- How do you think social workers should or should not participate in this discussion? Do you think NASW Hawai`i should come out in support of one particular position?
- I think social workers should definitely participate in this discussion. I feel like social workers take a stance on almost everything else human right’s related and that this issue is very, very important to the Native Hawaiian community. I don’t think, however, that this necessarily means taking a particular position. I think it’d be fair enough to say something along the lines of respecting Native Hawaiians’ wishes, whatever that may be, and respecting the right to self-determination.
- What differences in language did you notice in the readings and in the video in regards to sovereignty, de-occupation, federal recognition, etc.?
- I really thought this was a well-rounded panel of people. I was surprised to hear that they had a lot more in common than they had in opposition even though everyone’s stances varied widely. I would have thought that Dexter Kaiama, who supports de-occupation, would have been a little more… passionate… about his stance but even he had very sound claims. I thought it was funny when he said he wished he could get John Waihee on his team because people listen to him. As Dexter was going on about the legalities of the annexation and what happened 125 years ago, Esther kind of argued that it was not the way to get recognition. I loved how everyone had different approaches to similar ends. My favorite part of the entire video was when John Waihee said he hopes that everyone would win. He see the bigger picture in mind that there can be many means to an end, and a victory for one can be a victory for all and that Native Hawaiians need to be leaning on each other more and using the same tools.
- How do you think you can and should participate in advocating around this issue? Have you previously participated in advocacy work around this issue?
- At first, I thought I shouldn’t participate in the issue. I’m not Native Hawaiian, and my family just got here a couple generations ago. As I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, I felt like I didn’t “have a seat at the table”. But didn’t someone say if you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re probably on the menu? I guess it’s about time I come around. Clayton Hee was talking about how race didn’t really matter. His mom, who is Native Hawaiian, said that if non-Hawaiians weren’t involved in the process, to count her out. Because the fact of the matter is that Native Hawaiians are not living in a Hawaiian only bubble. Dexter Kaiama also said the Hawaiian Kingdom comprised of many different races, that it was all inclusive and that even a haole like me could still be a Hawaiian national. After growing up with the Hawaiian Sovereignty issue, I still cannot fully decide how I can participate in the issue in a meaningful way.
- Where do you personally stand on the issue? Did the video and readings help clarify this?
- I don’t even know if I stand on the spectrum. I am still taking in different accounts and if anything, the videos and readings just magnify how fragmented the Native Hawaiian community is on this, and that is the part that makes me sad. I have questions though about how sovereignty would realistically look like. For example, I just purchased a piece of land here on the Big Island. I purchased it legally, like any other real estate transaction, or so I thought… The family I bought it from consisted of several siblings fighting over the property and although we purchased it from the legal owner, there is a brother threatening to take us to court under the premise that because the overthrow was illegal, our land purchase is null and void. He has trespassed on our property numerous times and has even showed up at The Planning Department’s hearings to contest our zoning. Everyone thus far has written him off as a greedy sibling who feels like he didn’t get his cut and even The Planning Department shut him down very quickly. But I feel stuck because I don’t want to be in a position where my actions are directly hurting a Native Hawaiian’s wishes for sovereignty and yet, that is what’s happening right now. Even though I feel like we’ve been pono in all of our actions, should we relinquish this land based off of this gentleman’s annexation argument? Also, I have Native Hawaiian friends who benefit from living in statehood and have things that would not be possible in a sovereign nation. For example, many of our friends are home owners through The Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. My friends’ kids can attend any private school of their choice through Pauahi Scholarships, including private preschools. What happens if we de-occupy and the state and feds pull out? Would we divert back to an agricultural economy and subsistence farming? Right now, Hawaii is a highly-coveted state for its pacific presence. If it weren’t a part of the US, how long would it be before someone like China came in and swooped us up?