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Law training presenters, from left, Kapua Sproat, Malia Akutagawa and David Forman.

Law training volunteers, from left, Mahesh Cleveland, Susan Serrano, Abi Wright, Letani Peltier and Kapua Sproat.

On May 18, more than 90 decision-makers, including several newly appointed members of state and county boards, commissions and councils, received a full day of training on key issues in Native Hawaiian law at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

The training, covering four major legal areas affecting Native Hawaiians, is required for members of designated local boards, commissions and councils as part of Act 169, a state law passed in 2015. The specialized training, conducted by faculty members of the Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law, was developed for recently appointed or elected officials.

Participating in the training were Hawaiʻi County councilmembers and staff, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands commissioners and staff, the staff of boards and commissions, and staff members of state agencies. Funding for the training sessions, which are held twice a year, comes from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA).

Topics covered included working with Hawaiian communities to preserve and protect ʻāina, historical and cultural context for Native Hawaiian land and resource rights, and Native Hawaiian traditional practices.

Professor Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie noted that Ka Huli Ao has offered similar training for five years, with hundreds of state and county decision-makers and staff members participating.

“We are very appreciative of the positive response from those attending the training,” she said. “We look forward to continuing to work with OHA to provide this important information to ensure that decisions affecting our natural and cultural resources are made by people who truly understand the law and the impact their decisions have on the Native Hawaiian community and on all in Hawaiʻi.”

For more on the training including a list of presenters and training topics, go the law school’s website.

This Post Has One Comment
  1. The Legislature in 2018 wisely refused to pass any of the three bills that would have forced an even larger number of State employees and decision makers to take the OHA propaganda course. The bills were HB1745, SB2134, and HB1999. The results of committee hearings, including files of all the testimony submitted to all the committee hearings, can be found on the “status” webpages for each bill number on the Legislature website.

    Here are excerpts from my own testimony.

    Previously OHA cajoled the legislature into passing a law that forced heads of specified state and county departments to take a training course whose content and instructors are dictated by OHA. This year OHA wants to expand its empire by requiring more government employees of additional departments to endure the OHA training. Next year OHA will seek to expand even further.

    Make no mistake about what’s going on here. OHA has certain views on controversial political issues and wants to make sure that decision-makers and employees of other government agencies get brainwashed to believe in OHA’s propaganda, with no presentation of opposing views. Would any member of a state or county department dare to ask a question in class that challenges the correctness of what the OHA-designated teacher is saying, or disagrees with the opinions being presented? Please realize that many people feel moral revulsion at the concept of taxpayer funded racial entitlements.

    This bill places one state agency, OHA, in a position of authority over other state agencies by requiring employees to pass a course whose purpose is to brainwash them with the political views of OHA. Dozens — perhaps hundreds — of state and county department heads would now be placed under the direct authority and supervision of OHA, knowing that if they refuse to kow-tow to their OHA instructor they will be given a failing grade in this mandatory course and will then be ineligible to continue in their job. Does any state agency other than OHA exercise comparable authority over other agencies?

    OHA has certain views regarding who owns the ceded lands and whether the state has a right to sell parcels of ceded lands. The Hawaii Supreme Court made a 5-0 decision upholding OHA’s views. But on appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that OHA’s views are wrong. Can we expect OHA to teach correct information about who owns the ceded lands and whether the state can sell them?

    This bill would require government employees to learn about, and give deference to, the ancient Hawaiian religion as the justification for various state laws and practices regarding water rights for taro, protection of ancient burials, etc. It would constitute an establishment of religion contrary to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution; and it would also force employees who have no Hawaiian blood to bow to a religion which portrays people who do have Hawaiian blood as possessing an inherent God-given right to rule these islands.

    This bill requires government employees to learn about “traditional and customary rights” of Native Hawaiians to ensure that in carrying out their duties, the employees will give respect and deference to Native Hawaiian beliefs and cultural values. For example, we might expect employees to be trained regarding sacred places, the reasons why taro patches are given special guarantees of access to water, the reasons why ancient burials must not be disturbed, etc.

    Those topics, and many others, are based in the ancient Hawaiian religion, which has a creation legend which today’s sovereignty activists (incorrectly) describe as portraying Native Hawaiians (and only Native Hawaiians) as genealogically the children of the gods and the brothers to these islands, and the younger brothers of the taro plant, in a way nobody ever can be who lacks a drop of native blood.

    The Hawaiian religion is the only one to be given special deference under the terms of this bill; thus this bill would be a government establishment of religion. Under terms of this legislation, government money will be used to indoctrinate government employees with a religious belief. Furthermore, the way that belief is likely to be taught can best be described as religious fascism because it provides a theological justification for giving governmental authority over land-use decisions to a particular racial group.

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