Analysis of Native Hawaiian Issues and People

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Blogger's Reflection

Entering the blogosphere this semester provided a very unique experience for me. By blogging, I was introduced to a different venue for self-expression. In addition, I feel that the internet is a prime locale to establish my voice as a public intellectual. My blog focuses on Hawaiian Politics and about Native Hawaiian policy and people. Native Hawaiian issues are extremely controversial topics in the islands. When looking back on my experience with my blog, I am proud of the essays I have posted. As I first started to create the blog, I was a little overwhelmed with the technological aspects of producing the posts and learning how to upload graphics and add links to my site proved to be a challenge. With weeks of practice under my belt, I now feel like a blog expert.

There are certain things I like about my blog and there are other things I dislike. One positive aspect of my blog is that I have developed a strong voice in my writing, which is what I set out to accomplish. My writing style possesses confidence and has advanced with each post. I am especially delighted with my most recent post about nominating Nainoa Thompson as a USC honorary degree recipient. Thompson is worthy of a USC honorary degree and I felt it was my duty to portray him as an unparalled candidate. One thing in my blog that was not as easy to write as I would like it to be is my post about the Justice Learning website. Critiquing this particular website was difficult because although it was multi-faceted, it lacked intrigue. Even though I had much to say about the good and bad features of the website, it was difficult to remain passionate about the content of my writing. It is difficult for me to write critical analytical pieces, because it restricts my creativity.

I will continue posting my thoughts on Hawaiian Politics in this blog, even after the semester concludes. Working on my blog enhanced my perspective on all types of Hawaiian happenings. Blogging was an exciting opportunity and I am glad that I was exposed to this type of academic medium. Hawaiians need to be informed about current political issues that erupt in our society. I feel it is my duty to continue supporting my culture’s movement, even if it is just by expressing my thoughts and opinions in the blog environment. More Hawaiians should start their own blogs so we can have a strong internet-based community and more people will be reached through our words.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Nainoa Thompson: Deserving of a USC Honorary Degree

In May of every year, the University of Southern California bestows an honorary degree upon a few select individuals during its commencement ceremony. In the past five years, the award was given to a total of 27 individuals, with each year accounting for no less than two awards and no more than six. Some of the past recipients of these honorary degrees are well-known and include astronaut Neil Armstrong, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, and legislator John McCain. Other recipients include Indian physicist Joseph Medicine Crow, music composer/conductor John Williams, and mathematical physicist Edward Witten. Despite the popularity of the recipients, or lack thereof, the one trait that each of them has in common is their desire to care about something that is important to them, which in turn, affects humanity. Whether it is walking on the moon, in the case of Armstrong, or Witten's breakthroughs in theoretical physics, each recipient distinguishes himself or herself in a unique way to make some impact on our world. Such is the case with Charles Nainoa Thompson, a figure most recognizable by Hawai'i residents and other Polynesians, whose vision and values for culture and tradition should be imprinted in the hearts and minds of every person. Nainoa Thompson is deserving of an honorary degree in the Spring of 2007 from USC as a Doctor in Humane Letters. Although Thompson's nomination may seem surprising at first because he is not widely known around the country, his achievements deem him worthy of candidacy.

Charles Nainoa Thompson is the epitome of excellence in the eyes of many Hawaiian people. Everyone knows him as "Nainoa" and the younger generations respect him as "Uncle Nainoa". As a Native Hawaiian himself, he is known for his unparalleled background in old Hawaiian navigational methods, and through this involvement, he remains an integral part in keeping the Hawaiian culture alive. Born and raised in Niu Valley on the island of O’ahu, Thompson is a 1972 graduate of Punahou School and received his bachelor’s degree in Ocean Sciences in 1986 from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. He was always fond of the ocean as a child after spending much time at the beach with Yoshio Kawano, the local milkman, who took Nainoa fishing when he was a youngster. Thompson started canoe paddling at the age of 20 with Hui Nalu Canoe Club. Soon afterward, he got involved with the Polynesian Voyaging Society. In a biography on Thompson, it is learned that "since 1976, he played an integral part in the design, construction, sailing, and navigatin of the Hawai'i Maritime Center's double-hulled voyaging canoe, Hokule'a." Thompson’s first voyage with the Hokule’a took place in 1976, which led from Hawaii to Tahiti and back. The purpose of the voyage was to revive ancient canoe building practices and sail using non-instrumental navigation. He successfully completed another journey in 1980 while having complete command of navigating the Hokule’a from Hawai’i to Tahiti.

