Rice not a win-lose scenarioTo the Forum:

Hawai’i residents, Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian alike, are being inundated with

headlines regarding the Supreme Court ruling in Rice v. Cayetano. The

headlines, to a large extent, couch the ruling as a win-lose scenario. When in

fact it is not.

Simply stated, the ruling finds that it is unlawful to

limit elections of state officials to one racial segment of Hawai’i


The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is a state agency. There are no

if, ands, or buts about that. More plainly, OHA is a social service


If you believe that Hawaiian sovereignty is embodied in a state

agency, then without question, the Rice ruling is a strike at the heart of

Hawaiian sovereignty.

If you believe that OHA is a state agency charged

with providing social programs for the betterment of Hawaiians, and is not the

entity that represents Hawaiian sovereignty, then the ruling is not a strike or

set back.

Hawaiian sovereignty, the ability to be self-governing, the

ability to set our own destiny, is a journey. It is not a destination,

somewhere we arrive and then it is pau.

Self-governance is achieved in

degrees; sovereignty is exercised and achieved in degrees.

The Rice ruling

says very loudly and very clearly that the exercise of Hawaiian sovereignty,

within a state agency, is limited, and frankly, it is insufficient for our


The task at hand is to make the journey for sovereignty at the next

level—the federal government of the United States of America. This is not an

abandonment of OHA, or the trustees.

We must seek federal recognition of

an autonomous Hawaiian nation, whatever that constitution may be, while

supporting and maintaining OHA as a state social agency.

The Rice ruling

is a call to Hawaiians, an invitation to Hawaiians to seek recognition of our

sovereignty rights, not from the halls of the state Capitol, but from the halls

of the U.S. Congress.

Robin Danner

Project Hawaiian Justice


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