Monthly Archives: February 2016

The day after closing of the Na’i Aupuni ‘Aha 2016

Aloha everyone, here is my update one day after the close on day 20 of the Na’i Aupuni ‘Aha 2016.

– A governing document was officially adopted by the body on the afternoon of the last day by roll call vote. 88 yes, 30 no, 1 abstain, and a number not in the room during that vote (likely by their own intent). It is called the “Constitution of the Native Hawaiian Nation”.
– The document could be put to a referendum vote in the near future for approval.
– A Declaration was also officially adopted by the body.
– Committee work was accepted in report by the body, but not adopted. This includes the Maunawili 1 and 2 declarations by Williamson Chang, a constitution provided by Keoni Agard and Jimmy Wong, as well as a constitution provided by Poka Laenui. I’m not going to comment on the source of the documents, due to disagreements and my lack of knowledge on the matter.

I’m going to make my own brief assessments on the final adopted constitution:
– It is a “Federal Recognition”-ready document, with one possible exception.
– It references our roots to the lands and history from time immemorial, pre-1778.
– There is no mention of the Hawaiian Kingdom, the sovereign Nation-state, from Kamehameha I to the overthrow and Newlands resolution.
– The exception is the claim to “national lands”, not explicitly defining it.
– No claim to title of those lands lost in the overthrow and Newlands resolution (Act of Annexation).
– There is no constitutional continuity with any Kingdom constitution or law.
– There is a claim to territory, but not directly naming the Hawaiian Kingdom territory. The government shall pursue return of the national lands, or just compensation.
– There are sections on defining Native Hawaiians, and citizenship will be limited to Native Hawaiians who enroll.
– The referendum vote will be open to all “eligible for citizenship”, which is Native Hawaiians over 18 years old. There is NOT a requirement to be on any specific roll.

– There is a section in the preamble which was the source of much debate and political back and forth: “We reaffirm the National Sovereignty of the Nation. We reserve all rights to Sovereignty and Self-determination, including the pursuit of independence.”

There is a strong concern this could prevent the Feds from granting U.S. Federal Recognition to the Native Hawaiian government. However, the governing document would likely not have received the ‘yes’ votes it did without that line. There are going to be much more detail coming out about this internal negotiations, i won’t go into it it right now. Lanakila and Lilikala made reference to it on the floor Friday.

– A separate “Declaration of the Sovereignty of the Native Hawaiian Nation” was also adopted. This document does have a lot of historical context which would have been in the preamble, but was stripped out. It passed with overwhelming support. It does contain facts of our history including events before, during, and after the time of the Kingdom of Hawaii up to the present day.

– The entire ‘Aha was product-oriented, not process-oriented. Discussion of the substantive issues was restricted in the interest of achieving a product (governing document) by the deadline imposed by the Na’i Aupuni organizers. The result is a functional, but sterile constitution which will likely pass a Department of Interior Federal Recognition process once the proposed rule is finalized.

I have much more to say and discuss on this process and product, this is a quick update.


– Raul Nohea Goodness

Proposing a referendum vote before approval of Federal Recognition

Proposing a clause in the Na’i Aupuni ‘Aha governing document (and any other) to require a referendum vote BEFORE a future Hawaiian government makes a formal request for U.S. Federal Recognition (under the Dept. of Interior rules).

The reason? If a government is created, the Executive committee stated the future Executive will be empowered to request “Fed Rec” from the Dept. of Interior, ratified by the future Legistlature. That means if you are Hawaiian, you will NOT ever be specifically asked if you want to integrate sovereignty with the U.S. You could then be forced to start doing all your interactions as a Hawaiian to the U.S. Federal government through this new entity being created.

Currently Hawaiians ARE recognized by the U.S. via the Hawaiian Homestead Commission Act (HHCA), and over a hundred other laws. There are many disadvantages to changing to go under the DOI in the future, and deserves a full public education, debate, and discussion of the issues before signing off. If a requirement for referendum is not added, the input of the Hawaiian people would likely be ignored.

For those who are pro-Federal Recognition, there would also be the benefit of making the approval of any Hawaiian governing document more likely to be approved. There is little trust from the community in the Kana’iolowalu / Na’i Aupuni process, largely due to the fear that a new government will be empowered immediately to take action without limit on behalf of all Hawaiians.

If there is a limit on the government power to get U.S. Federal Recognition (until approved by voter referendum), then it would actually have the time to build trust and convince Hawaiians it can be trusted to be the primary political entity for us. No matter what method Hawaiians come together politically, this stage will be needed.

Currently, these are the steps required for a Native Hawaiian Governing Entity to request and receive U.S. Federal Recognition (under the current DOI proposed rule):

  • Create a governing document (which ‘fits’ the DOI rule requirements)
  • Send it to Native Hawaiians to vote to accept/reject it via referendum vote
  • The governing document vote must pass, and the ‘yes’ votes must have “broad-based support” (more than 30,000 to 50,000 votes)
  • Populate the government positions based on the document (elect Executive and Legislators)
  • Executive may write a formal request for U.S. Federal Recognition (submitting a letter on how the government was created)
  • If the Secretary of Interior approves the request, the Native Hawaiian Governing Entity is granted Federal Recognition as a native government, similar to tribal entities. However, with no land transferred or any other claims or negotiation in advance. No opportunity for voters to approve.

I am proposing adding a simple step to the governing document:

  • Any formal treaty or request to integrate sovereignty with another sovereign entity (including U.S. Federal Recognition) shall first be approved through a referendum of all recognized voters, without exception.


By putting aside the most controversial issues for our lahui, we allow any future Hawaiian government time to build trust and respect of our lahui.

Mahalo nui for your consideration.

– Raul Nohea Goodness