Tag Archives: Native

Guest Series on Tribal Gaming (Part 3)

Today, we continue with the third part of our guest series on the development of Indian casino gaming in California, by Jim Marino.  (This series originally ran in the Santa Ynez Valley Journal.)

Sometimes it seems as though the issue of gaming is an unspoken controversy that advocates of the Akaka Bill are desperately trying to avoid.  As though the fact that it is not allowed under the current version of the bill is a sufficient guarantee forevermore.  But, as today’s installment demonstrates, a state can move from no casino gaming of any kind to a flood of Indian casinos in a surprisingly short time–and with little to no real input from the public.  Those who are concerned about Akaka being the path to Hawaiian casino culture would do well to take note of California’s experience. . .

Santa Ynez Valley Journal
By Jim Marino, Guest Columnist
April 29, 2010

(Part 3)

The first week I discussed what led up to the enactment of the IGRA. Last week I wrote about all of the antiquated, ambiguous and contradictory aspects of federal Indian law and policy in existence, when the ill-advised Indian Gaming and Regulatory Act [IGRA] was enacted by Congress, in a feeble attempt to provide an economy for Indian tribes.

As you may recall from last week, the controversial Indian gambling law was enacted by Congress without even considering the impact the existing body of federal Indian law and policy would have. This resulted in the authorization of tax free, lawless and unregulated casino gambling by Indian tribes and related businesses in which patrons, workers and the nearby communities are, in effect, deprived of all their legal and Constitutional rights and cannot sue for injuries or damages occurring in those casinos and businesses. I also wrote of how that Act has also enabled these tiny often questionable tribes to make hundreds of millions in profits, while still collecting federal welfare and grant monies that are monies needed by real Indians still living on remote reservations and living in conditions of abject poverty.

This week’s article deals with how Indian gambling was legalized in California and some of the impacts of the IGRA and the Indian casinos it spawned in California, has had on nearby non-Indian communities.

To give Congress the benefit of the doubt, Congress created the only method that States had available to them in order to control and regulate Indian casino gambling under the IGRA. That mechanism was the requirement that prior to engaging in Class III gambling casinos the tribe and state government would have to enter into a compact (or contract). They did this by including section 2710 d.(3) in Title 25. Under that provision, Indian tribes seeking to engage in class III casino gambling were required to negotiate and have the affected state approve, a compact. If the state lawfully approved a compact, then it was lawfully in effect according to State law.

Following the enactment of the IGRA in 1988 many bands of Indians in California, some with only one or two members, began operating class II Bingo games with unlimited money pay-offs. The Santa Ynez Chumash built a cinderblock building as a “Bingo casino” funded at least in part by the Las Vegas singer Wayne Newton and other Las Vegas gambling investors and apparently did so under questionable circumstances. It soon closed down amongst rumors and controversy, but with a view toward reopening in the future.

Class II “Bingo” gaming under the IGRA does not require a tribal-state compact, only a license from the National Indian Gaming Commission [NIGC] and is in effect unsupervised gaming beyond licensing and annual audits. Before the Supreme Court struck down the provision in the IGRA, giving the tribes the right to sue the state when they claimed the State was not negotiating in good faith, California tribes threatened the State with several suits if the State did not negotiate compacts for full-scale Class III casino gambling. The California Constitution Art. 4, Section 19, prohibited full-scale casino gambling including slot machines, blackjack, craps, roulette and so forth.

Because slot machines generally make up 85 percent of the revenue any casino brings in, the tribes were threatening lawsuit if the State would not negotiate for slot machines and banked card games like blackjack. (Remember the Cabazon case discussion earlier. The State had the absolute right to refuse to allow all forms of gambling by any Indian tribe, as long as those types of games were also prohibited for everyone else in the state to operate.) Slot machines had been illegal in California for years and use, possession or transport was a violation of the California Penal Code.

One lawsuit brought by Indian tribes in the 1990s claimed the lotto terminals the State had licensed to bars and cocktail lounges all over the state were, in effect, state run “slot machines.” Therefore, the tribes claimed they had a right to install slot machines in their casinos. The court denied that assertion but was highly critical of the definition of “slot machines” set out in the California Penal Code. As a result, the state pulled all these machines from bars all over the state and stored them in a warehouse, where I believe they still sit today.

