Army signs Native Hawaiian covenant - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Army signs Native Hawaiian covenant

Maj. Gen. Michael Terry Maj. Gen. Michael Terry
Neil Hannahs Neil Hannahs

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Native Hawaiian community and the military have often been at odds over the use of land across the islands.  But Wednesday, representatives from both signed a promise to work together.

It's called the Native Hawaiian Covenant, a simple one-page statement along with six goals designed to heal the hard feelings between the two groups.

The Royal Order of Kamehameha started the ceremony with an offering at the Kukalepa Memorial at Fort DeRussy. The memorial stands in honor of maoli killed in battles.  After the playing of the Star Spangled Banner and Hawaii Ponoi, members of the army and the Native Hawaiian Community stepped forward to sign the covenant.

It states the army will work to protect and preserve the fragile environment of the islands, as well as keep a dialogue open with Native Hawaiians while meeting the military's missions.

One development is already planned at Makua Valley. The leeward Oahu training ground has been the center of several battles from groups who say military action there is destroying cultural sites and living species

"Through funding obtained from Senator Daniel Inouye's office, we are creating a visitor's center at the Makua Military reservation that will provide a location to describe the history of the valley and the rare cultural artifacts and unique plants and animal life located in that beautiful valley," said Maj. Gen. Michael Terry, the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Hawaii. "We encourage people to visit Makua and fully support cultural access events and activities there."

"It is the responsibility of the army and other other branches of service to safeguard us from unwarranted aggression," said Neil Hannahs, a Kamehameha Schools Land Manager and member of the Native Hawaiian Advisory Council formed for this covenant. "The Kanaka Maoli advisory council recognizes these circumstances, and strives through this covenant to respect the importance of host culture needs and values while also recognizing the contribution of the military's presence in ensuring our security and freedom."

The covenant ceremony ended with hula, and the planting of an ulu to symbolize a new beginning.

Here is the complete text of the Native Hawaiian Covenant:


US Army-Hawaii's Covenant with Native Hawaiians

We recognize that…

…The Native Hawaiians are nâ kanaka ôîwi Hawaii…the aboriginal peoples of Hawai'i.

…Native Hawaiian' cultural and historical experiences are shaped by the land and surrounding ocean…that as the Army maintains and uses the land of Hawai'i, it is mindful to protect and preserve this fragile environment and ensure that what remains is a meaningful legacy for future generations.

We are committed to:

Providing sustainable installation support and services for Joint War fighters, our Army Families, and the military community that meets current and future mission requirements, safeguards human health, improves quality of life and enhances the natural environment;

Providing proactive dialogue with Native Hawaiians to ensure the meaningful exchange of information and to enable sound, informed decisions by the Army that respects the legacy of the Native people of Hawai'i while meeting the mission and goals of the Army;

Building a partnership between the Native Hawaiian community and the US Army, a relationship that promotes mutual cooperation, understanding and enhances the standing of each within the community;

We are committed to a mutually beneficial relationship between Native Hawaiians and the US Army, Hawai'i by:

- Enhancing education and understanding of Native Hawaiian issues, culture, and values to Army Soldiers and Families

- Enhancing education and understanding of Army values, culture and actions to the Native Hawaiian community

- Leveraging opportunities for proactive dialogue between the Army and Native Hawaiians

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