|HISTORICAL AND ANALYTICAL REVIEW
OF HAWAIIAN SOVEREIGNTY
(Excerpts from an intervention of the Pacific Asia Council of Indigenous Peoples to the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations, Geneva, Switzerland, 1996)
Since the reign of Kamehameha I, (1779 - 1819), until January 17, 1893, the sovereign and independent nation of Hawai`i existed without interference or challenge to its integrity but for a brief interlude with England. This indigenous nation evolved into more than just a people of the indigenous race but became an inclusive political society which brought into its membership people from races and cultures across the world. As it evolved, it adapted to new technologies, new political structures, and a changing economy. Its independence was firmly recognized within the international community of nations.
In January 1893, Hawai`i was invaded by a foreign power, the United States of America. This invasion was a violation of treaties between Hawai`i and the United States of America as well as a violation of international law condemning acts of aggression. It resulted in the establishment of a puppet government formed for the sole and explicit purpose of ceding Hawai`i to the United States of America.
Initially, the cession of Hawai`i to the United States met with resistance by a new administration. A few years later, however, as the political situation in the U.S. changed, it was accomplished by joint resolution of Congress, contrary to the U.S. constitution. Hawai`i's cession also constituted a violation of the principle against unequal treaties. The puppet government ceding Hawai`i lacked proper capacity to enter such a treaty because it was simply not a legitimate government of the people.
The United States subsequently assumed jurisdiction over all citizens of Hawai`i. It exercised ownership and control over all of the government and crown lands and waters (naming them "ceded lands") of the nation of Hawai`i. It established a new puppet government called the Territory of Hawai`i.
Hawaiian citizens were subsequently divided by racial ancestry and the indigenous race further divided by blood quantum for special treatment. Lands were parceled among various agencies of the United States government and its newly created territorial government whose governor was appointed by the U.S. President.
The United States proceeded to exercise exclusive jurisdiction over transmigration, international trade and relations, education, media, international transportation, economic development and military use of Hawai`i.
In 1959, the United States government placed the following question to the "qualified" voters in Hawaii: Shall Hawai`i immediately be admitted into the Union as a State?
"Qualified" voters were U.S. citizens who were residents of Hawai`i for at least 1 year.
The question, "Should Hawai`i be independent?" was never posed.
The American voters chose Statehood overwhelmingly. The voters included thousands brought in through the U.S. military and the transmigration policy. Voters also included generations of originally Hawaiian citizens who had become socialized into Americanism during the past 59 years. Those who insisted on their Hawaiian citizenship, refusing to capitulate to the imposition of U.S. citizenship, could not vote.
1: Internationally established Right to Decolonization for all peoples
Unbeknown to most of the people in Hawai`i, in 1946, under the charter of the United Nations at Article 73, the United States was charged with bringing self-government to Hawai`i.
After the Hawai`i Statehood vote, the U.S. reported to the U.N. that it had met its responsibility under Article 73. Believing this to be true, the U.N. General Assembly by Resolution 1469 (XIV) in 1959 relieved the United States of further responsibility to report to the U.N. on Hawai`i.
The U.N. General Assembly subsequently adopted its Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, (GA Res. 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960) and formed the Special Committee On The Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. That resolution and the activities of the special committee reflect that the actions taken by the United States in Hawai`i did not meet the standard of self-governance contemplated under Article 73. The exercise of self-determination in Hawai`i has not been accomplished. The plebescite taken in 1959 failed to meet the requirements of the exercise of self-determination for at least two reasons: the U.S. government altered the "self" in defining who qualified to participate in the process, and limited the choices which the people should have had only to a form of integration within the United States of America (territorial status or statehood), not to independence.
Thus, as a matter of human rights applied to all nations and peoples large and small, there is a continuing right of self-determination by the citizens of the Hawaiian nation.
2: International development of indigenous peoples' rights
Rights of indigenous peoples had for many years been simply pushed aside from standing in the mainstream of human rights and decolonization. In the 1920s, an Iroquois patriot, Deskaheh and a Maori religious leader, Ratana both attempted to gain an audience at the League of Nations in Geneva but were refused. The International Labor Organization, in the 1950s, initiated action in this area of indigenous peoples rights, followed by the United Nations almost 30 years later. The ILO now has a Convention on Indigenous Peoples (Convention 169 of 1989), greatly expanding the rights which should be accorded to such peoples in the vast majority of countries, including the United States of America. The United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations has for over ten years been addressing the development of a standard of rights for indigenous peoples, which standards is now making its way to the General Assembly, for adoption. Indeed, the General Assembly declared an "international year 1993 and an international decade" from 1994 to 2004 for the world's indigenous people.
While the recognition of rights of indigenous peoples are relatively new developments in the international arena, these rights are quickly becoming part of the body of human rights in international law.
B: Hawai`i's early history
Hawai`i's ancestors journeyed throughout the vast Pacific, guided by stars, the rising sun, clouds, birds, wave formation, and flashing lights from the water's depth. They touched upon many lands including the most isolated land mass in the world - Hawai`i.
They continued commerce with cousins of the Pacific many years after arriving in Hawai`i. They had infrequent contacts with Japan, Great Turtle Island (today "North America"), South America and other Pacific rim places. Hawai`i remained relatively unknown to Europe until the 25th of January 1778 when James Cook, Captain of the British Navy's ships Resolution and Discovery, making his third voyage into the Pacific, now to find a northwest or southeast passage to the East Indies, arrived to find a highly developed Hawaiian society.
He was welcomed in friendship and then welcomed again when he returned from exploring the arctic region nine months later. In an unfortunate misunderstanding, Cook attempted to apply violence once too often upon the Hawaiian people. He tried to recover a knife removed from his ship and several boats left tied to a buoy the night before, by holding the primary chief, Kalaniopu`u, as ransom. Lower chiefs interceded, objecting to Kalaniopu`u's going with Cook. Cook proceeded to beat a native with the butt of his musket, fired a shot which injured one and fired again killing another. Retreating to his boats waiting a few yards off-shore, his men on the boats fired at the natives in the crowd on shore. Cook's company on land also opened fire on the Hawaiians. As Cook entered the water, one chief stepped behind him and planted an iron dagger between his shoulders. Another struck him on the head with a club. Cook fell, more natives rushed in and ended his further exploration for a northwest passage and his life.
Following soon thereafter, Hawai`i was cast into world attention and quickly accepted as a member of the international community. During the reign of Kamehameha I, 1779 - 1819, Hawai`i was trading with China, England and the United States and dealing with other nations on a regular basis. On November 28, 1843 Great Britain and France joined in a Declaration recognizing Hawai`i's independence and pledged never to take it as a possession. When the United States was invited to join this declaration, J.C. Calhoun, U. S. Secretary of State, replied that the President adhered completely to the spirit of disinterestedness and self-denial which breathed in that declaration. "He had already, for his part", Calhoun pointed out, "taken a similar engagement in the message which he had already addressed to Congress on December 31, 1842."