Nainoa Thompson completed the 1980 journey after having been unsuccessful in 1978 when the Hokule’a not only swamped, but a life was lost. Eddie Aikau, who was a tough waterman and the first lifeguard to hold the post at Waimea Bay, was a crew member on this journey and decided to paddle on his surfboard in an effort to reach land and get help. The Hokule’a was rescued during the night as a Hawaiian Airlines plane saw the Hokule’a in trouble, and Eddie Aikau was never seen again. The experience of being stuck in the middle of the Moloka’i Channel, with Aikau nowhere in sight, was described by the Polynesian Voyaging Society in an article titled, “Voyage to Tahiti Cancelled After Canoe Swamping- 1978”: "All that night [sixteen crew members] clung to the hulls of the stricken vessel, huddling to protect themselves as best they could from wind and wave." It continued to say that "airplanes flew overhead but no one saw Hokule`a. Adding to the problems of the crew was exposure to the sun, intense and nearly overhead at mid-day." This experience made Nainoa Thompson question the purpose and voyage of Hokule'a, but he would continue sailing even after this horrific day. The USC honorary degree is given to those who have "extraordinary achievements" in "creative activities" which is defining of Thompson's commitment to the Hawaiian legacy. He even risks his life on these journeys to fulfill his purpose for cultural education.

Thompson is genuinely passionate about his work in navigation, and he has served the Hawaiian community well, through his dedication in carrying on ancient Hawaiian ways and his involvement in Hawaiian affairs. According to James O. Freedman, in his book, Liberal Education and the Public Interest, “In choosing honorands, I emphasized intellectual distinction and public service. If Dartmouth was to confer honorary degrees at all, I believed the reason had to be to celebrate distinguished and sublime achievement” (118). Like Dartmouth, USC standards for attaining an honorary degree are high and in direct relation to the purpose of the university. The Role and Mission of USC webpage states that, “The central mission of the University of Southern California is the development of human beings and society as a whole through the cultivation and enrichment of the human mind and spirit.” In this regard, Thompson has led in his own way a cultural growth among those who are interested in navigating the seas via the ancient ways. He started a program called Kapu Na Keiki or “Hold Sacred the Children,” in association with the Polynesian Voyaging Society in order to help children (mostly high schoolers) to develop their minds and bodies for canoe paddling and sailing. This program’s statement of purpose says: "With a legacy of ocean exploration as its foundation, the Polynesian Voyaging Society reaffirms our commitment to undertake voyages of discovery; respect and learn from our heritage and culture; and strengthen learning which integrates voyaging experiences into quality education..." USC would like honorary degree recipients to make "contributions to the welfare and development of... the communities of which they are a part." This program is a major contribution to young Native Hawaiians. These youth with carry on with them the traditions they learned in the program and continue to keep their cultural heritage alive.

Thompson not only is a leader in the realm of Hawaiian navigation, but he is also a teacher with an abundance of knowledge that not many people possess about navigating the ocean. In 1992, Thompson sailed from Rai’atea to Rarotonga in a voyage called “No Na Mamo: For the Children.” This voyage was specifically formulated “to train a new generation of voyagers to sail Hokule’a, to share the knowledge and values of voyaging with students in Hawai’i, and to celebrate the revival of canoe building and traditional navigation throughout the Pacific with a visit to the Sixth Pacific Arts Festival held that year in Rarotonga.” Since that voyage, the Polynesian Voyaging Society with Thompson at the helm, has been involved in sharing the knowledge they possess with the children. In a 2003 article from the Honolulu Advertiser, “Hokule’a Sets Sail for Kaua’i,” Punahou School President Jim Scott says, “I’ve seen Nainoa Thompson at work with some of our kids… there is this metaphor of wayfinding and their finding their own way… I think it’s a pretty brilliant educational message.”

