Candidate: Raul Nohea Goodness
‘Aha District: Mainland
Address: 415 Argyle Rd. Apt #3R, Brooklyn, NY 11218
Phone: (718) 623-6375
- What are your qualifications to be a delegate to the ‘aha?
First, is my interest in unity for Native Hawaiians. The manner in which the Na’i Aupuni ‘Aha has come about (Act 195 & Kana’iolowau) has been one of the most divisive I have seen in my 44 years. Although I have not been involved in the political realm until now, this Na’i Aupuni process has directly called me in a personal way, and I cannot let it go until we are done with it. This gives me the personal motivation to make it pono, or else vote it down.
Professionally, I do not have governing experience, whether in the State, Federal, or other political entities. However, the aim of the ‘Aha is not to govern– it is to create a system of governance (if possible) and recommend it to the people. In my work as software architect over the past 20 years, I need to analyze the systems people use to work together, and formalize those tools in code. It involves talking to all the stakeholders (users) of a process, and getting “buy-in” to see if a certain method will work. If this fails, people will misuse the process, or simple not use it (ignore it). Of course, systems are designed to serve their creators– if you are not part of the design of a process, it won’t serve you well. And if you don’t agree with using a system, you will need to create a system which works for you. This experience will help me in the months and years ahead.
Personally, I grew up on Maui through high school. Today, I still maintain my home there part-time. When I was young my father was very involved in the creation of Alu Like in the 1970s. I remember many trips where he took us out in the community– sleeping in our van in Hana, staying in the gym on Moloka’i. Listening to the people and the assessing the needs of rural Hawaiians, even when they were skeptical of the process. Later, he left public service, but never traded on it. My aim is to do the same, in the way I can best contribute.
- How would you characterize the values of your campaign to be elected as a delegate to the ‘aha for example, with aloha, lōkahi, kūpono, etc.?
Aloha is primary. When you share the hā, you are recognizing the the shared humanity of who you are with. This approach has incredible power. However, it takes two to tango. Aloha can be ignored or disrespected. Respect is critical.
Unity / lōkahi is the first stated aim of my candidacy. Our power to unite will be the critical factor in our future. Unfortunately, Na’i Aupuni has been created out of a divisive environment. We kanaka must hui to promote the well being of our people, our nation, and follow our values.
Finally, I value ʻonipaʻa – the will to be firm/steadfast on what is important: informed consent, education, self-respect, and independent governance for our nation.
- What three components of the constitution are you particularly interested in advocating and why?
The first order of business will be to determine the mechanism by which all Native Hawaiians may participate in the nation. This must include those who cannot participate because they cannot sign on the terms of Kana’iolowalu. In practice, it may mean recognizing independent voter registration lists which are not artificially restricted by State of Hawaii law. A government created from a self-selected minority will not possess the authority to take any real actions. If the Na’i Aupuni electorate is not representative, delegates must pass a resolution of “no authority” to form a government. There could be a new organization which could act to reach out and establish terms needed to move forward– education, understanding, negotiation, unity. But to move forward on creating a government without true authority would destroy what little trust Hawaiians have in any governing process. Without trust, there will be no authority, no participation, and the divisions of the status quo shall continue.
Second, a constitution must enshrine the values of its people. Famously, the U.S. Constitution affirms the rights to life, liberty, and property. Similarly, the 1864 Kingdom of Hawai’i Constitution also affirms these same values. However, missing is one of the critical Hawaiian values: Aloha ʻāina. Love and reverence for that which nourishes us. I believe this is a distinctive value for Hawaiians, and it deserves to be enshrined in a Constitution. This value will be the constitutional basis for respecting the ʻāina, protecting kuleana rights, and preserving the right to work the land.
Third, establishment of limits on the power of the government is critical to its success of failure. Power of the Executive must be limited by the Legislature. Independent courts must exist. Irrevocable actions by the government should naturally be difficult to achieve– pass 2/3rds the Legislature, and pass a public referendum. Specific examples of irrevocable actions:
• Surrendering National Sovereignty to another Nation-State
• Settling claims to Crown and Government lands (aka “ceded” lands)
I invite any delegates to this ‘aha and any voters in the process to review the constitutionnet.org explanations on “What is a Constitution?”, “How are Constitutions Made?”, and “Why do Constitutions Matter?”
The building of a Constitution is a process, and the process is more important than any artificial deadline. Most working constitutions take years to develop. It is not possible to build a suitable house without involving those who will live in it.
- What governance model will you advocate for?
My interest is in a good, fair, representative governance model which is independent of the State of Hawaii and the U.S. Federal government. Those institutions have not served our interests well, so there is no expectation trying to fit into their desired model will be any more successful than it has for decades past.
It will not be possible to go immediately to a sovereign state, but it is possible to create a unity independent Native Hawaiian organization which can achieve our shared political objectives in the short-term, while leaving open the way towards a possible independent sovereign nation.
As for the “Federal Recognition” model under the U.S. Dept of Interior (DOI), practically I am against it, especially against the rush towards it with Na’i Aupuni.
