Mālama pono

2 07 2014

Conflicted, I wasn’t planning to submit a comment to the U. S. Department of Interior. But now I think I will. Based on something like this:

The most welcoming group of strangers I’ve met, the one that made me feel like I was coming home, were the card-carrying citizens of Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i, a name that translates to “the Hawaiian nation,” although for the time being this group is described as “a native initiative for sovereignty.”

I met them in January 1993, the 100th anniversary of the overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani and the Hawaiian monarchy, when my hanai father—RIP David A. Sinclair, MD, yes, the same who delivered Barack Obama—pointed out a small article in the Washington Post about a movement being led by Mililani Trask, then the kia‘āina (governor). “Isn’t this something you should be involved in?” Because I’m Hawaiian.

Some activity was taking place at ‘Iolani Palace for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and I was drawn to a small tent identified with a banner reading “Ho‘omakaukau” — let’s get ready — on the lawn of the Library of Hawaii next door. Keali‘i Gora, a nokali (registrar) and the lukanela (lieutenant), enrolled me as a citizen of Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i. I took an oath. He and others gave out educational materials and information about the meeting, and it was the one organizing the peaceful march to the Palace.

That was the beginning of my involvement and the first of many meetings—district council meetings, island caucus meetings, legislative meetings, town hall meetings, constitutional conventions. I helped as a district officer and attended the legislative meetings, not as a delegate but out of interest and support.

I learned that Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i has a de facto government with a written constitution that was part of the educational materials for the people. Toward the end of Mililani Trask’s last term as kia‘āina (an elected position), at a church in Keaukaha, I witnessed her and Lilikalā Kameʻeleihiwa outline the Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i master plan document for sovereignty. It was a beautiful thing, entitled “Ho‘okupu a Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi” (respectful offering to all).

My active involvement that was a big chunk out of my life included almost a decade as the executive director of Hale Kūʻai Cooperative that marketed Native Hawaiian made products—a small but significant economic development effort for Hawaiians.

Life happens and time passes, and Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i became inactive. Now other political forces have caused us to gather again, because of the Department of Interior meetings. The day before yesterday a parallel discussion began: whether to reconvene the Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i mokuna (legislature). It is an opportunity for an initiative that had at one time a reportedly 22,000 citizens living in the Hawaiian Islands and elsewhere on its rolls. To those expressing “No” to the Department of Interior’s questions, what next? Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i is an option.

For now, Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i citizens are attaching their names at the bottom of comments to the questions currently being asked by the Department of Interior as posed in the Federal Register. They say “No,” but more importantly, Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi citizens are reminding the Department and all of us that it already has a Constitution, a Master Plan, and a platform on the Four Arenas of Sovereignty that further describes and defines four political arenas: native to native, native to nation/state, the international arena, and nation to nation.

I believe those documents will be attached and filed with the Department of Interior. They are very comprehensive and worth another read. The answer to “What do Hawaiians want?” is not as simple as the question, but the prior work of Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i ought not to be discounted, for there one can read some thoughtful answers.

When I first associated with Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i, I was embarrassed because I hadn’t learn much Hawaiian language (and still haven’t and I’m still embarrassed). I admitted, once as we were leaving an evening meeting, “I need to look the words up in the dictionary.” Two friendly young women said, “That’s okay!”

I asked, “How do you say goodbye? What is it that you are saying?”

They slowly pronounced every syllable for me. “A hui hou. Mālama pono!” Meaning, “See you again. Do the right thing.”

I personally want to do the right thing, but I don’t know what that is. I’ll at least point Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i citizens, honorary citizens, and would-be citizens to “Ho‘okupu a Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i” where we left off.

Copyright 2014 Rebekah Luke


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