Candidate: Jade Danner
‘Aha District: O‘ahu
Address: 41-212 Ilauhole Street, Waimanalo, HI 96795
Phone: (808) 203-4735
- What are your qualifications to be a delegate to the ‘aha?
I have worked closely in and with our community on the issue of self-governance, and have facilitated workshops in Hawaiian community designed to encourage participants to consider various parts of a constitution and to determine what might work best for our people. I have real world experience, having worked for a Native government, and I understand intimately the powers Native governments possess, and how they use that power to enforce cultural law.
I have participated in other Native Hawaiian self-governance models, and studied the range of constitutions we have written over the past 30 years. I believe our Native Hawaiian government should reflect our traditional values, support the perpetuation of our culture, and meet the modern needs of our people.
I know what I know, but more importantly, I know what I don’t know, and I am able to think critically while deferring to the expertise of others. I am mindful of all that was stripped from my mother’s generation—the banning of our language and marketing of our culture—and dedicated to leaving the generations of my children and grandchildren in a better position to decide what of who we are is carried forward, and by whom and how our culture can be used.
- 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.?
I am always striving for kūpono, to be fair and just in my relationships, and I will bring this value to working with the other elected delegates. I believe all Hawaiians have a kuleana to contribute what talents we have towards our common good and the ability of our culture, language and knowledge to thrive in Hawaii. My kuleana has always been to share my knowledge about self-governance with others, and to pay attention, to ho‘omaopopo, to the views of others so I understand clearly where they are coming from and what they are trying to achieve.
It is with aloha and in the spirit of kōkua that I engage others to better understand how we can best achieve common goals and reconcile any differences in thought. I am dedicated to developing the very best constitution we can produce for consideration by the whole of our people, and will ho’omau, persevere, until we have achieved the goal of providing our community with a constitution worthy of their consideration and trust.
- What three components of the constitution are you particularly interested in advocating and why?
Separated powers: I believe the diverse views of our people cannot be adequately represented in a nine-member board. I will advocate for a three-branch government where power is balanced between the executive, legislative and judicial branches, and directly accountable to the Native Hawaiian electorate.
At the national level, I will work to advance a legislature with two houses—one that is reflective of the popular will of our people, and the other that allocates representation based on traditional geographic boundaries. I believe this will balance the will of our people against na kuleana that are traditionally place-based.
I recognize that while we are one people and can meet many needs through a national approach, there are also many kuleana that are unique and connected to specific islands or districts. I will advocate a government structure that accounts for these regional differences, and allows for significant local decision-making in local issues.
Civil rights protections: While our government will exercise all legitimate powers delegated to it by our lahui, we must be sure to protect the civil rights of our citizenry against potential abuses of power by our government and its officials. This government, if formed correctly, will have an ability to define family relationships, inheritance rights and provide for dispute resolution between our citizens in a manner that is culturally-appropriate. We must ensure that individuals subject to its power are guaranteed basic freedoms we to which we have become accustomed, and are consistent with our traditional values.
Interim Authority: One of the critical components we will have to include in either the constitution or another document that is ratified by the Native Hawaiian people at the same time is the process for and authority to an interim group that will conduct the elections and update the citizenship rolls, consistent with whatever definition of citizenship is included in the ratified constitutional documents.
- What governance model will you advocate for?
The ‘Aha is designed to produce a constitution or other governing document for consideration by the Native Hawaiian people. The constitution will organize our inherent right to self-governance into offices and a structure that will allow us to express and utilize that right to meet our own community’s needs and focus on our own priorities.
The exercise of self-governance powers exists on a spectrum, and has as much to do with our capacity to govern ourselves, as it does the attitudes and recognition of our ability to be self-governing by other nations. I support the pursuit of recognition by any nation if it will enhance our ability to serve our people at home. I particularly support pursuing recognition by the United States, since it is the nation exercising governmental authority in our island home. With federal recognition comes automatic recognition of our governing authority by the State of Hawaii, all of the counties, and every other state in the United States.
I will advocate a democratically-elected government with national and local offices to address the concerns and issues that bind us as a people throughout Hawaii while being responsive to the specific concerns and goals of islands and local communities.
- Are you willing to discuss other governance models?
I am willing to discuss any governance model that keeps the present and future needs of our people at the forefront. Our people suffer some of the worst socio-economic conditions in Hawaii and the United States, and over half of our lahui cannot afford to live at home in Hawaii. The purpose of any exercise of sovereignty must be to improve the well-being of the people and our ability to remain connected to who we are as a people.
While discussions about governance models that are not achievable may make us feel better, our kuleana as delegates is to provide a governance structure that will make a meaningful difference in the daily lives of our people. Discussions that are not achievable or responsive to our people’s needs are pohō wale, useless, and I will work to keep my fellow delegates focused on the needs of our people and our undisputed right and ability to address them.
I want to work towards a governance model that meets the needs of the generations living today, and the ones we will bring forth in the near future. I believe if we fulfill this kuleana, our future generations will be well equipped and capable of growing our self-governing capacity to meet any future needs and expand on future opportunities.
- 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?
Our people have worked for decades to address the disparity in federal law that has prevented us from accessing our full right to self-determination through self-governance. From prior court decisions we know that entering into a government-to-government relationship with the United States protects our programs, assets and federal contracting preferences from 14th Amendment challenges.
