HAWAI‘I LOA KU LIKE KA KOU
January 8, 2003
By Anne Keala Kelly
The illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom on Jan. 13, 1893, casts a 110-year-long shadow, as Kanaka Maoli prepare for cultural and spiritual observances to mark the anniversary of Lili'uokalani's forced surrender of her kingdom.
As 2003 gets underway, Hawaiian attempts to construct even a semi-consensus about a future path remain eclipsed by the American presence in our homeland and by federal demands for Hawaiians to mask ourselves as a "federally recognized tribe."
Reflecting on the past and what may be on the horizon, Hawaiians kukakuka together. We measure sovereignty and independence and our own desires. We consider how outside political events affect justice; we even ask if there is a movement anymore. The diversity of mana'o among us on these and other aspects of the Hawaiian body politic suggest that Kanaka Maoli are in the midst of redefining what characterizes "unity" and seriously questioning how to move forward from here.
Lynette Hiilani Cruz
Organizer, The Living Nation Campaign
Simply put, the Living Nation Campaign is a front for whole groups of people who believe and act upon the fact that, like it or not, Hawaiians share a common history. This history points out that the Hawaiian Kingdom as a country still exists. The Living Nation recognizes and celebrates that our national consciousness is not a made-up thing but is based on facts and documents accepted at the World Court, and that it continues today, not just in legality and in fact, but in the hearts and minds of those of us who are participants and practitioners. As our ancestors, by their signatures on the great petitions, stood by their country and by their queen in time of trouble, so must we continue to claim what, by law, by history, by culture and by spirit, is ours. We are the Living Nation because the Hawaiian people, subjects of the Hawaiian Kingdom until we choose otherwise, continue to live - as a nation, as a country. Eo Hawai'i!
Organizer, The Living Nation Campaign
For several decades, Kanaka Maoli have discussed diverse views on political sovereignty - from independence to free association to integration. Today, lawsuits threaten to eliminate OHA [Office of Hawaiian Affairs], Hawaiian Homelands, ali'i trusts and all Hawaiian preference programs. Can Kanaka Maoli meet these challenges in a unified effort without compromising our sacred inheritance and the sovereign legacy of our children? This is the challenge we face today.
Executive director, Native Hawaiian Legal Corp.
The issue of ceded lands, which were national lands expropriated from the Hawaiian Kingdom during the illegal overthrow, highlights many problems of critical concern to Kanaka Maoli. These lands are the potential land base of our restored sovereign nation; they generate income for Hawaiian programs funded by OHA; and the manner in which they are managed impacts native communities throughout the Islands. A state court recently decided that it was okay for the state to sell off these lands, which means they will be lost to the future sovereign nation forever. In addition, although the U.S. admitted that no compensation has ever been paid to the Hawaiian people for the theft of these lands, our governor and Legislature have consistently demonstrated their unwillingness to pay even the small 20 percent owed OHA.
The state has major failings - it's allowed the monolithic Alexander & Baldwin, through its subsidiary East Maui Irrigation, to divert over 120 perennial streams out of the East Maui watershed at extremely favorable rates with such Machiavellian efficiency that families who reside along these streams must purchase water. A&B has, with state support, circumvented laws that prohibit long-term leases of public waters by switching the lease back and forth between its subsidiaries. These abusive practices have been going on for many decades; as a result, once-thriving communities have been devastated, their self-sufficient residents hard-pressed to continue practices which sustained them economically for many decades.
Hawaiian Educator, Maui
When Walter Ritte was occupying Kaho'olawe, he said he realized that "dirt wasn't dirty, it was just brown." We have to re-recognize our relationship to this land and who we are, actively participate in ceremony or language, work the lo'i. That's a very anti-hegemonic statement. I truly feel that the fight is not just about getting the land back to us, but about getting us back to the land. What's the use of us getting the ceded lands if some of our supposed leaders are comfortable with selling it away like foreign land speculators?
On Maui, one of our struggles is similar to what's been happening with Hokulia on the Big Island. Limited-partnership land development companies are worse than the plantations ever were. They purchase large acreages in rural areas and develop 5-acre parcels into "agriculture gentlemen estates." They abuse agricultural zoning and build huge mansions. These hippie types with lots of money act like health conscious, quasi-environmentalists - like North Shore Development, one of its owners owns the Garden Burger chain of restaurants. But they grab the land and, as we are seeing in Waiehu, try to close ancient access points to the beaches. These developments are connected to kuleana land where Hawaiians live and it's very hard for the rural Hawaiians to defend themselves.
