Power Brokers VI: Crossing the Pacific into Hawai’i

Brian Daffron
9/12/13

 

Power Brokers takes a turn over the waters of the Pacific to Hawai'i, whose indigenous population shares a common history with Native Americans and Alaskan Natives on the mainland. In 1893, the sovereign kingdom of Hawai'i was overthrown, with the country seeing an eventual annexation by the United States five years later. Since statehood in 1959, there has been a growing movement of recognizing the importance of Hawaiian language, culture and sovereign recognition. This includes war crime complaints filed within the International Criminal Court and the UN Human Rights Council.

RELATED: Native History: When Hawaii Was Riding the Wave Toward Sovereignty

Because of the growing interest in Hawaiian sovereignty, it is important to recognize the members of the Hawai'i State Legislature who are open about their indigenous identity. Many of these indigenous legislators have been in office for several terms and hold majority leadership positions.

 

Senator J. Kalani English (D)

Indigenous Identification: Native Hawaiian

Senate District: 7

Years in Office: 2000-Present

Committees: Transportation & International Affairs; Agriculture; Economic Development, Government Operations & Housing; Ways and Means.

Recent Key Legislation: Public works of art; emergency medical services; agricultural building permits; public school lands; resolution for assistance to homeless Native Hawaiians; disposition of remains; environmental impact statements; resolution honoring President Grover Cleveland in efforts to preserve Hawaiian indigenous monarchy; Native Hawaiian Roll Commission; sustainability legislation; historic preservation; mortgage foreclosures; education.

Senator Brickwood Galuteria (D)

Indigenous Identification: Native Hawaiian

Senate District: 12

Years in Office: 2008-Present

Leadership Position: Majority Leader

Committees: Chair, Hawaiian Affairs; Water & Land; Judiciary & Labor; Public Safety, Intergovernmental & Military Affairs.

Recent Key Legislation: Firearms; Office of Hawaiian Affairs; elderly; emergency medical services; aging; condominiums; fire protection; portable electronics insurance; paternity; public housing; intoxicating liquors in public housing; general excise tax; resolution for a comprehensive Hawaiian Studies program to the Board of Education; disposition of remains.

Senator Clayton Hee (D)

Indigenous Identification: Native Hawaiian

Senate District: 23

Years in Office: 2004-Present

Committees: Chair, Judiciary and Labor; Hawaiian Affairs.

Recent Key Legislation: Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund; Office of Hawaiian Affairs; appropriations for collective bargaining cost items; simulated firearms; public lands; animal cruelty; Hawaii Labor Relations Board; campaign spending; child support enforcement; collection of restitution for crime victims; Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act; sexual images produced by minors; Boiler and Elevator Safety Law; geothermal resources.

Senator Gilbert Kahele (D)

Indigenous Identification: Native Hawaiian

Senate District: 1

Years in Office: 2011-Present

Leadership: Majority Whip

Committees: Chair, Tourism; Vice-Chair, Higher Education; Transportation and International Affairs; Ways and Means.

Recent Key Legislation: Higher Education; water conservation; homeland security; foreclosures; real estate seller disclosure; State Educational Facilities Improvement Special Fund; Hawaii Public Housing Authority; Hawaii Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Senator Michelle Kidani (D)

Indigenous Identification: Native Hawaiian

Senate District: 18

Years in Office: 2009-Present

Committees: Education; Ways and Means; Hawaiian Affairs; Higher Education; Human Services.

Recent Key Legislation: Parental Rights; breastfeeding in the workplace; State Educational Facilities Improvement Special Fund; report on uniform sexual health education program in schools; legacy lands; domestic abuse orders; information access.

Senator Malama Solomon (D)

Indigenous Identification: Native Hawaiian

Senate District: 4

Years in Office: 2011-Present

Committees: Chair, Water and Land; Commerce and Consumer Protection; Tourism and Hawaiian Affairs; Judiciary and Labor; Transportation and International Affairs.