By 1887, Hawai`i had treaties and conventions with Belgium, Bremen, Denmark, France, the German Empire, Great Britain, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New South Wales, Portugal, Russia, Samoa, Spain, the Swiss Confederation, Sweden and Norway, Tahiti, and the United States. Hawai`i was a member of one of the first international organizations, the Universal Postal Union. Approximately a hundred diplomatic and consular posts around the world were established.
Immigrants from all parts of the world came to Hawai`i. Early sailors to Hawai`i chose to remain in the islands rather than returning to Europe. Many of the early Portuguese left their whaling ships and sought refuge with Hawaiian families. They married into Hawaiian families and became part of the Hawaiian society. Chinese and Japanese laborers came to work on sugar plantations or accompanied such workers. Some missionary family members remained in Hawai`i even after the formal mission was terminated, taking up important roles in Hawaiian society. Many others, including those of African, Polynesian, and other European descents established their homes in Hawai`i. As they did this, many renounced their former citizenship and took up Hawaiian citizenship.
Hawaiian literacy was among the highest of the world. Hawai`i had telephones and electricity built into its governing palace, `Iolani, prior to the U.S.'s White House. Multi-lingual citizens abounded. Hawaiian leaders had excellent comprehension of world and political geography. King Kal_kaua was the first Head of State to circle the world in a visit of nations in his plan to weave a tapestry of international economic and political alliances to assure Hawaiian independence. By 1892, Hawai`i was a vibrant multi-racial, multi-cultural nation engaged in intellectual and economic commerce throughout the world.
1: Christian Missionaries Arrive
Early in its exposure to the western world, Hawai`i became the focus of Christian zeal. The first flock of missionaries were Congregationalists and "inspired" Calvinists selected from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions out of Boston in 1820. Many remained, establishing homes and families and were welcomed into Hawaiian society. They became a strong influence over the people.
Over time, many missionary children left the pulpits of the church, entering business and politics. After several decades, an alliance of missionary offspring and developing business interests arose. Growing and selling sugar developed as its principal interest. Land, labor and market became major concerns. Political and social control became means to meeting those concerns. This alliance adorned themselves with the name the "missionary party."
2: Land Assault
The missionary party drastically changed the people's relationship with the land. Formerly land was under the care of the ruling chiefs. They allotted the use of the lands to their sub-chiefs who reallotted the remaining lands to their supporters. By 1839, these distributions were revocable only for cause. Land "ownership" in the Western sense as defined by Roman law, did not exist. Land was an integral part of the life of Hawai`i along with the air, sunlight, winds, waters and the people. None of these parts were to dominate the other. This was a basic philosophy of existence for Hawai`i's early inhabitants.
Under the influence of the missionary party, however, less than thirty years after missionary arrival, this land relationship was overturned. Land was parcelled out in fee simple estates along the traditions of England and the United States. Foreigners could now be landowners in Hawai`i.
3: Labor Assault
Much of the indigenous population refused to work on the plantations finding the system of plantation-hood simply of little or no sense to the Hawaiian lifestyle. The indigenous population was undergoing a drastic decline as well. The missionary party members asserted themselves in immigration policies, importing large groups of laborers to perform the exhausting sugar plantation work upon the lands now controlled by them. The sugar industry spread across Hawai`i with easily available lands because of a land system new to the indigenous population and cheap imported labor.
4: Market Assault
With land and labor under control, the missionary party applied itself to the last step in this commercial cycle - securing a market for their sugar. The United States was the logical market. It was geographically closer to Hawai`i than any other market. Most in the missionary party were citizens of and had been in constant communication and trade with the United States. The U.S. military was hungry for a naval armada presence in the Pacific and so a willing partner for close relationships with Hawai`i.
To secure the American market, the missionary party saw two alternative solutions: reciprocity agreements or annexation. Reciprocity would permit Hawaiian sugar importation into the United States duty free. In return, products would be imported into Hawai`i duty free. However, reciprocity agreements were temporary. Annexation offered greater security. Under annexation, Hawaiian sugar would be considered permanently domestic rather than foreign, thus not subject to tariff as it entered the American market.
Initial reciprocity arrangements between Hawai`i and the United States were tried but did not last long. The United States soon wanted more than just an exchange of trade rights. It wanted sovereignty over Pearl Harbor to extend its commercial and military arm into the Pacific.
5: King Kal_kaua and Queen Lili`uokalani under attack
Kal_kaua, previously elected Hawai`i's Mo`i (ruling sovereign) (1874 - 1891), refused to cede Pearl Harbor to the United States. The missionary party attacked Kal_kaua by slander, rumors, and attempts on his life. They accused him of being a drunk and a lover of heathenism since he attempted to revitalize the hula and preserve the religious practices of his ancestors. They branded him a womanizer. His character and his activities were continually berated in the press. Yet, the people rallied around him and remained loyal in the face of these attacks. The missionary party, intent on wresting power from Kal_kaua, chose among five conspirators by lot to murder him. The one selected became so horrified of his selection that he refused to act.
Following numerous attacks upon his reputation and high esteem, the missionary party secretly formed a league, armed themselves and forced the King at gun point to turn the powers of government over to them. In 1887, Kal_kaua signed the "bayonet" constitution, the name reflecting the method of adoption. This constitution stripped Kal_kaua of power.
With the missionary party in power, they granted the United States exclusive right to use Pearl Harbor, receiving in return an extension of 7 years the existing reciprocity treaty which was soon to have expired. The sugar market was temporarily secure.
Kal_kaua died in 1891 in San Francisco on a trip to recuperate from illness advanced by the activities in Hawai`i. Rumors still abound in Hawai`i that his death was caused by the missionary party's agents in the United States. Lili`uokalani succeeded him.
Quite soon after the accession of Queen Lili`uokalani, she received a petition of two-thirds of the voters imploring her to do away with the bayonet constitution and return the powers of government to Hawaiian citizens. By January 14, 1893, she completed a draft of a new constitution and informed her cabinet of her intention to institute the constitution immediately. She was persuaded by the cabinet, which, as a result of the bayonet constitution, was highly influenced by the missionary party, to put off the constitutional change for a short time. She acceded to this request. Members of her cabinet rushed to report the Queen's intentions to leaders of the missionary party.
6: Mr. Thurston, Mr. Dole and U.S. Minister Stevens
It is important to identify two men in particular who were at the head of the missionary party. Lorrin Thurston was the grandson of one of the first missionary, Asa Thurston. Sanford Dole was the son of Daniel Dole, another early missionary. As early as 1882, Lorrin Thurston had already exchanged confidences with leading American officials on the matter of Hawai`i's takeover. In fact the United States Secretary of the Navy assured Thurston that the administration of U.S. President Chester A. Arthur would look with favor upon a takeover in Hawai`i. In 1892, in another visit to the United States, Thurston again received the same assurance from the administration of U.S. President Benjamin Harrison.
