8 Ariz. J. Int'l & Comp. L. 77 (1991)
Historical and Contemporary Hawaiian Self-Determination: A Native Hawaiian Perspective

handle is hein.journals/ajicl8 and id is 291 raw text is: HISTORICAL AND CONTEMPORARY HAWAIIAN
Mililani B. Trask*
I am a Native Hawaiian. For fifteen years I have been working for
sovereignty and self-determination for my people. When I graduated from
law school at the University of Santa Clara at the age of twenty-seven, my
heart was full of desire to make change for my people. But when I returned
to Hawai'i as a lawyer, I was shocked to learn that the Native Hawaiian
people were one of three classes of Americans in the United States that were
not permitted standing in a court of law. The other two groups without
standing are children and retarded adults. We Hawaiians are neither children
nor retarded adults. We are second-class citizens who are not able to protect
our property or our trust rights.
I am here to talk about historical and contemporary Hawaiian history,
about sovereignty and self-determination. I have visited the United Nations
and met with Erica-Irene Daes, the Chairman-Rapporteur of the Working
Group on Indigenous Populations. Our nation has filed two interventions in
United Nations indigenous peoples' projects: one for the Subcommission on
Indigenous Treaties and the other on the Draft Universal Declaration on
Indigenous Rights. But these interventions alone do not constitute sover-
eignty or self-determination. Sovereignty is something that is manifested by
the gestures of one's life. Native peoples and the attorneys who advocate for
them need to understand that.
Polynesians migrated to Hawai'i Nei more than seventy-five generations
ago from islands in the South Pacific. Prior to its discovery, as many as
three to five million of our ancestors lived and died on the Hawaiian Islands,
establishing and sustaining a viable and productive society.
From the mountains to the sea, everyone had access to the islands' natural
resources and shared in nature's generosity. Living on the most isolated
*Mililani B. Trask is a Native Hawaiian attorney and is Governor of Ka Lahui Hawai'i, the
Sovereign Nation of Hawai'i.
1. Historical material is taken from excerpts of the Position Statement of the Hawaiian
Delegation to the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Conference held in Manila, 1987 (on
file with author).

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