Native Hawaiians Spend a Week in the Nation’s Capital

Kapolei Letterhead 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

June 2, 2016

Native Hawaiians Spend a Week in the Nation’s Capital

Kapolei, HI – The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement’s (CNHA) public policy center coordinated its first “Hawaiian Week in DC” from May 16 – 20, 2016 in partnership with the Sovereign Councils of the Hawaiian Homelands Assembly (SCHHA).

A total of thirteen NatIMG_0865ive Hawaiian leaders from homestead communities across the state made the trip to visit our Nation’s Capital.  The week was packed with visits to nearly 20 federal agencies and National advocacy organizations for a robust week of community engagement.

Participants met with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus staff, the Departments of the Interior and Justice, USDA, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAPPI), Senator Schatz, Senator Hirono, the National Congress of American Indians, and many others.

Homestead leaders who participated mutually agree on the need for Hawaiians to speak for themselves on issues impacting their lives.  According to CNHA President Michelle Kauhane, “The trip was about citizen engagement.  No different than farmers in the Midwest or businesses in the Northeast, democracy is about citizen engagement. ”

“The experience was truly amazing,” shared Iwalani McBrayer, homestead leader from Kapolei, Oahu.  “The need for Hawaiians to engage at all levels, with local, state and the federal government is critical.  For too long we have sat back and allowed decisions to be made for us.  This trip was about taking action, getting involved and speaking for ourselves regarding the change we want to see in our communities.”

The participant group was unanimous on this sentiment; Hawaiians can and will advocate for Hawaii.  Issues of importance among participants included education and language preservation, affordable housing and low income housing tax credits, and of course on how the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act is managed.

According to Kamaka Purdy, “Hawaiian Week in DC was filled with learning, listening and lots of walking.  Growing up in Molokai, I am familiar with taking a stand on issues through demonstrating or protesting.  This trip offered an alternative to protesting.”

IMG_0794From Left To Right- Robin Danner, SCHHA Chairwoman, Annie Donovan, CDFI Fund Director, Michelle Kauhane, CNHA President

Front row: Tricia Hudson, Waimea, HI, Lahela Aiwohi, Paukukalo, Maui, Jordyn Danner, Anahola, Kauai, Kammy Purdy and Kamaka Purdy, Hoolehua, Molokai, Iwalani Laybon-McBrayer, Kapolei, Oahu.

Back row: Kaanoi Walk, Rod Paahana, Lahaina, Maui, Kaulana Mossman, Keokea, Maui, Kauanoe Hoomanawanui, Anahola, Kauai, Mike Hudson, Waimea, HI

The participants in the group have all returned to their respective communities and are coordinating community meetings to share the work in DC and to follow-up with action items to remain engaged and active in their advocacy efforts.

CNHA sends a special thank you to the SCHHA leadership for helping to fund and to identify homesteaders to be in the cohort.  The nonprofit now looks forward to taking other members of CNHA, involved in education, business and healthcare, in future cohorts to Washington DC.

CNHA is a national advocacy organization representing the interests of Native Hawaiians by serving more than 100 Native Hawaiian nonprofits, businesses, and agencies.  Its mission is to enhance the cultural, economic, political and community development of Native Hawaiians.  The CNHA Policy Center convenes non-governmental organizations around policy priorities and solutions to meet the challenges of Hawaiians.

For more information about CNHA please contact us at 808.596.8155, toll-free at 1.800.709.2642, by e-mail at info@hawaiiancouncil.org, or at www.hawaiiancouncil.org.

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