Nutgrass Network Conspiracy -- OHA trustees put forward a conspiracy theory to attack civil rights activists who dare to oppose their nutty, racist agenda

"Ka Wai Ola o OHA", The monthly newspaper of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, has a circulation of 60,000, paid for from the treasury of the State of Hawai'i. It is mailed free of charge to subscribers in Hawai'i and throughout the United States, and also distributed at every branch of the state library. Each month, each of the nine trustees has the right to publish a half-page signed editorial.

Haunani Apoliona, chairperson of OHA, used her three editorials from August, September, and October 2006 to publish a trilogy entitled "Nutgrass Network Conspiracy." Apoliona claims there is a vast conspiracy in Hawai'i and throughout the U.S., which is anti-ethnic-Hawaiian. Her tirade is reminiscent of Hillary Clinton's famous nationally televised rant that there was a "vast right-wing conspiracy" against Bill Clinton. Apoliona describes the anti-Hawaiian conspiracy, naming the most important institutions and individuals who dare to oppose racially exclusionary government handouts; who dare to oppose the Akaka bill that would create a race-based government exclusively for ethnic Hawaiians. Trustee Rowena Akana adds her one-cent worth, speculating that there is an un-named Honolulu mystery-man who established the conspiracy a few years ago and is bankrolling anti-Hawaiian lawsuits.

But the real conspiracy has been by OHA, a state government agency which may very well have spent $20 Million lobbying and advertising for the Akaka bill for six years while refusing to disclose how much was spent and who got rich from its sole-source non-bid lobbying and advertising contracts. OHA has assets of $400 Million; Kamehameha schools has assets somewhere between $6-15 Billion; numerous other race-based ethnic Hawaiian institutions have large staffs and multimillions of dollars annually in government grants. OHA has boasted that there are more than 160 federally-funded programs that are racially exclusionary for the benefit of ethnic Hawaiians. Those are elements of the real conspiracy -- which is supported by the power and resources of the State of Hawai'i whose government officials obligingly make public appearances at apartheid rallies to support racial segregation at Kamehameha Schools, provide legal defense for OHA's blatantly unconstitutional programs, and lobby Congress to pass the Akaka bill. The real conspirators try to discredit their opponents by calling them "racist", claiming that it is racist for individuals and civil rights organizations to oppose race-based government programs and racially exclusionary institutions, and to oppose establishment of a race-based government.

Let's give thanks to individuals and institutions willing to stand up against the evil empire of race-based institutions that are supported and defended by the power of state government. Haunani Apoliona apparently thinks she is naming a rogues' gallery of evil conspirators; but in fact, she is naming an honor-roll of courageous patriots and civil rights activists.


Ka Wai Ola o OHA, 2006 v.23 n.8 - August
p.22 Haunani Apoliona "Nutgrass Network Conspiracy", Part 1
Original source:

'Nutgrass network' conspiracy?

Haunani Apoliona, MSW
Chairperson Trustee, At-large

(The following is part one in a series that will highlight "nutgrass network" connections, like the Grassroot Institute of Hawai'i, the Heritage Foundation, Citizens for Equal Rights Alliance and Aloha For All. There will be more to come in subsequent months.)

Aloha nui käkou e nä 'öiwi 'ölino. Important decisions from diverse opinions are made when we find common ground. The capacity to find common ground for fairness and justice is a direct product of our values and priorities. Our values and priorities move us to act. Ironically, it is our actions that decisively reveal our values and priorities. But much more is revealed to those who discern below the surface observations, "to hear what is not said, to see what can not be seen" as Queen Lili'uokalani said.

Reflecting on the June 8, 2006, decision by the U.S. Senate to choke hold and stall the debate and vote on the Akaka Bill, I decided to track the facts about the values and priorities driving Grassroot Institute of Hawai'i (GRIH), Heritage Foundation, Citizens for Equal Rights Alliance and Aloha For All, as well as the values and priorities of other local and mainland-based groups in the GRIH network, how they interconnect and share like-values in a "nutgrass network" (a concept most understandable to those who till the soil).

Do members of this nutgrass network intentionally disregard or mischaracterize the indigenous legal and political status of American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians in the 50 states? Is the real and lasting negative consequences to Native Hawaiian families caused by the erosion of self-determination, loss of connection with the land, degradation of cultural and social institutions and forced removal of indigenous governance for commercial gain at the expense of Native Hawaiians a trivial matter? Do these select individuals believe no just and fair reconciliation is necessary to heal the deep and profound effects of the methodically planned illegal overthrow of Queen Lili'uokalani an indigenous sovereign leadership?

