Kānaka Maoli roots run deep.

Here, we have found our home within the motherly embrace of ‘Āina. Our identity was nurtured here; our consciousness grown, synthesized, and intertwined. Our very existence flows through the streams of time from this source – the islands of Hawai‘i.

Our roots run very deep.

There has been a significant amount of news coverage surrounding the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ recent attempts to establish Kānaka Maoli (aboriginal Hawaiians) as an indigenous population under the United States government.

Chad Blair/Civil Beat

OHA’s controversial and heavily contested strategy to “facilitate [Kānaka Maoli] self-governance” has manifested itself in a number of questionable endeavors; most recently, Kana‘iolowalu (the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission established through Act 195 of the ‘State of Hawai‘i’) and a “re-establishment of a government-to-government relationship” under the Obama administration and without congressional approval.

While OHA’s strategies to subject Kānaka Maoli to the United States government have failed, time and again, there is a powerful narrative that has rarely been told by the news media – that narrative is amplified by ka lehulehu a manomano (the great many and numerous) voices of Hawaiian independence.

OHA, at times, may appear to be lost and even self-contradictory – but that can be attributed to the ongoing struggle within OHA; heavily contested by an unwaveringly proud group of people on a super-charged political battlefield in a war of consciousness that has been waging for well over a century.

To understand what is really going on here, I provide an analysis through a traditional cultural value: nānā i ke kumu (look to the source).

Kānaka Maoli have been here since time immemorial, but the Hawaiian Nation State, as the Hawaiian Kingdom, arose by way of constitution in the year 1840.

In 1843, the Hawaiian Kingdom was internationally…

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About the Author

  • Zuri Aki
    Zuri Aki has a B.A. in Hawaiian Studies from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and is a J.D. candidate at Richardson School of Law focusing on International Law and Environmental Law. He is the founder of the political watchdog organization, Makawalu, and the environmental conservation organization, The Aina Project. A self-described political creature, Zuri has his sights firmly fixed on enhancing local government policy in order to bolster Hawaii's position on the ever-expanding global market.