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Testimony of
Professor Rubellite Kawena Kinney Johnson
Regarding S.147
Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization bill
Delivered to U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
For Hearing on March 1, 2005
and also
Invited Speaker at
Heritage Foundation
National Forum on Akaka Bill
Washington, D.C. August 31, 2005

** Note by website editor Ken Conklin:

Professor Johnson's testimony in opposition to the "Akaka bill" is extraordinarily powerful, not only because of the ideas it contains, but also because of who she is.

Professor Johnson has a long and very distinguished career as a scholar of Hawaiian language and literature. She has used her fluency in Hawaiian language to do historical and archeological research into ancient Hawaiian and Polynesian knowledge of astronomy and geography, as well as ancient cultural practices. She has been an invited presenter of lectures and scholarly papers in many venues throughout the world. In 1983 she was named a "Living Treasure of Hawai'i;" and for twenty-two years since then, the dividends paid by this treasury have been enormous.

In keeping with her native Hawaiian heritage, Professor Johnson values her genealogy, which combines ancestry reaching to the founding of both Hawai'i and the United States. Native and non-native people of Hawai'i and the United States who regard genealogy as a source of authority must give great deference to the views of someone with her lineage. She has 50% native Hawaiian blood quantum, and is a descendant of Kamehameha the Great. She also has several ancestors who came to America on the Mayflower. One of her more recent ancestors was William A. Kinney, a non-native but native-born subject of the Hawaiian kingdom who helped write the Reform Constitution of 1887 ("bayonet constitution") and was a core member of the group who overthrew Queen Lili'uokalani in 1893.

Professor Johnson knew that politicians in Washington D.C. might not recognize the authoritativeness of her views. Therefore she accepted a suggestion to include with her testimony a brief summary of some of her scholarly achievements and ancestry. Her feelings in opposition to the Akaka bill are so strong that she gave permission for all these materials to be posted on this website, even though she knows there are some in the ethnic Hawaiian community who will be unhappy with her. Such is the courage of a patriotic American descended from Hawai'i's warrior king, who loves her native culture and wants to help protect the unity of Hawai'i's rainbow society.

Photo taken from Honolulu Star-Bulletin article of February 2, 2003 consisting of an interview with Professor Johnson in which she discussed her thoughts about Hawaiian culture and her opposition to the Akaka bill.


109th Congress
Committee on Indian Affairs, United States Senate
Hearing scheduled for Tuesday, March 1, 2005 10:00 a.m.

On S. 147, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005 ("Akaka Bill")

Testimony by Rubellite Kawena Kinney Johnson

To: The Senate Committee for Indian Affairs

Dear Sirs:

There is no other bill in the history of the United States that predicts the end of the United States, both nation and territory, if the legislators pass the 'Akaka Bill into federal law.

The designers of the Akaka Bill need only chant the previous message of the Clinton Apology Bill (USPL 103-150) as a preamble to coax agreement with its dominant political position that the United States is guilty of invading Hawaii and putting an end to the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893 by unmandated military force.

It then becomes easier to believe that the United States also intentionally annexed Hawaii five years later in 1898 even though it had signed treaties to guarantee the independent sovereignty of the Hawaiian monarchy in former times, thus reneging on its promises to a friendly nation.

It becomes even easier to believe that the United States also annexed Hawaii unconstitutionally and illegally by a joint resolution of Congress because Hawaii was an independent foreign state. Unless one has read the decision of the Supreme Court (Chief Justice Marshall) with regard to the annexation of Texas in 1845 before the Civil War, it would not readily be known that it was not unconstitutional then, nor was it unconstitutional in 1898 (Admission of Hawaii as a territory) and again in 1959 (as a state in the union), although we keep hearing continuous condemnations of the United States from professors of law and political science at the University of Hawaii year by year. Although these thoughts and voiced opinions are treasonous in attitude, they are allowed freedom of expression to condemn the United States and to organize every effort to expel the United States from the islands.

No one, however, tells the U.S. MediVac team to stop bringing the victims of accidents on land and tragedy at sea to hospitals in Honolulu from off-island.

Before a federal committee splits Hawai'i into two governments, the consolation being that aboriginal sovereignties that are Indian nations on the continent have not yet claimed the right to be dominant sovereignties and to change the borders of the American federation, it should come here to live a while after it has passed the 'Akaka Bill to monitor the results.