Nainoa Thompson in not only an experienced navigator, but a Kamehameha Schools’ trustee and a former member of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents. He is also a part of the Ocean Policy Institute’s Advisory Council. Thompson is currently a volunteer special advisor to the University of Hawai’i President. Mike Martin says in his book, Meaningful Work: Rethinking Professional Ethics, that “We might sort professionals’ desires, pleasures, and sources of meaning into three broad categories: craft, compensation, and moral concern” (22). The “craft” of one’s work refers to the expertise that one acquires in their given field, and as a result, success makes them content. The USC honorary degree focuses on "extraordinary achievements in scholarship" which is a parallel to learning one's craft. Compensation is associated with “above average social-rewards in the form of income and prestige” (23). Lastly, moral concern refers to concern for the community and public service. Nainoa Thompson devotes extreme commitment and focus to his craft of navigation and receives little monetary compensation for his work. His concern for the Hawaiian culture and people is also seen through his public service. As a Kamehameha Schools trustee, he is guiding the billion dollar estate into the future, but mostly for the students’ sake, despite a very generous salary. The Kamehameha Schools was founded by Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, in which her Will read that the school would give "preference to Hawaiians of pure or part aboriginal blood.” She also said: “I desire my trustees to provide first and chiefly a good education in the common English branches, and also instruction in morals and in such useful knowledge as may tend to make good and industrious men and women...” This was one of the many powers she granted her trustees. As a member of six-person Board of Trustees, Thompson has an obligation to assure that the Princess’ Will is carried out to the best of his abilities. The USC honorary degree is intended "to elevate the university in the eyes of the world by honoring individuals who are widely known and highly regarded for achievements in their respective fields of endeavor." Thompson is well-known in the islands for his deep concern for education and his commitment to his voyaging purposes.

In rewarding one with a USC honorary degree it is necessary “to honor individuals who have distinguished themselves through extraordinary achievements in scholarship, the professions, or other creative activities, whether or not they are widely known by the general public.” Thompson’s quest for knowledge in journeying throughout the Pacific takes the field of navigation to higher levels. In August 2006, Thompson was awarded with the Hawaii Pacific University’s Fellow of the Pacific Award, the University’s “highest accolade.” The award was given to him at the University’s commencement ceremony, where he was also the commencement speaker. He was given the award “for his outstanding leadership, research, and contributions to higher education, and for his continuing service and dedication to the community.” By Thompson receiving this award, it shows that he is a very prominent figure in Hawaii, and worthy of such distinguishment.

Nainoa Thompson may not be an alumnus of USC, but he is still someone that is worthy of an honorary degree. Despite this fact, he has significantly contributed to the Native Hawaiian community. In addition to serving his community, he also conforms to the USC honorary degree criteria, which states that it recognizes "exceptional acts of philanthropy to the university and/or on the national or world scene." His voyages connect him to many countries and cultures. He has voyaged on the Hokule'a to places within the Polynesian Triangle and will continue to do so in the future. He already has a trip planned on the Hokule'a to Micronesia and Japan in 2007. He is currently making an impact on the world scene and his name will soon be in history books, especially in oceanography classes where open-ocean navigational methods are a common topic. Reception of this degree may be the means through which Nainoa Thompson's legacy can reach beyond his current parameters.

It may have been more befitting of me to choose a candidate who is a "true" political activist for this distinction because my blog is geared towards Hawaiian Politics, however, Thompson was the first person who came to mind when I thought of the general realm of Hawaiian culture and his overall accomplishments within this area. Nainoa Thompson is the personification of the word "Hawaiian" and stands for every value that makes our culture proud. Aside from his good-natured commitment to service, Thompson gets his feet wet in politics that involve Native Hawaiians. The USC honorary degree requires that "individuals... have distinguished themselves through extraordinary achievements in... the professions." One such example of Nainoa Thompson’s work in the political arena is found in his work as a trustee. There were a number of lawsuits against the Kamehameha Schools, challenging the preference policy of Native Hawaiians, where non-Hawaiian students were trying to be admitted to the school. Nainoa Thompson, along with the entire Board of Trustees, have currently faced many challenges to Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop's will, and have struggled to protect her intentions. An an example, a lawsuit was brought upon the estate a couple of years ago in which Brayden Mohica-Cummings, a seventh grader at the time and a non-Hawaiian, was granted admission to the Kamehameha Schools. When Mohica-Cummings could not provide the proper documentation to prove his Hawaiian ancestry, his admission offer was declined. In suing Kamehameha Schools, Mohica-Cummings and his mother Kalena Santos, determined to undermine the Kamehameha Schools’ preference policy, saying it violated the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment. During the controversy, the Honolulu Advertiser noted: “Trustee Nainoa Thompson said labeling the Kamehameha Schools' admission policy as discriminatory ignores centuries of injustice to the Hawaiian people.”