Recent Key Legislation: Parental rights; water conservation; mental health treatment; real estate seller disclosure; portable electronics insurance; Medicaid; disposition of remains; report on electronic copies; report on asset forfeiture; information technology; legacy lands.

Representative Karen Awana (D)

Indigenous Identification: Native Hawaiian

House District: 43

Years in Office: 2006-Present

Leadership: Majority Floor Leader

Committees: Legislative Management

Recent Key Legislation: Requirement for social workers regarding continuing education credits; appropriation for a statewide language access resource center; requirement for certain employers to display poster for National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline; repeal of Public Land Development Corporation; expansion of Child Protective Act to include minor victims of sex and labor trafficking; Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve procurement exemptions; resolution that Department of Health produce certificates with Hawaiian names as quickly as certificates with non-Hawaiian names.

Representative Mele Carroll (D)

Indigenous Identification: Native Hawaiian

House District: 13

Years in Office: 2005-Present

Committees: Human Services; Consumer Protection & Commerce; Health; Housing; Judiciary.

Recent Key Legislation: Health; Human Services; Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve; affordable housing urban gardening; acquisition of resource value lands; emergency hospital compassionate care for sexual assault victims; safe school routes; health care coordination; Medicaid; automated victim notification system.

Representative Ty Cullen (D)

Indigenous Identification: Native Hawaiian

House District: 39

Years in Office: 2010-Present

Leadership: Assistant Majority Leader

Committees: Ocean, Marine Resources & Hawaiian Affairs; Energy & Environmental Protection; Finance; Water & Land.

Recent Key Legislation: Penal code; feral birds; affordable housing urban gardening; mammography reporting; highway safety; emergency medical care; statewide traffic code; fire protection; vocational licensing; consumer protection; safe routes to school; Office of Language Access; bill for regulation of mixed martial arts.

Representative Faye Hanohano (D)

Indigenous Identification: Native Hawaiian

House District: 4

Years in Office: 2006-Present

Committees: Chair—Ocean, Marine Resources & Hawaiian Affairs; Education; Energy & Environmental Protection; Higher Education; Water & Land.

Recent Key Legislation: Resolution for Hawaii Parole Board; traditional use of coastal areas; statewide Language Access Resource Center; agricultural prevention of coffee berry borer infestations; oversight board to oversee transfers of home and community-based facilities from the Dept. of Human Services to the Dept. of Health; hospital emergency compassionate care for sexual assault victims; Hawaii Health Systems Corporation; pesticide reporting; establishment of the Hawaii Agricultural Workforce Advisory Board; creation of October as Kalo Appreciation Month; Hawaii Health Systems Corporation; repeal of Public Land Development Corporation; financial contributor disclosure for non-campaign committees; wind energy facility decommission.

Representative Derek Kawakami (D)

Indigenous Identification: Native Hawaiian

House District: 14

Years in Office: 2011-Present

Leadership: Assistant Majority Leader

Committees: Consumer Protection & Commerce; Energy & Environmental Protection; Judiciary; Ocean, Marine Resources & Hawaiian Affairs; Water & Land.

Recent Key Legislation: Penal code amendments; human services; affordable housing urban gardening; coastal areas; pesticides; statewide traffic code; safe routes to school; commercial activities on open waters; higher education; employment security; resolution honoring the U.S. Navy Seals "for successfully neutralizing the world's most wanted terrorist."

Representative James Tokioka (D)

Indigenous Identification: Native Hawaiian

House District: 15

Years in Office: 2006-Present

Committees: Agriculture; Economic Development & Business; Finance; Tourism.

Recent Key Legislation: Statewide Language Access Resource Center; veterans preference for low income housing; compliance report requirements for Department of Human Services.

 

Sources: Irene Kawanabe, National Caucus of Native American State Legislators; capital.hawaii.gov; votesmart.org; openstates.org.

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