Lawmakers learn about Native Hawaiian law
More than 100 state and county governments officials learned about trust obligations in relation to Native Hawaiian cultural and natural resources at University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s William S. Richardson School of Law. The training course was provided by Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law. The training was funded by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and held on January 11, 2014.
Maui County Council Chair Gladys Baisa described the training as “an essential program for public servants in making crucial decisions for the community.”
The training included a variety of speakers and Native Hawaiian law attorney and Ka Huli Ao Director Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie opened the training and was followed by Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chief Executive Officer Kamanaʻopono Crabbe. William Aila, director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, spoke about the impact of decision-making on Native Hawaiian culture and practices. Professor of ethnic studies Davianna McGregor provided training attendees with a historical overview and context for understanding Hawaiʻi’s unique laws.
David Forman, director of the Environmental Law Program, presented on Native Hawaiian traditional and customary practices. Kapuaʻala Sproat, former Earthjustice staff attorney and now assistant professor, explained the legal and cultural framework for water resource management in Hawaiʻi. Assistant Professor Malia Akutagawa discussed the laws relating to iwi kūpuna or Native Hawaiian human burial remains.
“As chair of the Maui County Council, I echo Professor Kapuaʻala Sproat’s statement that the best policy is usually based on shared knowledge and not on litigation,” said Baisa. “Understanding our unique history and the priorities set forth by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs are crucial in policy making for proper resource management that is pono.”
“I heard nothing but good things from those who attended,” said MacKenzie. “Everyone really appreciated all of the information and felt that they had substantially increased their understanding of the laws protecting Native Hawaiian natural and cultural resources.”
For a list of the state and county lawmakers and federal employees who attended the training, read the UH Mānoa news release.