If the DOI rule is finalized, I support utilizing it to secure a government-to-government relationship with the United States, thereby eliminating the basis for challenge on the 14th Amendment. In addition to clarifying that services and preferences provided to Native Hawaiians is an allowable activity, the Native Hawaiian government will help bring accountability to the use of federal and trust dollars, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of these dollars in meeting community needs.
Ali‘i Trusts: As private trusts established through the beneficial wills of our beloved ali‘i, I believe they will continue to operate as they have been operating since inception. An ability to provide preferences based on citizenship in the Native Hawaiian nation may help to protect them from future lawsuits as they deliver critical services to our community.
The Native Hawaiian government can serve as a critical partner for the ali‘i trusts, helping to create awareness, provide direct information regarding the needs and priorities of our people, and helping to strategically coordinate the deployment of resources to meet the wide spectrum of Native Hawaiian needs.
Public Trusts: Likewise, the public trusts currently managed by the State of Hawaii Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs will likely continue to be managed by these agencies in the short-term. Both trusts are the result of federal mandates to improve the conditions of Native Hawaiians, as defined by the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, and as a condition of statehood, are included in the State of Hawaii constitution, as well as federal law.
A transfer of the management of those assets and responsibilities will require significant negotiations between the Native Hawaiian government, the United States and the State of Hawaii, which would probably require changes in law to be made. I believe an agreement can be reached, and in the meantime, the Native Hawaiian government can and should partner with both agencies to better meet the mandate of those public trust resources. The Native Hawaiian government can also be a powerful voice in addressing longstanding beneficiary concerns with the administration of those trusts.
Federal Grants & Contracting: Our Native Hawaiian government will also have the opportunity to create new programs, grow economic opportunity for our people, and work directly with the United States to expand contracting and grant opportunities available through the federal government to our own government, to Native Hawaiian-owned businesses and to Native Hawaiian non-profit service providers.
I believe the Native Hawaiian government will help to strategically coordinate the various resources working to serve the Native Hawaiian community, and to provide clear feedback to outside agencies about the needs of our people. This will enhance our collective ability to meet our needs today, utilize our culture as the foundation for all future growth, and provide our mo‘opuna the best future we can create.
- In your governance model, would you be inclusive of people other than Native Hawaiians as citizens?
No. I am working to advance the indigenous right of the Native Hawaiian people to be self-determining through self-governance. It is a right that is recognized under both federal and international law. I know some are concerned about their non-Hawaiian ‘ohana and their ability to belong to the nation. I understand those concerns, but I don’t believe excluding non-Hawaiians from our governance limits, in any way, our ability to embrace our non-Hawaiian ‘ohana.
I believe there is a kuleana that each Native Hawaiian carries to our community and culture, and while it may be a kuleana that is sometimes unfulfilled, I believe we are all accountable to it, and to our ancestors who passed it to us. I recognize that there are some non-Hawaiians who have taken up Native Hawaiian kuleana for themselves, but they cannot guarantee that their non-Hawaiian progeny will carry the same kuleana.
Affording non-Hawaiians citizenship would entitle their progeny to a say in Native Hawaiian affairs. I would be open to an honorary or non-voting status to acknowledge exceptional non-Hawaiians who have done a great service to our community.
- How do you see participation by others in helping the ‘aha on the various aspects of the draft constitution?
Hopefully, the seated delegates at the ‘Aha represent the wide diversity that is our Native Hawaiian community. A strong constitution requires various perspectives and expertise to truly meet the needs of our people.
While we will need people like me who are process-oriented and have a technical background in constitutions and Native self-governance, we will also need the voices of experts to shape the priorities of the government. Experts in culture, language, health, housing, education, aloha ‘aina, malama ‘aina, agriculture, economic development and traditional ‘ohana systems help to ensure that the constitutional documents are not just well-organized and complete, but reflective of our community’s values and priorities.
- 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.
I believe the responsibility of seeking recognition by state, federal and international governments will fall to the officials elected to the offices created in the Constitution. That said, I believe the proposed federal rule requires common-sense processes and constitutional provisions that ensure the constitution used as a basis for our future Native Hawaiian government is truly of the people, by the people and for the people.
I will advocate a process within the ‘Aha that enables delegates to engage the input of those on the Roll and seek their mana‘o about their future government’s priorities and relationships. The federal rule really requires the constitution be crafted by the will of our people, and that is a principle I hope to honor if I am elected to a seat in the ‘Aha.
- Why should Native Hawaiians vote for you?
I am process-oriented and focused on improving the well-being of our people. I am passionate about taking the steps that honor our right to self-determination and result in actual power to change our present circumstances. I have experience in how Native governments work, and will protect the rights of our people through this process. I am a direct communicator and will seek confirmation of my understanding of others views. I strive to achieve an understanding with others, even if we can’t come to an agreement on specific terms. While I have concrete ideas about how I think the government should be structured, I am always open to listening to people in order to find the best ideas.
I will work hard to encourage mana‘o from people who have knowledge in schools different than mine to ensure that the constitution we propose works for our people on every level. I believe that much of the mismanagement of our public trust assets is due to a lack of direct accountability to our people and poorly organized institutional structures. I believe in the power of Native Hawaiian self-governance to manage our collective resources to improve the wellness of our people.
I will work to harmonize the mana‘o of our community into a governance structure that is responsive to our concerns and priorities, and keeps the government accountable to our collective will.