Candidate: Jacob Bryan Kaʻōmakaokalā Aki
‘Aha District: O‘ahu
Address: 1506 Haka Dr #901, Honolulu, HI 96817
Phone: (808) 230-9071
Hui: Ke Ao Malama
- What are your qualifications to be a delegate to the ‘aha?
My qualifications to be a delegate to the ʻaha are:
1) I understand the struggles that many Native Hawaiians face
I have first-hand experience on the many struggles that kānaka in our lāhui face. I have grown up on Hawaiian Homelands to parents who have worked hard but still have continued to struggle to make ends meet; friends and family who continue to suffer from the various socio-economic disparities that plague our people surround me. Yet, despite these struggles, I am the first person in my ʻohana to go to college. I am the first person to study on the mainland and the first person to become routinely involved in our lāhui. I have shown the ability to overcome any obstacle presented to me, something that is characteristic of our people.
2) I bring a different perspective as a kānaka who had the opportunity to grow up with the language, culture and history of our lāhui
I bring to the table a perspective of someone who grew up in a generation learning the language, the history and the traditions of our kūpuna. I am able to bring to the ʻaha a well-rounded Hawaiian world-view that is grounded in our culture. Being grounded in these things will allow me to make well-informed decisions based on the teachings of our kūpuna. If we are to rebuild a nation, we must first start with reclaiming our language, history and tradition and we must do so in the image of our forbearers.
3) I have experience of working for our lāhui in Washington D.C.
I have been exposed to federal policies and processes on Capitol Hill. I am aware of the various pieces of federal legislation that have a direct impact on Native Hawaiian programs and our future as a nation. I have also worked with various Native American tribes and organizations that have a lot to offer our lāhui on how we can approach potential nation-building processes. Whether we like it or not, Washington D.C., will have an impact on what goes on in Hawaiʻi and thus it is ultimately beneficial for a delegate to have the experience and contacts such as me to serve the lāhui during this critical time.
- 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.?
Throughout this campaign, the value of aloha ʻāina is and will always be at the forefront. However, the other values of my campaign include:
ALOHA: Aloha is a value that should go beyond the scope of this campaign. I have aloha for myself, for my ʻohana, for the lāhui and for the future generations of kānaka.
KULEANA: I do not only represent my self, but I represent the 100 generations of kūpuna who have come before me. They have helped pave the path for us to walk upon and it is our kuleana to honor them in everything that we do. For me, taking part in this process is fulfilling the kuleana that I have to serve our lāhui and it is a continuation of the work that our kūpuna started many years ago. It is our kuleana to honor that work.
HAʻAHAʻA: Nation building takes a collective effort and I understand that I do not have all of the answers. I have humbled myself to accept this and I am willing to learn from those who are willing to share their ʻike and manaʻo and learn from me as well. In order for us to move forward, we must put our egos aside and have an honest and open mind. ʻAʻole pau ka ʻike i ka hālau hoʻokahi.
- What three components of the constitution are you particularly interested in advocating and why?
In order to have a successful and thriving nation, our people need to be educated in both traditional and western fields of knowledge. In order to maintain an identity of who we are as a people, we need to put an emphasis on our language, history and culture. I ka wā ma mua, i ka wā ma hope: In order to move forward, we need to understand where we come from.
We also need to have our people educated in various western fields. We need to equip our people with everything they need to know in order to survive in the western world. In order to succeed in this day and age, we need kānaka who are competent in these both worlds and can move confidently between them.
Most of the attention during the ʻaha will be on the laws and government structure. However, I will advocate for a provision in that constitution that ensures that education will be a top priority for our government and our people.
Our people need access to housing that is affordable. Nearly half of our lāhui live outside of Hawaiʻi due to the lack of affordable housing here in our homelands. We as Hawaiians have a right to live in our ancestral homelands and we need to ensure that our rights to these lands are protected. This ʻaha needs to prioritize the attainment of lands and creation of housing opportunities for our lāhui.