Many tribes like the Santa Ynez Chumash simply ignored the law prohibiting slot machines and the requirement of a tribal-state compact in 25 USC 2710 d (3) requiring such a compact before Class III gambling could be allowed. Then one night in 1995, the Chumash moved more than 600 slot machines into the cinderblock former Bingo casino and began illegally offering slot machines to the public and position player backed blackjack games. The installation of these slot machines also constituted a violation of the Johnson Act, a federal law prohibiting the unlawful transportation, use, procurement and possession of slot machines. After all, the delaying litigation was exhausted in 1997. The State Attorney General and federal authorities including the F.B.I. informed the illegal casino tribes like the Santa Ynez Chumash that they intended to raid them, seize the slot machines, all monies and other illegal fruits of the illegal gambling operations and even arrest the operators. The tribes then launched a public initiative-drive entitled Proposition 5 in 1998.

Proposition 5 was an initiative to amend the California Government Code to allow Indian tribes to operate slot machines on Indian lands in California. Besides sponsoring that initiative the tribes, many of whom were operating illegal casinos with slot machines at the time, like the Santa Ynez Chumash, pumped millions of dollars into an advertising campaign to depict pictures of poverty-stricken Indian tribes self-sufficient.

In addition to this advertising campaign, these casino Indians pumped millions into the campaign coffers of Grey Davis, a career politician who was running for Governor in 1998. In November 1998, Proposition 5 was approved by the voters and Grey Davis was elected Governor. Commencing in 1999, Gov. Davis began negotiating gambling compacts with California Indian tribes, all of which was done behind closed doors. None of the traditional power groups in California such as local governments, taxpayers groups, law enforcement organizations, environmental groups, trial lawyers, workers compensation and consumer lawyer groups, women’s rights groups, union and others were allowed the opportunity to participate in the discussions and influence the terms of these tribal-state class III gambling compacts.

As a result, the compacts Gov. Davis agreed to were weak, giveaway compacts with many provisions so poorly written that they were virtually unenforceable. These compacts provided no revenue at all to the state and made no provisions to mitigate the significant negative impacts the flood of Indian casinos that resulted would have, and subsequently did have, on local communities.

In the meantime, Proposition 5 was challenged in a lawsuit and in August 1999 the California Supreme Court ruled that Proposition 5 was unconstitutional because it only amended the Government Code not the State Constitution, which contained the prohibition on casino gambling like slot machines and house banked card games in Art. 4, sec. 19.

Undaunted by the Supreme Court’s striking down Proposition 5, Gov. Davis executed some 59 of these giveaway tribal state compacts and then had the State Legislature approve them in September and October 1998. He made no effort to determine if the tribes he was negotiating with, and granted gambling compacts to, were lawfully created Indian tribes or if the land on which their casinos or proposed casinos were to be sited were legally “Indian Lands” eligible class for III gambling under federal law. In fact, many of these questionable Indian tribes were on land or acquired land that was clearly not eligible to build and operate any class II or class III gambling casinos under the IGRA.

To remedy the fact that these compacts were executed and approved when there was no longer any legal authority to do so, the Legislature put a “Legislative initiative” on the ballot for March 2000 the following year at Gov. Davis’ behest, some 6 months after they were executed and approved. That initiative, called Proposition 1A, by its language proposed to amend the California State Constitution Art. 4, sec. 19, to authorize the Governor to negotiate future compacts with California Indian tribes. The voters were never informed that a vote in favor of Proposition 1A would, in effect, retroactively ratify the 59-weak giveaway, virtually unenforceable compacts that Gov. Davis has already signed without legal authority and which were approved at his instance by the State’s Legislature. It is not coincidence that so many State legislators also received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from these casino tribes, often funneled throu gh campaign committees and PAC’s with unassuming names. My favorite was the one calling itself “The California Native Peace Officers Association.” That PAC was funded by $5,000,000 million entirely from the Pechanga Indian Casino and the State Correctional Officers Union and was distributed to key politicians in Sacramento. The use of PACs is one of the ways politicians use to disguise receipt of gambling monies by disguising them through innocent-sounding groups. Once legalized in 2000 by Proposition 1A, the onslaught of Indian casinos in California began.


Organizing Against Reorganization

I am not a Native Hawaiian, nor do I play one on TV.  But, let’s say for the sake of argument that there was a proposal to create a new tribal government for us Hapa Filipinos.  There’s one or two of us in the islands, right?  And now, let’s say that there was a substantial trust and land value tied up in the issue.  (I know, I know.  This part may be hard to imagine, given that many of us have grandfathers who consider the family trust to exist in a coffee can in the sock drawer, but this is a hypothetical exercise.  I have a point, after all–I’m just kinda slow getting there.)  Anyway, being that I’ve never been in a room of more than two Filipino women who didn’t have an opinion on anything from the quality of the homily at church on Sunday to the proper way to make lumpia, I have trouble imagining that there wouldn’t be a strong push for public comment on the proposed Filipino reorganization.

