Fall 2017


Director’s Column — Hahai Pono I Ke Ala Kukui Me Ka Huli Ao: Pursue the Path of Enlightenment Through Justice

By: D. Kapuaʻala Sproat, Acting Director

Aloha e nā hoa makamaka,

At Ka Huli Ao, we stand on the shoulders of our kūpuna. We would not be in existence today without the vision and hard work of so many, including Chief Justice William S. Richardson and Interim Dean Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie. These trailblazers and thoughtleaders understood the power and potential of Native Hawaiian Law before it was a thing. In fact, it is largely these two individuals who made Native Hawaiian Law its own thing. They did so by pursuing the path of enlightenment through justice. At Ka Huli Ao, we model this approach to learning and service.

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Native Hawaiian Law Treatise Is Cited by the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court

By: Susan K. Serrano, Director of Research and Scholarship

One of Ka Huli Ao’s goals is to advance research and scholarship that embraces history, culture, and present-day context to promote social justice for Native Hawaiians and other Pacific and Indigenous Peoples. We have sought to do so through the publication and dissemination of Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise (MacKenzie, Serrano and Sproat, eds.)

In August 2017, the Traditional and Customary Access and Gathering Rights chapter by David M. Forman & Susan K. Serrano in Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise, was cited by the Hawai‘i Supreme Court in Gold Coast Neighborhood Ass’n v. State, 140 Haw. 437 (2017).

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Native Hawaiian Scholars Respond to “The Crown Lands Trust: Who Were, Who Are, the Beneficiaries?”

By: Letani Peltier, Post-J.D. Legal Fellow

Who Owns The Crown Lands, published by the late Professor Jon Van Dyke in 2008, represents over ten years of thorough scholarship, research, and analysis on Native Hawaiian moral and legal claims to lands lost through the illegal overthrow of 1893. In the Winter of 2016, the University of Hawaiʻi Law Review published an article, The Crown Lands Trust: Who Were, Who Are, the Beneficiaries?, by the late Intermediate Court of Appeals Judge James S. Burns, which challenged Van Dyke’s conclusions—specifically alleging that Native Hawaiians have no special claims to the so-called “ceded lands.” The Burns article elicited a quick response from some of the top scholars in Native Hawaiian law, which was collectively published in the Summer 2017 edition of the University of Hawai‘i Law Review

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Ka Huli Ao Student Summer Fellow Experience in Washington, D.C.

By: Kealiʻi Segum, 2L

This past summer I had the amazing opportunity to work for the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs as the democratic legal fellow for the Office of the Vice Chair, Senator Tom Udall (New Mexico). The Committee oversees all proposed legislation that pertains to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians and must unanimously approve a bill in order for it to move to the Senate floor for a vote. As a staff member, I provided legal research on current, pertinent issues to the Indigenous peoples of the United States, sat in on meetings with tribal members and leaders, drafted memos for the Senator to make informed decisions on bills going to hearing, and assisted with the coordination of Committee briefings and hearings. My work with the Committee allowed me to expand my knowledge of Native American issues and I quickly realized that Native Hawaiians and Native Americans have had a long history of support for each other.

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Legal History and Archives Update: Translating Legal Documents

By: Avis Kuuipoleialoha Poai

Aloha! As part of my work on expanding and updating Punawaiola, Ka Huli Ao’s digital archives repository, I have the privilege of working closely with many different legal archival documents stored at the Hawaiʻi State Archives. Some are quite rare and provide an interesting glimpse into Hawaiʻi’s legal history. The sheer scope of what is available is overwhelming. Collectively, many of these sources hold a wealth of information that people want to access.

In terms of providing online access, we are currently hard at work in revamping our current database and website. Indeed, we hope to nearly double the amount of available files on Punawaiola in the near future.

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Environmental Law Clinic Update: Koʻolau and Haleleʻa Moku of Kauaʻi

By: N. Mahina Tuteur

For the Fall Semester 2017, the Environmental Law Clinic took on an important project assisting a community-driven effort based in the Koʻolau and Haleleʻa moku of Kauaʻi to preserve access to a culturally significant historic trail, known as the Alaloa (long path) or Ala Aupuni (old government road), and the traditional and customary Native Hawaiian practices that depend on access to the Alaloa itself, as well as the shoreline ma kai (seaward) of the trail. Students have been working closely with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (“OHA”) to analyze existing and potential options and opportunities to maintain cultural connection to the ʻāina through the Alaloa, which serves as a vital link to ka wā ma mua and ka wā ma hope (the generations before and the generations to come). The clinicians’ factual and legal research will both help community members better understand the existing legal framework and implications for their rights, and provide guidance to OHA on how to ensure appropriate access for its beneficiaries

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Ka Huli Ao Events – Fall 2017


Ka Huli Ao seeks to prepare students with the knowledge and tools to advance the traditions and legal rights of Native Hawaiians and other Pacific and Indigenous Peoples, and to inform and engage Native Hawaiian and other peoples to appreciate, protect, and restore the valuable natural and cultural resources of Indigenous island communities. We further these goals in part through Maoli Thursday, a lunchtime speaker forum and speaker series held every first Thursday of the month during the semester.

On September 7, Ka Huli Ao presented Maoli Thursday featuring Professor David Wilkins, who discussed “Self-Determination or Self-Decimation? The Political and Legal Dismemberment of Native Citizens in Indian Country.” Professor Wilkins is a citizen of the Lumbee Nation and holds the McKnight Presidential Professorship in American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota, with adjunct appointments in Political Science, Law, and American Studies.

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Student Outreach Update

By: Avis Kuuipoleialoha Poai

Aloha! On behalf of Ka Huli Ao, I am pleased to introduce post-J.D. fellow Letani Peltier ʻ17 who will be assisting with our Student Outreach program this upcoming year. We are grateful to have him onboard! Student Outreach is one of many programs that Ka Huli Ao facilitates to help promote education. As the director for student outreach, much of what I do is guided by this ʻŌlelo Noʻeau: “E mālama ʻia nā pono o ka ʻāina e nā ʻōpio.” This means, “[t]he traditions of the land are perpetuated by its youth.” In short, our hope as Kānaka ʻŌiwi rests in our youth—through them perhaps justice may be restored. This past Fall Semester, we had a full schedule of events.  This past Fall Semester, we had a full schedule of events. We had the pleasure of working with high school students at Kamehameha Schools Kapālama, eighth and eleventh grade students at Ke Kula Kaiapuni ʻo Ānuenue, Native Hawaiian Student Services (see below), students enrolled in the Poʻi Nā Nalu program, and students in the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Honors Program to name just a few.


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What’s New at Ka Huli Ao?


Our new water bottles are in! To show our appreciation for your tax-deductible contribution of $150 or more at www.uhf.hawaii.edu/kahuliao, we will send you one of our new 18 oz. Ka Huli Ao stainless steel water bottles. The Fifty/Fifty double-wall vacuum-insulated bottles feature Ka Huli Ao’s logo, and keep drinks cold or hot all day. The bottle will be sent to the address you provide on the online gift form.

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