I will advocate for a government structure that takes into account the wide diversity of views and needs within our community. This structure MUST serve the needs of our lāhui and protect the rights of its citizens. It needs to provide the lāhui with a stable government and the ability to effectively manage our land assets.
More importantly it needs to align with our culture, traditions and values and address the needs of our people.
- What governance model will you advocate for?
The governance model that I will advocate for would address the immediate and long-term needs and concerns of our lāhui.
- Are you willing to discuss other governance models?
Yes, I am willing to discuss other governance models that may better serve our lāhui. This is the haʻahaʻa that I revered to above. We must be willing to discuss other ideas and points of views that we many not necessarily agree with at first glance. We must humble ourselves to listen honestly to others.
- 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?
The governance model that I support would ensure the protection of our aliʻi trusts, the Hawaiian Homestead Act and other Native Hawaiian programs from further laws suits. It would also protect federal contracts made with Native Hawaiian businesses as well as other grants that are provided by the United States for programs and services that benefit our lāhui.
This model would also encourage our aliʻi trusts (ie. Kamehameha Schools, Queenʻs Hospital, Lunalilo Homes, etc.) to work hand in hand with the proposed government model in providing additional services and support to address various disparities that plague our people.
The model would support the continuance of a form of the Native Hawaiian Homes Commission Act and advocate for more funding while lobbying for changes that need to be made to the Act as well.
It would also encourage continued federal contracts with Native Hawaiian businesses as well as other programs and services that benefit our people.
- In your governance model, would you be inclusive of people other than Native Hawaiians as citizens?
I advocate for the indigenous rights of our Native Hawaiian people to have the right to govern themselves through self-determination. Native Hawaiians continue to suffer from socio-economic disparities that are unique to our people, compared to other ethnicities in Hawaiʻi. In order to better improve the situation of our people, decision-making authority needs to be in the hands of our people.
However, within the proposed governance model, I would advocate for non-Native Hawaiians to become honorary citizens. They would have every right afforded to Native Hawaiians except the ability to vote and hold leadership positions.
We are a minority in our homelands. If we include non-Native Hawaiians in this process, how will their inclusion lead to a different outcome than the situation that we are currently in with the State of Hawaiʻi (where leadership is in the hands of non-Native Hawaiians)?
- How do you see participation by others in helping the ‘aha on the various aspects of the draft constitution?
Delegates that are elected to the ʻaha have an important responsibility, but they cannot do it alone. The ʻaha needs to bring in various experts (other than those elected delegates) to ensure that the ʻaha is well informed about the various issues and concerns that face the ʻaha. It also allows new and outside perspectives to be presented to help better inform the elected delegates. We will also need the help of the media (eg. ʻŌiwi TV) to allow the process to be broadcasted to the rest of the lāhui.
- 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.
Education is KEY to assuring that the governance model is ratified. The ʻaha needs to be transparent and have the capacity to educate people what is going on throughout the entire process. Through education on these various issues and process, more Native Hawaiians will begin to be more engaged.
However, once the ʻaha is over, the form of government that emerges from the ʻaha will have the kuleana of implementing these recognition efforts.
Recognition at the federal government has already begun. A layout of how to achieve a government-to-government relationship with the federal government has been released through a proposed rule by the Department of Interior.
I believe that gaining international recognition would be a longer process due to the dominance that the United State at the international level and in the United Nations, but I do not believe that is it impossible.
- Why should Native Hawaiians vote for you?
Native Hawaiians should vote for me because my goal in this election is simple: I want to be the voice of the thousands of kānaka, who are not able to represent themselves in this capacity. I want to ensure that when major decisions are made, that the voices of our ʻōpio are present at the table.
Not only will this ʻaha have a directly impact on my generation of Native Hawaiians, but it will also decide the future of my children and all other future generations. I am unwilling to sit back while our fates are decided and I am unwilling to not rise to the call of our kūpuna. Let me serve you, let me be your voice, let me give our children the better future that they deserve and the reckoning with the the United States government that our kūpuna have died for.
Electing me to this ʻaha is an investment for our future.