OHA Named Co-Trustee of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

Gov. David Ige, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) and the U.S. Secretaries of Interior and Commerce have signed an updated Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) adding OHA as a co-trustee of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. It is the largest, contiguous, fully protected conservation area in the U.S. and encompasses 583,000 square miles of ocean waters, including ten islands and atolls in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

With the signing of the updated MOA, co-trustee agencies are: the Commerce Department (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration); the Interior Department (Fish and Wildlife Service); the State of Hawai‘i Land and Natural Resources Department (DLNR) and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

“Honoring, respecting and perpetuating the Native Hawaiian culture and sustainability are among my administration’s top priorities. OHA has participated in the decision making process since the monument was first designated by President Bush more than ten years ago, and previously, when the area was managed as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve. The monument is world renowned for both its natural and cultural attributes and OHA’s co-trustee role will ensure the protection of Native Hawaiian cultural features and provide a critical cultural sensitivity to every decision that is made to protect this unique place,” said Gov. David Ige.

“We fully support and embrace OHA as a co-trustee of the monument. It is impossible to separate decisions about nature from cultural considerations. OHA’s elevated voice and input will inform management actions on a broad scale,” said DLNR Chair Suzanne Case.

OHA has been one of seven collaborating agencies for Papahānaumokuākea, including NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and National Marine Fisheries Service; the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Ecological Services and Refuges, and the DLNR Divisions of Aquatic Resources and Forestry and Wildlife.

Papahānaumokuākea is rich in history and cultural significance. In 2010, UNESCO inscribed the area as our nation’s first mixed (natural and cultural) World Heritage Site.

“The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is of great cultural significance to the Native Hawaiian community and houses important marine ecosystems that the Department of Commerce is committed to protecting for future generations,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “Over the past 10 years, we have forged a strong partnership with the State of Hawai‘i and we look forward to collaborating with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs on our continued efforts to preserve this unique environment.”

“The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are home to one of the most diverse and threatened ecosystems on the planet and a sacred place for the Native Hawaiian community,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “By including OHA as a co-trustee for Papahānaumokuākea, we are highlighting not only the protection of natural treasures like the pristine coral reefs and deep sea marine habitats, but also the significant cultural and historic resources of the area that will be preserved for current and future generations.”

“We thank President Barack Obama and our partners and supporters for making this a reality. Since our community’s first involvement in the management of these kūpuna island more than a decade ago, the goal has been to get Native Hawaiians a seat at the decision-making table. We understand the challenges ahead and are firmly committed to fulfilling our kuleana to this place and our beneficiaries,” said OHA Chair Rowena Akana.

“This historic action rightfully places the Native Hawaiian voice at the highest levels of decision making for this culturally and spiritually significant wahi pana (sacred place) and will help advance our people’s understanding of the deep connection of our entire paeʻaina (archipelago).  We look forward to serving in our new role, in partnership with our co-trustees, to develop and implement a resource management structure that integrates the best of conventional science and traditional practices. We hope that Papahānaumokuākea will demonstrate to the world that integrating science and indigenous knowledge is the best management model to sustain our fragile global environment,” said Kamanaʻopono Crabbe, OHA’s chief executive officer.

OHA is a constitutionally established body, set as a separate state entity independent of the executive branch of the State of Hawai‘i. Its primary responsibility is representing the interests of the Native Hawaiian community, including in the monument, through the perpetuation of Hawaiian cultural resources. This includes the customary and traditional rights and practices of Native Hawaiians that are exercised for subsistence, cultural and religious purposes under the Hawai‘i Constitution.

Hawaiian Aha Convention Does Not Represent the Public

Despite a Supreme Court injunction that halted the race-based election sponsored by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, government contractor Na’i Aupuni unilaterally transformed the election into an “everybody wins” scenario, seating everyone who had been on the ballot.  The resulting convention–the stated intent of which is to formulate a government for Native Hawaiians–begins today amid continued controversy over the actions of Na’i Apuni and OHA and whether any tribal entity developed from the meeting will be able to pass legal muster.

Hawaiian Activist Walter Ritte escorted out of a meeting.

Hawaiian Activist Walter Ritte escorted out of a meeting.  Click to view video

The lawsuit against the election is still ongoing and currently before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In addition, Native Hawaiian activists continue to protest the political aims of Na’i Apuni and OHA, questioning OHA’s management of funds intended for the betterment of Native Hawaiians.

“The Aha convention clearly does not represent the voices of Hawaii’s citizens in general nor of Native Hawaiians in particular,” stated Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii and a plaintiff in the case against the election. “Whatever document or governing organization the delegates come up with will have no more force of law or moral authority than a wish list put together by any group of 150 or so individuals.  The participants in this convention have been misled by organizers if they believe that they are able to start a viable race based government. Their efforts are also at risk as the status of the Na!I Aupuni  process is still an open case before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals”

Dr. Akina continued, “The more than 6.5 million dollars of public funds that have been wasted on the Native Hawaiian roll and Aha convention have robbed Hawaiians of money that should have been spent on housing, education, jobs, and health services.”

A list of documents and filing associated with the case of Akina v. Hawaii can be viewed at:  http://new.grassrootinstitute.org/2015/10/akina-v-hawaii-the-documents/

Click here to watch a video of Walter Ritte protesting the process.

Announcement of Department of the Interior Hearings Raises Questions About Nation-Building Process

The United States Department of the Interior has announced its intention to hold hearings in Hawaii on a proposed rule that would establish a government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian community. The hearings, which will begin on Monday in Honolulu are intended to solicit public comment on a number of questions surrounding the establishment of a Native Hawaiian government, including what role the federal government should take in organizing that government and drafting its constitution.

Hawaiian Sovereignty Sign
The move comes even as various groups have called for a delay in OHA’s proposed election and Constitutional convention, citing practical questions about the impact of a Hawaiian nation on the state and the Native Hawaiian people. Though the DOI announcement of the hearings referenced the support of the state government and Congressional delegation in its decision to move forward with its rulemaking process, observers continue to question the way in which the advocates of nation-building appear determined to ignore the widespread lack of support for the process.

Also in question is the agency’s authority to recognize a Native Hawaiian government via executive action–an unprecedented step that could result in a legal challenge. In 2013, four members of the US Commission on Civil Rights wrote a letter to President Obama, urging him not to attempt to create a Native Hawaiian tribe in this matter, calling it, “unwise and unconstitutional.”

“Such precipitous action from the federal government begs the question of who it is that benefits from this rush to create a Native Hawaiian tribe,” stated Keli’i Akina, Ph.D. President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. “The low enrollment in the Native Hawaiian Roll and calls for delay from Native Hawaiians have shown that the Hawaiian community does not support these actions, a sentiment strongly echoed by the majority of those who live in our state.”

Dr. Akina continued: “The most astounding thing is that we are continuing with this process despite the fact that no one can or will explain so many key questions involved. Questions like: What shape would a Native Hawaiian government take? How would it affect all of those who live in the state? How would it change our legal process? Affect our economy? Change the face of Hawaii’s culture and society?”

“OHA and the Department of the Interior are treating the creation of an unconstitutional race-based nation as a done deal, despite all of the questions and objections that have been raised thus far. It appears that there is no real tribe to benefit from federal recognition of a native Hawaiian government — only narrow interests who stand to gain from potential land acquisition and power. I urge all Hawaiians who care about the future of our state to take the time to come to one of the DOI hearings and make their voice heard on this reckless and divisive proposal,” he concluded.

OHA Grants $1.24 Million to Na Pua Noeau

UH Hilo News:

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has awarded a services grant of $1,243,336 to the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Na Pua No‘eau, the education-based resource center for Hawaiian children in grades K-12.

The grant will allow Na Pua No‘eau to provide a continuum of program and events to help students with an effective transition from high school to college.

“This is Na Pua No‘eau’s 20th year of operation,” said Na Pua No‘eau Director Dr. David Sing. “We cherish our partnership with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and are grateful for OHA’s long-term commitment to provide its beneficiaries opportunities to reach their highest potential and to promote the teaching of Hawaiian culture, language and history.

“That partnership allows Hawaiian students from throughout the state opportunities to raise their achievement and aspirations, and to strengthen their knowledge and practice of their Hawaiian cultural heritage,” Sing added.

OHA to Inform the Public About the ‘Akaka Bill’ Via Two LIVE Television Specials

Media Release:

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs will present a series of two live television specials beginning this week to inform the public about the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009.

Also known as the “Akaka Bill,” for its sponsor U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, this important piece of legislation is now before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

“The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has long been in the forefront of supporting a measure that provides a process of federal recognition to Native Hawaiians and OHA will continue that role in support of the Akaka Bill,” OHA Chief Executive Officer Clyde Nämu‘o said.

“This is a complicated bill. We want to help both Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike understand what this bill means, answer people’s questions, and help everyone prepare for what we believe will be successful passage of this landmark legislation,” he added. “OHA stands ready to work with our Hawai‘i Congressional Delegation, the Obama Administration, the State of Hawai ‘i and our Hawaiian community. We appreciate the collective efforts and we look forward to the passage of this long overdue legislation. We are hopeful that the final version of the bill will be one that all parties can move forward with.”

OHA will produce two live television specials with community members and legal experts as panelists.

The first show, which will air on Thursday, January 7, at 8 p.m. on KITV, will feature community leaders as panelists including:

·      Lilikalä Kame‘eleihiwa, Professor with the University of Hawai ‘i Kamaküokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies.

·      Michael Kahikina, Legislative Chair with Sovereign Councils of Hawaiian Homelands Assembly.

·      Robin Danner, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement.

·      Bruss Keppeler, member of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs.

The second show will broadcast on Thursday, January 14, at 7 p.m. on KITV and will feature the legal implications of the bill before a panel of legal experts.  Both shows will also be streamed live on KITV.com.

“We encourage the public to email their questions now to akakabill@oha.org.  Viewers will also be able to call in their questions on the nights of the shows.  We urge everyone to tune in. This will be an opportunity for the community to learn about legislation that has the potential to positively advance the lives of both Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike,” Nämu‘o said.

For more information, go to www.OHA.org.

OHA Gives $25,000 Grant to HPD’s Bike Patrol

Media Release

Bike Patrol

The Hawai’i Police Department has received a $25,000 grant from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to enhance and expand the Police Department’s Bicycle Patrol.

The money will provide training for Bicycle Patrol officers in the areas of cultural awareness, crisis intervention, homelessness and mental illness. It also will fund bicycle safety training and the purchase and maintenance of equipment.

Bicycle Patrol officers now patrol downtown Hilo, Keaukaha and Puna. Those areas include neighborhoods in and around Hawaiian Homelands and parks where large groups of people, including Native Hawaiians, congregate. Long-range plans include patrols in other communities on the island.

The partnership with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs aims to improve the quality of life for people of Hawaiian ancestry, Hawaiian Homeland residents and other members of the community. It will enable police to interact with the Hawaiian community in a more culturally sensitive way, respecting Hawaiian traditions and practices. The goal of the partnership is to increase awareness and provide knowledge and skills for police officers who come into contact with at-risk individuals, particularly those who may suffer from mental illness. The ultimate goal is to lower the number of Native Hawaiians entering the criminal justice system, while still providing a safe environment for communities on the island of Hawai’i .

Police Chief Harry Kubojiri said he is grateful for OHA’s Bicycle Patrol grant. “OHA is giving us an opportunity to expand our services, even as the county faces economic challenges,” he said. “The community has responded favorably to our Bicycle Patrol. Children, especially, love to talk with officers on bicycles. We intend to reach out to them and foster a better relationship.”

Banyan Drive Removed From OHA Settlement

I just got the following Tweet from Nancy Cook Lauer:

[googlemaps http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=banyan+drive+hilo&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=33.489543,56.601563&ie=UTF8&t=h&s=AARTsJr-iBUJZkazckHZhcm4yiu1TICn7g&ll=19.726877,-155.065241&spn=0.014139,0.018239&z=15&iwloc=addr&output=embed&w=425&h=350]

Hawaiian Affairs hearing ends with plans to remove lucrative Hilo Banyan Drive property from OHA settlement agreement. Vote on Wednesday.