Dennis “Bumpy” Kanahele – Leader of the Nation of Hawai’i

Pu`uhonua Dennis Keiki “Bumpy” Kanahele

Since the 1980s, Mr. Kanahele has worked as an advocate to strengthen the traditional cultural authority of Na Kupuna (Hawaiian elders) in contemporary Hawaiian society.

Bumpy’s capacity to communicate complex issues in the language and values of Na Kupuna has helped to broaden the role of Hawaiian elders in perpetuating native wisdom. Na Kupuna are now more widely recognized as a source of beneficial guidance and insight within modern Hawaiian society and have reclaimed their natural authority within the Hawaiian Sovereignty movement.

Over the last twenty years Mr. Kanahele has worked with a broad cross section of Hawaiian elders and has been directly involved in the organization and active facilitation of more than one hundred gatherings to empower Kupuna over the past two decades.

Mr. Kanahele has also maintained an active role in the movement to restore and advance the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Americas as well as throughout the world. He has served on the Board of Directors of the International Indian Treaty Council for the past decade. As a member of this Board he has advanced understanding and solidarity among minority peoples who have been victims of governmental and corporate negligence.

His credibility is strong in Hawai`i where he has worked with numerous small and large events to keep the peace and facilitate a flow of understanding and constructive dialog between opposing parties.

Mr. Kanahele was instrumental in organizing a Hawai`i/U.S. sponsored seminar at the Asian Development Bank’s 34th annual meeting on corporate responsibility and socially responsible investing. During the Asian Development Bank (ADB) meeting, Mr. Kanahele insisted upon and was granted full and respectful inclusion of Na Kupuna in the proceedings. He then entered into constructive dialog with former Secretary of Treasury Paul O’Neil, ADB President Tadao Chino, and ADB Secretary Bindu Lohani regarding incorporation into all future ADB meetings the lessons of social responsibility and cultural inclusion learned in Hawai`i.

Mr. Kanahele’s strategic manner of peacekeeping and cultural inclusion helped pave the way for the ADB meeting in Hawai`i to be one of its most peaceful and productive in recent history. See:

Mr. Kanahele has consistently sought to increase his knowledge in ways that can help him to empower Hawai`i’s most financially undeserved population. For example, Mr. Kanahele has received intensive training at the Federal Reserve of San Francisco on community development underwriting practices. This training included segments on underwriting loans for housing, small business, and community facilities. His trainers included experts from the Low Income Housing Fund, Self-Help Ventures Fund, Illinois Facilities Fund, and the National Community Capital Association.

One of Mr. Kanahele’s unique accomplishments as Head of State for the Nation of Hawai’i and CEO of Aloha First, a 501c-3 non-profit organization, was the negotiation and signing of the lease for the land at Pu`uhonua `o Waimanalo in 2001. In September of 1993, Mr. Kanahele negotiated an agreement in principle with the state Department of Land & Natural Resources (DLNR) for a 55-year lease. A breakdown in communications with DLNR on the lease led to a 15-month land occupation by the Nation of Hawai`i at the Kaupo beach park area in Waimanalo.

The land occupation started in March 1993 and ended peacefully in June of 1994 when DLNR re-opened negotiations regarding the lease. On March 29, 2001, Aloha First signed a 55-year lease with DLNR for the Waimanalo land.

Mr. Kanahele has been very active in conventional business and progressive in Native Hawaiian Affairs for over twenty years. Pu`uhonua is widely recognized throughout Hawai`i as a consistent voice for the just restoration of the inherent rights as well as the right to self-determination and self-governance of native Hawaiians.

Married for over twenty-five years and a father and grandfather Mr. Kanahele’s work fosters appropriate and alternative solutions to the political, economic, social, and cultural restoration issues faced by Native Hawaiians.

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