Do the values and priorities motivating GRIH and their nutgrass network associates seek to strengthen or destroy the unique spirit of Hawai'i and the fabric of our island communities emanating from out Native Hawaiian host culture? The more profound question is, Will people of compassion, honor, fairness, justice, who celebrate diversity as a strength rather than fear it, allow Hawai'i deteriorate in spirit and culture? Future columns will address these questions.

This nutgrass network conspiracy is reminiscent of earlier Hawaiian history. This nutgrass conspiracy has a historical counterpart in Lorrin Thurston's Hawaiian League of 1887, which was purported to support "decent and honest government in Hawai'i," grew in number to 400 members and under Sanford Dole's leadership forced King Kaläkaua to sign the Bayonet Constitution in 1887.

In 1892, the core leaders of that Hawaiian League, under Lorrin Thurston's leadership, became the Annexation Club, which called for the overthrow of Queen Lili'uokalani. This group was renamed the Committee of Safety (after the French Revolution model).

This latter group prevailed on U.S. diplomat John Stevens to land 162 fully armed American marines on January 16, 1893, to overthrow the Hawaiian monarchy. To save the lives of her subjects, Queen Lili'uokalani surrendered, under protest, on January 17, 1893.

The nutgrass conspiracy is comparable to the secretive groups in early Hawaiian history that operated by trying to install their version of America with the intent of concurrently destroying what was Hawaiian. All who are part of the unique multi-cultural Hawai'i of today, especially Native Hawaiians, should be wary of these attempts to amalgamate Hawai 'i into a "melting pot stew" with no appreciation of Hawai'i's current rainbow of parallel colorful, distinctive strands of unique peoples fueled by fundamental disregard for the host culture.


Ka Wai Ola o OHA, 2006 v.23 n.9 - September
p.22 Haunani Apoliona "Nutgrass Network Conspiracy", Part 2
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Aloha e nä 'öiwi 'ölino, nä pulapula a Häloa, mai Hawai'i a Ni'ihau, puni ke ao mälamalama. Our values define our priorities and move us to act. Ironically, it is our actions that decisively reveal our values and priorities. But much more is revealed to those who have the gift of discernment, as Queen Lili'uokalani said, "to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen." This month highlights more on the "Nutgrass Network Conspiracy" introduced in my August trustee column, which referenced the Grass Root Institute of Hawai'i (GRIH) and their additional "nutgrass network " organizations Heritage Foundation and Aloha For All. By connecting the dots on these organizations and their leaders, we are better informed about their collective strategies to negatively impact Native Hawaiians.

In August 2005, Derek Ferrar authored a Ka Wai Ola article entitled, "Who's behind the Grassroot Institute of Hawai'i." The article revealed that this "think tank" against federal recognition has ties to Hawai'i State Senator Sam Slom and national far-right networks. GRIH's website names several organizations as "helpful and friendly" to GRIH. These include: Small Business Hawai'i,Hawai'i Reporter, Americans For Tax Reform, the Heritage Foundation, Reason Public Policy Institute/Reason Foundation and the Heartland Institute. Other organizations identified in working with GRIH are the State Policy Network and Evergreen Freedom Foundation.

In March 2006, Freedom Works Chairman Dick Armey (a former Congressman) and President Matt Kibbe visited Hawai'i to "formally launch a new partnership with Hawai'i's most prominent free-market think tank, the Grassroot Institute" (Freedom Works press release). Freedom Works is a national organization with over 800,000 members, including 1,900 in Hawai'i. This same Freedom Works press release stated that Armey and Kibbe came to Hawai'i "to kickoff an aggressive agenda for 2006 and beyond." Armey states: "this trip will give us the opportunity to connect with our members, build new relationships, and identify opportunities to advance the cause of freedom in the Aloha State."

The August 2005 Ka Wai Ola article identified additional groups and an individual with ties to GRIH, including: the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, the Pacific Legal Foundation and Bruce Fein, a former GRIH consultant, Washington Times newspaper columnist and Heritage Foundation scholar.

