Let’s Give The Palace To OHA

Larry Price
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Wednesday - September 03, 2008
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It appears there is a disconnect between national and local politics where the question of Native Hawaiian self-determination and sovereignty is concerned.

At the Democratic National Convention in Denver, the Democratic Party went out of its way to adopt the issue of Native Hawaiian self-determination and sovereignty. The platform goes on to say the party will respect Native Hawaiian culture rights and sacred places. How come it took so long for them to admit that there is a problem that has begged for a solution since at least 1959. Why is it important now?

After another attempted takeover of Iolani Palace this year, it’s obvious something needs to be done.

At the Constitutional Convention in 1978, after impassioned testimony from all sides, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs was born. Listening to leaders of the Hawaiian community such as Frenchy DeSoto and John Waihee III was a real education on what the problems were.

The consensus, after all was said and done, was that the Hawaiians deserved an organization that could justly handle all reparations that would come down the political channels and the concerns about what to do with them.

Here we are now, 30 years after the fact, and OHA is doing a fine job of representing the Hawaiian community. There are complaints and the petty bickering you would expect under the circumstances; however, it is orderly, legal and coherent policy making in the name of Native Hawaiians.

The repeated takeover of Iolani Palace is out of order in today’s economy. To begin with, there are just too many would-be kings, queens and other sovereignty groups around the state. How many “Kingdoms of Hawaii” groups do you think there are in Hawaii right now? And all of them are claiming to have a legitimate right to reclaim Hawaii for their own kind of sovereignty. The number is more than 30! And all of them have their own king, queen and ministers of this and that. Even King Kamehameha the Great couldn’t control these individuals.

A simple solution is for state leaders to bestow the safekeeping of Iolani Palace on OHA immediately. It has the leadership talent currently on board that can protect the treasures there and avoid the lack of maintenance that befalls so many other precious historic landmarks in the Islands. If Iolani Palace is to be the focus of Native Hawaiian self-determination and sovereignty, why not let OHA do it the right way? That’s what they were elected to do.

The idea of allowing the Democratic Party to take the lead in making the problems facing the Native Hawaiian community right makes no sense. If that had been a sincere part of their party platform, they should have done it when we became a state. Under the current climate surrounding the Native Hawaiians’ concerns, nothing meaningful is likely to surface. Imagine having the Department of Land and Natural Resources responsible for the security and protection of the treasures at Iolani Palace?

It sounds like a political pitch to create a state police force to protect Native Hawaiian cultural rights and sacred places, because the palace and its contents do not fall under HPD’s jurisdiction.

One thing our economy doesn’t need right now is the problem escalating to a point where it spills over into Waikiki and the tourist industry. Before you know it, pushing and shoving will escalate into violence and bloodshed. It’s all unnecessary; just give Iolani Palace back to the Native Hawaiians through OHA.

It’s worth a try, because one thing is for sure, none of the would-be kings and queens from the numerous “Kingdoms of Hawaii” has the leadership ability to handle such a scary responsibility. Make no mistake, with or without the Democrats’ blatant political ploy in Denver, eventually the Native Hawaiian self-determination and sovereignty problem has to be resolved, and the sooner the better.

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