Aloha mai kākou. ʻO wau ʻo Kū Kahakalau, keiki a Lopaka Kahakalau, keiki a Williama Keahonui Kahakalau, keiki a Daniela Kekino Kahakalau a me Keao ʻŌpūpele. He Hawaiʻi au.
Greetings my name is Dr. Kū Kahakalau and I am Hawaiian. So was my father Robert Kahakalau and my grandfather William Keahonui Kahakalau who was a fluent, eloquent and kolohe native speaker of our melodious Hawaiian language, which I have studied and taught for the past 30 years. My great grandfather Daniela Kekino Kahakalau was President of the Ahahui Aloha o Kalihi-uka and a strong supporter of King Kalākaua and Queen Liliʻuokalani.
Neither I, nor any of my family members have ever relinquished our right to be Hawaiians, to speak our language, to mālama the ʻāina and to live according to the values of our kūpuna. Consequently, my husband and I raised our daughters as Hawaiians. In fact, my oldest daughterʻs first English sentence was: Mama Hawaiian, Papa Hawaiian, ʻIʻini Hawaiian.
When I first started to educated myself about the US occupation of Hawaiʻi in the late 1970s, the independence movement was led by Poka Laenui, or Hayden Burgess, as he was known then, and a small group of supporters. Pretty much all others, including myself, who were supporting Hawaiian sovereignty then, which were really not that many, were for a nation-within-a-nation model. Much has changed since then, as was clearly evident at the 2014 DOI meeting in Keaukaha, were our ʻohana, along with 100% of everyone else who testified, demanded independence.
I believe this major shift is a direct result of the following:
almost 50 years of research, which not only clearly exposed the numerous illegal actions of the US, but also demonstrated the overwhelming resistance of our kūpuna to be colonized and reaffirmed that the inalienable right of Hawaiʻi, as a distinct geographic archipelago and Hawaiians as a distinct cultural and ethnic group, to be an independent nation with its own independent Hawaiian government, as chosen by its people, has never been relinquished, or legally extinguished.
new laws like the 2007 UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights, which clarifies our rights as Indigenous peoples not just to independence, but also to control over our own education and welfare.
the failure of US-controlled “sovereignty” to bring about positive change in education, health, socio-economic development etc. for native Americans
movements in other parts of the world, like the reunification of Germany and the Arab Spring, which proved to our generation that rulers and governments acting against the will of the people can and should fall
It is for these reasons, that I did not kau inoa, or sign up with Kanaʻiolowalu to enroll in a process of sovereignty, controlled and/or funded by OHA, i.e. the Hawaiʻi State government, and why I do not and will not support Naʻi Aupuni.
In fact, as an educated Hawaiian, I am 100% convinced, that we, the Hawaiian people, do not need any involvement by either the Hawaiʻi State government, nor the US federal government, to design, implement and evaluate our process of re-establishing an independent Hawaiian nation. Because to expect the fox (US federal and state government) to take care of the hens (Hawaiians and Hawaiʻi) makes no sense whatsoever.
Indeed, the kuleana, or responsibility to reestablish our Hawaiian government is clearly a Native Hawaiian kuleana.
I strongly believe, that we, the Native Hawaiian people as a whole, not only those who signed some paper, or are on some list, but all interested Hawaiians, should become involved in determining and facilitating all aspects of the process. We need to organize, like our kūpuna did and educate ourselves about the process and the possibilities. We also need to look beyond just political independence and work towards economic self-determination, particularly food sovereignty. In addition, we need to create our own independent systems, like an independent system of Hawaiian education, based on successful models established by myself and others. For the past two decades, these Hawaiian-focused programs have clearly demonstrated that Hawaiians can design and implement quality models of education that meet the needs of our lāhui and will help us grow the next generations of educated Hawaiians, thriving as empowered ethnic kanaka, and responsible 21st century global citizens.
The creation of such a Hawaiian system of education, that is culturally-driven, family-oriented and community-based, was first proposed to the federal government by the Native Hawaiian Education Council in 1997 and championed by educators like myself ever since. Yet, not one word of the Akaka Bill, nor any other OHA, State, or Federal initiative, including Naʻi Aupuni has supported this effort, despite decades of documented failure by the DOE to meet the needs of our keiki, who make up over 25 percent of Hawaiʻiʻs public school population. How can we create our own nation, while our children will continue to suffer inequalities in education within the DOE?
I humbly ask all who put their name on some list in the past for various reasons, including fear of being left out, and are thinking about voting in the AHA to do what our kūpuna taught us to do: to pule and to listen to your naʻau. Know, that whatever your decision is, I will continue to aloha you as a kanaka.
“Meaningful, principles nation-building takes time and involves the people from the beginning. A corrupted process can only result in a corrupted outcome.”