Pacific American-News Journal
Kepakemapa (September) 1996 Volume 2 Issue 9
73% of Native Hawaiian Voters Say Yes To
11, 1996: In a first step toward determining some form of
Hawaiian sovereignty, the results were 3 - 1 in favor of a plan
to elect delegates to propose a native Hawaiian government.
Some 82,000 ballots were mailed out to those eligible to vote.
Approximately 30% of eligible voters responded. It's a
better turnout and percentage vote than that which elected our
mayor, governor or president, said H.K Bruss Keppeler, an
election council member and head of the Association of Hawaiian
Asked where the no votes came from Keppeler said:
There's still a lot of people for whom the whole idea of
Hawaiian indigenous sovereignty is frightening.
Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chairman, Clayton Hee said,
It's a very high return for mail-in ballot, and it's a
clear mandate from those who did vote.
This is a culmination of three years of dog-hard work to
bring people to a point where they can express their political
will, said Mahealani Kamau'u, a council member and
executive director of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp.
The announcement was delayed three times by a series of legal
challenges that have yet to be decided. Big Island resident,
Harold Rice, a fourth generation Hawai'i rancher, challenged the
state's use of tax dollars to sponsor a vote open only to native
Hawaiians. It was Rice's appeal of Federal District Judge David
Ezra's ruling that the plebiscite results could be released in
the public interest that delayed release of the vote results on
There are still obstacles to overcome such as the question of
who should help pay for the process by which Hawaiians will now
elect delegates to a convention to draw up a form of government.
There's an undercurrent that perhaps the Native Hawaiian
people are getting too much in terms of entitlements. There's
going to be a lot of resistance (to the state alone paying for a
convention), said Rep. Dennis Arakaki, chairman of the
House Hawaiian Affairs Committee. He suggested that the state,
OHA and private sources might equally provide funds for a
sovereignty convention. The cost of such a convention could
conceivably reach $12 million.
The elections council is scheduled to go out of business
December 31, but members have formed a nonprofit group, Ha
Hawai'i, to raise funds and continue planning for election of
delegates and a constitutional convention. In the meantime, the
council will continue its work with a daylong meeting on Saturday
and will make a full report to the Legislature and OHA.
There is also the question of how the non-Hawaiian people of
the state of Hawai'i and the federal government will react to
whatever decisions Hawaiians make regarding sovereignty.
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Last modified: February 28, 1998
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