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Trial Date Set for Maui Man Who Asserts Right to Speak Hawaiian

March 26, 2018, 9:20 AM HST · Updated March 26, 9:33 AM
Wendy Osher · 28 Comments
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Kaleikoa Kaʻeo appeared in Maui court on Jan. 24, 2018 before Judge Blaine Kobayashi. PC: by Wendy Osher (1.24.18)

A Maui man who asserted his right to speak Hawaiian in court instead of English, has been granted a Hawaiian language interpreter.

The news comes after a January hearing in which a Maui Judge issued a warrant for the man’s arrest and then recalled the warrant a day later amid review of the court’s policy relating to interpreters.

In January, the judiciary announced a new policy allowing Hawaiian language interpreters saying it 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.

Samuel Kaleikoa Kaʻeo was among six individuals arrested last year during the Kākoʻo Haleakalā demonstration against the construction of the Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope.

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He pleaded not guilty to disorderly conduct, obstructing a sidewalk and failure to obey police who were directing traffic during a convoy for the transport of equipment to the summit.

Following the January hearing, Kaʻeo explained his choice to speak only Hawaiian in court saying:

“I refuse that anyone should tell a Hawaiian when they should speak Hawaiian, especially in the defense of our sacred lands.  This whole case is about being Hawaiian.  There is no justice when other human beings tell another human being ‘You cannot speak the language,’ –especially the language of this land, ʻōlelo ʻōiwi, the real language of this land. Now, you see what the issue was? It wasn’t about me.  It was about the fact that I was speaking Hawaiian.  These are the small obstacles that we need to overcome as a people.”

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A bench trial has been set for May 23, 2018.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 15 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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