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OHA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs

Statement from OHA CEO Kamanaʻopono Crabbe on the Aloha Poke controversy

HONOLULU (August 1, 2018) – The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) is appalled by the Chicago-based Aloha Pokē (sic) Company’s recent attempts to assert control over ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, the traditional language of the native people of Hawaiʻi.

OHA is currently reaching out to key stakeholders to discuss possible solutions to this immediate controversy. However, the commercialization and exploitation of Native Hawaiian traditional knowledge has been an issue for generations. At the heart of the issue are trademark laws that present substantial challenges for protecting our culture and promoting its pono (appropriate) use.

After similar controversies in 2003, a coalition of Native Hawaiians adopted the Paoakalani Declaration — a powerful statement affirming the Native Hawaiian people’s collective right, as the creators of our traditional knowledge, to protect our cultural expressions from misuse by individuals who behave disrespectfully and inconsistently with our worldview, customs and traditions. Critically, the document declares the willingness on the part of Native Hawaiians to share our culture with humanity, provided that “we determine when, why, and how it is used.”

Read the Paoakalani Declaration

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