I find myself in deep reflection over OHA’s stated mission To Raise a Beloved Nation. What a profound thought with plenty of room for dreaming of what could be.
My dreams for a nation begin by first noting that since 1980, when OHA was created by State Constitution, we have been consumed by the political processes of the drive for political recognition. Some seek recognition as a nation by the federal government. Others seek political separation from U.S. control, to stand recognized through the United Nations that would somehow restore Hawai‘i to its pre-annexation status as a Kingdom-State.
I believe it is important to continue exploring all paths to restoring a form of nationhood. But I don’t believe that we have to wait to be blessed by the U.S. or the United Nations to begin to build the nation.
We are already a cultural and spiritual nation toward which we moved decisively and quickly following the Hawaiian Renaissance of the 70’s and 80’s. Our marching in the streets and stridently demanding a process of reconciliation led to the creation of OHA, a constitutional overhaul of native rights, a ceded land settlement, the set aside of ‘Iolani Palace and Kaho‘olawe until such time that a new governing entity is established, and a vibrant reconstruction of our culture in all its forms. The nation is already defining itself and rising quickly, although the import of it all sometimes escapes us.
OHA has already begun stitching together a national geo-cultural land inventory by buying back pieces of the nation in the form of culturally valuable properties such as Waimea Valley, 25,000 acres of Wao Kele O Puna, 500 acres of the Galbraith Estate in Wahiawā, 20 acres in Palauea, Maui, and more. Kana‘iolowalu (Act 195) moves us closer toward identifying a certified electorate, to be recognized by the state and the federal government, who could then form a citizenry to establish a new governing entity. The train has left the station.
A milestone toward the shaping of the nation occurred in November, 2013, when the six major Hawaiian economic institutions gathered in a puwalu to seek ways to connect the dots and begin a dialogue of unification toward a common vision of a Hawaiian future. In the room were leaders of the Kamehameha Schools, Queen Lili‘uokalani Trust, Queen Emma Foundation and Hospital Systems, Lunalilo Home, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, and OHA. The meeting was dynamic and produced a profound commitment to move forward together – as one people. If it’s true that a nation is defined by its institutions, then we are crystallizing ourselves as never before with the leadership of the six most fundamental institutions of the Hawaiian people, four of them descending directly from the ali‘i (chiefs), and two emerging from the political reconciliation process. Now we need to push the envelope and move with a higher sense of urgency toward creating other institutions and programs to embed in the fabric of the national tapestry such as a Hawaiian National Archives, an education system, a health system, and a national institute of culture and the arts. Let the vision burst forth beyond the political boundaries and not be impeded by the absence of political recognition, for it will come in due time. The time to declare our nationhood is now. All we have to do is act like one.