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Hawai'i Official Languages Act Appeal

Hawai'i Official Languages Act Appeal

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A 5-page essay containing principles and justification for adoption of a Hawai'i Official Languages Act.
A 5-page essay containing principles and justification for adoption of a Hawai'i Official Languages Act.

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Categories:Types, Speeches
Published by: Michael E. Malulani K. Odegaard on Sep 08, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/11/2014

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 Will you please forgive our use of English only in this message? We feel that the mostimportant sovereignty need of Native Hawaiians is to recover normal use of the Hawaiianlanguage in an integrated and bilingual society. Indeed, the‘Aha Punana Leo, theKula Kaiapuni Hawai‘icharter immersion school programs, and the Hawaiian language faculties of theUniversity of Hawai‘i atM
noa,Hiloand elsewhere have inspired us to this end. However, lately we have become aware of a very real and present concern.Hawaiian language students have been transfering out of Hawaiian language immersionprograms for the fear of not being able to pursue their scholastic and professional interests in thesecondary school system. They’re afraid that they won’t get accepted into the colleges of theirchoice. Some immersion charter schools have now responded to this perception by increasingEnglish language courses in their curriculum in the higher grades. Other adjustments are beingproposed by Hawaiian language planners, however, in our view, such “incrementalist” planningapproaches toward language revitalization fail to acknowledge the systemic motivators to makethe transition from the classroom to the marketplace to be a predictable outcome.There simply aren’t enough teaching and entertainment jobs to facilitate the Hawaiianlanguage capabilities of our youth who are dedicating their educational careers to our belovedmother tongue. Hawaiian language planners need to venture out of the comfort of the languagenest and acknowledge the diverse vocational needs of our Hawaiian speaking people. Whileemphasis on language skills in places “closest to the heart” (in the home) is an essential focus forrevitalization efforts, this strategy is not sufficient to sustain language growth in a competitiveenvironment; it fails to address the language needs of those who must leave the home in order tosustain it. By their resistence to implementing a systemic response to language revitalizationrequirements, Hawaiian language education planners may be compared with those U.S. automanufacturers who, failing to implement systems management practices, gave their competitorsin Japan the advantage in the marketplace.Indeed, among Native Hawaiian leaders’ interests and goals, we have noticed aphilosophical division between those professional interests of bureaucrats and those of educators.Liability-conscious bureaucrats, who are often disposed toward a long history of welfare policiesthat rely upon racial entitlements for their beneficiaries, contend against a new generation of educators who inspire professional achievement among Hawaiians with national idealism andself-improvement. We feel that these educators’ sensibilities must not be ignored in theformation of our public policy. Other societies struggling withminority language preservationproblems, such asCanadaandIreland,indicate that systemic change at the highest levels of 
 
policymaking is necessary in order to prevent the dominant language group from overwhelmingthe minority. While any amount of governmental legislation will not, on its own, guarantee thepreservation of a minority language, we maintain there presently aren’t enough incentives in thepresent political economy of the State of Hawai‘i to sustain growth of Hawaiian language, and infact, there is concern that the language movement could even collapse if appropriate systemicchanges are not soon implemented.To address this problem, we started a grassroots campaign to increase the availability of Hawaiian language public services; it's calledHawai'i Bilingual(or "H2'
"). After 10 months’presence on Facebook almost 1,900 members --
including
nana Leo, UH faculty, andthree candidates and current holders of Hawai‘i public office -- who support the
right of everyresident of Hawai‘i to receive public services in the official language of their choice
,Hawaiian or English. Additionally, the Hawaiian Civic Club of Waim
ā
nalo has adopted aresolutionthat supports implementation of an act of the Legislature to grant every resident of theState of Hawai'i the ability to receive public services in the official language of their choice. Fourmonths ago, Hawai'i Bilingual initiated a monthly vigil comprised of two components: a“vigil of prayer and fasting”that appeals for divine intervention as well as consolidates intention forpositive change along with a“vigil of creativity”that demonstrates bilingual values in a way thatenjoins the cooperation of the non-Hawaiian speaking cultural community in Honolulu.It is a sad fact that speakers of Hawaiian today will not find very much in contemporaryHonolulu life to confirm their welcome in a city that once was their cultural capitol. Left bothabandoned by a monolingual militaristic program of 20
th
century American development andalienated by today’s nihilistic materialism and global economy, many Native Hawaiians haveopted for a life strategy of retreat, of withdrawl from modern urban life, and sought to reconnectwith a traditional agrarian identity and lifestyle rooted in unskeptical nurturing love for the
ā
ina,
 “the land that feeds,” drawing sources of inspiration from the narrative of their pre-Westerncontact. Our familial way of relating with others and with our environment is not practiced,much less appreciated, by most Americans whose worldview tends to be mechanistic and atomic.And the “democratic values of shared governance” they do profess are not practiced, or arewithdrawn, when it comes to considering Hawaii’s host culture. As a result, there are manyamong us who now even advocate for a complete break with American “culture” throughoutright secession from the United States, however, as a whole, we are not yet convinced thatthis is a sustainable solution either.Globally, it is now a well known fact that since the turn of the 20
th
Century many humanand civil rights of native Hawaiians have largely been ignored by American governance.Hawaiians were taught to think that Hawaiian language and culture are inappropriate for amodern era; their language would be phased out of public life and discourse through acoordinated program of assimilation into American “culture,” since the majority of theburgeoning commercial wealth being created through the State’s industrialization was dominatedby its English-speaking immigrants. Yet it was during the 1970’s civil rights and environmentalmovements that the ecological values of traditional native Hawaiian culture were rediscovered,and these values even found a professional voice in governance’s regulatory mission. And overthe last few decades, as an unanticipated result of the success of the Hawaiian languagerevitalization movement, Hawaiian culture has demonstrated its resiliance, in its ability to adapt
 
