Kahului: Proposed policy would seek Hawaiians ’ input

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Tue Jun 3 18:33:24 UTC 2008

Proposed policy would seek Hawaiians' input
Corps of Engineers considering mandate on aquatic and watershed permits

By CHRIS HAMILTON, Staff Writer POSTED: June 2, 2008 Save | Print |
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KAHULUI — The Army Corps of Engineers is in the early stages of
creating a self-imposed mandate to formally seek out the input of any
and all Native Hawaiian groups before it makes decisions on aquatic
and watershed permits that could significantly impact the islands and
the ocean. During a scheduled five-hour forum Saturday at Maui
Community College, Corps Regulatory Program Manager Farley Watanabe
said that the federal government is in the process of revising its
regulations for who it must consult during the complicated and often
long permitting process. And the Army Corps wants Native Hawaiian
organizations — from nonprofits and state agencies to ohanas, lineal
descendants and individuals — to be included in that process for the
first time, Watanabe said.

Fewer than 10 people attended the discussion, but most appeared to
express agreement at one point or another with the Corps'
goals.However, one of the problems shared by the Corps and Native
Hawaiians is that Native Hawaiians are not certified with the U.S.
Department of Interior as a American Indian tribe or Alaskan
corporation, Watanabe said. Without that formal designation, the 1992
National Historic Preservation Act does not grant Native Hawaiians the
benefit of government-to-government diplomatic discussions when it
comes to projects potentially affecting cultural as well as natural
resources, Watanabe said.That could change in the near future,
however, if U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka's Native Hawaiian Government
Reorganization Act of 2007 passes Congress.

The so-called Akaka Bill would grant Native Hawaiians federal status
similar to American Indian tribes.Watanabe said there is another
problem being wrestled with in Washington. The independent federal
agency, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, which protects
America's historic resources, recognizes only the Office of Hawaiian
Affairs, state island burial councils and the Hawaiian artifact group,
Hui Malama, in its decision-making process.

The Corps doesn't agree with the council's narrow stance on whom to
include in its debates since water, and all things surrounding it in
Hawaii, is a cultural resource with significant historic properties,
he said.

The Corps has jurisdiction over the nation's navigable waters and
public wetlands.

"This is exclusionary," Watanabe said about the preservation council's
rules, to nodding approval from his audience.

"It doesn't even come close to them doing the right thing, and they
know it, and we disagree."

The Corps' proposed policy would broaden the definitions and throw a
much wider net out for who would get notified when a permit
application is taken out for a project such as a pier or dam.

"The Corps will talk to anybody else we know of who has a point of
view," Watanabe said.

"It can be one voice or an organization."

Timmy Paulokaleioku Bailey, who is an expert in Hawaiian resource
management through traditional practices, said it is vital that
Hawaiians impart to these agencies how important it is for them to
understand the Native Hawaiian perspective.

Education is key, he said.

For instance, ancient Hawaiian civilizations had their own natural
resource management areas with individual water sources, much like
today, he said.

"This is nothing new. It's just different language," Bailey said.

"We want them to know that all natural resources are cultural
resources. . . . Pull the science out of it. Look at the Hawaiian side
of it."

There's not even a document yet to debate, though, said facilitator
Annelle Amaral.

When one is drafted, the Corps will hold public hearings, she said.

"Today is different," Amaral said.

"We are used to chasing bulldozers from crisis to crisis. But we have
advance warning on this."

• Chris Hamilton can be reached at chamilton at mauinews.com.  Subscribe
to Maui News


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