Nainoa's ties to the University of Hawaii continued there as a regent. In 2001, upon resigning from the University of Hawai’i Board of Regents, the Board "extend[ed] its appreciation to Regent Nainoa Thompson for his dedicated service, contributions, and untiring sacrifice on behalf of the University of Hawai'i and the State of Hawai'i, and for having enriched the Board through his visioned leadership, character, compassion, and exemplary humility.” This once again shows his dedication to service in his professions, which reiterates the criteria for a USC honorary degree.

If Thompson were to receive an honorary degree from USC and have the privilege to give a commencement speech, he would use the analogy of navigation in relation to finding one's own path in life that would allow them a chance to promote their cultural heritage. This message would resonate well with all of the graduates of USC at the ceremony, whether it be the hypothetical business major from Texas, or the communications major from Singapore. This element would touch upon the criteria for the USC honorary degree in which affecting the "national or world scene" is important. Everyone has roots, wherever those may be is the variance, but the message should come across the same, which would be to use the knowledge received from USC to give back to one's community and culture. Making a difference in this world is imperative and leaving one's mark on society is equally impressive, no matter how small the imprint.

Although there could be some opposition to Thompson receiving an honorary degree, it seems highly unlikely. His gentle temperament makes him hard to dislike. He is a notorious figure in the islands and is a constant reminder of how far Hawaiians have come and how much farther we still have to go. According to an article in Makai Magazine: “[Nainoa’s] life's work is to show people how special Hawaii is, and encourage them to care for the land and nourish the culture. ‘My greatest honor is not as a navigator, but as a teacher,’ affirms Nainoa." Thompson will always be prized by the Hawaiian people and will continue to receive many great accolades.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Critiquing A Law Website: A Model For Native Hawaiian Presence on the Web

In today’s society, it is important to turn our attention to the internet as a forceful medium for information retrieval. According to a study by Mary Madden of the Pew Internet and American Life Project, by April 2006, 147 million American adults were found to be internet users. Hence, the internet is the most technologically advanced method for offering educational tools that will help users advance their knowledge of any given subject area. One such website found on the internet, which is a 2006 Webby Award Winner for its law category, is called Justice Learning. This website is something that Native Hawaiians should look to replicate if they want to establish more of a web presence to educate their underrepresented minority group, and to offer needed resources to learn about what types of rights Native Hawaiians currently have. Adherence to these six criteria were essential in winning a 2006 Webby Award: content, structure and navigation, visual design, functionality, interactivity, and overall experience. Each area will be explored through the general evaluation of the website. Web Style Guide will also be used as a measure for this site. Justice Learning provides a tailored look at the most pressing issues in our society through its well-organized format and multiple functions.

The first thing to notice about the website is its clear organizational structure of the homepage which is inviting to the viewer. The simplistic, yet modestly professional look of the website indicates that adults, with an emphasis on those in the teaching profession, are vast in number to the site, although middle school and high school students would be more inclined to use this resource for class projects or reports on key civil issues. In the upper left hand corner of the site depicts a gavel atop textbooks, which is a strong image that fits into the dominant theme for the website. The homepage is also broken up into three sections. Two slim left and right margins are aligned to support a wider middle portion of the screen, which is encapsulated by an issues section, a Constitutional learning section, and a guide to what the three branches of governments are saying about certain pertinent issues, with analysis of what the press and people in the academic field are saying as well. It is safe to assume that this site endures on the basis of its strict attention to issues such as zero tolerance, voting rights, race and education, civil liberties in war, and women’s rights. The issues section on the home page displays six key issues every time the website loads, but if one clicks on the link below this six-block display, it says "Click here for more Justice Learning Issues." This link brings the viewer to a complete listing of the ten issues that the site covers.

In one such specific issue page called "Voting Rights", which is a sample representation of the the remaining topics, it starts off with an introduction. At the top of the page is a headline, that reads in bold letters "Voting Rights," with a direct address to the reader that goes like this: "It took 81 years for African Americans to gain a constitutional right to vote, 132 years for women and 183 years for those 18 to 20 years old... Debates about punch card ballots and electronic voting, redistricting, the Electoral College and campaign financing continue to challenge the nation, forcing changes in the machinery that drives our democratic republic." This introduction is simple, yet enough to get the reader informed about what direction the page will be heading towards. In this case, the user can watch full programs of "The Voting Rights Act: Past, Present and Future," "Counting Every Vote," and "Nader v. Dean: The State of Elections." "Counting Every Vote" is about election-day practices and commentary is offered by two prominent people in accounting firms, Joseph Sandler and Benjamin Ginsburg. The reader may also engage in several readings, which, to name a few, include, "Court Allows a New Approach to Redrawing Districts By Race," and "Civics Lesson for Students in Vote Drive." The latter reading talks about young voters "rocking the vote" in hopes that the lowest represented age group, which is young adults ages 18-24, show up to vote on election day.

