Series of meetings on Native Hawaiian, feds relationship begins

By Lara Yamada
Published On: Aug 06 2014 03:04:44 AM HST
Updated On: Jun 23 2014 08:10:54 PM HST

Representatives from the Federal Government are in the islands for a series of public meetings to possibly re-establish a "Government to Government" relationship with Native Hawaiians. KITV4's Lara Yamada has more on its emotional start.

HONOLULU -

Words of peace from former Sen. Daniel Akaka.

Click here to watch Lara Yamada's report.

"Please guide us on our course to unite our community," said Akaka.

But, speaking of peace proves to be easier than keeping the peace.

"Hawaiian is not being shout out.  Hawaiian is listen," said one kupuna.

"You get the new breed.  It's kind of wild and it's all good.  Woo!" said another lady.

Song, breaking out more than once, in the first of 15 statewide meetings by the U.S. Department of Interior and Justice.  The goal -- to find out whether Hawaiians want the federal government to play any kind of role in Hawaii's future, and, if so, what kind of role.

"This is mostly about listening for us," said a federal government representative.

But, getting the crowd to calm down was the first order of the day.

"Let's not start getting into a pissing match right now, OK?" asked Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Collette Machado.  "Let's have some aloha over here!"

"I think it's more about having a sensible dialogue than than the screaming and the shouting," said OHA Trustee Oswald Stender.  "It's a shame they have no respect for others that have something to say."

Stender says most agree the overthrow of the Hawaiian government was illegal and reparations are in order.  He sees it as federal benefits and entitlements to improve quality of life.

Mana Movement and University of Hawaii professor Jon Osorio disagrees with a government-to-government relationship, but wants help in securing a sovereign nation.

"The Interior does have a role to play and that is to protect the kanaka maoli -- the Hawaiian people -- from further losses as we continue to pursue nationhood at our own pace," said Osorio.

Still, the state has taken some heat over its Native Hawaiian Roll -- an effort to account for the population and get official elections underway.

"Hawaiian will continue to lose ground until such time that we have something that can withstand a constitutional challenge and the Supreme Court," said Department of Land and Natural Resources Chair William Aila.  "I think this is an opportunity that allows those discussions to go forward."

A second meeting was scheduled for Monday night at Waimanalo Elementary and Intermediate School.

PHOTOS: First meeting on Native Hawaiian recognition

Click here to see more photos from the first meeting.

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