Felicia Cowden heads to Russia for summit

Courtesy photo

Ka’eo Bradford, left, councilmember Felicia Cowden, center, and Lana Anderson pose for a photo at the Kauai Historical Museum. The trio is traveling to Vologda, Russia to take part in a peace conference.

LIHUE — Councilmember Felicia Cowden was not in attendance for Wednesday’s Kauai County Council meeting. She is traveling to Volgada, Russia to be a delegate at a Russian-American peace conference.

Cowden, who said earlier in the month that she would not be attending the conference in Russia, has now stated that she is attending the conference as a citizen rather than a councilmember. Cowden was required to provide the council with a written disclosure regarding the possibility of a conflict of interest in accepting a donation from the Russian Center of New York in the amount of $2,000-$3,000 for “travel-related expenses.”

It is yet unclear if Cowden accepted the donation or if she’s paying for the trip personally.

The council entertained a Russian Center of New York invitation for Cowden to attend the conference and an offer to pay for travel costs, but didn’t approve the trip at a May 8 meeting. It was after that meeting, that Cowden said she took herself off the guest list and announced she wasn’t going to Russia.

That, however, has changed.

“Honoring Kauai history with Ka‘eo Bradford and Lana Anderson as we leave for Russia tomorrow as guests of the Russian-American community attending The Fort Ross Dialogues in Vologda June 2-4, which is a cultural understanding of positive shared history and current collaborative efforts in Education, Science, and Business,” Cowden wrote of the trip on social media. “This seventh year of this event was started by California Governors Arnold Schwartenager and Gerry Brown. Kaua`i is on the agenda regarding Pa’ulaula, where the Russian sailors were a part of the design of King Kamualii’s Fort Elizabeth around his home.

“The fort was built with pohaku in Hawaiian fashion, rather than with a typical Russian wooden design. Most of its cannons were from the Russian ship that crashed in Waimea, the Bearing, (the Russian Ship,”Bering”) and was shaped in the Russian design to support the use of cannons.

“The most fascinating part of the history lesson to me has been the learning that there were roughly 300 Hawaiian women participating in the build including Alii Nui. I am attending as a citizen rather than as a Councilmember,” she continued in her social media post.

“There will be historians from both the Russian view and the Oahu view. The difference in perspectives centers on the Russian focus on Kamualii’s role where Oahu looks at the larger relationship between Kamehameha and Bavarian George Schaefer’s role representing the Russia America Company. The Russian perspective is most focused on that the relationship of the Russians on Kauai was not empirical. They were ship-wrecked and King Kamualii was generous to them in their short stay on Kauai in sparing their lives and hosting them.

“A Russian event was held on Kauai in October 2017 and will happen again in October 2019, each time following the Fort Ross event in California. It was pointed out to the Russian and Russian-American community that proper protocol would have been to ask permission first. This invitation is their response. Aunty Aletha Kaohi was a central guest but has recommended Ka‘eo Bradford in her place as her health may not handle the trip. This trip manifested on short notice. Several others of key Hawaiian presence were invited but unable to attend. In light of that change, I am back on the delegate roster. This is all part of a State Parks discussion regarding signage in Waimea.

“We have gratitude to the generosity of spirit behind this invitation that seeks primarily to have a positive connection to the community with a shared past. It is not a demand about the name of the park.”

The invitation was extended to Cowden by the Russian Center of New York President Elena Branson.

  1. Uncleaina May 30, 2019 6:19 am Reply

    Oh wow. No mention of the fact that these Russians already came here and flew the Russian flag over the fort without asking anyone. Nor that they want to keep it from being named Palala which is what it was called. Russians played a minor role and were only at the fort for 2 years- then left for 138 years only to come back and want to claim their history. Um nah. The fact that Felicia is going to meet with these people is ridiculous. She gonna come back with world peace in hand? Or perhaps it’s more of a junket organized to get access and have influence over her? I guess we’ll know if she comes back saying how awesome Russia is and how they deserve to claim rights over a fort they didn’t even build themselves. Look, if this is her vacation, no worries. But it’s very unclear if she’s going as our representative, and if she does, NOT COOL. You don’t think the Russians will try to buy access or anything do you? Hey Felicia, fix the roads! Fix the North Shore. Lower our taxes or improve our schools. Why you need to go to Russia? To give away our culture? Focus on Kauai.

