By U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Native Hawaiian Liaison Office July 25, 2011
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- A symbolic, yet powerful, first step in initiating proactive dialogue between the Native Hawaiian community and the U.S. Army was signed at Fort DeRussy by respected leaders of both communities, March 24, 2010.
Since its signing, the U.S. Army covenant with Native Hawaiians is promoting partnerships and increasing dialogue between Native Hawaiian organizations and the Army.
The covenant is an important factor in building trust with both communities.
The covenant establishes basic principles and common interests, confirms a commitment to enhancing mutual understanding and expresses a desire to work together to achieve common goals in the future.
U.S. Army Garrison"Hawaii worked extensively to create this historic document and to establish the garrison’s Native Hawaiian Advisory Council, a group of prominent Native Hawaiian civic, education and business leaders.
This council’s experience in the Hawaiian community has enabled it to be a helpful sounding board on critical Native Hawaiian and garrison issues, such as the use of Army lands, Hawaiian nationalism, historic sites and cultural access.
The covenant lists three key objectives: to create learning opportunities for the Army, its staff and families on Native Hawaiian culture, practices and values; to create learning opportunities for the Native Hawaiian community on Army actions, programs and plans; and to establish consistent dialogue between the Army and Native Hawaiian organizations.
During this past year, the garrison and its Native Hawaiian Liaison Office have continued to uphold the goal and objectives identified in the covenant. Their successes have been evident through the advancement of cultural and educational programs, the growth of interactive dialogue between the Native Hawaiian and Army communities, and the positive feedback received from the Hawaii community.
--Learning Opportunities for the Army
Through the covenant, Army civilians and Soldiers new to the islands now receive an informative briefing on the Native Hawaiian people, history and culture. This critical information gives Army individuals an opportunity to learn the culture of the community around them and be sensitive to its customs.
In addition, Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners lead free Hawaiian workshops for those interested in learning about the different aspects of Hawaiian culture. Featured workshops include hula, ukulele, lei-making, Hawaiian legends, Hawaiian language, Hawaiian healing plants and coconut weaving.
“Positive responses from Soldiers and their families have been received through these briefings and workshops we offer,” said Annelle Amaral, Native Hawaiian liaison, USAG-HI. “We have found that it not only teaches the culture, but it provides an opportunity to spend time with their families and meet new friends. To be a part of this has been truly rewarding.”
A monthly “Ho olauna” bulletin is a resource for interested Army individuals, containing Hawaiian history, a featured Hawaiian word, upcoming Hawaiian events, happenings around town, a featured dining spot and volunteer opportunities. This resource keeps readers informed and offers opportunities for them to experience life outside the Army bases.
--Learning Opportunities for Native Hawaiians
The Hawaiian community also gets to learn about the Army.
Various briefings have been carried out for Hawaii congressional delegates and several Native Hawaiian organizations, including the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Alu Like, the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, and the Royal Order of Kamehameha.
Radio and television interviews also have been conducted to inform the larger community of the Army’s good work in dealing with Native Hawaiian concerns and in protecting natural and cultural resources on Army lands.
Through the covenant, the Army’s cultural and natural resources representatives are leading tours of the Kahuku Training Area and Makua Military Reservation for surrounding community members.
--Building a Relationship
As with any new initiative, opportunities have come about through the covenant.
The garrison’s Native Hawaiian Liaison Office has assisted in facilitating conversations for the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, or NAGPRA, which helped expedite the treatment of excavated ancient bones on Army lands. The Army also coordinated two successful
NAGPRA workshops for the Hawaii community, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Native Hawaiian Relations, the Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, and Bernstein and Associates, a NAGPRA consultant.
The garrison also hosted an education forum to assist Native Hawaiian businesses in learning how to procure federal contracts, organized donations of bedding and household goods from Tripler Lodge to West Oahu and Kapolei homeless shelters, and made a presentation about seeking jobs in the military to job counselors of West Oahu homeless shelters.
A quarterly Distinguished Lecture Series dinner presents an in-depth presentation on Native Hawaiian cultural topics to an audience consisting of Soldiers, families and local community members. Dinner topics have featured Hawaiian martial arts, the Lands of Lihue and Hawaiian way-finding. These events have been well received with numerous requests to continue the program.
“The Army covenant with Native Hawaiians lays the path for a meaningful partnership between the two communities, so long as we keep our promise to work on achieving this goal,” Amaral said. “Right now, we’re working on a ‘hanai’ concept, where we bring our young Army families and our elderly Hawaiian aunties and uncles together for a ‘talk-story’ session. This will fill the gap for one group (of people) who miss their families, and the other group (of people) who miss the opportunity to share life-lessons they’ve learned.”
To learn more about the covenant and the USAG-HI Native Hawaiian Liaison Office, call (808) 655-9694 or email email@example.com.