It is possible to predict now, however, that government funds that were once available to run the public schools, to take care of ports of entry and departure, including airports and highways, federal and state health programs, because these facilities existed on federal lands returned to the State of Hawaii in 1959, will find that they are now in the coffers of the Bureau of Hawaiian Affairs in Washington D.C., and irretrievably so.

It's unconceivable that the entire public would support a divided homeland while Republican Governor Linda Lingle personally champions the 'Akaka Bill no matter how much we, as Republican voters, tell her not to, to let the Democrats do what they want to do because the majority of Republicans don't want the 'Akaka Bill, I for one, and I'm 50 % Hawaiian blood quantum.

The Native Hawaiian land base as the exclusive property of the new government would be one in which no private property ownership would be allowed because the land ownership proposed since USPL 103-150 (Clinton Apology) is basically a retroactive priority for "aboriginal communal land tenures before 1778 A.D."

That would make the 200,000 acres of Hawaiian Home Lands under the new government enabled by the 'Akaka Bill irretrievably leased land in perpetuity.

Goodbye freedom.

Very sincerely yours,

Rubellite Kawena Kinney Johnson,
Member Aloha for All Society

[Address, phone number, and e-mail redacted by website editor Ken Conklin to protect Professor Johnson's privacy]


** Addendum of March 12, 2005 **

Native Hawaiian Rights According to the Akaka Bill

by Rubellite Kawena Johnson

One of the important aspects of the Akaka bill is its definition of Native Hawaiian "rights". Never does the Akaka Bill ever use the American definition of "rights" as those of the individual. In American political thought and philosophy, it is the individual who has rights, and not the group, even though the individual is a member of a group, a nation, a country.

Nor are rights said to be "aboriginal" in character, that one has a greater right because one is an aborigine. It's true that aborigines have their own homelands, their own homes, their own families, and outsiders beware coming into those places without invitation. But it doesn't mean they have no right to the subsistence afforded there if they trade something for it and come in peace.

However, if we look at the stark reality of that picture, it must be understood that the American concept of rights, defined by Thomas Jefferson, is that "rights" come from nature, as he put it: from "Nature and Nature's God". So, from the outset the ‘Akaka Bill promotes a definition of "rights" of aboriginal Native Hawaiians from the position of being the first inhabitants of a place. Thus, the rights of Native Hawaiians today are greater than others born here from immigrant parents without aboriginal blood to the rewards from nature.

The Akaka Bill starts there: "Native Hawaiians have given "expression" to their "rights" as Native People to, and then the rights are listed as: "self-determination, self-government, and economic self-sufficiency," however, this "self" is still not the individual self.

It is the group that has the right, in other words, to decision-making and power or revenue from natural resources, apart from all other groups on that basis alone, that Native Hawaiians living today, of any amount of blood quantum, have greater rights to those benefits because their ancestors were here before anybody else's not Hawaiian. Is that a good idea in politics and justice, tell me?

This is a philosophical distortion of the concept of ‘rights" as basically aboriginal and derived from the group, except that the United Nations would go further and call rights "human" under the Human Rights Charter.

Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States went further when he made clear that human individuals have "rights" as derived from NATURE AND NATURE'S GOD. And what did he mean by that? That we have life in nature and the right to keep ourselves alive in nature, as with all other forms of life on earth. Humans have no greater right than what nature allows humans to have, except that American political thought went in the direction of individual rights in which context, that of the individual surviving in any society, aboriginal or otherwise, have rights limited to "the right to life and the pursuit of happiness", whatever suits a man to be happy.

The Akaka Bill does not defend that concept at all. A Native Hawaiian has what? Under the Akaka Bill, which promises all kinds of benefits, it is not in the individual's realm of choice how he may derive those benefits except as he consents to what is allowed to him to have, which is an entirely different idea than that idea of private property right in both land and personal property. In fact, it is diametrically opposed to the right to private property in the Ceded Lands trust. The whole of this trust, both lands and revenues will belong to whom? To a nameless consortium called the Native Hawaiian government. It will own all Ceded Lands, submerged lands, and natural resources, as well as all revenues.

The idea of a Native Hawaiian individual having a right in any of it is not at all worded into the law, specifically. In short, the Akaka Bill is UN-American, and worse, it is UN-Hawaiian. Why?

Ancient Hawaiians lived in the village, of course, and the village as native Hawaiian, nothing else. There were only two chiefs: the chief of the ahupua'a and the konohiki immediately above the farmer. The district chief came around now and then, and then the ali'i nui seldom. There wasn't a whole bevy of bureaucrats telling him how to catch fish and plant taro. Two chiefs, period. Nobody else.