Native Hawaiians can look to this site's format to help assist them in creating a website, especially in regards to the main "issues" theme. A few Hawaiian themes that could be explored are: The Overthrow of 1893, The Annexation of Hawaii, and the Akaka Bill. Justice Learning promotes a simplistic format, but while doing so, emphasizes its issues well. The criteria for a Webby Award in the Structure and Navigation category says, "Structure and navigation refers to the framework of a site, the organization of content, the prioritization of information, and the method in which you move through the site." All of this is true in the Justice Learning website because it is a stress-free experience looking through the site's links and the information is easily communicated to the audience. From the home page, everything is clear and straightforward, with headlines inputed where it is necessary and a key issues section that prioritizes the information on the site well. Web Style Guide, on the topic of navigation, adds that "a rich set of graphic navigation and interactivity links within your Web pages will pull users' attention down the page, weaning them from the general-purpose browser links and drawing them further into your content. Native Hawaiians could use a certain Hawaiian theme for an eloquent page design, such as the use of Kahili (feathered gourds), which would could be clicked on for further information.

This website has the title of “Justice Learning: Civic Education in the Real World,” and is noted to have a collaboration with two entities, one of which is The New York Times Learning Network, and the other is Justice Talking. The content on the Justice Learning website seems to be outdated, especially in the “issues” section, with a majority of the more recent articles being dated back to 2004. Although the lack of current material is not very helpful for visitors looking for more up-to-date information, this site could be viewed as more of a historical reference in the most part. For instance, in the Free Speech Issues page, there is an article titled "Hate Laws Don't Matter, Except When They Do," which is dated back to October 19, 1998. In this particular essay, it mentions the murder of James Byrd, Jr. and continues to talk about the going-ons of the previous years, with talk of Supreme Court Rulings. This article is outdated almost nine years, which will not account for the time period between 1998 and October 2006 in which many free speech issues were brought to the forefront, especially after 9/11. However, this article does give one a sense of what was going on during the 90's and if this article is read in a retrospective kind of way, it could offer important information. Overall, the website offers an archival approach to presenting information.

In whole, there are seven links on the left margin of the site, connecting one to “Home” (an obvious implementation, nonetheless, should not be taken for granted), “Issues,” “Constitution guide,” “Teaching Materials,” “Site Guide,” “Related Products” and “About Us.” This column of links sets up the navigational experience for the user. According to the Webby Award judging criteria, "good navigation gets you where you want to go quickly and offers easy access to the breadth and depth of the site's content." All of the links on the website works and open very quickly. On the future Native Hawaiian website, these types of links would be helpful. A couple of links could include a link to the Blount Report (a report exposing the illegal nature of the overthrow of Queen Liliu'okalani) and a link to United States documents acknowledging Native Hawaiian rights. Other links that would get the user involved would be those that refer to sovereignty groups or get one connected with political activists. Justice Learning also adheres to the homepage criteria that is set by Web Style Guide, which says, "in hierarchical organizations, the home page sits at the top of the chart, and all pages in the Web site should contain a direct link back to the home page." This feature on the Justice Learning website makes it convenient for the user to go back to the homepage without any trouble.

The seven links on the homepage offer the user plenty of resources. One of the seven, "The Constitution Guide" (which does not have a direct link because it is presented as a pop-up window) offers a quick reference source to look up the Articles of the Constitution, and displays the Preamble when the link is opened. An in-depth analysis of "What It Says" and "What It Means" (referring to each Article) guides a closer look into the different topics selected. Under "What It Means" in the Preamble section, it defines the content, saying, "The preamble is the introduction to the Constitution. It outlines the general goals of the framers: to create a just government, insure peace, an adequate national defense, and a healthy free nation." It then gives a breakdown of the many connotations that the opening words, "We the People" possess. In continuum with the vast resources this site provides, the "Related Products" page offers one the chance to shop at Justice Learning, and The New York Times Store.

