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[worlds-indigenous-people] Supreme Court ruling on Rice v. Cayetano

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  • LaiLani Ovalles
    Aloha all, The following is an article from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin about the US Supreme Court s decision on the Rice v. Cayetano case, concerning the
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 3, 2000
      Aloha all,
      The following is an article from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin about the
      US Supreme Court's decision on the Rice v. Cayetano case, concerning
      the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Much has happened in the past week and
      many activists are gearing up for acts of civil disobedience in
      response to this decision.
      To find out more on this issue, and what's going on in Hawai'i, go to
      http://hawaii-nation.org/ruling.html


      <<Honolulu Star Bulletin, FEB. 29, 2000:

      The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has hired the law firm that defended the
      five
      former Kamehameha
      Schools trustees during the state's three-year
      investigation of
      the trust to represent the Hawaiian agency
      in federal court.

      The decision to hire McCorriston Miho Miller Mukai by the
      OHA
      board comes amid a whirlwind of
      activity yesterday after last week's Rice vs. Cayetano
      decision.
      The U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down the state's
      Hawaiians-only voting restriction for OHA
      elections now has one trustee advocating plans for civil
      disobedience, while strong opposition to make
      the OHA board an elected or appointed body has state
      lawmakers
      hesitant to act and others saying it's
      too soon.
      And the 7-2 ruling has prompted renewed and immediate
      calls for
      federal recognition of a Hawaiian
      nation, since many say the Supreme Court was very clear
      in that
      OHA, as it is now, cannot be that
      sovereign entity.

      But most of all, everyone is waiting to hear from Gov. Ben
      Cayetano, who returns late tonight from a
      nine-day trip. He faces questioning from trustees, state
      lawmakers and the public over his plans to
      appoint eight interim trustees within the next few weeks
      to
      replace those now on the OHA board, except
      for interim trustee Donald Cataluna.

      Former Gov. John Waihee, whose law firm is still under
      retainer
      by OHA, said he hopes Cayetano takes
      into consideration that his decision to replace the
      trustees
      "undercuts" the Hawaiian community.
      Waihee, a delegate to the 1978 Hawaii Constitutional
      Convention
      that created OHA, said any attempt to
      change the board without a plan in place is not the thing
      to
      do.
      Slow down, think it out

      Waihee said management of the trust is very important and
      there
      should be some stability during this
      transition period. He believes all parties involved "need
      to
      slow down and see what the implications are,"
      and to find some way to return some self-governance to the
      Hawaiian community.

      "I think the governor has to do what he has to do,"
      Waihee said
      after a three-hour, closed door meeting
      yesterday with trustees, retired Hawaii Supreme Court
      Justice
      Robert Klein and attorney William
      McCorriston.

      "What I would like to say is that I think the Supreme
      Court was
      wrong, and that this decision was not one
      that took into account Hawaii's history," he said.

      Klein joined McCorriston's firm after he retired from the
      Hawaii Supreme Court in January. The U.S.
      Supreme Court may send the case back to U.S. District
      Court in
      Hawaii to decide how to implement the
      high court's decision.

      OHA Chairman Clayton Hee said OHA plans to file an action
      in
      federal court to allow OHA to intervene
      in any proceedings stemming from the Rice case. The move,
      Hee
      said, helps protect the trust assets and
      management, as well as keep the institutional integrity
      of OHA
      so that services to Hawaiians continue.

      Hee said the board has not yet decided who will be the
      lead
      attorney for OHA. Legal fees are being
      negotiated, he said.

      Hee, Cayetano to meet

      While the court action may be viewed as a step to protect
      the
      jobs of the eight trustees, Hee stressed
      trustees have not placed themselves before the $350
      million
      trust, its management or the beneficiaries --
      which all remain priorities for the board.

      Hee has a meeting with Cayetano tomorrow.

