FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 22, 2016
Press Conference 12 noon @ ‘Iolani Palace
Hawaiians Openly Reject President Obama’s new rule—a DOI invented process to create a Native Hawaiian Tribe
As President Obama announces his plans to federalize Hawaiians as a tribe, Hawaiian community leaders and groups who have for many years protested attempts to turn Hawaiians into Native Americans (the Akaka Bill), will hold a press conference Friday, September 23rd at 12 noon in front of‘Iolani Palace. They will restate their opposition to the Obama Administration’s Department of Interior (DOI) rule change.
“This change is intended to circumvent legal, congressional processes, and Hawaiian community input,” said Healani-Sonoda Pale, founding member of the group, Protest Na‘i Aupuni and one of the organizers of the press conference. “President Obama tasked his DOI to come up with a process that will allow him to use his Executive Order privilege and designate federally chosen groups of Hawaiians as recognized. Without any congressional oversight or congressional vetting, President Obama and his successor will confer immense power on a pseudo native government,” Sonoda-Pale said. “And this will allow the DOI to move forward with a process of creating land and resource settlements that typically follow legitimate, congressionally conferred federal recognition.”
Two years in the making, the Obama/DOI rule change was created in response to Office of Hawaiian Affairs CEO Kamana’opono Crabbe’s May 5, 2014 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry. In it, he essentially questioned the legitimacy of US jurisdiction in Hawaii by requesting proof of how the Hawaiian Kingdom was legally annexed to the United States.
However, rather than answer the question, President Obama instructed the DOI to hold public hearings in Hawaii to discuss federal recognition. During the summer of 2014, hearings were held for 2 weeks on 5 of the Hawaiian Islands. Thousands of Hawaiians lined up, but only hundreds were able to testify. The overwhelming majority (over 95%) rejected the idea of a DOI Rule change and spoke powerfully in opposition to any Federal or State controlled process for sovereignty.
“It feels like the overthrow all over again,” says Kahalu’u Kupuna and Protest Na’i Aupuni member Kapu Lambert. “The finalization of the DOI Rule forebodes more hardship Hawaiians. Many of our people are homeless and are at the bottom of every socioeconomic statistic in Hawaii. We cannot trust the State and Federal governments and their collaborators to do the right thing on our behalf especially when it comes to Hawaiian sovereignty and lands. I refuse to accept this Rule.”
“After tens of millions of dollars were spent by the state agency Office of Hawaiian Affairs to lobby for federal recognition, after 15 years of resistance to being federalized, we are now going to be saddled with being a fake tribe and federally designated so-called leaders,” said Sonoda-Pale.
Asked why the US would want to federalize Hawaiians when, in fact, hundreds of tribes on the continent have been trying to get federally recognized for many decades, Sonoda-Pale said, “Why? Because they want our land. They want to create a so-called universal land claims settlement of our Crown and Government lands, aka ‘Ceded Lands.’ And further,” she said, the United States of America, who has never been respectful of indigenous peoples—as we are seeing in North Dakota, is trying to dissolve our rights as a people to self-determination as defined by international law, and our human rights as indigenous people that have also been codified by the United Nations.