I've heard some people say the sovereignty movement is dead, but I think the thing that is dying is the old discourse about nation-within-a-nation. That's where the movement was 10 years ago. I take offense at being called "Native American." If the Akaka Bill legislation has nothing to do with extinguishing our rights to independence, if it won't take away our inherent rights, then put that in the first line of the bill, don't infer.
Steven Biko was right when he said, "The greatest weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." There are two narratives here - one is about the American process and democracy, the other is about Hawaiian survival. One of the reasons Hawaiians are in a state of confusion as a people is because we have forgotten our own narrative. The only way to become a Native American is to intentionally forget our stories, our kumulipo, that which makes us who we are.
Member, 'Ohana Koa Hawai'i Chapter of NFIP (Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific)
I think Hawaiians have to take the time to get thoroughly informed because of the enormous, rapid military buildup in Hawai'i. It's like a second invasion. It's ironic, because people are talking about the 110th anniversary of the overthrow, but it's happening again. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent here; at Pearl Harbor they're building new facilities and they have just completed a huge center - CINPAC - an $86 million building in Halawa. They've spent more millions on beautiful new military housing with white picket fences.
Hawaiians need to understand the nature of the military and its growing influence in our society. Recently the DOD [Department of Defense] admitted they did biological testing in 1967 in Hawai'i. What does that tell us? Our people should really consider not only how much we lose in terms of real land, but also what we lose in terms of political power.
Kanaka Maoli have to question what our land is being used for. The U.S. Marines said they will be using Waikane valley on O'ahu to train because it has similar terrain to the southern Philippines. The Filipino military says it's taking land because of terrorism, but it's the indigenous people who are suffering because they are losing their land base and control over their environment. I am calling to the 'opio to pay attention to this. They are gonna have barbed wires, no access to beaches and mountains. They are gonna have lands that are thoroughly contaminated; they have to step forward. It's a call to all islands.
Assistant professor in political science, UH Manoa
'Au'a 'ia e kama e kona moku
Kama (the chief) refused to part with his island
E kona moku e kama e 'au'a 'ia
This is the land held back by Kama
Two mele should guide us as pule in these turbulent times, "'Au'a 'ia" and "Mele Aloha 'Aina," also known as "Kaulana Na Pua." The most important thing to do, as always, is hold onto the land. "'Au'a 'ia" quoted above is a hula pahu, a sacred hula, honoring the wisdom of holding onto the land. Kalakaua had it performed and its words recorded for his jubilee in 1886. He knew he was in danger of losing his rule to a powerful oligarchy; eight months later he was overthrown in a coup d'tat known as the Bayonet Constitution.
Over a hundred years later, "'Aua 'ia" was performed again and again in a protest vigil by 'ělio'ulaokalani. Pahu hula were brought to the state Capitol to perform another sacred function: a demand for access to our own lands for the purpose of gathering food or the plants necessary for hula and other indigenous ceremonies.
As everyone knows, the third verse of "Kaulana Na Pua" goes:
'A'ole makou a'e minamina,
I ka pu'ukala o ke aupuni,
Ua lawa makou i ka pohaku,
I ka 'ai kamaha'o ka 'aina.
We do not value,
The government's hills of money,
We are satisfied with rocks,
The wondrous food of the land.
This was composed by Keko'aohiwaikalani, Ellen Wright Prendergast, for the Royal Hawaiian Band. They had just walked out on their jobs after the bandmaster demanded they sign an oath of loyalty to the Provisional Government, the ones who conspired to overthrow the queen. The bandmaster said they had better sign or they would be eating rocks. It is obvious that they meant it was not right to sell one's country or loyalty to one's country for money. If we hold onto the land, the land will always feed us. Money can disappear in a flash. Corporations crumble and stock markets tumble; land endures.
Professor, Center for Hawaiian Studies, UH-Manoa
The major issues facing Hawaiians in the immediate future are the assault on entitlements, federal recognition, demographics, imprisonment, diaspora, tourism, militarism and health.
