then can we be as our Queen wished…ʻONIPAʻA, steadfast in what is good!
Aloha Ke Akua.
Note: Trustee columns represent the views of individual trustees and may not reflect the official positions adopted by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees.