HILO, Hawaii – A handful of passionate sign-wavers gathered on the highway near the King Kamehameha statue in Hilo, opposing a new federal rule creating “a pathway for reestablishing a formal government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian community”.
The U.S. Department of the Interior announced the final rule this morning. By noon, many people were already raising their voice against what they called “an invented process to create a Native Hawaiian Tribe.”
“This change is intended to circumvent legal, congressional processes, and Hawaiian community input,” said Healani-Sonoda Pale, founding member of the group, Protest Na‘i Aupuni. Pale was one of the organizers of a press conference at ‘Iolani Palace today.
“President Obama tasked his DOI to come up with a process that will allow him to use his Executive Order privilege and designate federally chosen groups of Hawaiians as recognized. Without any congressional oversight or congressional vetting, President Obama and his successor will confer immense power on a pseudo native government,” Sonoda-Pale said. “And this will allow the DOI to move forward with a process of creating land and resource settlements that typically follow legitimate, congressionally conferred federal recognition.”
“It feels like the overthrow all over again,” says Kahalu’u Kupuna and Protest Na’i Aupuni member Kapu Lambert.
The press conference on Oahu inspired the sign waving in Hilo that took place later in the day.
Chairmaine Bugado, who is a part of the ‘Aha Aloha Aina, said she feels betrayed by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which – in a media release issued today – applauded the Obama Administration “for bringing Native Hawaiians closer to having equality with other indigenous groups in the United States.”
“We know the truth and we won’t back down,” Bugado said. “This is American law and it has no jurisdiction over Hawaiian Kingdom laws.”
“We are a country,” Bugado said, “and healing can start now if everyone comes together for it.”