HONOLULU—The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) and its Policy Center have adopted a project to increase understanding on a variety of legal cases moving through the court system involving Native Hawaiian trust assets. The Policy Center Litigation Awareness Project will convene Hawaiian leaders statewide three times a year, to receive briefings on cases, including information on plaintiffs, defendants and the core tenets of each case.
“There are a number of court cases that are powerfully important to Native Hawaiian communities, and most certainly our trust assets,” said Robin Puanani Danner, CNHA President. “Rather than read about them sporadically in the newspaper, we decided that more directly involving and informing our members and communities on the basics of some of these court cases is the best approach.”
The Policy Center will convene on the court cases at the end of January, in May, and in September for the 2011 calendar year. The first case to be reviewed in substance is the Nelson case, filed by beneficiaries to ensure that the Hawaiian Home Land trust is adequately funded by state government as provided by in the state of Hawaii constitution. The Lingle administration vehemently fought the premise of the case.
“I’m really looking forward to reviewing the Nelson case and becoming more aware of where it has been over the last several years, and where it is today,” Danner continued. “I’m a big proponent of litigation being a last resort approach to settling differences, and frankly, as Native Hawaiian leaders, we have been remiss in raising the awareness of this case. We should never, ever, let State agencies, in this case the Lingle Attorney General’s office, be the sole voice on the potential solutions or results of these kinds of cases. We have a responsibility as leaders of our communities, to educate ourselves and to be knowledgeable of what these cases mean, and what arguments are being made for or against our trust assets.”
The Policy Center Litigation Awareness Project will not only host the three annual briefings for its leadership, but will also coordinate publication of summaries and updates on the status of court cases it includes, to the larger membership of CNHA and partner organizations.
CNHA is a national network of Native Hawaiian Organizations, providing assistance in accessing capital and technical resources, and is a policy voice on issues important to Native Hawaiian communities. Its mission is to enhance the well-being of Hawaii through the cultural, economic, and community development of Native Hawaiians.
For more information about the CNHA Policy Center, the Litigation Awareness Project, or any program of CNHA, contact [email protected], (808) 596.8155, toll-free at 1 (800) 709.2642, or visit www.hawaiiancouncil.org.