April 4, 2023

Washington, D.C. (Aug. 3, 2018) — The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans and The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement on Friday jointly criticized the Chicago-based Aloha Poke Co. for its decision to issue cease and desist letters to similarly named businesses, demanding changes of similar names.

The statement from the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans said that in representing all of the diverse groups within the Asian American Pacific Islander community, its stands with Native Hawaiian brothers and sisters, and shares the anger and frustration over the disappointing decisions made by Aloha Poke Co. The statement acknowledges the apology issued by the company, it goes on to add that the continued reliance on defending its trademark suggests that the company does not fully understand how offensive and inappropriate its actions have been to the Asian and Pacific Islander community.

“No one has the right to disenfranchise a culture and a people, as well as dictate what constitutes pono (proper) business practices,” said Kuhio Lewis, CEO of the Council for Native Hawaiian Affairs. “Hawaiian culture is not meant to be a commodity and the continued exploitation of it, our language and kanaka is absolutely unacceptable.”

Gregg Orton, national director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, said that food has always been a cornerstone of identity for any community and has served as a way to break down barriers through to breaking bread.

“This is why the actions of Aloha Poke Co. and their attempt at an apology are so offensive and disappointing,” Orton said. “Hopefully, this experience will serve as another reminder to all current and future culinary entrepreneurs and explorers that when you ‘discover’ something wonderful and ‘new,’ you can’t own something that doesn’t belong to you.”

Based in Washington, D.C., the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans is a coalition of 34 national Asian Pacific American organizations that serves to represent the interests of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities and to provide a national voice for our communities’ concerns. Our communities are the fastest growing racial/ethnic group in the United States, currently making up approximately six percent of the population.

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