Of course he didn't own the land on which his house was built, but his right to be there was given to him by his chiefs, and for that right he worked in their taro fields and fished for them to the amounts required, which, if he didn't pay, he forfeited his right to live on the chief's lands.

Show me that Hawaiian fisherman when he could own his land as private property under the Great Mahele law and under American law after annexation, and I show you a Hawaiian living with no fear of being thusly dispossessed, as in ancient times. It's unconstitutional to deprive any man of his property without due compensation.

Even just to own your own land, that was new. To not have to work in the chief's taro patches and give him most of the fish catch, that was new. To be able to hand down that land to his own family was new. Have we forgotten that?

Why would we now trade this freedom to a nameless consortium called the Native Hawaiian government? As a consequence of the United States Congress passing the Akaka Bill it will own all Ceded Lands, submerged lands, and natural resources, as well as all revenues...

What trust has no provision of the individual heirs? What trust leaves its heirs benefits without qualified amounts of inheritance? No rights to individuals; rights to aborigines of any blood quantum.

My God.

Rubellite Kawena Kinney Johnson
March 12, 2005


RESUME (Update) February, 2005

Name: Rubellite Kawena Kinney Johnson

Employment status:

Professor Hawaiian Language and Literature
Department of Hawaiian and Indo-Pacific Languages
University of Hawai'i
Retired December 1993, after 25 -27 years of completed service at the Manoa Campus.

Current Status: Emeritus Professor
Department of Hawaiian and Indo-Pacific Languages

Other Employment since retirement 1994 to present:

(1) Scholar-in-Residence, Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa Foundation, February 1994 to June, 1997; resumed in 2003
(2) Consultant on Hawaiian Language and Naming, Hawai'i Inoa Pono, convened by Mr. Leo Ori'i, Proprietor, Waikiki Trade Center, 1998 - 2003

Lectures at conferences abroad:

1979 "Introduction to Hawaiian Studies, Language and History," with Dr. Pauline King Joerger, at Division of East Asian Studies, Harvard University, Department of History

1979 Attended conference (1980) on Tropical American Archaeoastronomy, New York Academy of Sciences, "Ahu-a-Umi Heiau: a Hawaiian Astronomical and Directional Register," with Dr. Armando da Silva (Department of Geography, University of Hawai'i, Hilo) published in the Annals, "Ethnoastronomy and Archaeoastronomy in the American Tropics," Vol. 385, 1982: 313-331 (NYAS), included in the 1983 Native Hawaiian Commission Report on Culture, Needs, and Concerns of Native Hawaiians, 1983

1980 Presenter of paper jointly authored with Dr. Bryce G. Decker,Department of Geography, University of Hawaii, "Implications of Native Names for Cotton (Gossypium spp.) in the Indo-Pacific," International Geographers' Congress, Tokyo University, Japan; published in Asian Perspectives, UH Manoa Journal of Southeast Asian Archaeology, edited by Dr. Wilhelm Solheim, Department of Anthropology, UH-Manoa, 1980.

1981 Presenter, "Ahu a ‘Umi in the Symbolic Frame of Cosmic Time," Queen's College, Oxford University, England with visits to Stonehenge, Woodhenge, Silbury Hill (Salisbury Plain), and to Scotland, Culloden, Bryn Nevis, Inverness, Isle of Skye, Edinburgh, Conference on British Megalithic Archaeoastronomy, 1981.

1983 Presenter, "Ritual Calendar in Ancient Hawaii," First Ethnoastronomy Conference, Albert Einstein Spacearium, Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C., convened by Dr. Von Del Chamberlain.

1987 Guest Lecturer on Hawaiian Ethnoastronomy, by invitation; Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington, summer; "Ritual Time and the Geometry of Sacred Space in Old Hawai'i," coordinated by Dr. Corey Muse, College of Education.

1988 Guest Lecturer, The Hawai'i of Chiefs and Kings, The Hawai'i of Legend, Chant, and Sacred Sites; Spring Series, "In Search of Old Hawaii," University of California, Los Angeles; coordinated by Dr. Barry Bortnick.

1989 Presenter, "The Spider Ecliptic in the Pacific and the Role of the Knotted Cord in its Distribution," The VI th Pacific Science InterCongress, Frederico Santa Maria University, Valparaiso, Chile; conference tour to Easter Island, August 2-5; guest of the Governor of Easter Island, Sergio Rapu Haoa; visit to the Straits of Magellan arranged by the conference agency; August.