Through surfing the links and content, it is apparent that potent information is presented in a well-structured format. Web Style Guide indicates that "the simplest way to organize information is to place it in a sequence." Justice Learning is composed of a clear sequence as a part of its site design. For example, when clicking on one of the pertinent issues, such as Race and Education, a three-part format appears, which includes a description of race and education, a section titled “Listen Up” specifically for the Justice Talking data, and a section titled “Read On” committed to providing information from The New York Times Learning Network. The “Listen Up” section is devoted to the integration of media programs that provide the viewer with a well-rounded educational experience while browsing through the site. The use of sound on this website is strategically placed and used often to serve users who prefer to listen to information, if this is their prerogative. For the more visual learners, the “Read On” section provides articles that give extensive background for the respective subject matter.

A typical viewing experience, for example, would consist of clicking on an issue, one of which is "Race and Education" and browsing through the links. In the section "Still Segregated? Race in America's Schools," a webpage opens in which even more links are found. In this case, the Supreme Court Ruling of Brown v. Board of Education is the central theme. Furthermore, because this link falls under the "Justice Talking" category, it offers numerous links to program viewing, and other listening devices. There is also a discussion board section on the website, where there is a long log-like structure of question and potential answer sequences. A recap of a specific post on the board is when mantis_a writes "I am from MS and there is still segregation in the public schools of our capital city. The statistics break down to 96% black and 3% white. Definately not integrated. Why?" In response, Elton John writes, "We have come a long way from where we were as far as segregation goes, but it is still there." This discussion forum is ideally what the interactivity criterion for a Webby Award calls for: "speak(ing) your mind so others can see, hear or respond." This medium for discussion would be perfect for a Native Hawaiian site, because there should be more opportunity for Hawaiians to express themselves on the web.

Another aspect of the Webby Award criteria for interactivity relies on "the way that a site allows you to do something. Good interactivity is more than a rollover or choosing what to click on next; it allows you, as a user, to give and receive. It insists that you participate, not spectate." Interactivity on this site is channeled through the advocacy of getting viewers involved in standing up for their rights, or at least getting informed about the issues presented. The interactive experience is more prominent through its designated lesson plan link just for teachers. There is an average of five lesson plans for each current issue, which is very comprehensive. For the U.N. Peacekeeping issue, author Alison Zimbalist formulated a lesson plan that incorporates information on the prospective grade levels for which the plan is targeted, a lesson overview, resources and materials, suggested time allowance, lesson objectives, activities and procedures, further questions for discussion, evaluation/assessment, vocabulary, extension activities, interdisciplinary connections, and a list of other web resources that are relevant. These extensive ready-made lesson plans are a superior incentive for teachers to visit the site. One of the activities listed on the site asks that, "As a class, read and discuss "U.S. Role in Resolution On Mideast Startles Some." After this activity, follow-up questions are in order, such as "In what ways was Resolution 1397 praised upon its approval? "How did some view the United States' role in the drafting of this resolution, and why?" and "What was the final vote on this resolution? What country abstained, and why?" These types of lesson plans are necessary for teachers to have on in a Native Hawaiian context because the children of Hawaii need to learn about certain dominant issues in the Hawaiian community and teachers may need a reference in which to teach the information.

The user-friendly components of this site are the most rewarding aspects. The functionality section of the Webby Awards criteria states that "functionality is the use of technology on the site. Good functionality means the site works well. It loads quickly, has live links, and any new technology used is functional and relevant for the intended audience." Titles are written in a straightforward manner, all of the links open easily, and ultimately, navigating through the site is stress-free and enjoyable. While the site pays attention to some serious information on the subject matters, the functionality of the site brings a light-hearted feel to the complicated intensity of the content. From the countless links that open quickly, to the compatibility of the files to any browser, the site is technologically savvy without being burdensome.

Overall, the experience with Justice Learning is engaging, offering curiosity to the viewer while embarking through the website, on the quest for more answers and information. Justice Learning also contains an in-depth visual component. Web Style Guide argues that "the primary task of graphic design is to create a strong, consistent visual hierarchy in which important elements are emphasized and content is organized logically and predictably." However, there are two things that would be beneficial to enhancing the effectiveness of the site. First, the articles and content should be more current to be more helpful to the audience. Second, there should be more articles or posts about the ten main issues the site presents. These issues are connected with a large domain of resources and links because of its extensive range of opinions, legislative ties, and controversy, and the site limited information that could have potentially been found for each issue. This may have been out of courtesy, in order to provide a focused spectrum of information covering each topic, however, it would be better to encompass more information for each topic if there is going to be only a handful of sub-themes under the umbrella of Justice Learning.