So I find it hard to understand why we haven’t had opportunity for comment on the Akaka Bill yet.  This is the most transformative piece of legislation to hit Hawaii since we became a state.  (Heck, some people might say since the revolution.)  And yet, there’s no push for public hearings on it?  Well–let’s be fair here.  There certainly is a push for public hearings on the part of the public.  Strangely, the politicians involved seem to be more interested in keeping all the wheeling, dealing, and negotiations at a more exclusive level.  And if that’s not enough of an argument for hearings, I don’t know what is.

Therefore, even though I’m not the world’s biggest fan of online petitions (No, I am not going to stop watching TV today in order to send a message to Big Oil.  Burn Notice is on tonight, for goodness sakes!), I think that this one is a worthy one.  It’s a call to stop the Akaka Bill until the people of Hawaii (as well as Native Hawaiians in other parts of the country) get their opportunity to weigh in on the matter.  So click on this link and make your voice heard in the fight to  . . . um . . . make your voice heard.

Certified Hawaiian

When you’re Hapa, you get used to people playing, “guess the ethnicity” with you.  Especially on the mainland.  (In Hawaii, the game is generally much shorter.  In part because one of your cousins will inevitably walk by and put an end to things.)  I actually don’t mind it though.  I’ve always liked the way that our racial/ethnic mix gives us a broad feeling of connection on the Islands.   Like we’re all in this together.  After all, even if you may not be Portuguese/Japanese/Filipino/Samoan/Hawaiian/Chinese/Haole/Etc., it’s a pretty fair guarantee that you’re at least related to someone who is.

And this leads us to one of the things that so puzzles me about how the Akaka Bill is supposed to work–namely, how do you even go about defining who counts as “Hawaiian Enough” to be part of a Native Hawaiian government.  After all, we’re talking about a culture that includes the concept of hanai adoption.  That’s about as far from a “one-drop rule” as it’s possible to get, culturally speaking.

But, of course, since we’re talking about laws and stuff here, there has to be a way to legally define who gets to play in a Akaka government.  But would you believe that, as the Bill currently lies, a significant number of those who would consider themselves Hawaiian wouldn’t count as such for the purposes of the Akaka Bill?  In fact, one analysis found that more than 73% of those who defined themselves as Hawaiian for the purposes of the census would now be counted as such for the purposes of the Akaka Bill.  Here’s why:

Under the conditions set forth in S1011, Section 3(12), for an Hawaiian to become a “Qualified Native Hawaiian Constituent” all five of the following conditions must be met:

  • (A) Must be direct lineal descendant of indigenous people living in Hawaii on or before January 1, 1893 or of a person eligible in 1921 for Hawaiian Homelands.
  • (B) Wishes to participate in the reorganization of the Native Hawaiian governing entity
  • (C) is 18 years of age or older;
  • (D) is a citizen of the United States; and
  • (E) maintains a significant cultural, social, or civic connection to the Native Hawaiian community, as evidenced by satisfying 2 or more of 10 criteria

Of the five, Parts (B) and (E) are the most likely to exclude Hawaiians from becoming “Qualified” to participate in the Tribe.  Part (B) most likely means excluding all persons who do not sign up for Kau Inoa.  The December, 2009 Kau Inoa Newsblog proudly announces: “Those who register in Kau Inoa will help shape the Hawaiian nation to come….We are happy to share that at the end of November 2009, 108,118 people were registered in the Kau Inoa Native Hawaiian Registry….”

The 2000 US Census counted over 401,000 Hawaiians in the US.  A 2004 estimate by the US Census Bureau counted 279,651 Hawaiians in Hawaii, down from 283,430 in 2000.  The out-migration of Hawaiians is a direct result of the lack of economic opportunity created by OHA-funded shake-down artists and their environmentalist allies.  The Kau Inoa number is less than 27% of all Native Hawaiians, but it gets worse.

Rule (E) excludes many of the roughly 122,000 Hawaiians living outside of Hawaii.  Exceptions are made for for college students, military personnel, federal employees (such as Congressional staffers) and their dependents,  Hawaiian Homelands beneficiaries, their children and grandchildren.

