Kānaka Maoli roots run deep.

Here, we have found our home within the motherly embrace of ‘Āina. Our identity was nurtured here; our consciousness grown, synthesized, and intertwined. Our very existence flows through the streams of time from this source – the islands of Hawai‘i.

Our roots run very deep.

There has been a significant amount of news coverage surrounding the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ recent attempts to establish Kānaka Maoli (aboriginal Hawaiians) as an indigenous population under the United States government.

state flag at the Capitol

Chad Blair/Civil Beat

OHA’s controversial and heavily contested strategy to “facilitate [Kānaka Maoli] self-governance” has manifested itself in a number of questionable endeavors; most recently, Kana‘iolowalu (the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission established through Act 195 of the ‘State of Hawai‘i’) and a “re-establishment of a government-to-government relationship” under the Obama administration and without congressional approval.

While OHA’s strategies to subject Kānaka Maoli to the United States government have failed, time and again, there is a powerful narrative that has rarely been told by the news media – that narrative is amplified by ka lehulehu a manomano (the great many and numerous) voices of Hawaiian independence.

OHA, at times, may appear to be lost and even self-contradictory – but that can be attributed to the ongoing struggle within OHA; heavily contested by an unwaveringly proud group of people on a super-charged political battlefield in a war of consciousness that has been waging for well over a century.

To understand what is really going on here, I provide an analysis through a traditional cultural value: nānā i ke kumu (look to the source).

Kānaka Maoli have been here since time immemorial, but the Hawaiian Nation State, as the Hawaiian Kingdom, arose by way of constitution in the year 1840.

In 1843, the Hawaiian Kingdom was internationally recognized by Great Britain and France.

In 1844, the United States also recognized Hawaiian independence.

In the many decades that followed, more than a dozen countries would treaty with the Hawaiian Kingdom.

The Hawaiian Kingdom was internationally recognized as an independent State.

In 1893, enemies of the Hawaiian Nation State, in conspiracy with an official of the U.S. government, executed their plan to overthrow the Hawaiian Kingdom government.

By now, most of us have a general idea of how the story goes, but allow me to share the truth, which has been hidden beneath the mainstream myth of Hawai‘i’s legal transition to a territory of the U.S.

The truth is that there is nothing legal about that so-called transition.

You see, the Hawaiian Kingdom government may have been overthrown 121 years ago, but the sovereignty maintained by the people of the country was never extinguished. If the U.S. government was overthrown, the United States of America would still exist – depending on the circumstances, the American people might simply hold elections and restore their government.

The “provisional government” established by enemies of the Hawaiian Nation State following the overthrow was never legal.

Therefore, do not be afraid, be steadfast in aloha for your country and be united in thought. Protest forever the annexation of Hawaii until the very last Hawaiian patriot!

Because it was an illegal regime, its subsequent form as the “Republic of Hawai‘i” was also illegal – and because the republic was illegal, that illegal regime could never legally transfer sovereignty to the United States and become the “Territory of Hawai‘i” (and subsequently the “State of Hawai‘i”).

The illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, kindled, stoked, and conflagrated the Hawaiian independence movement.

The testament to Hawaiian opposition of foreign control was evidenced by the Palapala Kū‘ē (Anti-Annexation Petition) – a petition signed in 1897 by the vast majority of the qualified Hawaiian citizenry (both Kānaka Maoli and non-Kānaka Maoli).

OHA recently issued a statement applauding the Obama administration’s consideration of Kānaka Maoli subjugation, claiming its pursuit of “federal recognition” came off “the shoulders of kupuna [ancestors] who sought justice.”

None would disagree more than the kūpuna who signed the Kū‘ē Petition of 1897 and among them, none more than James Kaulia — one of the leaders of Hui Aloha ‘Āina, the organization which coordinated the signing of the Kū‘ē Petition.

James Kaulia stated, “No laila, mai maka‘u, e kūpa‘a ma ke Aloha i ka ‘Āina, a e lokahi ma ka mana‘o, e kū‘ē loa aku i ka ho‘ohui ‘ia o Hawai‘i me Amerika a hiki i ke aloha ‘āina hope loa! (Therefore, do not be afraid, be steadfast in aloha for your country and be united in thought. Protest forever the annexation of Hawaii until the very last Hawaiian patriot!)

The words of James Kaulia resonate with Hawaiians, which is to say, loyal subjects of the Hawaiian Kingdom (not racially or ethnically bound), but the same cannot be said for those sentiments bearing the burden of foreign dependency, or rather, “federal recognition.”

The internal struggle here arises out of well-over a century of foreign control. The United States has been occupying Hawai‘i since 1898 and since that time, the U.S. government has “inculcated,” indoctrinated, and subjected Hawaiians to Americanization.

For the consciousness of an entire group of people, 116 years is certainly a long time to endure mental abuse — an internal disagreement here and there seems quite reasonable.

Kānaka Maoli roots run deep, but we also shoulder the weight of our kuleana (responsibility) to our country. Interesting things are happening both here in Hawai‘i and abroad with regard to the Hawaiian Nation State’s status under U.S. occupation.

It is no new news when someone tells a Hawaiian that “the United States will never leave Hawai‘i.” But that neither diminishes our desire for freedom, nor does it extinguish our legal right and our willingness to vigorously fight for what is right.

And to Kānaka Maoli, we should never fear the unknown.

If our kūpuna let fear discourage them, they would never have braved this great ocean to plant the seeds that eventually grew to who we are today. E kūpa‘a ma ke Aloha i ka ‘Āina.

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