In a January 12th response to a January 9th article I wrote for the Honolulu Advertiser, the leaders of OHA claimed, “Native Hawaiians are the indigenous people of Hawai’i, and have the right to thrive in their ancient homeland.” I find this sentiment frightening in its consequences, contrary to the ideas of freedom, and based on false premises.
What we today call “Native Hawaiians” did not spring from the mountains of Oahu, or the beaches of Maui. As exemplified by the quintessential example of Native Hawaiian culture, the Hokule’a (now voyaging to Micronesia), Hawaiians were voyagers, explorers, and colonists from other islands in the Pacific and beyond. Their “ancient homeland” can be arbitrarily placed anywhere between Hawaii and the path they took from Africa, depending on which date one chooses. As with every people who have ever travelled to Hawaii, “Native Hawaiians” came from somewhere else – we are all immigrants here, separated only by the amount of time since our ancestor’s original arrival. To assert some special, distinct status, based on a single drop of blood before an arbitrary point in time, over all of ones’ peers who have lived together side by side for over 200 years is simply abject racism.