Native Hawaiians would be more prominent in the internet world if websites were established like Justice Learning. Including ten key Native Hawaiian issues with corresponding links would parallel the Justice Learning website. Justice Learning’s purpose is to educate viewers, while persuading them to take the initiative to be active about knowing our rights as citizens of the United States in relation to the key issues acknowledged. A future Native Hawaiian site could include information about what minority rights Native Hawaiians currently have, while educating them and others about the future of the Native Hawaiian self-determination movement. Links to past articles and news history would be preferred, while also following Justice Learning’s links to sound mediums. There are Native Hawaiian websites that are already established, however, the few that I have seen do not meet the elite standards that are set by the Webby Awards judging criteria and Web Style Guide.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Blogging from the Other Side: A Look At What Bloggers Are Saying About Minorities in the Political Arena

I recently thought it would be a benefit to see what other bloggers are saying about Hawaiian politics. In doing so, it was obvious that the realm of Hawaiian politics in the blogging world is limited in scope, therefore only the first of two posts I explored is directly related to Hawaiian politics, while the second post expands its focus to encompass reparations for minority groups who have suffered in the past. The first post is titled "Radical Hawaiians" and is a very misleading piece on Native Hawaiian protestors during a Hawaii statehood celebration. The second post is titled "Reparations Making a Comeback??" and provokes much thought about the nature of reparations, particularly involving African American slavery. In addition, I have written a comment in response to each post.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Non-Hawaiian Entanglements with Native Hawaiian Benefits: The Admission of Non-Hawaiians into Kamehameha Schools and the Arakaki v. Lingle Lawsuit

Within the context of Native Hawaiian politics, it is very apparent that non-Hawaiians are trying to stop the Native Hawaiians from getting what they want. This phenomenon is what is putting to a halt the upward trend in the climb towards Native Hawaiian self-determination, or just an acquisition of Native Hawaiian rights in general. These episodes of regression are inherent in two prime examples that Hawaii has witnessed recently. The first of these is the admission of a non-Hawaiian into the Kamehameha Schools (an institution that is designated for children of Hawaiian ancestry). The second example is the Arakaki vs. Lingle lawsuit, formerly known as Rice v. Cayetano (challenging race-based programs for Hawaiians). Both of these cases are witness to the ongoing challenges to Native Hawaiian rights and privileges, and foreshadows many of the problems that Native Hawaiians will have in the future if they do not formulate a more dominant presence as a federally recognized indigenous group.

The Kamehameha Schools took shape in 1887, after the death of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop prompted the birth of an educational establishment. Her will stated that she wanted to construct a school and “...devote a portion of each year’s income to the support and education of orphans, and others in indigent circumstances, giving preference to Hawaiians of pure or part aboriginal blood." Pauahi's intention was to build a school for Hawaiians only, despite the many interpretations her will is given. In recent years, non-Hawaiians have tried to get into the school to challenge this race-based policy and since, two individuals have been successful. A non-Hawaiian student was accepted into the Kamehameha Schools’ Maui Campus in 2002 and another non-Hawaiian, Brayden Mohica-Cummings was admitted in 2003 to the Kamehameha Schools’ Kapalama Campus. These students deemed the Kamehameha Schools’ admissions policy as unconstitutional, therefore entitling them to a first-class private education. The problem with this mentality is that the school was intended to educate Hawaiian children, and outsiders want to be beneficiaries of Pauahi's will. They are ignorant individuals who are in need of making a bold statement about everyone being “equally protected” under the Constitution. For this very reason, the Kamehameha Schools may one day be opened to all students of any race. However, Kathleen Sullivan, Kamehameha Schools' attorney, believes that the Kamehameha admissions policy "is allowable under federal law because it is aimed at correcting social inequities suffered by Hawaiians in their own homeland- a need already acknowledged by Congress in several laws" (Ka Wai Ola o OHA, 2006). Non-Hawaiians should respect the race-based entitlements that Native Hawaiians have been given, even if there is a gray area in the federal law that makes the admissions policy illegitimate. Furthermore, the will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, which states that Native Hawaiians have first preference to enter Kamehameha, should take precedence over the equal protection rights of the fourteenth amendement.
Aside from the issue of allowing non-Hawaiians to enter the Kamehameha Schools, the Arakaki vs. Lingle lawsuit is another dilemma that Hawaiians have dealt with. The Arakaki v. Lingle lawsuit was brought about in 2002, and currently involves the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, also known as OHA. Over a dozen plaintiffs came forward to bring attention to the unconstitutional nature of OHA, saying that it is not legitimate for an organization that only helps people of Hawaiian blood to acquire taxpayers’ money. The lawsuit was dismissed during early August of this year, but can still be appealed. The only thing that would have stopped this lawsuit from coming about is the Akaka Bill. The Akaka Bill would have allowed legal justification for Hawaiians to establish their own organizations like that of OHA. OHA is one of the only organizations in Hawaii which was started to focus on Native Hawaiian rights. If OHA is no longer a functioning body, that is one less presence in the Hawaiian community that will exist. The fight for Native Hawaiians will continue in terms of preserving their rights, whether it is dealing with the OHA lawsuit or dealing with the possible continued admissions of non-Hawaiians to the Kamehameha Schools. Non-Hawaiians should help Native Hawaiians to receive benefits, instead of fighting them for selfish reasons.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2006: The Implications for Senator Akaka and Hawaiians