Bruce Fein is noted for writing analyses challenging the facts underlying Public Law 103-150, also known as The Apology Bill, enacted in 1993. He authored articles opposing the Akaka Bill, and his writing was entered into the Congressional Record in 2005 by Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, opponent of the Akaka Bill. Other continent-based opponents to the Akaka Bill included: Citizens For Equal Rights Alliance Foundation, Wall Street Journal newspaper columnist John Fund and Morris J. Levin, a former Washington, D.C.-based lobbyist for the organization Aloha For All and Aloha Petroleum.

One lead Nutgrass in the Network is Richard O. Rowland, GRIH president and a former director on the Small Business Hawai'i Board of Directors. GRIH and Small Business Hawai'i have several members in common. Senator Sam Slom, President/Executive Director of Small Business Hawai'i, serves on the GRIH Advisory Board. Jack Schneider,Small Business Hawai'i Vice-President/Board Chairman serves on the GRIH Board of Directors. Walt Harvey of East O'ahu Realty serves on the SBH Board of Directors and the GRIH Board of Directors as Treasurer, and also used his website to oppose the Akaka Bill.

Next month we document the "stated" purposes of the remaining organizations noted in this article along with who the lead faces are. We will see connections and overlaps in the continuing saga of the "Nutgrass Network Conspiracy."


Ka Wai Ola o OHA, 2006 v.23 n.10 - October
p. 19 (regular section) Haunani Apoliona "Nutgrass Network Conspiracy", Part 3
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Aloha e nä 'öiwi 'ölino, nä pulapula a Häloa, mai Hawai'i a Ni'ihau, na puni ke ao mälamalama. This October article follows my August and September as the third in my series entitled "THE NUTGRASS NETWORK CONSPIRACY." Mahalo to Trustee Linda Dela Cruz for lending me her 600 word space to allow me to provide a more full and final comment on the "nutgrass network."

Those individuals and families in Hawai'i, the nation and the world who support Native Hawaiians in the reconciliation process need to stay informed and enlightened about those who do not support successful, just, or fair reconciliation for Native Hawaiians; and, who very likely hold similar sentiment against Alaska Natives and American Indians, the other indigenous people of America.

The "nutgrass network" rose to prominence in 2005 and 2006, as the federal recognition bill (S.147) was making its way through the U.S. Senate as well as gaining attention in the U.S. House of Representatives. Their shared mission to harm and delay passage of any federal recognition bill for Native Hawaiians accelerated the collective activities or antics of the "nutgrass network" members and elevated them above ground into the light.

In addition to those in the "nutgrass network " noted in my August and September articles,there are a few more that include: The Hawai'i Reporter of Malia Zimmerman, president, editor and founder of the Hawai'i Reporter website, who has also served on the Grassroot Institute of Hawai'i board of directors. The Hawai'i Reporter has reported on the Akaka Bill since 2002, and the majority of the guest editorials and other reported pieces are mischaracterizations of the Akaka Bill or statements in opposition to the Akaka Bill. Americans For Tax Reform, of which Mr. Grover Norquist is president, is based in Washington, D.C. Mr. Norquist serves on the Grassroot Institute of Hawai'i board of advisors and on the board of directors of the National Rifle Association of America, the American Conservative Union and the American Society of Competitiveness.

The document entitled Hawai'i Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand, prepared by Bruce Fein, contains an analysis mischaracterizing the Akaka Bill and attacking the facts of Public Law 103-150, the Apology Resolution. Fein's document was distributed at an Americans For Tax Reform meeting in Summer 2005.

The Heritage Foundation, founded in 1973 is a Washington, D.C.-based research and educational institute – or think tank – with a mission to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values and a strong national defense. The Heritage Foundation held two forums opposing the Akaka Bill. One, entitled An Unconstitutional Act Is Back: the Return of the Native Hawaiian Sovereignty Act, was held on May 26, 2006, featuring U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (Tenn.). The other, Native Hawaiian Sovereignty Act: A Step Toward Secession, was held on August 30, 2006, featuring Rubellite Johnson, Emeritus Professor, University of Hawai'i; Larry Arnn, PhD., President of Hilldale College and Heritage trustee; and John Fund, Editorial Board member of The Wall Street Journal.

Edwin Meese III, Heritage Foundation expert, Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow in Public Policy and chairman of the Heritage Foundation's Center for Legal and Judicial Studies; and Todd Gaziano, director of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, co-authored a piece entitled Racist Bill Would Segregate Hawai'i, posted June 6, 2006 on the website Human Events – the National Conservative Weekly.