When Thurston received word of the Queen's intention, claiming she had no business attempting to institute a new constitution by fiat, he, along with twelve others, formed a "Committee of Public Safety" and arranged an immediate visit to the American Minister plenipotentiary in Hawai`i, John L. Stevens, to conspire for the overthrow of Lili`uokalani.
Little convincing was necessary for Stevens was already one of the foremost advocates for a U.S. takeover of Hawai`i. Appointed in June, 1889 as the U.S. Minister plenipotentiary, he arrived in Hawai`i on September 20 of that year and regarded himself as having a mission to bring about annexation of Hawai`i to the United States. His letters to Secretary of State James G. Blaine, beginning less than a month after his arrival reflect his passion to take Hawai`i for the United States.
After three years of encouraging taking Hawai`i, he writes on March 8, 1892, for instruction of how far he may deviate from established international rules and precedents in the event of an orderly and peaceful revolutionary movement, setting forth a step-by-step prediction of future events.
On November 19, 1892, he writes to the Secretary of State, arguing that those favoring annexation in Hawai`i are qualified to carry on good government, "provided they have the support of the Government of the United States." He continued, "[H]awaii must now take the road which leads to Asia, or the other, which outlets her in America, gives her an American civilization, and binds her to the care of American destiny. . . .To postpone American action many years is only to add to present unfavorable tendencies and to make future possession more difficult."
He called for "bold and vigorous measures for annexation. I cannot refrain from expressing the opinion with emphasis that the golden hour is near at hand. . . . So long as the islands retain their own independent government there remains the possibility that England or the Canadian Dominion might secure one of the Hawaiian harbors for a coaling station. Annexation excludes all dangers of this kind."
Thus, when Thurston met with Stevens on January 15, 1893, the "golden hour" was at hand. It was agreed that the United States marines would land under the guise of protecting American lives (the missionary parties'). The "missionary" party would declare themselves the "provisional government." This puppet government would immediately turn Hawai`i over to the United States in an annexation treaty. The missionary party would be appointed local rulers of Hawai`i as a reward. The United States would obtain the choicest lands and harbors for their Pacific armada.
On January 16, 1893, over 160 American marines landed in peaceful Honolulu armed with Gatling gun, Howitzer cannons, double cartridge belts filled with ammunition, carbines and other instruments of war. The protest by Hawai`i's Queen that such landing was a breach of treaty and international law was simply ignored. The troops marched along the streets of Honolulu, rifles facing the Queen's palace.
The following day, the resident conspirators numbering 18, mostly Americans, sneaked to a government building a few yards from where the American troops lodged the night before. There, an American lawyer who had been a resident of Hawai`i less than a year previous proclaimed they were now the government of Hawai`i. Calling themselves the "provisional government" and selecting Sanford Dole president, they were to exist for the explicit purpose and until terms could be arranged with the U.S. for annexation.
Before the full declaration had been read, the U.S. marines marched into the building to protect and support them. American Minister Plenipotentiary and commander of all U.S. forces in Hawaii, John L. Stevens, gave them immediate recognition as the government of Hawaii as had been planned. He than joined in their demand that the Queen surrender under threat of war with the U.S.
The landing of the U.S. marines is now a matter of history. The queen yielded her authority, trusting to the "enlightened justice" of the United States, expecting a full investigation to be conducted and the U.S. government restore the constitutional government of Hawai`i.
I, Lili`uokalani, by the grace of God and under the constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Queen, do hereby solemnly protest against any and all acts done against myself and the constitutional Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom by certain persons claiming to have established a Provisional Government of and for this Kingdom.
That I yield to the superior force of the United States of America, whose minister plenipotentiary, his excellency John L. Stevens, has caused United States troops to be landed at Honolulu and declared that he would support the Provisional Government.
Now, to avoid any collision of armed forces and perhaps the loss of life, I do, under this protest, and impelled by said force, yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon the facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representative and reinstate me and the authority which I claim as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.
On January 18, 1893, the day after Lili`uokalani yielded, the "provisional government", forbade any of the Queen's supporters from boarding the only ship leaving Hawai`i and rushed off to Washington to obtain annexation. By February 16, 1893, a treaty of annexation was hurriedly negotiated, signed and presented by President Harrison to the United States Senate for ratification.
7: Mr. President Grover Cleveland
However, Grover Cleveland replaced Harrison before the Senate voted. Meanwhile, the Queen's emissaries managed to sneak to the United States travelling as businessmen and upon reaching Washington pleaded with Cleveland to withdraw the treaty and conduct the promised investigation.
James H. Blount, formerly the Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, was appointed special investigator. After several months of investigation, Blount exposed the conspiracy. Cleveland subsequently addressed Congress declaring:
By an act of war, committed with the participation of a diplomatic representative of the United States and without authority of Congress, the Government of a feeble but friendly and confiding people has been overthrown. A substantial wrong has thus been done which a due regard for our national character as well as the rights of the injured people requires we should endeavor to repair. . . .
[Lili`uokalani] knew that she could not withstand the power of the United States, but believed that she might safely trust to its justice. [S]he surrendered not to the provisional government, but to the United States. She surrendered not absolutely and permanently, but temporarily and conditionally until such time as the facts could be considered by the United States [and it can] undo the action of its representative and reinstate her in the authority she claimed as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.
In summarizing the events, Cleveland wrote:
The lawful Government of Hawai`i was overthrown without the drawing of a sword or the firing of a shot by a process every step of which, it may be safely asserted, is directly traceable to and dependent for its success upon the agency of the United States acting through its diplomatic and naval representatives.
But for the notorious predilections of the United States Minister for annexation, the Committee of Safety, which should be called the Committee of Annexation, would never have existed.
But for the landing of the United States forces upon false pretexts respecting the danger to life and property the committee would never have exposed themselves to the pains and penalties of treason by undertaking the subversion of the Queen's Government.
But for the presence of the United States forces in the immediate vicinity and in position to afford all needed protection and support the committee would not have proclaimed the provisional government from the steps of the Government building.
And finally, but for the lawless occupation of Honolulu under false pretexts by the United States forces, and but for Minister Stevens' recognition of the provisional government when the United States forces were its sole support and constituted its only military strength, the Queen and her Government would never have yielded to the provisional government, even for a time and for the sole purpose of submitting her case to the enlightened justice of the United States.
[T]he law of nations is founded upon reason and justice, and the rules of conduct governing individual relations between citizens or subjects of a civilized state are equally applicable as between enlightened nations. The considerations that international law is without a court for its enforcement, and that obedience to its commands practically depends upon good faith, instead of upon the mandate of a superior tribunal, only give additional sanction to the law itself and brand any deliberate infraction of it not merely as a wrong but as a disgrace.
