by Andrew Walden
Native Hawaiian attorneys are skeptical about Nai Aupuni and the Kanaiolowalu Roll. That's the takeaway from a July 29, 2015 forum featuring Nai Aupuni Chair J Kuhio Asam speaking to about 40 members of the Native Hawaiian Bar Association.
LINK: AUDIO (Q&A begins at 27:00)
Here are some of the highlights:
"I have a question regarding the membership of the current roll. How are the names -- how was the roll constituted? In other words, everyone whose name is part of the roll -- did that individual proactively sign up?"
"So if the person is part of OHA (list) and did not opt out, that individual automatically became a member of the roll?"
"As I sit here, it's like deja vu from 1996 and the process of the Native Hawaiian Convention, the election and the rest."
1. In 1996, the question was to the Native Hawaiians, 'is this the path that you wish to choose?' and it seems that somehow a determination has been made that this would be the path, so you've left all of that out. And so there's no determination that that is what the people had wanted.
2. You seem to assume a high title of Na'i Aupuni. As I read that title, I'm asking myself, 'Who invoked such a high title of Na'i Aupuni' with names I have not been familiar with with regards to Native Hawaiian groups.
3. We talk about the reorganization of the Native Hawaiian Government and yet you sliced out the non-Native Hawaiians. You have already described the Hawaiian government as consisting of only those of the blood rather than those of nationality. I have some serious consideration about your right to de-nationalize those who are not of the blood who have just as much right to participate.
4. The Native Hawaiian Convention that started previously had not come out with recommendations but they were stopped short, because the funding agency did not allow it to continue with its operation to present its proposal or proposals to its Native Hawaiian people for ratification. Instead it came out with this view of the process driving more and more people towards integration within the United States and away from the independence position--or at least that is the appearance that is being given.
5. You suggest the vote--if there is a vote--may be either 'Ae or A'ole - and just by proposing that, which is common, but that is precisely what has divided our Hawaiian people--with an 'or' as a conjunction, rather than an 'and' as possibilities for our movement into the future. Someday we can bring together those who support integration as well as those who support independence in a commonality and somehow break that paradigm so we can recognize the bigger commonality than the structured choice of one position versus another position.
I noticed that during the ratification session, there is nothing there about ratification by the United Nations. I believe this is a requirement that ensures that we are recognized by the rest of the world as the Native Hawaiian government. Speaking of Native Hawaiian government, I've noticed in a lot of the communication that happens these days and as of 1998 also when Dr. Keanu Sai submitted a motion and a complaint to the US Supreme Court--it was denied. It was denied because the Supreme Court indicated that we are a foreign country and we have no diplomatic connection with the United States and that's the reason why the motion was denied. The motion dealt with complaint as to why all the treaties were made with all the 16 different countries--including five treaties with the United States. They were all cancelled. And in addition to the complaint about the cancellation of all these treaties, he also indicated in that motion that there were some damages, reparations that needed to be considered for the wrong that was done to the native Hawaiians. So I'm really concerned about that because in 1840 as I understand it, in 1840 when King Kamehameha III adopted the Hawaiian Constitution it changed the status of our government. Prior to 1840 it was a monarchical government--Kings and Queens. After 1840 it was a constitutional government. That brings a great question to my mind as to what we really are today. Are we still considered a Hawaiian Kingdom or are we--in accordance with the 1840 Constitution and constitutions after that--are we a constitutional government?
Once the roll is published--it talks about its intent to facilitate the process under which qualified native Hawaiians may independently commence the organization of a convention--isn't it true, given that, that anybody could form a convention using those certified under the Roll? It doesn't appear from Act 195 that Nai Aupuni has any more authority over anybody else....
Secondly, Kanaiolowalu process: There was millions and millions of dollars spent and it went on for a few years and I think that process, I don't remember the exact number, but it was 20-something thousand, thirty at best maybe as far as the registration that was done. And at one point, there was consolidation of these various Rolls that Miriam brought up. It seems to me that there's...not a very successful effort given all the time and resources that were spent and the few numbers overall.... What happens if there's not a high voter turnout. What if there's only 20 or 30 thousand people that actually voted for the convention--have you thought about that? Were talking les than 10% of the Native Hawaiian population. Is that really something that we believe is fair and is something that we all feel comfortable moving forward with as far as nation building?
We had a Native Hawaiian Convention--it was known as an 'Aha--during the 1997-99 period have delegates elected by the native Hawaiian community sat down and drafted and completed two constitutions. Before we were able to distribute them for ratification by the community, we were de-funded. OHA didn't like the result. So what happened was those We met for 17 or 18 months. We met almost on a daily basis--certainly on a weekly basis and certain committees on an almost daily basis. Those constitutions, the two of them that we completed in the year 2000 were never distributed.
So my suggestion is this: I believe that those delegates were duly elected by our native Hawaiian community back in 1999 are still in recess--they've never been dismissed or terminated. So what I'm thinking is not to upset the whole deal but if this process is going to review the possibility of drafting government documents, we've already got two that were discussed probably 100 times over and so I would like to see this process here perhaps review--so we're not starting from scratch, we're not starting from zero--we look at those constitutions that were discussed over and over again amongst the delegates and present that to this body here that's going to be elected and say, 'This is our starting point.' Rather than starting from scratch which is ridiculous. So those that participated--Poka was one of them--have spent endless time reviewing line by line a multitude of constitutions. We already did that so what I'm suggesting is that if you folks are going to get together and do this thing that we're suggesting, then what we need to do is not start from scratch. We need to start from where we ended in the year 2000. Let them look at these two constitutions. What the delegates may decide is up to them but I don't want to start from square one....
You're expecting our community to get it done in 40 days. That's a ridiculous timeframe. That's conceivably possible but the truth of the matter is that whoever did this took 17-18 months to get the two constitutions together. So even though you're making it a four-day working period to do all this business with the aha, I think that is an unrealistic timetable because it takes time to debate all these important issues for the constitutions that were drafted.
Related: Hawaiian Homes Commissioners, KSBE Trustees and OHA Trustee not on Kanaiolowalu Roll