The Reason Foundation/Reason Public Policy Institute, founded in 1968, is a California-based think tank that says it "advances a free society by developing, applying, and promoting libertarian principles including individual liberty, free market and the rule of law." Grassroot Institute of Hawai'i has collaborated with Reason.

The Heartland Institute is Chicago based. Dr. Milton Friedman calls it a "highly effective libertarian institute," and Cato Institute President Edward Crane says Heartland "has had a tremendous impact, first in the Midwest, and now nationally." Don Newman, of the Grassroot Institute of Hawai'i, wrote Politics Rules In Debate Over Hawaiian Ethnicity Bill, which was published July 1, 2006, in Budget and Tax News of the Heartland Institute.

Aloha For All (AFA) of H. William Burgess, Sandra P. Burgess, Kenneth Conklin, and Thurston Twigg-Smith notes that their mission is ... "to spread the word that Aloha is for everyone and that all citizens of Hawai'i, whatever their ancestry, are entitled to the equal protection of the laws. To save Hawai'i from being torn apart by racial strife. To eliminate all government programs Federal, State or local, which award benefits to or impose detriments on Hawai'i citizens based on race or ancestry."

The mission statement of Wisconsin-based Citizens Equal Rights Alliance/Foundation (CERA/CERF) notes: "As Federal Indian Policy is unaccountable, destructive, racist and unconstitutional, it is therefore CERA's mission to ensure the equal protection of the law is guaranteed to all citizens by the Constitution of the United States."

The Pacific Legal Foundation, headquartered in California with a Hawai'i office, says, "PLF is renowned for battling those who would tread on individual liberty, for confronting government bureaucrats who confiscate private property rights, for opposing government programs that grant special preferences on the basis of race and sex; and for challenging misguided environmental laws that degrade human values."

The website of PLF's Hawai'i office site notes: "There are many hot issues bubbling in Hawai'i right now that present a tremendous challenge to the continued certainty of established rules of property – issues that warrant the proactive involvement of Pacific Legal Foundation.

"A classic example involves the local application of a 1996 case in which the Hawai'i Supreme Court obliterated hundreds of years of established American property law in favor of a system that legitimizes trespass or "gathering" rights by descendants of Native Hawaiians on private property. In a single ruling, that court transformed private property into public property without compensation (Public Access Shoreline Hawai'i v Hawai'i County Planning Commission)."

The Atlas Economic Research Foundation (AERF), based in Virginia since 1981; the State Policy Network (SPN), founded in 1992 and based in California; and the Evergreen Freedom Foundation (EFF) are also noteworthy to the "nutgrass net- work."

Questions posed regarding the "nutgrass network" in my previous columns have answers:

Q: How are these organizations connected; and, what values and priorities do these groups hold in common? Q: Do they suggest that no fair and just reconciliation is necessary to heal the deep and profound effects of the methodically planned, manipulated and implemented actions that culminated in the illegal overthrow of Queen Lili'uokalani, the existing sovereign leadership? A: Reference the August and September Ka Wai Olas, in addition to the information above.

Q: Do they intentionally disregard or mischaracterize the indigenous legal and political status of American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians, the three groups of aboriginal, indigenous, native groups in the 50 states? A: YES

Q: Do they trivialize or mischaracterize the real and lasting negative consequences to Native Hawaiian families caused by the erosion of self-determination, loss of connection with the land, degradation of cultural and social institutions and forced removal of indigenous governance for commercial gain at the expense of Native Hawaiians? A: YES.

Q: Do the values and priorities motivating the Grassroot Institute of Hawai'i and its "nutgrass network" partners strengthen or destroy the unique spirit of Hawai'i that honors obligation to Native Hawaiians, celebrates diversity of cultures for a healthy society, and seeks to sustain our fragile ecosystem? A. DESTROY.

(Preamble, Hawai'i State Constitution): "We the people of Hawai'i, grateful for Divine Guidance, and mindful of our Hawaiian heritage and uniqueness as an island state, dedicate our efforts to fulfill the philosophy decreed the Hawai'i state motto, "Ua mau ke ea o ka 'äina i ka pono."