Cleveland refused to forward the treaty to the Senate as long as he remained President. Lili`uokalani was advised of the President's desire to aid in the restoration of the status existing before the lawless landing of the United States forces at Honolulu if such restoration could be effected upon terms providing for clemency as well as justice to all parties. In short, the past should be buried and the restored government should reassume its authority as if its continuity had not been interrupted. The Queen, first protesting that such a promise from her would constitute an unconstitutional act and was therefore beyond her powers to grant, later acceded to the demands for general amnesty upon the return of the powers of government.
The Provisional Government was immediately informed of this decision and asked to abide by Cleveland's decision, yielding to the Queen her constitutional authority; to which it refused. In doing so, they protested Cleveland's attempt to "interfere in the internal affairs" of their nation, declaring themselves citizens of the Provisional Government, thus beyond Cleveland's authority. A short time before, they had relied upon their American citizenship and thus justified the landing of U.S. marines to protect their lives!
Cleveland, though filled with principled words, left the U.S. troops in Hawai`i's harbors to protect American lives.
8: The Puppet Government Changes Clothes
The "provisional government" was under international criticism for being a government without the support of its people, existing, in fact, without a constitution or other fundamental document to afford even the appearance of legitimacy. Faced with the predicament of an American administration which would not condone the conspiracy, yet would not abandon American lives in Hawai`i evidenced by the remaining American war ships in Honolulu Harbor, they devised a plan to restructure themselves to appear as a permanent rather than a provisional government. When a new American president came to office, the restructured government would act as the vehicle to place the conspiracy back on course.
A constitution giving them permanence and validity had to be drafted. Dole, acting as President of the Provisional Government, announced a constitutional convention of thirty seven delegates, nineteen, selected by him, and the remaining eighteen elected. The candidates and voters for these eighteen positions were first required to renounce Queen Lili`uokalani and swear allegiance to the provisional government. Less than 20% of the otherwise qualified voters participated in their election.
A "Constitutional Convention" was held. A document substantially as submitted by Dole and Thurston was adopted. The constitution of the "Republic of Hawai`i" claimed dominion over all lands and waters of Hawai`i. It claimed all citizens of Hawai`i automatically its citizen. Foreigners who supported the new regime could vote; citizens loyal to the Queen could not; and because the Japanese and especially the Chinese supported Lili`uokalani, they were, as a group disenfranchised. Further, only those who could speak, read and write in English or Hawaiian and explain the constitution, written in English, to the satisfaction of Dole's supporters could vote.
On July 4, 1894 while Americans were celebrating their independence day by firing their cannons from their war ships in Honolulu Harbor, Dole ascended the steps of `Iolani Palace and proclaimed the Constitution and thus the "Republic of Hawai`i" into existence. In so doing, he declared all of the government lands and the crown lands and all the waters of the Hawaiian nation was now the Republic's. All Hawaiian citizens were automatically considered citizens of the Republic. No vote was taken on the matter.
Lili`uokalani had allegedly lost her throne for considering altering the constitution by fiat. Now, circumstances having altered the players, the conspirators invoked the name of liberty and did substantially the same thing.
9: McKinley: Slight of Constitutional Hand
When William McKinley replaced Cleveland as President, Dole's group rushed to Washington to complete the conspiracy. With a "Constitution" in hand declaring they governed Hawai`i, the "Republic of Hawai`i" ceded "absolutely and without reserve to the United States of America all rights of sovereignty of whatsoever kind in and over the Hawaiian Islands. . ." A "treaty of annexation" was signed.
Realizing the "treaty" could not get the 2/3 Senate approval required of the U.S. Constitution, the conspirators circumvented that requirement and settled for only a joint resolution of Congress. The Newlands Resolution of July 7, 1898 was passed.
The United States now asserted its authority, backed by its military force, over Hawai`i. It soon established the government of the "Territory of Hawai`i" under which the President of the United States rather than the people of the territory, would select the territorial governor.
As these events were happening, Lili`uokalani engraved her plea to the American people:
Oh, honest Americans, as Christians hear me for my down-trodden people! Their form of government is as dear to them as yours is precious to you. Quite as warmly as you love your country, so they love theirs. [D]o not covet the little vineyards of Naboth's so far from your shores, lest the punishment of Ahab fall upon you, if not in your day in that of your children, for "be not deceived, God is not mocked." The people to whom your fathers told of the living God, and taught to call "Father," and whom the sons now seek to despoil and destroy, are crying aloud to Him in their time of trouble; and He will keep His promise, and will listen to the voices of His Hawaiian children lamenting for their homes.
Her plea fell on a deaf people.
And so we find the closing of the chapter of Hawai`i as a free and unoccupied nation. Hawai`i was now to undergo years of American brainwashing, colonization and military occupation. These were to be the pay-off years for the conspirators.
C. The recycling of Hawai`i 1900 - 1959:
Hawai`i underwent traumatic changes affecting every aspect of life. Sanford Dole was appointed territorial governor by the U.S. President. He provided government positions and lucrative government contracts for friends. He was later appointed Federal District Court Judge, a lifetime tenure. Monopolies in shipping, finance and communications developed. The Big Five, a coalition of five business entities, all finding their roots in the missionary party, controlled every aspect of business, media and politics in Hawai`i. Beginning with sugar, they took steps to control transportation, hotels, utilities, banks, insurance agencies, and many small wholesale and retail businesses. When they teamed up with the Republican Party, the United States Navy and high government officials, there was virtually nothing they couldn't exploit.
The ever present U.S. Navy took more than a hand in this tyranny. When a Navy officer's wife left a party one night intoxicated and unescorted, later declaring herself raped, the obvious suspect, another Navy officer found with his pants zipper open, semen stains present and marks of blood upon his clothing, was released after questioning and placed in military custody on the Admiral's boat, never again to be seen in Hawai`i by police officers.
Yet, three Hawaiians were subsequently arrested and amid conflicting and contradictory evidence, were tried for the rape of a military white woman. The jury acquitted each defendant.
One evening soon after, one of the three Hawaiian defendants was found murdered in the car of some navy men. Trial eventually followed in which guilty verdicts were returned for all, only to find each sentence commuted by the Governor, appointed by the President of the United States and controlled by the U.S. Navy. For murder of Mr. Kahahawai, the defendants spent an hour sipping tea on the balcony of `Iolani Palace, then were escorted to Pearl Harbor, where a Navy vessel gtook them back to the U.S.
