Candidate: Tanya Harrison
‘Aha District: Mainland
Address: 516 NW 7th St., Pendleton, OR 97801
Phone: (541) 969-0523
- What are your qualifications to be a delegate to the ‘aha?
I am of both Hawaiian and Indian descent and have a foot in both worlds. I was raised in Hawaii but spent most of my adult life in Indian county working with federally-recognized and non-recognized Tribes in natural and cultural resources. This includes work with wildlife, ecological restoration, invasive species, hunting, fisheries, water quality, language restoration, and access to feathers for religious purposes. I am familiar with many federal laws pertaining to both Hawaiians and Indians such as the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, American Indian Religious Freedom Act, and National Historic Preservation Act
Having lived this duality, I can clearly see both the benefits of federal recognition and pitfalls we wish to avoid. I believe this gives me a unique and important perspective as a delegate.
I am skilled at intensely focusing on the project at hand without distraction. After years of following both Hawaiian and Indian sovereignty issues, I have yearned to see a functioning Hawaiian government. Now is the chance to make this a reality!
- 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.?
All that I do is reflected by the heavy Kuleana that I would bear if elected. Decisions made at the ‘Aha will affect all Hawaiians for generations.
- What three components of the constitution are you particularly interested in advocating and why?
Obtaining a functioning government is number one – the ‘Aha needs to close with a finished document ready for ratification. Even if status quo State recognition is preferred, we will still have more negotiating power with the State speaking as one people.
Citizenship. As someone of American Indian ancestry I know the heartbreak felt by those who are excluded because an ancestor didn’t get on the right roll. All who can show Hawaiian ancestry should be allowed citizenship.
Regaining sovereignty over our natural resources – Our hunting, fishing, gathering rights; our water; our ‘aina.
- What governance model will you advocate for?
Some type of representative democracy, perhaps with a ceremonial Ali’i lineage like the British crown, to maintain our connection to our Ali’i heritage.
I believe nation within a nation (federal recognition) is the best avenue for the short and long term survival of Hawaiian culture.
But, I also believe it to be extremely important to look at Indian Tribes as a model of what works and more importantly, what doesn’t work. We must be diligent in creating our own mold of recognition unique to the Hawaiian population. Repeating or replicating what is broken within the American Indian recognition system would not only not serve Hawaiians but would be irresponsible.
- Are you willing to discuss other governance models?
While I do have very strong opinions about what I believe would work as a best model of governance, I am an open-minded individual and will listen to other options.
- 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?
Nation within a nation model would protect these assets.
- In your governance model, would you be inclusive of people other than Native Hawaiians as citizens?
It is my opinion that full citizenship should be for those of Hawaiian ancestry only. This includes voting rights, elected positions, and access to funding and other resources, as a native Hawaiian government should be controlled by native Hawaiians.
But, the idea of completely excluding non-Hawaiian ‘ohana and cultural practitioners, especially language speakers, seems counterproductive. Perhaps we could consider some type of non-voting inclusion in the future.
- How do you see participation by others in helping the ‘aha on the various aspects of the draft constitution?
All help would be welcome, if requested. Delegates would need advice from experts and kupuna on the various decisions to be made.
- 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.
The job of the delegate ends once the ‘Aha is over. But I could advocate to ensure that what is voted on is implemented.
- Why should Native Hawaiians vote for you?
I have a unique perspective on sovereignty issues from a Hawaiian and Indian point of view, and experience working with other native governments. This is truly a labor of love, and my passion to see a Hawaiian constitution come to fruition is unyielding.
This is the best change we’ve had in a long time to come together as one to create a functioning Hawaiian government AND formalize a relationship with the Federal government.
Currently, Out-of-State Hawaiians aren’t well represented in Hawaii- we can’t vote or run in OHA elections as we aren’t Hawaii residents. The nearly half of our population now on the mainland needs more inclusion in the decision making processes. And gaining federal recognition would open so many opportunities and allow Hawaiians to further our self-determination. I know Hawaiians have the potential for so much more!