** The bottom two main paragraphs in this essay by OHA trustee Rowena Akana speculate that there is an un-named shadowy mystery-man who is behind the anti-Hawaiian conspiracy and who is bankrolling the lawsuits seeking to dismantle OHA. The full article is provided for the sake of completeness, and because it is amusing to see how an OHA trustee makes a personal attack against a former OHA trustee, Clarence Ching, who dared to travel to Washington to lobby Congress against the Akaka bill.

Ka Wai Ola o OHA, 2006 v.23 n.8 - August
p.22 Rowena Akana "The Hawaiians' Phantom Menace" (Akaka bill Senate June, and anti-Hawaiian conspiracy)
Original source:

The Hawaiian 's phantom menace

Rowena Akana
Trustee, At-large

'Ano 'ai ke aloha iä käkou. In early June, trustees traveled to Washington, D.C., to witness the long awaited vote on the Akaka Bill in the U.S. Senate. What should have been a historic event quickly turned into a frustrating experience. Listening to senators from the South speak against the bill, calling it "racist legislation," made me want to jump out of the gallery and scream, "HYPOCRITES!" Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) shockingly said that granting federal recognition for Native Hawaiians could lead to Mormons, the Amish and Hasidic Jews seeking their own federal recognition! It was clear that his goal was to lump Hawaiians together with other minorities so he could argue that we all need to be treated equally. It is an undisputed fact that Hawaiians are indigenous people, similar to Native Americans and Native Alaskans, both of whom are already recognized. Sen. Alexander is clearly discriminating against Hawaiians. Who's the real racist?

When the vote was taken, we were four votes shy. Two Democrats were out sick, and thanks to arm-twisting by Senate Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), at least three Republicans switched their vote at the last minute. Sen. Frist told them that their leadership positions would be in jeopardy if they supported the Akaka Bill, and they choose to protect their political careers rather than keep their promises to Sens. Akaka and Inouye.

At the end of that sad day, two things were clear. First, racism and ignorance is alive and well in the U.S. Senate. Second, partisan politics have ruined Congress. The trustees later learned that the Republicans were bitter with the Democrats for voting against their estate tax bill the day before. Killing the Akaka Bill was just payback. I left Washington with a feeling of disgust and disdain for our so-called leaders of America.

With so many important issues that need to be dealt, these career politicians proved they are preoccupied with keeping the status quo and furthering their political careers. They use inflammatory issues like gay rights, flag burning and immigration to detract us from the real issues of importance, like New Orleans, North Korea, Iran and Iraq. Is it any wonder why Americans are losing respect for their leaders and can't believe a word they say?

As bad as the southern senators were, it was sickening to see former OHA Trustee Clarence Ching sitting with William Burgess, the lawyer who has consistently sued OHA, the state and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. Burgess has lobbied Congress to kill the Akaka Bill and has called Hawaiians who favor federal recognition "racists." And let's not forget about State Senator Sam Slom, the only member of the state Legislature in 2005 to vote "no" on the state resolution (HCR 56, SD1) supporting the Akaka Bill. He was also there with Burgess. It is just bizarre that a Republican state senator would so vigorously oppose a bill that the Republican governor so strongly supports. Not to mention the fact that all of Hawai'i's other elected officials including the mayors from all counties and the state Legislature also supported federal recognition in a non-partisan effort. It is egregious that one elected official felt his opinion was more important than all of the state's other elected officials. Since when does a single opinion become more important than the will of the people?

Where and when did this opposition to Hawaiian sovereignty begin? Some rumors have been circulating that it was started years ago by a prominent kama'äina who called a meeting of other like-minded people to his home to discuss how they could band together and prevent the Bishop Estate, DHHL and OHA from becoming too powerful. After all, with control over vast tracts of land and revenues from ceded lands, Hawaiians could one day dominate the state, and this is a frightening thought for some. While I have no evidence that this long-standing rumor is true, I have been thinking very seriously about it lately.

After the fall of the former Bishop Estate trustees, all of their cases were later thrown out of court, but it was too late to save most of their reputations. Now we find ourselves embroiled in more lawsuits to take out OHA and Hawaiian Homes. So, could the rumor be true? I think the question to ask is who is paying for all of the lawsuits that Mr. Burgess has filed? Perhaps then we may have the clues to who is behind the movement to ensure Hawaiians never regain sovereignty and that all Hawaiian entitlements are erased. I mua e Hawai 'i nei …

For more information on important Hawaiian issues, check out my website at


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