The myth of the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race was continuously propagated. George Washington, Ben Franklin and Tom Jefferson were the fathers of our country and the heros of modern democracy. Christopher Columbus, Leif Erickson and Ferdinand Magellan were supreme navigators and discoverers. The roots of science, technology, logic, philosophy, law and religion all grew out of Europe and America. We were shown no native heroes, taught no native systems of knowledge, given no encouragement to gain pride in our own ancestry. Instead, native practices were oftentimes belittled and forbidden.
The customs and traditions and even the cultural names of the people were suppressed in this recycling effort. The great makahiki celebrations honoring Lono, an important god of peace, harvest, agriculture and medicine were never observed or mentioned in the schools. Instead, Christmas was celebrated with plays and pageants. People were coaxed into giving children American names having no ties with our ancestors; names which described no physical substance, spiritual sense or human mood; names which could not call upon the winds or waters, the soil or heat; names totally irrelevant to the surroundings.
The arts and sciences of Hawai`i's ancestors were driven to near extinction. The advanced practice of healing through the medicines of plants, water, or massage, or just the uttered word, were driven into the back countryside. The science of predicting the future through animal behaviors, cloud colors, shapes and formations of leaves on trees were discounted as superstitions and ridiculed as old folks tales. The Hawaiian culture was being ground to extinction.
A massive brainwashing program was begun to convince Hawaiians that the United States was the legitimate ruler and that the Hawaiians were no longer Hawaiians but Americans.
The term Hawaiian was redefined as a racial rather than a national term. Large numbers of citizens of Hawai`i were identified no longer as Hawaiians but as Chinese, Korean, English, Samoan, Filipino, etc. The divide and conquer tactic was employed even among the Hawai`i race, by the U.S. Congress when it defined "native Hawaiians" (at least 50% of the aboriginal blood), as being entitled to special land privileges thus depriving others of lesser "blood."
Children were forced to attend American schools and there taught to pledge their allegiance to the United States, trained in the foreign laws, told to adopt foreign morality, trained to compete and stand out above one's peers rather than to share and uplift one another, to speak no language but the foreign (English), and to adopt the foreign (American) lifestyle. Official government proceedings were to be conducted in English and not the Hawaiian language. In the schools and college campuses, the language of Hawai`i was forbidden and in later years, found, if at all, taught in the foreign language departments.
Transmigration took place. The United States government controlled that program. Hawai`i witnessed a tide of Americans bringing with them a barrage of cultural, moral, religious and political concepts. Hawaiians were "persuaded" into mimicking these new comers' ways, idolizing their heros, and adopting their living styles. As Americans infiltrated, they took choice jobs with government agencies and management positions with business interests. They bought up or stole, through the manipulation of laws applied by them, much of the lands and resources of Hawai`i. They gained power in Hawai`i, controlled greater chunks of the economy, controlled the public media, entrenched themselves in politics, and joined in the brainwashing of the Hawaiians to believe they were Americans.
The military turned Hawai`i into its Pacific fortress converting Pearl Harbor from a coaling and fueling station to a major naval port. It bombed valleys (M_kua, Kahanah_iki, Waik_ne) and took a major island (Kaho`olawe) for its exclusive use as a target range. At will it tossed families out of homes, destroying sacred Hawai`i heirlooms and built instead naval communication towers emitting radiation and ammunition depots hiding nuclear weapons (Lualualei). It declared martial law at will, violating even the U.S. constitution, and imposed military conscription over Hawaiian citizens.
Freedom of trade was stopped. The U.S. Congress assumed control over foreign relations. Hawaiians could buy only American goods or U.S. approved foreign goods. The Big 5 controlled all shipping!
Every aspect of Hawai`i was Americanized. Military show of strength was constant. Trade was totally controlled. Education and media was regulated. The secret ballot was a farce.
Hawai`i, that melting pot of cultures, races, languages and lore changed from a reality to an advertisement slogan for politicians and merchants.
D: Hawaiian Statehood 1959
Finally, after three generations of brainwashing, "Hawaiians" were given the opportunity to be equal Americans! The United States placed the following question to the "qualified" voters in Hawai`i: Shall Hawai`i immediately be admitted into the Union as a State?
"Qualified" voters were Americans who were residents of Hawai`i for at least 1 year. The U.S. provided the vote for thousands of American citizens brought in through its transmigration program, through military assignments, and through generations of socialization of Hawaiian citizens. The Hawaiian "self" which carried the ancestry, the history and the consciousness of the Hawaiian nation was now replaced by an altered "self". Those who resisted that American alteration, who refused to succumb to foreign domination and insisted on not a United States but a Hawaiian citizenship could not vote.
The U.S. government not only altered the "self," but also manipulated and limited the "determination" options which should have been made available. In its posing the "statehood" question so adeptly, the U.S. government simply foreclosed any real choice of "determination" by limiting Hawai`i to either remaining a territory of the United States or becoming a "State" within its union. One way or the other, Hawai`i was trapped into remaining under the domination of the United States. The question, "Should Hawai`i be independent?" was never asked.
The result of this maneuver was that the qualified Americans chose Statehood overwhelmingly.
Hawai`i thus became a member of the union of states, its fate said now to be sealed in a permanent political bond to the United States of America under a theory of non-secession of U.S. states, citing as authority, the war between the states a century earlier.
E: Growing international awareness in Hawai`i
The promotion of decolonization by the U.N., especially in the more recent period, has not been lost to the people of Hawai`i. Other events, closer to home, impacting upon Hawaiian awareness of international rights are the emergence of independent Pacific nations.
Beginning with Western Samoa 1962, the Pacific Ocean saw the explosion of independence, marking the Pacific map with new nations such as Fiji, Nauru, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, Niue and Vanuatu. After a 10 year lull since the independence of Vanuatu, we have seen the emergence of American territories of Micronesia into full nationhood. In September 1991, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia became members of the United Nations. The struggle of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas for greater clarity in its relations to its former colonial ruler, the attempt by the Republic of Belau to achieve independence without U.S. military presence, and the developing demands in Guam to application of international standards of self-determination, leading to the right to select emergence as a sovereign independent nation are all struggles not lost to the Hawai`i public.
Before the implosion of the Soviet Union, the emergence of the nations of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, previously fully integrated into the Soviet Union, but within a few months, welcomed into membership of the United Nations, are experiences which also add to the debate of Hawaiian sovereignty and self-determination.
These international activities reflecting a world momentum toward self-determination challenges the notion that once becoming a member of the union of the United States, no state may secede from that union. These activities, instead, support the proposition that the right to self-determination is a continuing right, never consumed by its previous exercise.
1: Cultural rejuvenation
This international awareness has been coupled with a renewed sense of defiance against further cultural suppression of Hawai`i's indigenous culture. During the 1960s, Hawai`i witnessed the unfolding drama in the U.S. of the black struggle for equality, including the riots in Watts, the marches and the bus boycotts, the voter registration drives, and the massive rallies in Washington D.C. The American Indian Movement's activities also caught the attention of Hawai`i. Those civil rights movements, however, were soon overshadowed by the Vietnam war. Many Hawai`i citizens became directly involved in that war. By the end of the 1960s, a changed attitude towards the U.S. government had come about. The shining U.S. image was tarnished.
