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Pouhana O Na Wahine Update

Pouhana O Na Wahine, Pillars of Women, is a grassroots organization advocating for Native Hawaiian families who face challenges related to domestic violence and sexual assault, by exercising our inherent sovereign rights as indigenous people of Hawaii.  The Board and its members come from the different islands in the Hawaiian chain.

Pouhana O Na Wahine’s Board and Paula Julian, NIWRC, met at the end of August to continue discussions on national strategies for increasing the safety of Native women, priority areas addressing domestic and gender-based violence against Native Hawaiian women, and exchange opportunities with Indian tribes, tribal coalitions and domestic violence and sexual assault organizations. During this time the hui also met with the offices of Senator Schatz and Senator Hirono to discuss the safety of Native Hawaiian women and the ohana.

Native Hawaiian women represent the highest percentage of victims of domestic and sexual violence within the state of Hawaii. The Pouhana ‘O Na Wahine is focused on determining how to change this unacceptable reality. The hui understands that relying solely on non-indigenous responses to domestic and sexual violence are short-term, temporary solutions which do not address the needs of Native Hawaiians. Taking on the challenge of organizing to increase safety for women and children, the hui continues to discuss their strategy based on a Native Hawaiian worldview for addressing the injustices they have suffered since 1898.

“Native Hawaiian people had their own government structure and processes, including our practices and ceremonies,” said Kupuna NaniFay Paglinawan with the Pouhana. “Strengthening our way of life to address violence against wahine is linked to recognizing the authority of Native Hawaiians as a nation. We also need resources to implement the programs rooted in Native Hawaiian voices, language, and teachings.”

Important to note that the U.S. government entered into five treaties with the Kingdom of Hawaii as referenced in the Apology Bill from 1826 through 1887, and has consistently recognized its legal relationship with the Native Hawaiian community with more than 150 federal laws, including creating special programs and services for the Native Hawaiian community. Examples include the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, Native Hawaiian Health Care Improvement Act, and Native Hawaiian Education Act. There has also been a legal relationship as evidenced by state laws respecting Native Hawaiians. As written in the state Constitution Article 12, Section 7, reaffirming that the state “shall protect all rights, customarily and traditionally…descendants of native Hawaiians who inhabited the Hawaiian Islands prior to 1778.”

“NIWRC looks forward to our ongoing sisterhood and partnership with the hui to increase the safety of Native Hawaiian and all Indigenous women.”— Paula Julian, Senior Policy Specialist, NIWRC.

Resources to Understand Violence Against Native Hawaiian Women
Apology of the U.S. Congress to Native Hawaiian People  (PL 103-150),
Procedures for Reestablishing a Formal Government-to-Government Relationship With the Native Hawaiian Community (43 CFR Part 50),
Restoration of Native Sovereignty and Safety for Native Women, Vol. 14, Issue 3, p 13-17