The DOI proposed rules released September 29, 2015 clearly state what is and what is not going to change if a Native Hawaiian Governing Entity formally requests Federal Recognition:
• No transfer of Federal lands, including Hawaiian Homelands (no “reservation”)
• Does not affect lands owned by State of Hawaii (no “ceded lands”)
• Not eligible for any Federal Indian Programs (health care, etc)
• No difference in protection of sacred places (Mauna Kea)
• Hawaiian Governing Entity will be subject to Congress’ plenary power (full control)
• State of Hawaii will transfer Kahoʻolawe to the entity as a land base
• “More effective” implementation of Dept. of Interior’s “trust relationship”
Here’s what we give up:
• Claim to our National Sovereignty (Independence) and National identity, which has never been surrendered
In terms of negotiating tactics, it is not sensible. Hawaiians would give up their best negotiating claim (unrelinquished national sovereignty) in exchange for virtually nothing. A promise of future federal dollars, from a U.S. Congress every American knows has no appetite to grant new entitlements. Why would it be any more successful than it has for decades past. In fact, they will have us exactly where they want us — in a box of their own making.
The Hawaiian people have never surrendered their sovereignty and national identity– not in the 1893 overthrow, not in 1897 with 21,000 signing the Kūʻē anti-annexation petition, not with statehood, and not in all the efforts since to ceded our national sovereignty with Federal Recognition.
National Sovereignty and Federal Recognition are incompatible. One is a nation-state at the international level, and the other is a dependent government under the U.S. Federal system.
- Are you willing to discuss other governance models?
Definitely willing to discuss any governance model. Ideas must be defended to be improved, or else abandoned.
- How would the governance model that you choose impact the ali‘i trusts, the Hawaiian Homestead Act, federal contracts made with Native Hawaiian businesses; grants provided by the United States for programs and services to the Native Hawaiian people?
This is not relevant. Under a “Federal Recognition” model, Congress has plenary power over any governing entity. That means, whatever the Congress says, goes. (For an example of Congress’ power to trade away Native sacred lands, look into the Oak Flat case in Arizona regarding the Apache and Resolution Copper Mining). The governing entity may ask, but has no real power, and no lands to trade on. Hawaiian Homes, Federal contracts for NH businesses, NH grants– these all exist today under the “Status quo” model, and according to the DOI proposed rulemaking, would be unchanged with Federal Recognition.
Under a model of National Sovereignty/Independence, these Federal laws would continue to exist as well. Only an act of Congress could remove them. For the U.S. to claim they are giving up their “trust relationship” with Native Hawaiians, they would have to acknowledge the responsibility resides with the Independent Hawaiian Nation, and make restitution based on admissions of wrongs in the 1993 Apology Bill, instead of directly to Native Hawaiians via Federal programs.
One could argue, as Bill Meheula (Na’i Aupuni legal counsel) has, that Federal Recognition will grant the NH entity legal “standing” to settle claims on the “ceded” land trusts with the State of Hawaii. This may be true, since a requirement of the DOI proposed rule (Docket No. DOI-2015-0005) is that a recognized governing entity must be… “based on meaningful input from representative segments of the Native Hawaiian community and reflects the will of the Native Hawaiian community” (§ 50.11). However, if a NH government meets that criteria, it will have “standing” on its own, without requiring the US Federal Recognition.
- In your governance model, would you be inclusive of people other than Native Hawaiians as citizens?
Ideally, I would be open to naturalizing non-Kanaka Maoli citizens. Any nation, including the USA and Kingdom of Hawaii, have processes to naturalize citizens. They need to affirm the core values of the nation, and often come through family ties, such as marriage, adoption, etc.
My ancestor William Goodness (Caucasian) officially naturalized as a Hawaiian subject in 1890, and another ancestor Chung Alo (Chinese) may also have. Descendants of Hawaiian Subjects/Nationals also have a case to be included in the nation. Of course, efforts must be made to preserve the cohesion of national identity and our shared values.
Please note: if the outcome of the Na’i Aupuni ‘Aha is the creation of a Federal Recognition entity, we will be handcuffed by the DOI rules: 50% koko MUST be included, other quantum MAY be included, and non-Native Hawaiians MUST NOT be included. It’s all in their document.
- How do you see participation by others in helping the ‘aha on the various aspects of the draft constitution?
I see a constitution taking much longer than 40 days. It is typical for constitutions to take years to draft, since all stakeholders must have input. Political arrangements must be met. This means the ‘Aha would need to be the transitional next step, or else stand down for the next step to be built on a firm foundation.
- Looking ahead, as a delegate to the ‘aha, how would you assure that the governance model ratified by the Native Hawaiian people is implemented and recognized at the state, federal, or international level, as appropriate.
First and foremost, no government or entity will possess the authority to be recognized by the U.S. Federal Government, State of Hawaii, or as a sovereign Nation-State unless it is representative of all Native Hawaiians. I am starting to see some rhetoric about splitting lahui– this is not going to result in a government “with standing” to make any deals on land trusts.
- Why should Native Hawaiians vote for you?
I ask for your vote to be involved in protecting our dignity, respect, the aina, and our independent national identity. But more importantly, I ask for your participation inside this process or outside this process. Be Counted! If you are Kanaka Maoli but cannot participate in Kana’iolowalu, be sure to sign the Protest Na’i Aupuni petition (http://protestnaiaupuni.com).
Find out what federal recognition really would mean for us, and hold your delegates accountable for their actions.
Our kupuna found a way to be counted in 1897 with the Kūʻē petition, when the Republic of Hawaii was trying to get a Treaty of Annexation, and was never going to allow a vote on it.