It's time for Hawaiians to become political

By Adrian K. Kamali'i

Honolulu Advertiser
Sunday, April 20, 2003

Kamehameha Schools' recent Song Contest ho'ike (program) shed light on a very important issue that all Hawaiians need to embrace. Our 'opio (youths) are developing in a very different Hawai'i. No matter what we believe, we as kupuna (elders), makua (parents) and 'opio must become political. This statement must no longer be talk, but action.

There are many issues plaguing our community, from drug rehabilitation to health issues, from land ownership to cultural education, from protecting our sacred sites such as Mauna Kea to the reluctance of this state to understand what sacred means, from intellectual and biological property rights to the very sustainability of our lifestyle.

Every single facet of our urban, suburban and rural lifestyles is affected by politics in some way.

If we allow the status quo to continue, we may not only lose our land and cultural identity, but everything associated with our culture: our stories, songs, language and most importantly, a way of life and understanding that land is the elder sibling, not a commodity! We as 'opio and makua must ask the hard questions, and demand results from our elected officials to achieve the best for our 'aina (land), our people and our future, we must become political.

Why is it that the Hawaiian language is just as official as the English language, yet, this state fails to further its responsibility to the Hawaiian language?

Why is it that we have to take our issues to the streets every time threats to our rights and entitlements are imminent?

Why is it that the simple wishes of our late Princess Pauahi and Queen Lili'uokalani cannot be fulfilled without some type of threat?

Why isn't our way of life and protection of our heritage respected?

Why should the host culture blend into this color-blind America where no one is supposed to recognize his or her "colored" heritage?

While our makua and kupuna have paved the way for us to be at this point, we 'opio must carry out and fulfill the goals set forth by our kupuna. We must be the agents of change; we must be the voice of reason. As Hawaiians and as youths, we must be proactive.

There are many ways to get involved, to share your mana'o (thoughts) about issues that affect us as Hawaiians. Many of the decisions being made now will directly affect us as 'opio, as we mature and start families of our own.

How do we make our opinion known? How do we get involved? Write letters to the editor, attend community and neighborhood meetings to voice your opinion. We have to become political! Attend meetings for legislation that advances the movement for Hawaiians. Demonstrate against legislation that hinders the progress of Hawaiians.

Our daily lives are filled with much to do from homework, exams, transitioning to college and becoming independent adults. We must make small sacrifices to understand our issues, become passionate about them and get involved.

Protect our 'aina! Protect our sacred sites! Protect our traditions! Protect our elders!

To the parents: Raise your children to be maka'ala (alert) to these vicious attacks that continue to deplete our culture, our environment and our future. The basic fact of the matter is that we as Hawaiians must become political. This cannot be overstated.

If Hawaiians could fill a majority of the seats in the state Legislature, maybe then this state would recognize its fiduciary responsibility to Hawaiians. Use and teach your children the right to vote! When are we going to apply our collective power to control our destiny?

E ku'e makou I na hewa, ku'e! E ku makou I ka pono, ku!

(We must resist the wrongs, resist! We must stand for the righteous, stand!)

As for Kamehameha Schools and their talented ho'ike crew led by Randie Fong, among others, please continue to express our view on issues that affect the sustainability of our organizations, our way of life and our dignity.

Utilize the ho'ike as a means to educate the public.

E na Hawai'i e holomua me ka 'oia'i'o!

Adrian K. Kamali'i is a 2000 graduate of the Kamehameha Schools and president and CEO of Hui Ho'oulu Inc., an organization that advances Hawaiian youths through culture, politics and the environment. Reach him at

Ho`iho`i Mai