By making “Native Hawaiian Membership Organization” into the following two separate rules, an activist or other OHA operative who has been a member of two Native Hawaiian Membership Organizations thereby meets the “two of ten” qualification in Part (E):

  • (viii) Has been a member since September 30, 2009, of at least 1 Native Hawaiian Membership Organization.
  • (ix) Has been a member since September 30, 2009, of at least 2 Native Hawaiian Membership Organizations.

The bill does not contain a list of such organizations, leaving the door open to all sorts of games as some organizations are accepted and others are not.

I don’t know about you, but I find the notion of having to “prove” your Hawaiian-ness by virtue of what clubs or activities you belong to be . . . mind boggling.  Especially when you consider that the Akaka Bill includes a loophole for those who might not have Hawaiian blood, but are “regarded as Hawaiian” by the Native Hawaiian community (whatever that may mean).  By that logic, a haole with the right connections can be part of the Native Hawaiian government while a 100% local, ethnically Hawaiian guy who likes to keep to himself might not.  Seriously.  Only politicians and huge sums of money can combine to create something so ludicrous.  Don’t tell me that’s what most people are thinking of when they say that Native Hawaiians deserve some kind of recognition.

What Kamehameha hath joined together, let not Akaka rip asunder

June 11 was Kamehameha Day.

Kamehameha’s greatest accomplishment 200 years ago was to unify all the Hawaiian islands under a single government.  But now once again the Akaka bill in Congress threatens to rip us apart along racial lines.

The Kingdom founded by Kamehameha was multiracial in all aspects.  John Young (Englishman) was so important to the founding of the Kingdom that his tomb is in Mauna Ala (the Royal Mausoleum).  It is the only tomb built to resemble a heiau, and is guarded by a pair of pulo’ulo’u (sacred taboo sticks).  His are the oldest bones in Mauna Ala.  Yet the Akaka bill would deny John Young membership in the Akaka tribe.

The first sentence of Hawaii’s first Constitution (1840) — the kokokahi sentence — was written on advice of American missionary William Richards.  In modern English it says: “God has made of one blood all races of people to dwell upon this Earth in unity and blessedness.”

The Akaka bill would do exactly the opposite of the one-blood concept.  It rips us apart for no reason other than race, establishes a binary opposition of “us vs. them,” divides Hawaiian children from non-Hawaiian parents, spawns jealousies between members of the Akaka tribe and their cousins who are excluded.  This is not aloha.

The Kingdom of Hawaii was founded by people of different races working together on the battlefield and in the government.  That cooperation continued throughout the Kingdom’s history.  Every person born in the Kingdom, regardless of race, was thereby a subject of the Kingdom with all the same rights as ethnic Hawaiians.  Many Asian and Caucasian immigrants became naturalized with full rights.  From 1850 to 1893, sometimes 1/4 to 1/3 of the Legislature were Caucasians appointed by the King to the House of Nobles or elected to the House of Representatives (and later elected to the Nobles after a Constitutional change).

Supporters of the Akaka bill say we opponents are holding it against them that Hawaiians were so welcoming and inclusive.  But no.  The point is that non-natives were full partners in the Kingdom and cannot now be discarded.  There never would have been a unified Hawaii without British weapons and expertise.  No written language or Christianity without the missionaries.  No prosperity without massive investment of capital and managerial skill by American businessmen, plus sweat equity from Asian laborers.  In 1893 only 40% of Hawaii’s people had even one drop of native blood.

There has never been a unified government for all the Hawaiian islands that included only ethnic Hawaiians, either among the leaders or among the people.  The Akaka bill purports to “reorganize” what never existed.

Ministers presiding over weddings say: “What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” This year let’s say: What Kamehameha hath joined together, let not Akaka rip asunder.  ‘A’ohe hope e ho’i mai ai.  Imua.

A Real Help in Education

Don’t think that I haven’t noticed a certain . . . cynicism coming from many of our analyses of the grants on our site.  I swear that it’s not because I’m a curmudgeon with a skeptical nature.  Well, let’s say that it’s not entirely because of the skeptic/curmudgeon thing.  To be clear: I think that there are great things that can be done to help Native Hawaiians.  I want to see the ones that work get the kudos they deserve.  But this is an area that needs the bright light of transparency like Lady Gaga needs a new stylist.  (Translation for the pop culturally-impaired: It needs it a lot.)

