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