(Note: This is the final installment of a three-part series discussing recent legal and political challenges to the Kamehameha Schools and other institutions designed to benefit the native Hawaiian people. Read parts 1 and 2.)
With all the challenges to the Hawaiian community, is there any hope for its survival? I think the answer is a definite yes. The solution, which is currently being debated in both houses of Congress, is Senate Bill 344, introduced by Senator Daniel Akaka and co-sponsored by the other representatives of Hawai’i’s congressional delegation, Senator Inouye (as well as senators from Nevada and Alaska), and Representatives Abercrombie and Case* (plus a representative from Virginia).
The bill is an effective compromise between the Native Hawaiians who have been defrauded of their rightful land for so long, as well as for people who have legitimate reasons to be concerned. It does not immediately create a new Hawaiian government; rather, it defines a structure to begin doing so. Most importantly (for the attorneys defending the state of Hawai’i in lawsuits) is that it firmly establishes that the Hawaiian people are an ancestral group. By doing so, it provides a strong legal basis in the assertion that institutions that support Hawaiians are not engaging in discrimination by race.