Hawaii News | Lee Cataluna

Some Hawaii legislators, with the full support of Gov. David Ige, are trying to form a commission to address issues of reconciliation with Native Hawaiians, but really, folks, it’s not all about a last-ditch effort to get TMT built on Mauna Kea. Read more

Some Hawaii legislators, with the full support of Gov.
David Ige, are trying to form a commission to
address issues of reconciliation with Native
Hawaiians, but really, folks, it’s not all about
a last-ditch effort to get TMT built on Mauna Kea.

But of course it is all about trying to get TMT built on Mauna Kea. It was spelled out in the
initial draft of the bill
as the commission’s “first task,” though that problematic truth was quickly dropped from
the wording.

House Concurrent Resolution 37 envisions a commission of handpicked Hawaiian friends of Ige (not sure who that would be besides Bill Aila) trying to figure out what it’s going to take to make the Protect Mauna Kea ohana quiet down and step aside. Hmm, let’s see, what do they want? Money? Scholarships? Land swap of acreage that should already be in Hawaiian hands? Promises of a cultural-
educational-spiritual center? Agree to just about anything except the primary demand of the movement, which has been to protect Mauna Kea from further development projects and,
especially, from the construction of that huge telescope. The standoff at Mauna Kea may be a symbol of many things, but it is, first, all about Mauna Kea.

But this proposed committee on
reconciliation … isn’t that already OHA’s job?

When the Office of
Hawaiian Affairs was created in 1978, part of the
responsibility of the new state agency was to serve as the “receptacle for reparations” and a model for self-determination, born from grassroots leadership and 1970s Hawaiian
activism.

But the trouble with OHA — well, there’s been
a lot of trouble with OHA, but in this particular instance, the trouble with OHA as far as TMT and the Ige administration are concerned— is that OHA sided with the masses of people gathered at the base of the mountain. The autonomous state agency got too autonomous for the administration’s liking.

The OHA board of trustees unanimously approved a resolution in July authorizing OHA staff to advocate for the protesters. OHA gave tens of thousands of dollars to provide things like portable toilets, rubbish collection, lighting and legal observers at
the base camp at Mauna Kea.

Last fall the state Attorney General’s Office issued a subpoena to OHA for information on the financial support of the Protect Mauna Kea movement,
going after the state agency for following
its mission of self-deter­mination and advocacy
for Hawaiians.

No wonder, then, the
call for a new Blue Ribbon Commission for Hawaiian Reconciliation handpicked by Ige that can be better controlled by the state.

It should be noted that there is a difference between “reparations” and “reconciliation.” Reparations have to do with making amends for a wrong that has been done by
paying money to or otherwise compensating those who have been wronged. Reconciliation has to do with the restoration of friendly relations between parties. Reparation is something that can be measured. Friendly feelings are something that can be faked. This idea seems like a desperate
attempt to get control of
a movement that has a power greater than state government.