What’s New at the Center? Faculty, Staff, and Board News

The Center is pleased to welcome our five new Summer Fellows in Native Hawaiian Law: Moani Crowell; Li‘ulā Kotaki; Mana Moriarty; Chris Santos and Napali Souza. Moani is working for Paul, Johnson, Park & Niles, which represents the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in a water rights case. Mana and Nāpali are working with the Bioprospecting Commission housed at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Through the Summer Fellowship Program, I have been given a rare opportunity to explore an area of law that, as a Native Hawaiian law student, is deeply personal and reflects my future career pursuits,” said Nāpali.  “I am grateful for the ability to immerse myself in a position that furthers the interests of the Native Hawaiian community.” 

Li‘ulā and Chris are working at the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation.  Chris also received an Advocates for Public Interest Law grant for his work this summer. According to Li‘ulā, “[t]he Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law provided me with the opportunity to take an internship with Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation that would have been a major financial hardship for me without the Center’s Summer Fellowship Program.  I was eager to work in a public interest firm dealing with Native Hawaiian issues to learn about the cases they take on and their day to day operations.  Without the Summer Fellowship I would not have been able to take advantage of this wonderful learning experience.” 

The Center also welcomes our six Summer Research Assistants: Derek Kauanoe; Lance Larson; Malama Minn; Ashley Obrey; Ka‘ano‘i Walk and Sarah Wong. Derek, Lance and Ka‘ano‘i are working with Professor Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie on the second edition of the Native Hawaiian Rights Handbook, as well as conducting research and writing for the Center’s e-Newsletter, Ka He‘e (see “Recent Cases” in this issue). Malama is working with Professor Kapua Sproat to draft and publish a primer on water rights and issues, along with community outreach to disseminate the information to rural Native Hawaiian communities. This effort will help to empower rural communities, small family farmers, Hawaiian organizations, environmental groups, and Hawaiian Homesteaders, in preserving and protecting Hawai‘i’s ground and surface water resources for present and future generations (See “Community Outreach Update” in this issue).

Ashley and Sarah are working with Director of Educational Development, Susan Serrano, on articles for Ka He‘e (see both of their articles in this issue), and on other projects. Ashley and Sarah are also two of the four first-ever Equal Justice Society Scholar-Advocate Fellows who are working for the summer under Professor Eric Yamamoto and Ms. Serrano on civil and human rights research and publications. The Scholar-Advocate program trains law students and recent graduates as cutting-edge legal scholars who can contribute immediately to justice advocacy on the ground.

The Center bids farewell to Levi Ho‘okano (’06 JD), who worked with the Center for two months conducting workshops and seminars for Native Hawaiian youth as part of the Center’s Community Outreach Program. 

At the same time, the Center welcomes home Professor Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie after a trip to speak at a three-day symposium, Tūhonohono: State and Custom, sponsored by Te Mātāhauariki Research Institute at the University of Waikato & Tainui Endowed College, Hopuhopu, Aotearoa-New Zealand. On June 23rd, Professor MacKenzie spoke about “Hawaiian Custom in State Legislation” on a panel focused on “Understanding Custom.” To read more about her trip and the symposium, please see her “Director’s Column” in this issue of Ka He‘e. Professor MacKenzie also gave a talk on Hawaiian legal history to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Bankruptcy Judges on July 9th and made a presentation to Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Senior Managers on August 3rd.

The Center’s Director of Educational Development, Susan K. Serrano, will be speaking on a panel entitled “Native Lands in Native Hands-Native Land Trusts, Stewardship, Challenges & Opportunities,” at a workshop on August 22nd during the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement’s Annual Conference. 

The Center congratulates two of our Post-J.D. Research Fellows on their recent projects. Post-J.D. Fellow Trisha Kehaulani Watson and Kāko‘o ‘Ōiwi held a successful summer workshop series on the creation and maintenance of Native Hawaiian and cultural non-profit organizations. The workshops, funded by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, focused on non-profit laws, liability, organization, management, tax, board governance and other important issues. Also, Post-J.D. Fellow Le‘a Kanehe recently published two articles, From Kumulipo: I Know Where I Come From - An Indigenous Pacific Critique of the Genographic Project and Kuleana No Hāloa (Responsibility for Taro) Protecting the Sacred Ancestor from Ownership and Genetic Modification (co-authored with Walter Ritte). The articles were published in Pacific Genes & Life Patents: Pacific Indigenous Experiences & Analysis of the Commodification & Ownership of Life (editors: Aroha Te Pareake Mead and Steven Ratuwa 2007). 

Finally, congratulations to Professor Mark A. Levin who, after consulting with Center faculty, gave a lecture in Japanese at the Hokkaido University Center for Ainu & Indigenous Studies in Sapporo, Japan, entitled Recent Legal Issues Affecting Native Hawaiians. In his July speech, Professor Levin discussed the challenges to Native Hawaiian programs and benefits, protection of iwi or ancestral remains and moepū or funerary objects, and Native Hawaiian opposition to U.S. military encroachment. On the same visit to Hokkaido, Prof. Levin coordinated a visit to the Ainu Association of Hokkaido in Sapporo for a tour group of university faculty from U.S. Minority Serving Institutions. Prof. Levin has long been interested in the legal circumstances of race and indigenous peoples in Japan and is forging a relationship between the newly established Ainu & Indigenous Studies Center at Hokkaido and our own Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law.  Prof. Levin’s talk was very well received with attendees remarking on the similarities between the history and legal status of the Ainu and Native Hawaiians. Look for excerpts from Prof. Levin’s talk in the next issue of Ka He‘e!