Purpose of Arakaki case is to eliminate discrimination
By Earl Arakaki
We, the plaintiffs in the so-called Arakaki case, are constantly asked why we have filed suit to eliminate the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. Are we trying to harm native Hawaiians?
The 15 plaintiffs in the Arakaki lawsuit are: Toby Kravet
Sandra P. Burgess
Brian L. Clarke
Allen H. Teshima
Robert M. Chapman
The 15 plaintiffs in the Arakaki lawsuit are:
This article attempts to explain what we are doing, and why. The court action by the Arakaki plaintiffs seeks only to eliminate the racial discrimination that is dividing Hawai'i's people. It seeks to do this in a way that is fair to the existing homesteaders, and fair and timely to all of us.
Hawai'i, like every other part of the United States, has people in need. We support government action to help these people. But the goals of OHA and the homes commission, both agencies of our state government, seek only to help people with a drop of Hawaiian blood, leaving out other people with the same needs. Everyone in need should have the same chance to get government help, regardless of his or her ancestry.
What OHA and the commission are doing violates the Constitution, which is why we are fighting them in court, but what they are doing also violates the most basic concepts of fairness and public morality as the racial division between our fellow citizens gets deeper. No good can come of this, and we believe the majority of Hawai'i's people don't want to see it happen.
There is also no reason for it. Nothing about Hawai'i's past or present justifies denying government aid to one modern-day applicant and giving it to another solely because of somebody's ancestry. That's not justice for anyone.
Nothing in Hawai'i's past or present deprives today's Hawaiians of the same rights and the same opportunities that other citizens have to develop themselves, to take pride in their cultural traditions, and to succeed in their chosen endeavors.
Indeed, this has been true for generations: When the subjects of the monarchy became citizens of the United States, they used their voting power to dominate the legislature and our highest elective offices until World War II. They didn't need racial discrimination to do this. They don't need it now.
The following paragraphs summarize our purpose:
Hawai'i is the only state in the nation that gives homesteads from its public lands and distributes public revenues exclusively to individuals of one ancestry. This is racial discrimination, and it violates the U.S. Constitution.
These discriminatory acts by Hawaiian Homes and OHA are unfair to all taxpayers of other ethnic backgrounds who pay the costs but are excluded from sharing the benefits. They are unfair to Hawaiians electing to be free of racial programs. They diminish Hawaiians and hold them down by making them wards of the state and treating them like children incapable of handling their own affairs.
We understand the emotions that fuel demands for distributions based on race, but in the end there can be no arguments that justify violations of the U.S. Constitution.
This Arakaki case will affect the social and economic well-being of our state and its people, and therefore it should be heard quickly and efficiently. Only the courts can give us a conclusive answer to the constitutional question of whether hundreds of millions of taxpayers dollars can legally be given away to citizens of just one race. We all need that answer, and we need it now.
All 15 plaintiffs are residents, citizens and taxpayers of the state of Hawai'i and the United States. Ten of them were born and reared in Hawai'i. Five of those have at least one ancestor born in the kingdom of Hawai'i. Included among the plaintiffs are people of Japanese, English, Filipino, Portuguese, Hawaiian, Irish, Chinese, Scottish, Polish, Jewish, Ukrainian, Byelorussian, German, Spanish, Okinawan, Dutch, French and other ancestries.
Earl Arakaki is the lead plaintiff. He wrote this with the approval of, and on behalf of, all the plaintiffs.
One week after the plaintiffs' statement was published, a response was published from the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Here is that response.
OHA board responds to Arakaki plaintiffs
By the trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs
The plaintiffs in the Arakaki case (against Hawaiian-only entitlements) say they are not trying to hurt Native Hawaiians (Advertiser, Sept. 28). But let's look at the facts.
The plaintiffs want to destroy the homestead program and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and ultimately threaten millions of dollars that flow annually into Hawai'i from the federal government.
We are at a loss to explain how that won't hurt Hawaiians and every other tax-paying resident in Hawai'i.
We are dismayed by the statements from Mr. Arakaki and his fellow plaintiff, former Advertiser publisher Thurston Twigg-Smith, a direct descendant of a leader in the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom.
They claim that "nothing about Hawaii's past or present justifies denying government aid to one modern-day applicant and giving it to another solely because of somebody's ancestry."
Do the events of 1893 not matter? Does the theft of lands from the Hawaiians get swept under the rug along with every modern-day study that places Hawaiians at the bottom in areas such as health, education and income and finds government has failed its trust responsibilities to Native Hawaiians?
The United States admitted in Public Law 103-150 (the 1993 Apology Resolution) and many other times that the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom was illegal and that the lands of the Hawaiian kingdom were taken without the "consent of or compensation to the Hawaiian people," and "resulted in the suppression of the inherent sovereignty of the Native Hawaiian people."
Arakaki, Twigg-Smith and their lawyers rely heavily on their unfounded claim of "racial discrimination" to justify their quest to kill all programs that help Hawaiians. All this hyperbole plays well for those who don't know, don't care or, worst of all, are trying desperately to rewrite Hawai'i's history.
Congress acknowledges the indigenous peoples of America, of which the Hawaiian people are one, as a political class of people deserving of special treatment, and not a "racial" category. Where is the acknowledgment of this commitment by the United States to Hawaiians as expressed in more than 100 acts of Congress, including the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act and the State Admission Act?
The Arakaki lawyers now say those past commitments are illegal, and are rallying behind a single court victory in Rice v. Cayetano to snuff out the remaining programs designed to aid our people. Where were Arakaki, Twigg-Smith and company years ago when the homesteaders were relegated to wastelands, and their assets worth next to nothing?
What are they now afraid of? There's a paranoia that sometimes exists in this state that non-Hawaiians will be kicked off the lands they purchased if Hawaiians prevail in their quest to protect their assets and seek justice for the still-uncompensated taking of their land and resources.
This paranoia is nonsense. All surveys show that the vast majority of Native Hawaiians want to remain both proud Americans and proud Hawaiians, and want to live in harmony with their fellow residents, many of whom proudly proclaim being "Hawaiian at heart."
But what becomes of Hawaiians if they lose this case in court? Where will the homesteaders go, especially the ones unable to afford whatever "fee" the Arakaki plaintiffs say will be offered? How will the state address a major increase in homelessness? What happens to the thousands on the waiting list?
How will state taxpayers come up with the $70 million in federal money that annually comes into the state? What will happen to the Alu Like programs that help Hawaiians get off drugs or train them for a job? What about the teen mothers who now rely on federal funds to get them through school with adequate childcare? What will happen to the native businesses supported through OHA's loan portfolio?
The Arakaki plaintiffs are complaining that we trustees and the state, through the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, are wasting money in court. But we didn't start this fight. They did by filing the lawsuit.
We agree with Gov. Linda Lingle's statement: "What is just and good for Hawaiians is just and good for all our people."
We can only hope that history will not repeat itself.
You may now
SEE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE ARAKAKI #2 LAWSUIT, INCLUDING MANY OF THE LEGAL DOCUMENTS ORIGINALLY FILED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE CASE, AND A RUNNING HISTORY OF SIGNIFICANT EVENTS AS THE CASE MOVES FORWARD
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