Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 8 Primary Election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions about where they stand on various issues and what their priorities will be if elected.
The following came from Jackie Burke, candidate for Office of Hawaiian Affairs At-Large Trustee. Other candidates include Keli’i Akina, Kaipo Hanakahi, Larry Kawaauhau, Shane Palacat-Nelsen, Lenson Sonoda and Keoni Souza.
1. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing Native Hawaiians? What will you do about it?
We need an OHA decolonization task force to address the systematic political abuse that has erased or eradicated cultural strength, economic stability and political leadership.
Addressing social-economic issues is recognizing a brutal American capitalism through plantation-era structure and political debasing of Hawaiians’ inherent rights. In opposition to plantations, unions were created, and more of it is needed! (Unions’ representation 90% Iceland and 0.5% U.S.) We need a tourist tax for affordable housing.
We can take heed of “BLM” racism, in the plantation-created wealth and oppression and white supremacy values in action in the illegal annexation of Hawaii and in the statehood plebiscite that forgot the box for independence and allowed military to vote!
We need to demand and receive fair compensation for military use of our lands, and compensate us for the “war machine” that puts us all at ground zero.
Why wasn’t Barber’s Point returned to the Hawaiian ceded land base, with housing and infrastructure already in place?
Decolonization means a citizen base who are Hawaiian nationals, descendants of citizens of the Hawaiian Kingdom, not American citizens living in Hawaii, as being Hawaiians.
Decolonization is not about taking away private lands or rights, it’s replacing “McKinley and Dole” names, the colonizers.
2. What would you do to change how OHA is run?
Changing the “run” of OHA goes to the root cause, the “low talent pool” of leadership, elected by the horrible election.
Again, a colonizing approach to keep Hawaiians incapacitated by their own people by preventing good leaders to get elected.
The election model guidelines of failure:
• Statewide election, as compared to the governor.
• Public funding limited to $1,500, not 10% of spending limits
• No accountability to a voter base such as representative and senatorial districts. Your supporters are faceless and unknown.
• Oahu elects every trustee because it can and poor Molokai doesn’t have a choice, because Oahu made it for them!
• If your last name starts with “A,” and you have name recognition such as being an entertainer, or related to a politician, you’re in the door. Voter ignorance can’t be overcome because raising a “statewide campaign budget” is unreachable by most OHA candidates and with no political party support either.
3. What would you do to bridge the gaps within the Native Hawaiian community over issues like construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope or development of energy projects?
We start with identifying these “gaps,” and who is responsible for these “gaps,” are they measurable, which side of the bridge are these “gaps” on, who created them? A “gap” was Kahoolawe and we stopped the bombing, it was too late and then the clean-up itself was underfunded. That “gap” was a lawsuit by my dear cousin, George Jarrett Helm!
We have to reconstruct the foundation of these “gaps” caused by colonization movements against the Hawaiian people into shared “bridges of power.” These “gaps” constantly appear because the Hawaiian leadership is stiffed under the colonized plantation systematically eradicating the power of the Hawaiian people.
When the Hawaiians say “no,” we have to “protest,” be examined for our motives, be reminded how “illegal” our activity is, but then “political grace,” such as Mauna Kea allowed us to be “policed” while protesting. That movement was so powerful, it caught the TMT builders and government supporters by total surprise! I am grateful that no violent confrontations took place, and Gov. Ige reacted in a calm manner and the kaai also!
All Hawaiian energy projects should be a shared revenue base to Hawaiians via OHA as a repository for the Hawaiian nation to come.
4. Do you support the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea? Why or why not?
TMT is outdated and highly efficient satellites will be in deep space and will do an incredibly better job than TMT or any telescopes can do!
No, I do not support this unnecessary science in our community today. Is anyone doing a reality check on the kind of science we need to survive on this planet called Earth?
Here again, is a perfect example of “colonization” pushing the necessity of a science with no benefit to our community regarding the decline of our oceans, the life of our planet and our Hawaiian islands.
Money and politics rule the TMT project. You need construction jobs then dismantle the telescopes. You need more science economy driven jobs, there are diseases and health care, food supply, ocean farming, global banking and energy production. And perhaps hidden is the expansion of military venues.
For us, our cultural sacredness of Mauna Kea called out to us, to make us aware that there may be a “dark truth” that is hidden behind the science facade. We hear the voices of our ancestors, warning us, that TMT is a huge disturbance of our sacred space with no direct benefit to Hawaiians and all people.
