‘Aha 2016: a Native Hawaiian Nation’s Constitution

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Sen. Shimabukuro was interviewed by Dillon Ancheta of the University of Hawaii’s newspaper, Ka Leo, regarding the ‘Aha.  You can find the interview on Ka Leo’s Facebook page, posted on 04/29/16: https://www.facebook.com/KaLeoOHawaii/, or at this link:

http://www.kaleo.org/news/debate-over-native-hawaiian-constitution/youtube_65a6edd8-0e28-11e6-9c35-5bfba494932b.html

This post provides an update about the nation-building process being undertaken by some Native Hawaiians.

As many of you may know, the organization, Na‘i Aupuni, attempted to organize an election in which Native Hawaiians would elect a group of Native Hawaiians to meet at an ‘aha to draft a constitution. This constitution would be used as a governing document by a future Native Hawaiian Nation. Although a court decision ultimately negated Na‘i Aupuni’s attempt to organize an election, an ‘aha nonetheless proceeded with all 196 election candidates convening on O‘ahu earlier this year to draft a constitution.

According to an ‘aha delegate, the goal of the ‘aha was to keep all options open and to establish a structure for Native Hawaiians to voice a collective will by electing their own government officers. The delegate also stated that the constitution was more about establishing the framework for an independent Nation and less about determining “external relations” such whether the Native Hawaiian Nation will be a Nation-within-a-Nation or secede from the United States

Below are highlights from the constitution:

Which lands will be part of the Native Hawaiian Nation?
The constitution does not specifically determine the answer. The answer will depend on the results of future negotiations with the Hawai‘i State and Federal Governments. The constitution states that it will apply to whatever lands emerge from the negotiations. See Article 1 of the constitution for more details.

Will the Native Hawaiian Nation continue to be part of the United States or will it secede?
The constitution does not specifically determine the answer. The document does specify that the Nation has the right to self-determination, but does not specify what form the Nation must take. See Article 4 of the constitution for more details.

What is the general structure of the Native Hawaiian Nation? E.g. Will it be a monarchy?
The Nation will be composed of three branches of government similar to the Hawai‘i State and United States Federal Governments: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. The functions of each branch are also similar to those found at the state and Federal levels in the United States. Authority also exists to create local governments. See Article 22, Chapters 4, 5, and 6 of the constitution for more details.

Who can be a citizen of the Native Hawaiian Nation?
People of Native Hawaiian ancestry can enroll as citizens of the Nation. Native Hawaiian ancestry is defined as “descendants of the aboriginal and indigenous people who, prior to 1778, occupied and exercised sovereignty in the Hawaiian Islands.” There is no blood quantum requirement.

The constitution does permit the Nation to modify citizenship requirements – i.e. it would be possible for the Nation to amend the constitution to allow non-Hawaiians to become citizens.

Citizenship in the Nation will not impact United States Citizenship. See Articles 2 and 9 of the constitution for more details.

Who can vote in Native Hawaiian Nation elections?
Citizens of the Nation who are 18 years of age or older can vote. See Article 2 of the constitution for more details.

What language(s) will be spoken in the Native Hawaiian Nation?
‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i (a.k.a. Hawaiian) will be the national language. ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i and English will be the official languages. See Article 3 of the constitution for more details.

What types of individual rights will be protected?
The constitution protects a number of individual liberties that the United States Constitution protects. Rights like due process of law, equal protection, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, and the right to bear arms will all be protected in the Native Hawaiian Nation. See Article 6 of the constitution for more details.

 What customary rights will individuals possess?
Citizens of the Native Hawaiian Nation will have the right to exercise traditional cultural, medicinal, and religious practices. See Article 7 of the constitution for more details.

 What will the Native Hawaiian Nation be prohibited from doing?
The Nation cannot pass laws abridging a citizen’s right to make end of life decisions. It also cannot take private property without just compensation, favor a particular religion, or infringe on freedoms of speech or the press. See Article 8 of the constitution for more details.

Is this the final constitution?
No. After the Nation is established, a ratification election shall occur to affirm the constitution. This was also done for the Hawai‘i State and United States Federal Constitutions. The Nation’s constitution also states that citizens will be able to vote on whether a convention to amend the constitution should be convened. See Articles 50 and 51 of the constitution for more details.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about the ‘aha or the Native Hawaiian Nation, click on these links:
‘Aha 2016
Native Hawaiian Nation (a copy of the constitution can be obtained at this site)

Civil Beat article by OHA trustee Peter Apo:

http://www.civilbeat.com/2016/03/peter-apo-a-native-hawaiian-constitution-is-born/

 

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