Anyway, lest it be said that we never have anything nice to say about OHA or their grants, let me take the opportunity to bring attention to their K-12 Family Education Assistance Program, which is now accepting applications from Native Hawaiian Families with significant education costs.  In short, these are grants of up to $5000 to Native Hawaiians families who are spending a large proportion of their income in order to send their children to private school.  The point is (obviously) to help give disadvantaged families better access to private education.  (And by extension, better academic and career chances, etc., etc.  Not to disparage public schooling in Hawaii, but . . . um . . . you know, my mom always told me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, it’s better to keep my mouth shut.)

Who couldn’t get behind individual scholarships help for disadvantaged Hawaiian families?  This is the kind of thing that the trust monies were made for.  Moreover, it’s good to see the effort to help Hawaiians get a better education at the lower grade levels, thereby setting the students up for more success as they get older.  It’s nice that there are college scholarships to help Hawaiians as well, but how many promising kids slip through the cracks and never even get the opportunity to apply to college.  Quite a few education experts feel that we should be focusing our efforts at improving opportunities in primary and secondary education rather than placing so much emphasis on college entrance rates.

Anyway, the deadline for applications to these grants is June 30th, so if you know someone who might be interested, send them to to this page on the OHA website to learn more about requirements, applications, and so on.

Akaka by OHA

So, if you’ve been living in a cave on Mars, with your fingers in your ears, going, “La, la, la, la, la” over and over again, you’ll probably be glad to hear that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has launched an “informational” page to help people truly understand the implications of the Akaka Bill.  Of course, if you’re even slightly conscious and an inhabitant of Hawaii, you probably already have  grasp of the basics.  But I’m sure OHA’s effort will be deeply appreciated by those who just woke from a coma or those who don’t care to have their news tainted by elements of impartiality.

Of course, there’s not much new to find there–they’ve basically taken the “There, there . . . no need to worry, it won’t change anything except the very foundations of the state,” approach.  It was interesting to see that they skipped right past the fact that a roll of names of eligible Hawaiians to participate in the formation of the of the new Native Hawaiian government would be determined and published . . . without really questioning how that determination would be reached.  This was especially fascinating in light of OHA’s assurance that the Akaka Bill is not race-based.  Technically speaking, that would be proper, as the Kingdom of Hawaii was not a racial entity, but a regular old sovereign government with borders, citizens of many races, and so on.  But that’s not exactly the history of Native Hawaiian programs in the last several decades, which (understandably) tend to focus on actual Native Hawaiian lineage.

The claim that the Akaka Bill is not race-based does bring up an interesting paradox, however. Pretend for a moment that it really was going to reflect the history of the Hawaiian nation and include anyone who can trace their heritage to citizens of the Kingdom–including Native Hawaiians, Chinese, whites, and so on.  It certainly would be a most accurate representations of Hawaiian citizens at the time of annexation.  But would there be much support for an Akaka Bill that wasn’t at it’s heart, race-based?  Somehow, I doubt it.

Hey Buddy, Can You Spare a Sustainable Plant?

Sometimes, I really have to wonder about the thinking behind some of these grant programs.  Take, for example, the $444,500 granted in 2009 to the Ali’i Pauahi Hawaiian Civic Club from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  (Yep, federal funds.)  The grant is being given for Ka Mahi’ ai ‘Ihi o Wailea (The Sacred Farm of Wailea).  Again, I have to stress here that this is the actual language from the grant.  I am not making  up the sacredness of the farm in question.  So what is it that the Sacred Farm is going to do with hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds?  Why, the money is for, “Establishing a community and culturally-based sustainable farm to raise sacred and important native plants for domestic use and export.”  Sacred and important Hawaiian plants.  As opposed to non-sacred or unimportant plants.  Not to get too hung up on the plant judgment thing, but I couldn’t resist doing a Google search to try to find out what counts as a sacred Hawaiian plant.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a sacredandimportanthawaiianplants.com.  As far as I can tell, a sacred native plant is a plant with some degree of use in Hawaiian culture + the word “sacred”.  So we’ve got taro, ‘ohelo, and so on.

Ok, I’m getting a little obsessed here.  I just can’t stop envisioning some pencil-pusher in Washington nodding and saying something like, “Of course we do have to protect the sacred native plants.”