5. Do you support OHA providing financial aid to Mauna Kea protesters?
Absolutely. When such an important and impacting project causing thousands of people, Hawaiians and everyone who supports us, there has to be funding to make for a safe environment. There has to be support from other Hawaiians, and OHA stepped up to the plate!
It’s like Mt. Rushmore to the Native American Indians.
6. What role should the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands play in reducing homelessness?
Through a partnership with DHHL, a non-profit board I serve on, the Hawaii Community Development Board (HCDB) started 10 years ago planning for the Nanakuli Village Center on Nanakuli Homestead land. It first completed 40 affordable rental units, taking a few families off the beach, reached into community to offer a grandmother raising her grandkids a place to live and listened to the community needs.
Next a multi-purpose community center was built and finally a commercial and health center. Lead by Kali Watson, a former DHHL director, who developed the concept of kupuna housing in Waimanalo, HCDB continues to support affordable housing options.
The model can be replicated and HCDB is in the planning stages for more projects with DHHL and other agencies. However, this model can work for all Hawaiians and everyone, when land can be put into a trust.
The model is
• Basic land ownership by a trust
• Funds made available through federal sources, i.e., HUD, state and federal grants and loans, tax credits and private donors.
• Working with a non-profit developer to keep costs down. While land remains in trusts, the house and improvements can be rented, rent-to-own or ownership options can be designed.
7. Why do you think Hawaiians are disproportionately represented in our prisons and jails? What can be done about it?
Hawaiian data matches data of Black and colored people, that once they reach adulthood, the plantation white-supremacy prison system takes over. The lucrative prison business, the judicial system and lack of rehab programs addressing socio-economic-mental health issues is not provided. In fact, the relocation of inmates cost is skyrocketing and that money could be used for rehab programs.
I have always believed that an after-school program for middle schools can help prevent juveniles growing into adult offenders. Kamehameha Schools reaches out into communities and provides services regardless of ethnicity. Having partnerships with programs such as Kamehamahe in middle schools I believe can break these patterns by intervening in positive ways during the developmental years for youth.
Many adult offenders come from backgrounds of serious parental abuse, drug use, neglect, poverty and/or foster care. Instability in a child’s formative years, can increase the likelihood that they are lacking skills and aren’t making it in the regular realm of a secure family or social support system. Hawaiians children are in need of foster care homes and seriously need help after they age out of foster care, and these are one of my major areas that I see putting effort into as an OHA trustee.
8. What are your views regarding Hawaiian self-determination?
State and federal governments for 100 years have been playing the same music, stringing us along, faking the pathway to independence by offering tribal citizenship and federal recognition. They keep playing it loud enough to drown out generations of our voices. Is it time to hear voices of international law and be recognized by voices of other nations?
I will organize the OHA decolonization committee, a group consisting of all sovereignty groups. Our goals are to identify and implement steps of decolonization and establishing international relationships to globally support our independent status. No one group can represent everyones’ ideals, but could possibly evolve into a parliament of different groups with voting powers and elected representatives. The world is going through a crisis and new perceptions of colonizers in varying degrees may help our nation-building efforts. We can certainly try if we have a plan and that is why I strongly believe decolonization precedes an independence status.
There will be fierce backlash from Americanized Hawaiians, powerful capitalist powers, and the wrath of the plantation colonized white supremacy stakeholders will attack “Hawexit.”
I believe we can deal with them and prove the value of a free-standing Nation of Hawaii.
9. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?
I see this scenario in a bad dream unfolding in terms of a tribal chief seeking election, and whose other tribal brothers and sisters don’t want to elect him. So he calls out to all the non-tribal voters to vote him in, because everyone can vote. It scares me and send chills down my spine because it is happening right here in front of me!
The sitting OHA Trustee Akina, who is elected to serve the Hawaiian community, has decided to reclassify who he was elected to represent and use all voters to elect him. There’s another national leader doing the same thing. It appears as a tactic to suppress the Hawaiian vote! It a form of “gerrymandering” in a sense, by redrawing the lines of voter divisions, dealing a smaller minority a major setback.
How is this helping Hawaiians? It’s not.
If being used to vote to support this type of thinking works for some, then nothing can stop it, but if you have a conscience, you might stop and think about it.