Many in Hawai`i came out of the 1960s with greater sensitivity for racial identity and pride in the cultural heritage of Hawai`i. There came a greater willingness to challenge governments, either individually or in organizations.
Hawaiian music was taking on new vigor. Hula h_lau (training schools and repositories of the Hawaiian dance) gained wider prestige and membership, canoe clubs became more popular, interest in the Hawaiian language took hold, as well as practice in the natural medicines of Hawai`i, and familiarity with Hawai`i's history. Hawaiian names were being used prominently and with greater insistence in the public. This cultural rejuvenation was joined by people of many different races in Hawai`i.
Land for native Hawaiians soon became another focus of contention. Kalama Valley on O`ahu and the eviction of farmers there sparked a wave of challenges to the system. The movement to protect the island, Kaho`olawe, from military bombing expanded the target of protest to the previously "sacred" military establishment.
A plethora of new Hawaiian organizations came into being. The issue of Hawaiian sovereignty and self-determination was a natural outgrowth of the disenchantment with Hawaiian social and economic conditions. The Sovereignty for Hawai`i Committee was formed, advocating Hawaiian independence in the local schools, along the beaches and at business luncheons, regionally within the Pacific, among international non-governmental organizations and within the United Nations. The combination of all of these factors brought about a new consciousness of injustice - the denial of the Hawaiian nation.
By the second half of the 1970s, the sovereignty challenges were being made more explicit. In a highly publicized trial of a reputed Hawai`i underworld leader, Wilford "Nappy" Pulawa, the challenge to the jurisdiction of the State Courts to sit in judgment over a Hawaiian citizen was raised as a defense. The Blount Report, President Cleveland's address to Congress, the Newland Resolution annexing Hawai`i to the United States, and other historical documents and events were openly referred to in the court proceedings. The presiding Circuit Court Judge, John Lanham, upon hearing Cleveland's message to Congress, shook his head, exclaiming that the disclosures made by Cleveland were simply unbelievable! Wide public attention was given to the case. Thousands of copies of a letter drafted from the defendant's prison cell were hand distributed throughout the island. (See Appendix D, "To the Hawaiian People of Hawai`i")
Following that trial, the defense attorney in that case, Hayden F. Burgess, challenged the authority of the United States District Court to force him to serve as a juror on the argument that he was not a U.S. but a Hawaiian citizen. More publicity was given to this assertion of citizenship and challenge to the court's jurisdiction. Soon after, the evictions of predominantly native Hawaiians from Sand Island, followed by evictions at M_kua Beach, than at Waimanalo, all challenged the jurisdiction of the courts to try Hawaiian citizens. A multitude of people were asserting their Hawaiian citizenship, denying the attribution of U.S. citizenship to themselves.
Those eviction cases reflected another direction of growing Hawai`i consciousness. The "ceded lands", originally lands in the inventory of the government of Hawai`i subsequently ceded to the United States by the Republic of Hawai`i, was challenged as nothing more than stolen lands. In the M_kua Beach eviction case, before a packed courtroom, the State's expert witness, when asked to trace the title of those lands stated it was simply State policy that for those lands, no such tracing was necessary. The court than ruled that the evidence was conclusive that the Republic of Hawai`i had proper title of these lands to cede them to the United States.
2: Continued challenges
Many more challenges to U.S. rule in Hawai`i are coming to public notice. In the schools, children are refusing to join in the morning flag pledge of allegiance to the United States, to stand for the "national" anthem, etc. People are refusing to file tax returns or to pay income taxes. More and more defendants charged with criminal offenses are denying the jurisdiction of American courts over them. Poets and song writers are producing new works of Hawaiian national patriotism.
3: U.S. Apology -- finally!
The U.S. Congress passed and on November 23, 1993, President Bill Clinton signed Senate Joint Resolution 19, a formal apology by the United States for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i. However, the apology was directed to the native Hawaiians and not to the citizens of Hawai`i. It is obvious that the apology is simply preparatory to further legislative and executive action limited to treating native Hawaiians as native Americans and not for the purpose of according the full measure of human rights and fundamental freedoms encompassed in international law.
F: A reexamination of Hawai`i's self-determination
Self-Determination has been called the father and the mother of all human rights. It is out of self-determination that terms such as sovereignty, independence, autonomy, kingdom, etc. emerge. Understanding the rights which flow from the principle of self-determination may help in understanding the form of expressing one's choice of that exercise.
In a discussion of the rights of a people, self-determination is the collective right of such a people to determine the course of their lives and their destinies. In Western political thought, the concept that the sole source of legitimate political power is the will or consent of the people arose in the 14th century by Marsilius of Padua. It became the driving force of nations struggling for self-determination, finding its way to the French and American revolutions.
But how does one define the "self?" The "self" or the people who formed nation-states, were formed around their chief provinces, for example, France from the Ile de France and Poland from Polonia. In some cases, common cultural and political bonds were absent except for a common desire to stay together, for example, the Swiss Confederation and the United States of America. Indeed, the American revolution affirmed that a group of people need not necessarily have a common heritage, language, ethnic background, or religion to assert their right as a people entitled to self-determination. Loyalty to a territory alone could be a sufficient bond. So it was with the nation of Hawai`i. Indeed, the demand of a historic community to possess its own nation has been considered sufficient to invoke the right of self-determination. When a group of people share a common sentiment and an identification of common aims, a nation is born.
That "nation" or "self" is entitled to "determination" - the right to choose themselves the course of their lives and govern their destiny.
Determination can be seen as a political space in which a people choose to place themselves. On one end of that space is integration into another nation. On the other end is emergence as a sovereign independent country, recognized as such internationally. Between is the position of free association with an independent State.
1: The Self-Determination Diagram
The imagery I find most useful to understand self-determination is a simple diagram in which the vertical column defines "self" and the horizontal row, "determination."
Integration Free Association Independence ──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────
blood/race" "Indian tribe" "nation within nation"
"political "Statehood or
allegiance territory of U.S."
& loyalty to (1959 plebiscite)
w/ 1 year Hawai`i
People of any race Independent
2: Plotting the diagram
a) Who is the Hawaiian "self"?
The first hurdle to appreciating the proper exercise of self-determination in the Hawaiian context is to be properly grounded in understanding the Hawaiian "self". The diagram lists some of the various ways people have chosen to identify a "Hawaiian", using genealogical, traditionally religious, cultural, geographical, citizenship/residence, and historical/ relational approaches.
