There has been a lot of discussion about the Thirty Meter Telescope and about the role of the Hawaiian community and institutions in deciding its fate.

One of that telescope’s powers is to look at stars and galaxies farther out on the extremes of the universe. It can harvest light that has travelled billions of years, and thus it can in effect look back in time and can be viewed as a “time machine” traveling back billions of years.

But there is another time machine in the heart of Honolulu, and that is the Iolani Palace. That wonderfully restored seat of the Hawaiian Nation lets us look back in time as well, to a time not much more than a century ago when Hawaii was its own nation, a constitutional democracy with a queen at its head.

Lanai, Molokai and Maui are seen from Navigator's Seat on Kahoolawe. 9.28.14
Lanai, Molokai and Maui as seen from Kahoolawe. PF Bentley/Civil Beat

And, focusing on the Iolani Palace “time machine,” one thing is perfectly clear if you visit there. Hawaii was a nation, and it was overthrown and stolen from its people by the United States. What was stolen was all the land of the Hawaiian Islands including Mauna Kea. What was damaged was a language and a culture, a way of life with a deep respect for the land and the water of Hawaii.

Some believe that that damage is irreparable, that the Nation of Hawaii is a historical anachronism that will never rise again. We believe that the Nation of Hawaii could and should reclaim its independent destiny.

Part of that path back to nationhood is regaining a physical heart, a place to heal the wounded soul of a stolen nation. How can you have a respectable stewardship of the aina, of the mauna, when there is not a full acknowledgement not only of the crime of destroying a nation, but how that crime can be atoned for, and how that nation can be restored?    

We suggest that a place to start that restoration, a physical heart, a place for those Hawaiians who want to resurrect their nation, could be a portion of Maui Nui, the remnants of the huge ancient island that once included all of Maui, Kahoolawe, Lanai and Molokai.

Molokai No Ka Oi

One of us, Rep. Richard Creagan, spent two months living on the shores of the east end of Molokai in 1966 during Peace Corps training for the Marshall Islands. He remembers Molokai as a magic place.

There is now, on Molokai, 55,000 acres for sale, once owned by the Molokai Ranch and once the place where vast pineapple fields were harvested. We ask that that land be purchased for the Hawaiian people and returned to them.

At some time in the not so distant future we imagine that a triumvirate of islands, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe, could be returned to the descendants of all of Hawaii’s indigenous peoples, a place to start rebuilding their nation.

DeMont Conner, Richard Creagan and Rachel Kailianu-Conner at the Capitol. Courtesy

The funding for that could come from a gradual increase of the funding from the ceded lands, from an increase from 20 percent to a much higher number, with that increase designated to paying for the restoration of Hawaii’s lands, but for now we ask that the state use its surplus and its good credit to purchase that land and have it held in trust for the portion of the descendants of Hawaii’s indigenous people who feel that only with a physical heart can the Nation of Hawaii rise again.

Whether the Hawaiian nation becomes fully independent as a small nation in a perilous world, or elects to be a nation within a nation or within a state, is a decision for the future.

For now, we ask that the those running for governor, for our Legislature, for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, for all our elected officials to consider supporting this mission to start restoring the Hawaiian Nation.

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About the Authors

  • DeMont Conner
    DeMont Conner is a former prisoner of Hawaiian descent and co-manager of Hoomana Pono, LLC. He frequently testifies on behalf of the Hawaiian people and prisoners at the Hawaii Legislature.
  • Richard Creagan
    Richard Creagan, M.D., is a state representative from the Big Island. He was board certified and worked in Emergency Medicine in California and on the Big Island at Kona Hospital, where he was vice chief of staff. He left that specialty to retrain as a psychotherapist and received his B.A. in Psychology with Highest Honors from UH Hilo in 2009. He currently serves on the House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources and Hawaiian Affairs and the Public Safety Committee.