  2. Rev Dr. Malama May 30, 2019 11:14 am Reply

    Why is this newsworthy?
    Felicia claims that she is going to Russia as a private citizen….. “to broker diplomatic relations….”
    Felicia Cowden is a Kauai County Council member who pledged to attend every Council meeting of the year and to date has been MIA for private travel reasons more than once.
    It’s a behavior that should be under scrutiny and perhaps even include impeachment for failure to uphold a Political Oath of office.
    Possibility of Ethics violations and embezzlement of funds of County Employment, conflict of interest?
    Most importantly, why isn’t the Kauai County Council, which is an arm of LAW ENFORCEMENT acknowledging that the Hawai’ian Kingdom still exists and asking how we can get our independent Government working again!
    The Hawaii’ Teachers union has joined the Support of INDEPENDENT COUNTRY ACKNOWLEDGEMENT as has the Maui county Council recently!!!

  3. Doug May 30, 2019 7:37 pm Reply

    This smacks of collusion, she needs to be in prison or impeached.

  4. Shannon May 30, 2019 7:58 pm Reply

    Why is this okay??? Russia really? It is only because she is a council member she was invited which makes this a conflict of interest. Especially if she accepts any “gifts”. Any gifts in this case need to be reported to the ethics committee. That would include travel, hotel etc.

  5. Claudia Cowden May 30, 2019 8:24 pm Reply

    Yeah, wait, what? What I recall of the “Russian Fort” at Waimea, and the one begun on the Pua Poa cliff at Princeville Hotel, is that a German agent for the Russian Trading Company , Schaeffer, was given a weak “okay” to broaden their, Russian Trading Co’s., interests in Hawaii. Shaeffer managed to bamboozle Kaumuallii for a season, long enough to start construction, but was soon revealed to the King of Kauai for what he was, a scammer, and construction stopped and Schaeffer, fleeing Kauai, managed to escape with his life. Saying that, I’m all for world peace and cultural understanding, so, Yeah.

  6. Debra Kekaualua May 31, 2019 11:07 am Reply

    Agree with Rev Malama! She tends to stick her uninvited nose, as in the coco palms fiasco, then go on to burn the bridge, as the “Line was drawn in the sand” mAhalo Boar!

  7. Rev Dr. Malama May 31, 2019 3:34 pm Reply

    After asking questions and doing research I find absolutely nothing in the National nor international media regarding said “peace talks” so perhaps the Garden island newspaper will reference the name of the alleged group’s and meeting members for those of us who want to know the truth about the negotiations with Kauai and Russia.
    Russia sold Alaska and The Lands of Indigenous peoples in California to the United states without consent and many of us FEAR AND FEEL THE SAME THING HAPPENING HERE.

  8. Mihail Gilevich May 31, 2019 4:40 pm Reply

    I regret to inform you but Kauaiians made brotherhood deal with Russians to prevent bloodbath from Kamehameha invasion and they built 3 forts in Kauai!!!

    Russian Fort Elizabeth was named in the name of the one of the Greatest Empress of Russia Elizabeth. Yes Kauaiians worked with Russians to build forts, and they were using rocks from Heiau with King Kamualii permission and order.

    Recorded fact: for two years Kauaii was officially the territory of Russian Empire and under protection of Russian Empire!

    Is this significant ? It is your personal choice! But it is historical fact and you have to respect that! It is our common history and we were BROTHERS! Not invaders or overthrowing bad guys!!!

    Let’s continue our friendship and share our Aloha!

  9. Whywurry June 2, 2019 10:06 pm Reply

    How bout she inquire about Hawaii being an independent KINGdom?

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