and evolve, through its blending of traditional and western technologies and sciences. A glancethrough a few pages of 
 M 
ā
maka Kaiao, A Modern Hawaiian Vocabulary
(a companion volumeto the
 Hawaiian Dictionary
) published in 2003 by the University of Hawai‘i, through the work of the K
ō
mike Hua‘
ō
lelo (Hawaiian Lexicon Committee of the ‘Aha Punana Leo and the HaleKuamo‘o), will easily confirm this fact.Today speakers of Hawaiian apprehend and interpret complexities of contemporary urbanlife in the Hawaiian language. Hawaiian is now being used to describe and explain advancedmathematics and physics, political science and finance, urban design and engineering, medicine,theology and law. However, the inertia of regulatory forces that preserve the
status quo
in theState Capitol Region’s economy shuns any accountability to Hawai‘i’s indigenous language.Indeed, the manufactured products provided in today’s marketplaces render the speaker of Hawaiian incapable of making informed consumer choices, compromising their ability to evenexert control over their own persons and property while in the city. Those who speak onlyHawaiian are not served by various human and regulatory services that their tax dollars pay for.Therefore, we must acknowledge the existence of a
de facto
apartheid against speakers of Hawaiian in this city and in most Hawaiian public spaces, with Hawaiian language immersionschools and language classes, many hula
halau
and perhaps some churches and cattle ranchesexcepted.In spite of official resolutions acknowledging the illegality of the American occupation of Hawai‘i and the deprivation of Native Hawaiians of their human and civil rights, not enough isbeing done through the initiative of Americans and Hawai‘i residents to effect the restitution of losses sustained through the last110 years of cultural genocide. Apparently most Americans arecontent to keep this problem “swept under the rug.” And when Hawai‘i’s immigrants come torealize that they’re contributing to the Native Hawaiians’ plight, they often feel helpless becauseof their own struggles to eke out a living where jobs generally don’t pay enough to allow them tolive comfortably, much less participate in civic life. Is it any wonder why so many NativeHawaiians have “opted out” of the system? We presume that, until a comprehensive andcoordinated effort to address the cause of abuse of Hawaiian human and civil rights isimplemented, the stultifying feelings of victimization and hopelessness will continue.Native Hawaiian leaders are present challenged to stem the tide of growing hopelessnessand poverty, to promote positive change at the highest level of governance that leads to newhope. Therefore, we propose making Hawaiian-English bilingualism a “cabinet-level” priority inthe State of Hawai’i, as it is in Canada and Ireland. By “conditioning” the official status of theHawaiian language inArticle 15, Section 4 of the Hawai‘i State Constitution, there is widespreadfeeling that the Constitution does not recognize Hawaiian language has having equal rights tothose of the English language. Considering the extent of governmental regulation that we mustabide under, if Hawaiians do not call for a systemic change, then those who have dedicated theireducations to Hawaiian will feel unprotected by the law-abiding Hawaiian community and seek solutions that the various secessionist groups offer.Building on the success of the ‘Aha Punana Leo and charter immersion school programs,we’re infusing some of this enthusiasm into our governance problem by advocating thatregulation, even plans for future economic development happen more literally in Hawaiian

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