Office of Hawaiian Affairs CEO’s Questions to Secretary of State …

It has been nearly a month since the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) CEO Dr. Kamana’opono Crabbe posed four questions to Secretary of State Kerry in a letter dated May 5, 2014. First, does the Hawaiian Kingdom, as a …


Questions posed by OHA CEO Kamana’opono Crabbe to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on the current international status of the Hawaiian Monarchy have gone unanswered.  The question of the continued existence of the Hawaiian Monarchy, which was overthrown in 1893 by a group of business leaders and their sympathizers, could complicate the formation of a  "Native Hawaiian Governing Entity."  In a legal opinion rendered by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel in 1988, there were serious questions raised about the method the U.S. Congress used to annex Hawaii.  In its decision, the Office of Legal Counsel said, "It’s unclear which constitutional power Congress exercised when it acquired Hawaii by joint resolution.  Accordingly, it’s doubtful that the acquisition of Hawaii can serve as an appropriate precedent for a congressional assertation of sovereignty extended over a territorial sea."  According to OHA, the significance of Crabbe’s letter and the 1988 Justice Department’s  opinion  "is that it was a formal notification of a state of Hawaii official to the Secretary of State that OHA is aware that the Hawaiian Kingdom continues to exist and that it will have to deal with issues of criminal liability under international law."  Straightening out this mess will prove to be a real challenge for the United States and Native Hawaiians.  Aloha, Russ.

2 thoughts on “Office of Hawaiian Affairs CEO’s Questions to Secretary of State …”

  1. This is all so weird……..They can’t even get the existing government to work well..Having a second “Governing Entity” on the islands will be a mess.
    If the monarchy is restored and an independent “Native Hawaiian Governing Entity” established will they only have authority over those with a certain “blood line” or to everybody living on the islands? Can someone opt in (or out)? Who will fund the running of the bureaucratic infrastructure? will they establish taxes? who will enforce them?


    1. As you say this “will be a mess.” Besides the pro-monarchy group that has some historic reason to claim legitimacy, there are several groups who don’t prefer a monarchy, constitutional or not. On top of this, the Interior Department will soon start discussions on a “government within a government” for Native Hawaiians. This was part of the rejected Akaka Bill that failed to pass muster with Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court back in 2000. The blood quantum issue is a real stumbling block. With only 6 percent of the state’s population being “pure” Hawaiian, how does anyone else figure in? Heck, I could claim some blood quantum myself, since I had a blood transfusion when I was attending UH-Manoa back in the late 1960s. I don’t know the ethnicity of the donor, but, I could argue my benefactor could have been Hawaiian. What’s even more complicated is the encouragement by the Hawaiian monarchy to intermarry back in the 19th century. “What it means to be Hawaiian” is a real tough cookie. Will all people born or living in Hawaii be considered Hawaiian? Or is that label reserved for just a few, or for those with a “quantum” of Hawaiian blood? This is a real bucket of worms. I suppose only DNA testing will separate the “wheat from the chaff.” Current federal efforts seemingly want to classify Native Hawaiians as a “tribe” like Native Americans (Indians). Native Hawaiians rightly argue that they are not a tribe, but an ethnic group comprised of many cultures who settled these islands and created their own government. Another argument gaining traction is that the Hawaiian Kingdom still exists and that the instruments used by the U.S. Congress to annex the islands are questionable from the standpoint of international law. Yep, this is a first class mess. This is indeed a cautionary tale–be careful what you wish for. The political season in Hawaii is never dull. Aloha, Russ.


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