HONOLULU – Hundreds sang and held signs in front of the Supreme Court building across from ‘Iolani Palace Friday evening. Everyone there hopes what took place in a Maui courtroom on Wednesday will never happen again.
“We come from a time that our ancestors were beat, they were corporeally punished in school so that we could get rid of Hawaiian language and I think we’ve come to this point in time in our history to be able to remedy and see if we can la’au…or bring the right societal medicine to heal that wound,” Kalehua Krug, participant in rally said.
Crowds packed yet another rally on Maui too fronting the county prosecutor’s office.
“We pay taxes just like everybody else, if a Hawaiian comes into a court room, wants an interpreter and then they should be allowed that serve,” Tiare Lawrence, organizer of the Olelo Hawai?i Rally said.
Supporters are rallying behind Haleakala telescope protestor Kaleikoa Kaeo. Earlier this week, the 51-year-old refused to speak English in court and opted to address the judge in Hawaiian.
Ka’eo is able to speak English, but in this case, the judge ordered the trial to be held in English and didn’t provide a translator. Kaeo was issued an arrest warrant but it was recalled a day later.
Hawaiian is considered an official language of the state of Hawai?i.
Earlier this week, the Hawai?i state judiciary told Island News there is no legal requirement to provide Hawaiian language interpreters to court participants who speak English.
Now, the judiciary has revised its criteria. Saying “the Judiciary will provide or permit qualified Hawaiian language interpreters to the extent reasonably possible when parties in courtroom proceedings choose to express themselves through the Hawaiian language.”
A series of workshops to come up with new court interpreter procedures will be open to the public starting next month.
“My hope for Olelo Hawai?i is We as Kanaka of this aina will be able to go anywhere and all of Hawai?i, whether it’s banks, stores, court rooms and it’s honored,” Ho’opono Wong said.
In Kane’ohe, Hawaiian language immersion students stood in solidarity too. Many say the rallies also represent the fight to preserve the language for the next generation.
“‘Ae no ho?i! He ?oia?i?o no. E ho’oulu ana ka ‘olelo me na keiki. ?Oia kekahi o na kumu nui a me ka pahuhopu o ka ho?okumu ‘ia ?ana i ka Punana leo. Ina a?o kakou i na kamali?i, ma laila no e ho’oulu ai ka ?olelo Hawai?i. A e ola mau ka ?olelo Hawai?i,” Kamakakehau Fernandez, Kumu, Punana Leo o Manoa said.
Kumu Pomaika’i Lyman provided a translation:
“This is true. The language is thriving because of the keiki. We are the keiki now and it is our responsibility to teach the younger generations which is the only reason why punana leo has been created. so our culture and traditions will live,” Lyman said.