1990 Pacific Representative to the Global Forum on Environment and Survival, by invitation from the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow; January, 1990; President Mikhail Gorbachev and Raisa Gorbachev also present at the first religious service held in the Kremlin after the removal of the Berlin Wall.

1991 Opening presentation, "Hawaiian and South Pacific Place Names," by invitation, First Conference on Place Names of the Pacific, Department of Land and Survey Information, Wellington, New Zealand, published in proceedings, Unedited Facsimiles, 1991; travel and accommodations prearranged by the New Zealand government.

Publications (Books)

(1) Kukini ‘Aha'ilono, Carry On the News, Over a Century of Hawaiian Life and Thought in Hawaiian Newspapers, 1834-1948; supported by the American Bicentennial Committee (State of Hawai'i), published by the Hawaii Cultural Research Foundation; entered in the capsule on the State Capitol grounds for the Tricentennial in 2076 A.D.

(2) Na Inoa Hoku, A Catalog of Hawaiian and Pacific Star Names, with John K. Mahelona; Topgallant Publishing Company; a dictionary of Hawaiian star names with calendrical and navigational information, 1975; [*rewritten and edited with the University of Leicester's archaeoastronomer, Dr. Clive Ruggles, in progress].

(3) The Kumulipo, Hawaiian Hymn of Creation; translation of two cantos, illustrated; Hawaiian cosmogonic genealogy andpoetry; Hawai'i Cultural Research Foundation. 1981.

Reports [State of Hawai'i and U.S. government reports]:

1987 (a) Report to the State of Hawaii legislature regarding the history and traditions of Kapolei in order to secure approval from the legislature for development of lands in that area held by the Campbell Estate, now called Kapolei.

1992 (b) Kaho'olawe Conveyance Commission, report on the archaeoastronomic alignments of sites on the island, if possible to celestial phenomena, i.e.,constellations, polar stars, etc.

Honors and Community Awards:

1978 Listed, The World's Who's Who of Women in Education, International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, England.

1983 Awardee, Living Treasure of Hawai'i, Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii (and Japan) Honolulu, Hawai'i.

1984 Invited to attend the Tri-Member Conference of American Indian nations of Northwest America (Tlingit, Kwakiutl,Tsimshian) as a guest (later adopted into) by the Killer Whale Clan and leader (Judson Brown) of the Sealaska Heritage Corporation, 1982; adopted name conferred, 1984, Yaisnuk (late aunt of Judson Brown) in ceremony at the Willows Restaurant, Mo'ili'ili, Honolulu, Hawai'i.

1989 (October 9) Award for Literature, from the Hawaii Literary Arts Council and State Foundation on Culture and the Arts (for the Kumulipo, Vol. I)

Memberships in Community and Professional Organizations (current):

2003- Bishop Museum Association
Friends of ‘Iolani Palace

2003- Aloha For All Society, supporting the definition of "Hawaiian" as all citizens of the State of Hawai'i regardless of any native blood quantum or none, as native-born or as a naturalized American citizen.

2000- Alpha Delta Kappa, National Women Educators' Honor Society, honorary member

2000- Mo'opuna o Kamehameha, a genealogical society of lineal descendants of Kamehameha I; Luakaha, Nu'uanu.

1989- Society of Mayflower Descendants, Hawaii Chapter; Governor (*distinguished for shortest service as Governor, half-year, 2001)

1996- Keokea Farmers Association, Kahua Keokea, Kula, Maui, homesteads.

1973- Hui Hanai, lifetime membership

The Garden Island News (Kaua'i), July 20, 2007

Product of Kaua‘i

In behalf of her Kaua‘i High School classmates of 1950, we congratulate and offer our aloha to Dr. Rubellite Kinney Johnson of Honolulu on her appointment last week to the Hawai‘i Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The 17 members will serve 10-year terms.

Many of us grew up with this former Lawa‘i girl named a “Living Treasure of Hawai‘i” in 1983 by the Honla Hongwanji Mission of Hawai‘i.