Trying to be recognized as a native people is all too familiar to citizens of Hawaiian descent. After the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893, when Queen Lili’uokalani was imprisoned in her own home at ‘Iolani Palace and stripped of her throne, the Hawaiian people were left without a sovereign entity. This ultimately led to the depletion of the independent rights of the Kanaka Maoli. Hawaii was shortly annexed by the United States in 1898, and became the fiftieth state in 1959. The historic context of the islands and its people have had major implications for Hawaiians in 2006. Hawaiians have felt cheated of their rights since the fall of the Hawaiian monarchy, which prompted the need for current legislation to help this indigenous group. This past May marked the rejection of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2006 by the U.S. Senate, which was made in order to help Hawaiians achieve federal recognition as native peoples.

This legislation, also known affectionately as “The Akaka Bill,” would have the most implications for its sponsor Senator Daniel K. Akaka, a Native Hawaiian who is soon to be 82-years-old on 9/11. Senator Akaka will run for another term in the U.S. Senate, but this time against a strong, and much younger opponent who is platformed for change, Ed Case. The passing of this legislation would have secured Akaka with a major breakthrough in his political career, which seems to be what he needed in order to prove to the voters that he is a competent senator, after much criticism for being the ‘Master of the Minor' (when it comes to perfecting his support for minor legislation, and lacking any large-scale works). However, many Hawaiian activists see the Akaka Bill as being inadequate in fulfilling their purposes for self-determination. The passing of the Bill could have actually hurt Native Hawaiians, more than help them, because of its compromising nature. So, the question is, was the non-passing of the Akaka Bill a benefit to Native Hawaiians, or was it just another cheated venture, like that of their initial overthrow? With this question in mind, it shall also be explored how Senator Akaka will ultimately be affected, if at all, by the lack of success for his own major legislation.

The Akaka Bill allows Native Hawaiians to have similar rights to that of the already established indigenous group of Native Americans. According to Akaka, he drafted the bill "to provide Native Hawaiians with the opportunity to reorganize their governing entity for the purposes of a federally recognized government-to-government relationship with the United States" ( Therefore, the Native Hawaiians will have an established governing body, but they can only work within the political realm of what federal law entails. In this context, the Bill is not embraced by everyone in the Native Hawaiian community because it prohibits a distinct self-governing right that many activists believe the Hawaiians are entitled to receive. Until the Hawaiian Monarchy is completely restored, and Hawaiian flags can be flown by itself on island property, without the American flag dampering its glory, some Hawaiians will not rest. Akaka may be "selling out" the Hawaiians by trying to find a comfortable halfway meeting point with the United States. However, after years of wanting to restore a sole Hawaiian government, this is the closest that Native Hawaiians have come to tinkering with self-determination. For many Native Hawaiians, being recognized in this capacity by the United States is agreeable for them.

Senator Akaka's affiliation with The Native Hawaiian Reorganization Act currently has much to do with his ability to pass big legislation. For supporters of Akaka and his bill, re-electing him would seem appropriate so that he may try to rekindle the fire that his legislation needs at this point in time. However, some supporters may be tired of his nice-guy attitude without much substance lurking under that humble smile. The Native Hawaiians who oppose this bill may be relieved that Akaka could be overtaken by Case in this upcoming election. Regardless of the implications that the Akaka Bill poses, the fact of the matter is that the legislation did not pass, and however the Native Hawaiians responded to this, whether angered or rejoiced, could be the proper motivation to show up at the polls on election day. Re-elect Akaka or tell him his time is up on November 7th, 2006.