“Our voice to advocate for Native Hawaiian issues does not stop here in Hawaiʻi. Our political advocacy must extend out to the U.S. continent, to Washington D.C., and into the international arena regarding the United Nations.” says Kamanaʻopono Crabbe, Pou Hana (CEO) of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
In an effort to increase Hawaiian advocacy in the federal government, OHA worked closely with the White House to create the Native Hawaiian Presidential Appointment Project.
“What this project does, is begin setting a foundation for building a capacity for Native Hawaiians to serve. Serve our people, to serve in government and to be part of the political process.” says Kamanaʻopono Crabbe.
Senator Daniel Akaka says “it’s about time that we do try to identify a group of people who have different expertise for different levels and would be able to then recommend them for positions through the administration and of course, the White House.”
“Decisions that are made by these Presidential Appointees, in Washington D.C., impact Hawaiʻi and impact the Native Hawaiian community every single day.” says OHA Washington D.C. Bureau Chief, Kawika Riley.
The first step for the project is to let people know about it and what its goals are. Second, to create a list of qualified applicants. And lastly, to ensure that the White House stays informed about these applicants.
“There is a saying in Washington D.C. which is that, if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. I’ve seen so many times when people are empowered to make decisions that affect Hawaiʻi; affect our people. But they don’t understand the fundamentals about who we are. So for me, that’s one of many reasons why it is so important for us to be part of the process.” says Kawika Riley.
Senator Akaka also says that, “after spending thirty-six years in Congress, for me, there’s a mission here to set up ways for the people of Hawaii, and particularly, in our case, the Hawaiians, to be able to move in these areas and develop leadership that can help them serve.”
For more information, visit OHA.org.