Rubellite’s father, Ernest Kaipoleimanu Kinney Sr., was a foreman during the building of Kaumuali‘i Highway on Kaua‘i and a member of Holy Cross Church in Kalaheo, while also assisting at the Koloa Hawaiian Church where Ruby attended. Mother Esther Kauikeaolani Ka‘ulili came from a distinguished local family that included brothers Springwater and Lordie Ka‘ulili. (The latter loved to play tennis with my father, the late Rev. Howard Smith of Koloa.) Ruby gets her middle name Kawena from a part-Chinese grandmother from Puna on the Big Island who raised eight children. Her grandfather Rev. Solomon Ka‘uili pastored both the Lihue Union and Koloa Union churches prior to being named a judge for the Koloa district. He died in 1923 before taking office. Johnson can also trace her haole roots back to pilgrim New England and earlier.

This wahine is a veritable United Nations, a classic Hawai‘i cultural and ethnic melting pot.

Dr. Johnson retired as professor emeritus of Hawaiian Languages in the Department of Indo-Pacific Languages of the University of Hawaii/Manoa. She is, arguably, the world’s leading living authority on the study and interpretation of the epic 2,600-line Hawai‘i chant, the Kumulipo. Her knowledge of the laws and history of the monarchy era is encyclopedic.

Little did playmates at Kalaheo Elementary sense this future brilliance when they teased Ruby about her strange name deriving from the pink tourmaline gem found in granite. Nor when she was just one of us teenagers struggling to satisfy taskmaster Mary Mildred Jones in English and Spanish classes “amid the ironwood and cane fields nigh.” She later graduated with honors from University of Hawai‘i.

And it was her family upbringing and the education through Hawai‘i’s fine public school system of those decades, combined with the patriotism of us World War II kids growing up on Kaua‘i, which forged her very outspoken love for America and its freedoms. No sovereignist she. Thus Hawai‘i’s citizens may count on Rubellite to bring needed balance in the years ahead to this important governmental forum.

Ray Smith
Wheaton, Ill.



Native Hawaiian Sovereignty Act: A Step Toward Secession?

VIEW THE FORUM (audio/video file of the forum can be downloaded and played on your computer)

Date: August 30, 2005
Time: 10:00 a.m.


Rubellite Kawena Kinney Johnson
Emeritus Professor
Department of Hawaiian and Indo-Pacific Languages
University of Hawaii

Larry P. Arnn, Ph.D.
Hillsdale College

John Fund
Editorial Board Member
The Wall Street Journal

Host: Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D.
The Heritage Foundation

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

Senate debate begins soon on S. 147, the “Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act,” that purports to authorize the creation of a government of so-called “native” Hawaiians to exercise sovereignty over native Hawaiians living anywhere in the United States. In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that this approach is unconstitutional. Yet, proponents believe they can avoid this ruling by declaring the descendants of “aboriginal” Hawaiians an American Indian tribe – going so far as to allow for the election of an “interim government” of this alleged “tribe” and recognizing the sovereignty and privileges and immunities that the new government establishes for its “tribal members.”

Our distinguished panel will address the serious constitutional concerns and other key issues surrounding this effort. Can Congress simply declare the descendents of aboriginal Hawaiians, living anywhere, an American Indian tribe? Does the 14th Amendment permit the creation of an exclusively race-based government? Would such a race-based government kill the “aloha” of an integrated and blended Hawaiian culture? Would it set a good precedent if Congress could create race-based governments and exempt them from the United States Constitution? Is S. 147 the answer to supposed 19th Century wrongs or did the citizens of Hawaii make the right decision in 1959 when they voted overwhelmingly for statehood without a separate government for “native” Hawaiians?

PROFESSOR JOHNSON has a long and very distinguished career as a scholar of Hawaiian language and literature, researching ancient Hawaiian and Polynesian knowledge of astronomy and geography as well as ancient cultural practices. Her original translation of the Kumulipo, the oral history of the ancient Hawaiian people, won high acclaim. In 1983 she was named a "Living Treasure of Hawaii.”

LARRY P. ARNN is President of Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan. He is the author of Liberty and Learning: The Evolution of American Education (2004). He is on the Board of Trustees of The Heritage Foundation, The Henry Salvatori Center of Claremont McKenna College, The Center for Individual Rights and The Claremont Institute.

JOHN FUND is one of the nation’s top political pundits. His editorials and articles can be found regularly in the Wall Street Journal where he is an editorial board member, writer, and former deputy editor. He is a contributing analyst to Fox News and CNBC, the 24 hour news cable channels. His articles have also appeared in Esquire, New Republic, National Review, and American Spectator.


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(c) Copyright 2005, Rubellite Kawena Kinney Johnson. All rights reserved