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Saturday, March 29, 2014
OHA’s “New Body Politic” Will Exclude 77% of Native Hawaiians
By Andrew Walden @ 9:34 PM :: 7977 Views :: Akaka Bill, OHA

by Andrew Walden

The Akaka Bill has been abandoned with no version presented to Congress since 2012.  OHA’s Kana'iolowalu Roll is such an abject failure that Legislators passed 2013 Act 77 in order to stuff names from Kau Inoa and other previous rolls onto it.  But there is one thing which OHA has not abandoned: Its plan to exclude the vast majority of Hawaiians from any version of the Akaka Tribe.

The latest version of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ (OHA) scheme to transform Hawaiians into reservation Indians-this time without Congressional action--was outlined in the August, 2013 edition of Ka Wai Ola.  On page nine, highlighted in yellow, the OHA house organ explains:

Act 195, the 2011 state law that directed the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission to create an official roll of Native Hawaiians, declares that: 'the members of the qualified Native Hawaiian roll, and their descendants, shall be acknowledged by the State of Hawai'i as the indigenous, aboriginal, maoli people of Hawai'i.

This suggests that Native Hawaiians who are not on the official roll and are not descendants of anyone on the roll, will not be acknowledged by the state as a part of the indigenous, aboriginal, maoli population of Hawai'i....

There was only one problem.  Native Hawaiians didn’t want any part of Kana'iolowalu.

For these reasons, OHA strongly supports Act 77, a 2013 law that protects the rights of all verified Native Hawaiians registered with OHA to be included on the official roll and to receive all the rights and recognitions of membership.  Under Act 77, OHA will transfer all verified Native Hawaiians from Kau Inoa, Hawaiian Registry and Operation 'Ohana registries to the native Hawaiian Roll Commission to be included on the official roll.

Then, after noisily rejecting demands from Right Star grave robber John Waihee III for more OHA cash, OHA Trustees last fall shut down the Kana'iolowalu Roll.  But on March 6, 2014, with Waihee out of the picture, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs teamed up with pardoned convicted felon Bumpy Kanahele and protest-for-cash operative Walter Ritte, to announce that the Roll would be briefly reopened and that OHA would “serve as facilitator in Hawaiian nation building.” 

What does that mean?  OHA Trustee Peter Apo explains in a March 14 news release:

The Board voted to begin the process of dissolving OHA because the constitutional provision that established OHA requires OHA to hold its assets in trust for the Hawaiian people. OHA and the Hawai‘i state legislature have always interpreted this to mean we are a temporary placeholder for the Hawaiian Nation. Most recently, Act 195 passed in 2012 (sic) provides: “The Legislature urges the office of Hawaiian affairs to continue to support the self-determination process by Native Hawaiians in the formation of their chosen governmental entity.”….

OHA, in collaboration with other leading Hawaiian organizations, is initiating a process that will lead to an election of delegates to a Governance ‘Aha (constitutional convention).  ‘Aha delegates will then propose the form, scope, and principles that would guide the governing entity. …  Their proposal would be ratified—or not—through a referendum of the Hawaiian people. The voters will be the 120,000 people who have registered on the Native Hawaiian Roll to date, or who register when the Roll reopens from March 17 to May 1, 2014. Over $550,000,000 in trust assets, now managed by OHA, will be transferred to this new governing entity which will succeed OHA as an independent body politic separate from state government. 

According to the 2010 US Census there are 527,077 Hawaiians in the US.  Limiting the “new body politic” to Roll signers means OHA will dissolve itself into a new State-recognized “body politic” and disenfranchise 407,000 Native Hawaiians--77%--in the process.  The “new body politic” will control $550M in State of Hawaii/OHA assets and the larger body politic will have no say in the matter.  Likewise the larger group of Native Hawaiians who have no interest in Kana'iolowalu or any of OHA’s previous Rolls will have no say.  This is in line with the versions of the Akaka Bill introduced into Congress starting after Obama was elected which excluded an estimated 73% of Native Hawaiians by declaring them “not qualified.”

Ethnicity is being re-defined by the Legislature and by OHA as consisting of only those Native Hawaiians willing to go along with OHA’s schemes.  To sign Kana'iolowalu, one must affirm Hawaiian ancestry but also agree to two political qualifications:

  • I affirm the unrelinquished sovereignty of the Native Hawaiian people, and my intent to participate in the process of self-governance.
  • I have a significant cultural, social or civic connection to the Native Hawaiian community.

Native Hawaiians who do not affirm “unrelinquished sovereignty” – whatever that means -- are excluded.  Likewise excluded are those who do not participate in the internal backbiting and factionalism of Hawaiian groups vying for OHA cash.  If you are not politicized, you are not Hawaiian. 

From its formation in 1978 to 2000, participation in OHA elections was limited to Native Hawaiians.   Then the US Supreme Court’s February 23, 2000 ruling in Rice v Cayetano overturned OHA’s limited franchise, holding: "A state may not deny or abridge the right to vote on account of race, and this law does so."  Fifteen years later, OHA’s plan is to create “an independent body politic separate from state government” which will not only exclude non-Hawaiians but also the 77% of Native Hawaiians who have refused to sign on to any of OHA’s rolls.  Descendants of the 77% will also be excluded regardless of whatever political opinion they may come to hold.

OHA is not “holding its assets in trust for the Hawaiian people.”  OHA is holding its assets in trust for the day when its cronies can exclude enough of the Hawaiian people to grab the $550M for themselves

---30---

Background:

End of the Akaka Tribe? OHA Trustees Shut Down Hawaiian Roll Commission

Akaka Tribe: Frankenstein Bill to Create a Frankenstein Tribal Roll

Akaka Tribe “Disenrollment” -- 75% of Hawaiians “will not be acknowledged”

Akaka Bill: More than 73% of Hawaiians not "Qualified" for membership in Akaka Tribe

Apo: Trustees Begin Process of Dissolving OHA

March 6, 2014: OHA Reopens Akaka Tribal Roll, Announces Plan for ‘Governing Documents’

2006: A State-Recognized Indian Tribe for Hawaii?

Akaka Bill Preview: Tribes Boot Members Keep Loot

Reservation for a Broken Trust?

University of Hawaii Study: Native Hawaiians Fear Violence

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