Genealogy, oftentimes framed in terms of the Hawaiian race, has become a popular way of identifying the "self" in the Hawaiian sovereignty discussion. This framework tracks the North American Indian movement for expanded autonomy within the United States of America and Canada. The genealogical approach in which citizens of the Hawaiian nation are only those of the indigenous blood, argues predominantly for a "nation" under the jurisdiction of the United States in which the Hawaiian citizens remain citizens of the United States but are given certain rights through the U.S. Congress to exercise degrees of autonomy over lands and conduct among themselves. This is the dominant approach taken by the Hawai`i media as well as the State legislature in the construction of the Hawaiian Sovereignty Advisory Council.
Traditional Hawaiian religion and cultural practices have been another framework from which some have tried to identify the Hawaiian "self." This approach says that a Hawaiian is one who practices the culture or religion of old Hawai`i. The culture and religion, unfortunately, are oftentimes limited to the outer form, such as the wearing of "Hawaiian" dress, or being engaged in a subsistence lifestyle rather than the substance of traditional Hawaiian practice by incorporating its underlying values. Proponents of this approach of the Hawaiian "self" are unclear where they stand regarding the place of Hawai`i's nation as regards the United States of America.
Geographical proponents of the Hawaiian self are generally those who have settled in Hawai`i, originally from another place, who see themselves as Hawaiians because this is where they now live, as opposed to a Californian who lives in California, or a Texan of Texas. These proponents are famous for the "Hawaiian melting pot" concept who generally prefer to keep their "Uncle Sam" from the U.S.A. as the chief cook in this Hawaiian kitchen. This position is closely tied to the next.
The government of the United States is the proponent of identifying the Hawaiian "self" based on U.S. citizenship and residence in Hawai`i for at least a year. Proponents of that position favors the status quo with certain adjustments to afford special rights to the native Hawaiians.
The historical/relational approach is based upon Hawai`i' history and culture -- a history which reflectes that Hawai`i's citizens were of a multitude of races but who swore allegiance to the Hawaiian nation. Those were people who were regarded as part of the `_ina, the country, the land, the society. Proponents of this approach generally support the establishment of an independent nation under which special rights of the native Hawaiian people are observed.
b) What are the determination choices?
i) Integration within a colonial country
The "Statehood" question placed before the"qualified voters" in 1959 has been touted as the exercise of self-determination. That plebiscite election placed a "choice" before the qualified electorate of being immediately admitted into the United States of America as a "state" or remaining a territory of the Untied States. Hawai`i was "glued" to one end of the spectrum of choices in 1959.
The discussion of a "nation within a nation" moves no closer to independence for it leaves the colonial situation in place. In essence, this is precisely what the "Sovereign State of Hawai`i" is within the "Sovereignty of the United States of America." The only twist proposed by voices favoring such a model is to slice some of the political power of the inner entity from a "self" based on geographical-colonial relation (the State of Hawai`i), to a self based on genealogical-political relation (the Hawaiian "nation"). Both the State and the "Hawaiian nation", under this scheme, however, must remain within a colonial relationship with the United States of America.
Almost identical arguments made in 1959 in favor of "Statehood" and the many benefits which would flow to Hawai`i as a result could be made for this "nation within a nation" concept. The historical, moral and legal issues that arise as a result of the genesis of U.S. colonization of Hawai`i would still remain unresolved. In fact, Statehood has simply further entrenched Hawai`i's colonization.
ii) Re-emergence as a Sovereign Independent Nation
Today, there is a growing vision of Hawai`i as an independent nation, rejoining the ranks of other nations of the world. Such a Hawai`i would reclaim its supreme authority over all foreign relations, including trade, travel and international interactions. Hawai`i's territorial jurisdiction would include the whole Hawaiian archipelago including the 200 mile exclusive economic zone now claimed by the government of the United States. It would also include Kalama atoll (presently occupied by the U.S. military and named Johnston atoll).
The general vision is that the question of citizenship and residence within this Hawaiian nation would be settled not by racial extraction but by one's "relationship" to Hawai`i - measured by some standard of acculturation, avowing singular loyalty to Hawai`i, ancestry from Hawaiian citizens prior to the American invasion of 1893, etc. The basis upon which this non-racial definition of the "self" is formulated is Hawai`i's history and culture, neither of which discriminated politically against a person because of his race.
Earlier, (at page 21 above), it was shown how people of many different races came to Hawai`i, renounced their foreign citizenship and undertook Hawaiian citizenship. The Hawaiian nation which was invaded in 1893 was a multiracial nation of Hawaiian citizens. Even among the indigenous people, much intermarriage had taken place with other races, including those whose ancestry came from China, throughout Europe, and North America.
Under this multi-racial position of independence, the native Hawaiians' special place within this nation is being charted. The experiences of indigenous peoples from other parts of the world along with new and emerging declarations of the rights of indigenous peoples are providing fertile grounds for creating that special place of the native Hawaiian people within the Hawaiian nation. Some possibilities for assuring this special place could include one or a combination of the following:
1) A weighted voting system within an electoral process for public officials such that the native vote in total would not be less than the total proportion of the population, or some other formula for protecting native interest;
2) A bicameral legislative body in which the native Hawaiian voters would have exclusive rights to select the members of one body;
3) A Council of Customs, Protocol and `_ina (land) controlled by the native Hawaiians in which certain matters are fully within the control of this council; including decisions over whether or not to have Hawaiian royalty, control over special areas designated sacred sites, . . .
4) Exclusive native control over immigration (transmigration);
5) Special trade, communications and cultural exchange arrangements among native Hawaiian and other Pacific Island natives;
6) Special provisions for land rights, access and gathering rights, and other rights recognized by international organizations such as the International Labour Office.
G: U.S. under international obligations: the United Nations
Unbeknown to most of the people in Hawai`i, in 1946, under the charter of the United Nations at Article 73, the United States was charged with an obligation to transmit to the U.N. information on territories held by it under a colonial type arrangement ("Non-Self-Governing Territories"). Hawai`i was included as such a territory, along with Alaska, American Samoa, Guam, Panama Canal Zone, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. When these territories reached a full measure of self-government, the reporting requirement was fully met. Self-government was reached when a territory emerged as a
(a) Sovereign independent State;
(b) Free State in association with an independent State; or
(c) Non-independent state fully integrated with an independent State.
In 1953, the U.N. General Assembly, based upon the United States report that Puerto Rico had chosen a commonwealth status with the United States, concluded that the U.S. had no further obligation to Puerto Rico as a non-self- governing territory to give to the U.N. yearly status reports.
1: The case of Hawai`i
After the Hawai`i Statehood vote, the U.S. reported to the U.N. that Hawai`i's constitutional status had changed and that it was now a state of the United States. The communique to the U.N. related that a special election was held on June 27, 1959 in which the proposition "Shall Hawai`i immediately be admitted into the Union as a State?" was adopted. The communique did not describe the events leading up to the U.S. takeover and control of Hawai`i nor did it discuss the fact that only U.S. citizens were allowed participation in that referendum.