      Both the state and OHA argued against the appeal by Harold
      "Freddy" Rice before the Supreme Court,
      but now find themselves facing off as a result of the
      ruling,
      Hee said. "This is not the time to draw a line
      between partners. This is a time to work together."

      But trustee Mililani Trask said unity is not the only
      option
      and that Hawaiians should prepare for civil
      disobedience to defend their rights and trust assets.
      Trask
      tomorrow will describe her plans for protests,
      which she said she will do with or without the support of
      the
      rest of the OHA board.

      Trask said yesterday all trustees have taken an oath and
      are
      under a fiduciary obligation to protect the
      trust. Some fear Cayetano wants to replace the board to
      get a
      quick settlement with OHA over past-due
      revenues from ceded lands. Cayetano last week said that's
      not
      his intent. He said each trustee he selects
      will have an obligation to the trust above all else.

      Trask said her plans are based on the "template" used by
      the
      late civil rights activist Martin Luther King
      Jr. and by India's Gandhi. Those protests could include
      sit-ins
      at state buildings and airports or rallies like
      the huge 1993 gathering at Iolani Palace for the 100th
      anniversary of the overthrow of the Hawaiian
      government.

      She said the goal is to achieve social justice in a
      judicial
      system that is not responsive to the needs of
      Hawaiians. "This office provides basic and critical
      services to
      the community. If the government is intent
      upon preventing us from doing that job, then we need to
      respond
      to the government in the appropriate
      way."

      Meanwhile, state lawmakers appear to have second thoughts
      about
      pushing through legislation to make
      OHA an appointed or elected board. House Speaker Calvin
      Say (D,
      Palolo) said the House plans to kill
      such bills because of overwhelming criticism they
      received over
      the weekend.

      The Senate Hawaiian Affairs Committee continues with its
      statewide public hearings on the matter, but
      without House support, the measures appear doomed.

      House Republicans urged Cayetano yesterday to reconsider
      his
      decision to replace trustees, saying the
      Supreme Court ruling does not require it and the trustees
      were
      duly elected. They added the governor
      may have acted prematurely and overstepped his authority.

      Let the court look at it

      He should wait for the U.S. District Court to rule on the
      status of the existing trustees, they said.

      "Current law does not appear to give the governor the
      power to
      remove OHA trustees," said Rep. David
      Pendleton (R, Kailua). "The governor only has the power
      to fill
      a vacancy if the board fails to fill it within
      60 days after its occurrence."

      Rep. Sol Kahoohalahala (D, Lanai) said yesterday he plans
      to
      introduce a resolution supporting federal
      recognition of a Hawaiian nation as part of a renewed
      call for
      sovereignty.

      The Rice decision, the recent federal reconciliation
      hearings
      in Hawaii and the 1993 congressional
      resolution apologizing to Hawaiians for the 1893 overthrow
      point are beacons on which direction
      Hawaiians must take, he said.

      "We are being directed, I think, just by all of these
      actions
      to finally seek the federal recognition that
      Hawaiian people must have in order to try and become
      self-determined," said Kahoohalahala, who is
      also a delegate to the Native Hawaiian Convention.

      Convention Chairman Charles Rose yesterday agreed the
      issue now
      is federal recognition of a sovereign
      nation. Rose believes the convention's efforts to propose
      models of sovereignty to Hawaiians -- which was
      started by the former Hawaiian Sovereignty Elections
      Council --
      are not affected by the ruling."We're not
      choosing sides. We just want to give them the right to
      make the
      choices, and if they make the choices,
      whatever the choice is, we should live with it."

      Federal officials from the U.S. Interior and Justice
      departments said yesterday they will delay the release
      of a draft report on the reconciliation process because
      of the
      Rice ruling.

      Mark Van Norman, director of the Justice Department's
      Office of
      Tribal Justice, said the decision
      shouldn't hurt the process because it underscores the
      importance of clarifying the unique relationship
      between the United States and the Hawaiian community. A
      draft
      report is expected soon with
      recommendations on how federal reconciliation should
      proceed.
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