Given that Congress and the president are anti-recognition, assaults on Hawaiian entitlements by individual racists, like Rice and Conklin, and by racist government entities - the City Council and courts - will continue the takings of programs, land and resources, as well as attempts to remove all legal definitions of Hawaiians as natives. Federal recognition and inclusion in the policy on recognized native nations must be achieved. But even the limited form of sovereignty that federal recognition would bring, called nation-within-a-nation, based on the model of American Indian tribes, is increasingly doubtful because of anti-native, right-wing Republicans in the White House and Congress.
Specifically, racism is increasing anti-Hawaiian sentiment and accompanies the assault on entitlements. Witness the growing idea that everyone in Hawai'i is Hawaiian, that Hawai'i has no indigenous people, and that Hawaiian culture should belong to everyone, including tourists.
Imprisonment of Hawaiians is but another form of racism. Hawaiians suffer the highest incarceration rate, despite the fact that our arrest rates are no higher than the proportion of Hawaiians in the population. In other words, Hawaiians are singled out for especially harsh treatment.
Inundation by tourists has meant that, on an annual basis, tourists outnumber Hawaiians by 30 to 1. Tourism encourages cultural prostitution, that is, the degradation of our culture, including our lands and waters, for the sole purpose of entertainment of foreigners, including construction of hotels, marinas, restaurants and large resort towns. Tourism is also the major source of population growth and encourages foreign investment, which drives up inflation and the cost of living. Hawaiians are forced out of Hawai'i because of the high cost of living, more non-Hawaiians relocate here, resulting in our increasing decline both in numbers and in percentage of population relative to other ethnic groups.
While tourism creates an increasingly dependent, impoverished economy, increasing militarism gives rise to more Hawaiian land takings and ideological propaganda supporting militarism.
Ultimately, all of this takes a physical toll, as Hawaiians suffer the worst health profile in the state. Between 1980 and 1990, while rates of death from heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes decreased for non-Hawaiians, they increased, sometimes dramatically, for Hawaiians. Below 1 year of age, the Hawaiian death rate is more than double the overall state average. Between 1 and 4 years of age, it is triple the state figure, and so on into adulthood. Just under 20 percent of the population, we suffer 75 percent of the deaths for persons less than 18 years of age.
We are under siege. It's not enough that our land, government, language and culture have been taken. Even though we are on the bottom the colonial power is still after our remaining lands, our trusts. We have a fundamental conflict between two cultures. Western culture is one of exploiting land, natural resources and people - its economy is self-destructive. Indigenous culture is one of sharing; the basic concept is that nature is sacred and must be protected and sustained. It is not a solution to become like our oppressors and oppress others and the environment.
The Akaka Bill not only does not address these profound differences, but it further enslaves us and subordinates us as wards of the dominant society. There is a big push for unity, but we need to discuss unity, for what? We have those who feel that the only way to save what we have is by U.S. federal recognition of us as an Indian tribe. This is the only legal way of recognizing us under the American Constitution. Our people are not aware of this fact. Most of them have not read the Akaka Bill. It makes us relinquish our claims and title to our lands.
The only rightful alternative is for us to be independent. But the independence movement is divided between kingdoms. Then there are those of us who say, Why commit ourselves to any governmental structure when we have not considered all of the options? So I see the big need for public education, and it has to be done on multiple levels. We cannot depend on newspapers and electronic media because they are part of the colonial establishment. We need our own press and media. That's what the Maori have in Aotearoa. They have the resources because they have at least some of their land. It always comes back to the land.
We must liberate our minds. To say "Kanaka Maoli" instead of "Hawaiian" explains all of this without having to explain all of this. It begins with clear and strong self-identity - but even those involved with culture, language and hula reach a certain point where they are dependent on the colonial establishment for funds and won't cross the political line. In order to get our lands back we must take that important step of saying those lands are ours. That is a real test of our future. Many in the movement before were strong but have become dependent to survive. It's understandable how that happened, but we lose the struggle when we agree to the terms of our oppression. It's not just about collecting one-fifth income from the stolen lands, but all of it, and the ocean connecting ka pae'aina. It's hard - we need warriors. And the struggle continues.
As Keko'olani-Raymond put it, "Wherever you state the problem, something has to be said about how our people can strengthen themselves and the concept of what people are doing that's right."
What may be most enlightening is also very grounding. "Before we get too caught up in the sovereignty part of our dialogue," Ka'eo said, "it's the Hawaiian part we need to concentrate on. Our politics will follow and clarify when we are more confident in this. Ultimately, it's not the gun that controls us as a people, it's ourselves, our minds."
© COPYRIGHT 2003 The Honolulu Weekly
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