What I don’t get is how this is really an effort to help Native Hawaiians.  I’m sure the argument is about creating a viable business for the community, but if that were really the goal, then there wouldn’t be so many limitations on the products of the farm.  Assuming that there is a viable trade in export and sale of Hawaiian plants (which there clearly is), then why not make the focus on creating a sustainable source of income for the community?  Obviously, there are competitors in the native plant business.  And at least some of those aren’t going to be adding cost to their production by requiring the farming to be “culturally-based” and “sustainable.”  Not that these aren’t selling points in themselves–as the organic trend has taught us, there are people willing to pay the upcharge for philosophy-based farming–but who is this really helping?  If you lived in a struggling community, how happy would you be to hear that your newest economic opportunity was in the form of a Sacred Farm?  I just can’t shake the feeling that this is more about helping Sacred Farm then aiding the community at large.

A Feeling of Recognition

Interesting things are happening in Hawaii politics when it comes to support for the Akaka Bill.

Actively opposing it still takes a measure of political courage.  (Which, believe it or not, is not necessarily an oxymoron.)  But slowly, enough concerns have been raised about its effect on the Islands that some of those aspirants to office that aren’t completely beholden to the Akaka supporters are searching for some other language to express their reservations.  Consider it the political equivalent of backing quietly away from a terrible potluck dinner, saying, “No, I’m pretty full.  I think maybe I’ll just have this roll.”  (This might not be the best analogy, in that I’ve never been to a bad potluck dinner in Hawaii.  You all are luckier than you know.  Maybe everyone should have to do a year-long mission to the Mainland so that they can learn about the horrors of the mysterious gooey casserole and wet, salty, mushy rice.)

The result is a move towards ambiguity.  Look for statements that support, “some form of recognition for Native Hawaiians,” and yet stop short of endorsing Akaka.  Putting aside for the moment, all of the debate about how comparable the situation of Native Hawaiians is to that of Native Americans, there is (at heart) a genuine and admirable impulse here:  No one wants to underrate the contribution of Native Hawaiians or the importance of Hawaiian culture.  And when combined with the difficult socio-economic situation of many Native Hawaiians, there is a clear desire to assist that community–heck, this entire website calculates the millions and millions of dollars spent on all of these motivations.  But warm feelings do not make necessarily make good law.  In fact, all of this vague charity comes perilously close to that “soft bigotry of low expectations” thing.  I’m starting to wonder whether all of these well-intentioned feelings aren’t more destructive to the future of Native Hawaiians than anything else.  Stopping short of creating a separate governmental system, but still wanting to give “something” to Native Hawaiians . . . isn’t that pretty close to where we are now, only without making it official with Presidential signatures and much patting-ourselves-on-the-back?  (Then again, if I was Hawaiian, I’d be happy to just get a check for my share of the millions in federal, state, OHA, and Bishop Estate money spent to help me.  Because I’m starting think that I could do a lot more to help myself than any of those groups.)

An Issue with OHA’s Commentary in the Advertiser

In his Honolulu Advertiserletter of April 15, OHA administrator Clyde Namuo talks about “reestablishing self-determination and self-governance for Native Hawaiian people.”  But the Hawaiian Kingdom was not a “Native Hawaiian” government.  Most cabinet ministers, nearly all department heads, and about 1/4 of the Legislature were Caucasians.  Thousands of people with zero native blood, including Asians, were native-born or naturalized subjects of the Kingdom.

It’s Aloha Friday!

The hardest part is finding the little surfboard.
The hardest part is finding the little surfboard.

So it’s Aloha Friday.  It seems like we should start things with a picture of a surfing squirrel.  (With all credit to the Photoshop wizards that created it.)  Granted, this has very little to do with grants for Native Hawaiians, unless it’s possible to get funding from OHA for a surfing squirrel program.  (And I’m not saying that it’s not.)  But it can’t all be frustrating government spending programs and mysterious money trails.

So . . . have you been enjoying any Hawaiian language television lately?  Don’t look at me–I have vitally important Survivor episodes to catch up on.  Also, I can’t speak Hawaiian.  But I do hope that there are quite a few of you out there just pining to see some Hawaiian-language programming.  Because in 2009, the federal Department of Health and Human Services granted $494,104 to Aha Punana Leo for the development of Hawaiian language video content for broadcast.  Apparently, the ability to channel surf right past Hawaiian language programming while trying to find the UH game will help, “advance the social development of Native Hawaiians.”  Of course, here in Hawaii, we’re surrounded by examples and uses of the Hawaiian language, and I can’t see how it does much to offer practical help to the average Native Hawaiian, but who knows . . . maybe a few public access TV programs will do the trick.