Upon this communique, the U.N. General Assembly by Resolution 1469 (XIV) expressed an opinion that Hawai`i effectively had exercised the right to self-determination and had freely chosen its status as a state of the Union. The U.S. was thus relieved of further responsibility to report to the U.N.
As the 1960s began, the international movement toward decolonization had a major boost. In its Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, the U.N. General Assembly said:
Considering the important role of the United Nations in assisting the movement for independence in Trust and Non-Self-Governing Territories,
Recognizing that the peoples of the world ardently desire the end of colonialism in all its manifestations,
Convinced that the continued existence of colonialism prevents the development of international economic co-operation, impedes the social, cultural and economic development of dependent peoples and militates against the United Nations ideal of universal peace,
Believing that the process of liberation is irresistible and irreversible and that, in order to avoid serious crisis, an end must be put to colonialism and all practices of segregation and discrimination associated therewith,
Convinced that all peoples have an inalienable right to complete freedom, the exercise of their sovereignty and the integrity of their national territory,
Solemnly proclaims the necessity of bringing to a speedy and unconditional end to colonialism in all its forms and manifestations;
And to this end
1. The subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and co-operation.
2. All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
3. Inadequacy of political, economic, social or educational preparedness should never serve as a pretext for delaying independence.
5. Immediate steps shall be taken, in Trust and Non-Self-Governing Territories or all other territories which have not yet attained independence, to transfer all powers to the peoples of those territories, without any conditions or reservations, in accordance with their freely expressed will and desire, without any distinction as to race, creed or color, in order to enable them to enjoy complete independence and freedom.
The U.N. in 1961 established the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, generally called the Special Committee on Decolonization, to oversee the progress by metropolitan countries in the decolonization of their territories.
2: The case of Puerto Rico
In the 1980s, that special committee received repeated reports that the United States committed a fraud against the United Nations by reporting that the people of Puerto Rico had freely chosen association with the United States while in reality, tens of thousands who supported independence had been victims of systematic discrimination and persecution by the United States. The Special Committee On Decolonization expressed great concern over this issue brought before it and requested a response from the United States.
The U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N., in a letter dated 15 September 1986, reminded that committee that "the United States does not consider the issue of Puerto Rico a proper subject for examination at the United Nations."
He continues, "As you are aware, Puerto Rico was removed from the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories by resolution 748 (VIII) in 1953, through a vote of the General Assembly.... [A]ny attempt to address the question of Puerto Rico in the United Nations constitutes interference in the internal affairs of a Member State. . .The Special Committee has no jurisdiction over Puerto Rico, and its consideration and adoption of a resolution on the issue of Puerto Rico are not only inappropriate but a serious breach of its mandate."
The Special Committee on Decolonization, having received a report of this letter, noted that for decades there has been a systematic practice of discrimination and official persecution directed against tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans who support independence. The committee reaffirmed
1. ". . .the inalienable right of the people of Puerto Rico to self-determination and independence, in conformity with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960, and the full applicability of the fundamental principles of that resolution with respect to Puerto Rico.
2. Expresses its hope, and that of the international community, that the people of Puerto Rico may exercise without hindrance its right to self-determination, with the express recognition of the people's sovereignty and full political equality. . ."
The committee decided to keep the question of Puerto Rico under continuing review.
In subsequent years, the committee repeated its position and in 1990 concluded that "legal measures should be adopted which will bring to a successful conclusion, as soon as possible, a process leading to the self-determination of the Puerto Rican people."
PART V: CONCLUSION
The right of self-determination has been recognized in the international community as one of the pillars of the laws of nation. Hand in hand with that right is the prohibition of aggression against the sovereign integrity of another state. The United States of America has violated both of these rights as regards the Hawaiian nation. After committing the international crime of aggression in 1893, it proceeded to acquire Hawai`i as a permanent possession.
The passage of a century from the initial invasion of a nation does not obviate the right of a people to self-determination. The fact that Hawai`i had been taken off the list of non-self-governing territories does not prevent the continuing momentum for independence. There are international avenues to take for asserting the claim for Hawaiian sovereignty and self-determination.
The real test for Hawai`i does not lie in the international arena. It is here among the people. The challenge is to overcome the emblems of colonization which encouraged us to see with racial eyes. The challenge is to stand before the full panorama of choices for our future and have serious dialogue among ourselves to reach a common conclusion of our future.
For many of us, the challenge is to overcome the fear of freedom. That fear can only be overcome when we begin to explore the practical issues of freedom, such as the economic philosophy and structure of the Hawaiian society, our relationship with other countries of the world, our attitudes and values toward the environment, our respect for diversity in cultures and religions, our political system, the need for a military force, and of course the special place of our native Hawaiian people within our Hawaiian society.
The general discussion of Hawaiian sovereignty has not yet attained that level of consideration of what freedom really means in everyday terms. The reason is there still remains the uncertainty of whether we are trying to achieve merely an elevated place for the native people within the present Americanized system, or instead, if we are trying to achieve the formation of a society which is expressive of the unique culture, environment and attitude of this place called Hawai`i, independent of the United States.
As we address these issues, we should consider the future of Hawai`i in comparison to a train track leading to a new day. There are two rails to that track, the rail of human rights applicable to all citizens of Hawai`i and the track of indigenous peoples` rights. Neither rail should eliminate or dominate the other. Otherwise, there will be no going forward to a better future.
We can not simply leave in place practices of superiority or domination, one over the other. We can not proceed to social conditions in which a minority, the native Hawaiian population, will govern the lives of a majority within the society. We must build a society based on common sense and common respect for one another, mindful of the special place of the first people and host culture of this land. Mutual consideration of the first people, the native Hawaiians, to the dignities and human rights of all other Hawaiian citizens will be a natural consequence to the respect afforded the indigenous people. When harmony is maintained between our indigenous community and the wider Hawaiian citizenship, we can have the brightest future in all the world. We already have the formula for such a harmony in Hawai`i. It resides in the practice of a simple word, Aloha.
The writer of the above articel is POKA LAENUI, also known as HAYDEN F. BURGESS. He is an attorney on the Hawaiian Island of O`ahu in a community called Wai`anae. He is also the Director of the Institute for the Advancement of Hawaiian Affairs and President of the Pacific Asia Council of Indigenous Peoples. He had been associated with the World Council of Indigenous Peoples from 1984 to 1990 and during this period had been very active with the U.N.'s Working Group on Indigenous Populations as well as with the efforts of the International Labor Organization's convention 169 to set forth the rights of indigenous peoples. More of his writings are available on the internet at http://www.hawaiianperspectives.org/sovereignty/. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.