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A look at Hawaiian sovereignty

LIHUE — Retired judge and Kauai native Bill Fernandez will discuss the journey of the Hawaiian people in their quest for sovereignty during a free public lecture Thursday.

Fernandez said he is giving the talk to clarify and respond to recent U.S. Department of the Interior meetin-gs, which started a discussion about whether the federal government should pursue federal recognition of Native Hawaiians. He said those hearings, including two on Kauai, were full of rhetoric, and that many people did not understand the department’s purpose.

“I did feel it was important to let the people here on the island know why the issues have arisen,” he said.

Presented by the Kauai Historical Society, “Exploring the Basis for Hawaiian Sovereignty” begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Aston Aloha Beach Hotel in Wailua.

Fernandez said he has been close to the subject for many years and that the lecture will be educational, “so that those who are interested understand what is at stake if you do not come up with some form of federal recognition for Hawaiians.”

Fernandez will begin with the importance of the events prior to the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893, then weave the significant actions that occurred including the blood quantum barrier of the 1920 Homes Act, the United Nations Charter Article 73, the Civil Rights movement in America, the Supreme Court decision in Rice v. Cayetano and the Akaka Bill and Hawaiian Act 195, according to a release.

His narrative will reveal the passions involved in the movement for a nation-to-nation status, and conclude by examining the possible alternatives for the future of the Hawaiian people, according to a release.

More than 300 people attended the two DOI forums on Kauai, held June 30 and July 1 in Waimea and Kapaa that aimed at hearing whether the Hawaiian community is for or against the re-establishment of a government-to-government relationship. There are 566 federally recognized Native American tribes in the United States. Unlike all of them, Native Hawaiians currently don’t have a government-to-government relationship with America. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel is considering changing that.

Fernandez, a graduate of Kamehameha Schools and Stanford University, was an attorney, judge and mayor in California before retiring. He has written books about growing up on Kauai, including “Rainbow over Kapaa,” and “Kauai Kids in Peace and War.” He is also president of the Kauai Historical Society’s Board of Trustees.

Thursday’s event is sponsored by The State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. Light refreshments will be served.

Info: 245-3373 or


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