Official language unusable for official business?

Published On: Aug 04 2013 01:47:00 PM HST

A native Hawaiian speaker claims the state is putting up roadblocks to Hawaii's native language.

Daniel Anthony claimed communicating in Hawaiian actually landed him in court. Now, he is speaking up about speaking the language.

The Hawaiian language is used in many official ceremonies and state events, after all, it is one of Hawaii's two official languages.

For Anthony, speaking Hawaiian is an important part of his life. He also feels it sends the right message to his children.

"My children go to Hawaiian language schools. We are raising the next generation to be proud of their culture and to live their culture," said Anthony.

When he tried to use the official language on official business, Anthony claimed he ran into a problem, "I found it difficult to deal with any state agency in Hawaiian. The extreme disrespect and discrimination coming from the state was appalling."

Anthony claimed he could not get a driver's license despite five requests to take the exam in Hawaiian. Each time his request was denied.

"Aia kekahikanakaolelo Hawaii. My name is Daniel Anthony. Does anyone here speak Hawaiian? I was laughed at, told I had to speak English, then told to leave," said Anthony.

His attorney, DesterKaiama, filed a motion to dismiss Anthony's traffic case of driving without a license. He claimed Hawaii's courts don't have jurisdiction over native Hawaiians because there was no treaty of annexation over a century ago.  But Kaiama also adds, the current state constitution upholds the Hawaiian language.

"Because it is recognized in the constitution, the law does provide Anthony certain rights and protections," said Kaiama.

Anthony is taking a stand in traffic court to force the state to allow one of its official languages to be more frequently used. He also wanted to encourage native Hawaiians to speak up -- in Hawaiian.

"Why would we have children spend 12 years in Hawaiian language schools and then not be able to apply what they have learned? All this in the same state that funds the school. Our charter school movement is creating graduates each year with no place in our society. Students have an important skill that is not deemed valuable by the state," said Anthony.

Anthony has had other success changing the state's stance on native Hawaiian issues. He pushed for traditional poi practices to be allowed without health department approval. The making of paiai is now exempt from regulation.

Anthony's traffic case was continued until later this month.


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