Army, Native Hawaiian community to sign symbolic accord
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The Army will sign a first-of-its-kind “Native Hawaiian Covenant” with representatives from Native Hawaiian organizations in an effort to improve a sometimes contentious relationship.
The agreement will be signed at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at Fort DeRussy.
“The covenant recognizes that Hawaiçi’s rich cultural and historical experiences are shaped by the land and surrounding ocean,” said Maj. Gen. Michael J. Terry, commanding general, 8th Theater Sustainment Command. “We acknowledge that the Army has the responsibility of being good stewards for the lands we maintain and that we must be mindful to protect and preserve this fragile environment for future generations.”
The Army said the pledge is a symbolic accord between the Army and the Native Hawaiian community “signifying the commitment to forging a stronger relationship of cooperation, appreciation and understanding of Hawaiçi’s native culture and resources.”
The agreement also recognizes the Army’s role in Hawaiçi and the soldiers who are a part of the local community.
“We firmly believe that it is possible to protect Hawaiçi’s precious cultural and natural environmental resources while still meeting the mission and goals of the Army,” said Matthew T. Margotta, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Hawaiçi. “The covenant outlines our pledge to do just that.”
The Army and Native Hawaiians have clashed in the past over the Army’s use of Mäkua Valley for live-fire training and the decision to bring the Stryker Brigade here.
To strengthen mutual understanding, the Army said the Native Hawaiian Advisory Council was created to guide the Army in working with the Hawaiian community.
The Distinguished Lecture Series also was created featuring prominent Native Hawaiian guest speakers who share the history, culture and customs of Hawaiçi with soldiers and their families, the Army said.
Prior to today’s ceremony, members of the Royal Order of Kamehameha and Benevolent Societies will hold a traditional offering for fallen warrior ancestors.
Rev. William Kaina, the senior pastor of Kawaihao Church, will give the opening invocation, or pule.
Neil Hannahs, Kamehameha Schools and Bishop Estate land manager and a member of the Native Hawaiian Advisory Council, will be one of the guest speakers.
The ceremony will conclude with the ceremonial planting of an ulu tree representing the partnership.
“The ulu is one of the trees brought by canoe to Hawaiçi by the first Hawaiians,” said Annelle Amaral, Native Hawaiian liaison to the Army.