Like many people in the islands, I have (for a long time) only had the vaguest notion of what OHA actually does.Â Other than pour huge amounts of money into various projects and promote Native Hawaiian culture.Â Those are all well and good as far as they go, but (especially where the huge amounts of money are concerned) one starts to wonder after awhile how they really help the average Native Hawaiian.Â Your Kimo on the street, if you will.
No, I don’t have an answer to that.Â I’ve looked at hundreds of OHA grants, many of which are in our database and wiki, and learned that (as with so many things in OHA) there are more questions than answers.Â We’re working to try to fill in the gaps of knowledge about the OHA grants, but it’s slow work.Â (Which is why we could use your help! Hint, hint!)Â After all, OHA isn’t shy about deciding what is good for Native Hawaiians in Hawaii, but that’s not the same thing as finding out from the Hawaiians themselves.Â Nor are Native Hawaiians some monolithic, homogeneous group that agrees on everything.
Consider the Akaka Bill.Â Yes, again.Â OHA and others would have you assume that all Native Hawaiians are uniformly in favor of it.Â But why should that be?Â The concerns about Akaka go beyond race to the future economic and cultural health of Hawaii.Â Certainly, there are people of all ethnicities that harbor serious reservations about the push to pass Akaka.Â And yet, OHA, speaking for Hawaiians, doesn’t seem aware of the possibility of dissent within that community.Â Is this a responsible position for agency with OHA’s scope and influence?Â More and more, I wonder how much Native Hawaiians are used as political tools by groups who have a lot more on their mind then just helping out.