Attacking Trust: Hawai'i as a Crossroads and Kamehameha Schools in the Crosshairs


American law in particular, renders indigenous claims inarticulable by racializing native peoples, while simultaneously normalizing white subjectivity through invocation of a colorblind ideology. The inherent contradiction in these two positions – race matters/race does not matter – is played out in the frictions surrounding lawsuits against native Hawaiian entitlements. This paper will look at recent litigation and political mobilization aimed at forcing Kamehameha Schools to eliminate the admissions preference it gives Kanaka Maoli (native Hawaiian) students. Kamehameha Schools is a large multi-campus private institution serving over 6,000 K-12 students in Hawai'i. It was founded in 1887 for the purpose of benefiting Kanaka Maoli youth. The attacks against Kamehameha Schools can be understood in the context of a recent discourse that represents all Kanaka Maoli preferences or entitlements as illegal racial preference, rather than part of efforts toward native recovery from the violences of colonization.