Kahele on Federal Recognition: “My role is trying to figure out what the future path looks like….”
by Nina Lakhani, The Guardian, Dec 31, 2020 (excerpt)
… Kahele, an indigenous Hawaiian, was appointed to the state senate in 2016 after the sudden death of his father senator Gil Kahele (who was himself appointed by Abercrombie)….(Then Kai Kahele got a free ride to Congress with the support of Ariyoshi, Waihee, Cayetano, and Abercrombie, the Four Governors of the Apocalypse…. See how this works?)
…On Sunday, Kahele, 46, will be sworn into Congress as part of the most diverse Democrat freshman classes in US history, with newly elected women outnumbering men two to one. He’ll also be among a record-breaking five Native Americans – three Democrats and two Republicans – in Congress. It was going to be six, until New Mexico congresswoman Deb Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo, was appointed as secretary to the interior by Joe Biden.
“I’m elated because congresswoman Haaland brings to a very important cabinet level position a cultural and historical perspective that’s been missing. Indigenous peoples in this country share a similar history, a history of colonization, oppression and marginalization, and whose economic benefit and social fabric is unfortunately directly dependent on the federal government. I feel like we’re going to be able to do great things for our indigenous communities.”
They will have their work cut out, but for the first time many in Indian country are hopeful of meaningful change or at the very least, the end to decades of treaty violations by the US government which has had devastating consequences for life expectancy, political participation and economic opportunities for Native Americans.
Currently there are 574 federally recognised sovereign tribal nations located across 35 states, and according to the 2010 census, 5.2 million people or about 2% of the US population identifies as American Indian or Alaskan Native – descendants of those who survived US government policies to kill, remove or assimilate indigenous peoples.
In Hawaii, historical land grabs, cultural violations and economic abuses perpetrated by the US government in cahoots with western businessmen are at the root of some of the most difficult and polarizing issues today, according to Kahele. This includes the contested decision to construct a huge telescope on Mauna Kea, the most sacred mountain to Native Hawaiians, as well as water rights amid growing shortages linked to overdevelopment. Native Hawaiians are not currently recognised by the US government as sovereign indigenous people.
“We have an awakened generation of Native Hawaiians that know their past, they understand and speak their language and they’re not turning back… People are split about how to right the wrongs, whether it’s through sovereignty or federal recognition, and part of my role is trying to figure out what the future path looks like….”
read … Congressman-elect Kai Kahele represents an 'awakened generation' of Native Hawaiians