HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND – Is Hawaii Still a Nation?


By Kelly Moran

Is Hawaii Still a Nation?

Something happened in the 1890s, that has not yet been fully resolved. Last month, while most people in Hawaii were celebrating the 49th anniversary of Statehood, political activists briefly took control of Iolani Palace, in Honolulu, claiming it as the seat of a native Hawaiian government that had been illegally overthrown.

Was it illegal? After King Kalakaua died, his sister Liliuokalani became queen. She wanted to change some laws regarding land ownership, and extend the voting franchise to ordinary Hawaiians who did not own property: actions which would have undercut the disproportionally large influence that a few haole merchants had gained under her brother’s (admittedly sometimes careless) reign. So in 1893, a committee of Honolulu merchants persuaded a U.S. Marine commander to lead a company of armed men from their ship in the harbor, to surround Iolani Palace, while the merchants went inside and formally deposed Liliuokalani.

Furious, Liliuokalani sailed to Washington DC, and persuaded both President Grover Cleveland and many U.S. senators that her overthrow was illegal and should be nullified. But the merchants had allies in the Senate too, and considerable influence in the American economy, regarding the sugar trade. Within a few months, there was a brief armed putsch in Hawaii, which failed to restore Liliuokalani to the throne. Brought up on charges, she was convicted of knowing about the insurrection but failing to report it, and sentenced to house-arrest.

In Washington, despite five years of lobbying and debate, the Senate could not resolve the issue of her sovereignty; and in 1898, President William McKinley – an advocate of American’s “manifest destiny” to grow ever westward – annexed Hawaii.

Whether the queen was a victim or a tyrant, and whether annexation was a blessing or a curse, is still debated today. To make her case in Washington, Liliuokalani wrote her autobiography, Hawaii’s Story (Mutual Publications, facsimile edition, 1990); and many subsequent books have followed her lead and taken her side.

The annexationists’ case is especially well made by Thurston Twigg-Smith, grandson of one of the merchant committee’s leaders, in Hawaiian Sovereignty: Do the Facts Matter? (Goodale Publishing, 1998).

Feature films have never covered the drama, but The Trial of Liliuokalani is a provocative stage play – first mounted in Hawaii, in the 1970s – that playwright Maurice Zimring based on court transcripts.

A bill has now been introduced to the U.S. Senate, by Hawaii Senator Dan Akaka, that would grant native Hawaiians much the same status under law as Native American Indians have today, including the right to form a quasi-governmental organization. It has plenty of opponents, who claim it would create a race-based division of the citizenry; and the “Akaka bill” was tabled in the last congressional session. But Hawaii’s Republican governor favors the bill; and passing it is now a plank in the U.S. Democratic Party’s election platform.

It’s possible, therefore, that when the 50th anniversary of Statehood rolls around, next August, the nature of the day’s events may be rather different than they have ever been before.

One Reply to “HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND – Is Hawaii Still a Nation?”

  1. The fact remains that the United States participated in allowing the overthrow of the Hawaiian government to occur and never set things right. Queen Liliuokalani had faith in the American government that they would return control to her. She insisted on patience and non-violence, but the US turned their back and allowed Hawai’i to loose what was rightfully theirs. Hawai’i never relinquished their sovereignty…and is still occupied unlawfully by the United States. Doing so is by international law and act of War. Most Americans do not even know that Hawai’i was once a Monarchy and is still a sovereign nation. The press barely covers any news of protest from Sovereignty groups or those opposed to the Akaka bill. The Akaka bill is misleading and will in fact destroy any chance Hawai’i has of removing the US from it’s Islands and reestablishing a Sovereign government. Lets look at US history..the US murdered millions of native peoples and have given them what in return? Native American Indians have not benefited much from their compensation. Hawaiians do not need compensation, they need the US to give back what was illegally taken from them, their lands. Groups such as OHA (office of Hawaiian Affairs) use programs such as Kau Inoa to trick the people of Hawai’i into “registering” and signing their names in support of the Akaka bill, although the name “Akaka bill” is never mentioned when they give out their stickers and T-shirts outside grocery stores and at events. OHA is misleading Hawai’i’s people into thinking that they are actually registering to support a Native Hawaiian Government, but are they? No. Hawai’i is still a sovereign Nation, and recognized so by Countries other than the US. So, why is the US still deciding what should be done with Hawai’i’s future? Hawai’i is an important, yet expendable resource for America. That is why unknown to many Americans and residents of Hawai’i, the Islands are used for experimental GMO crops and heavily occupied by the US Military for training and control of an important strategic location for the US in the pacific ocean. If anything went wrong, the Islands are isolated from the rest of the US, surrounded by the Pacific ocean. Of course Hawai’i’s Republican Governor supports the Akaka bill, there is much profit for the US in keeping control over Hawai’i. Governor Lingle cuts funding for Healthcare, Education, Arts, but supports a tourist based economy, outside big business investors and GMO crops that are not even fit for Human consumption and can devastate Hawai’i’s fragile and unique environment. I am not a Hawaiian, but I support those that recognize the Sovereign Nation of Hawai’i and fight to relinquish control over the Islands from the United States. Look at how many countries outside of America that the US has taken over, look at the Philippines and Guam, American Samoa, and so many more…some they have stepped away from such as the Philippines and Guam, others are still occupied like American Samoa and Hawai’i. How can we ignore that the US just took over Hawai’i and is still doing so today? Its America’s dirty little secret that they don’t want you to know, that the State of Hawai’i is actually a Sovereign Nation that we took control of illegally. Wouldn’t it be nice if the United States, which believes so strongly in Freedom and Liberty that we fight devastating wars on the other side of the world, actually did more than just recognized the injustice that it is responsible for (The Apology Bill) and gave Hawai’i back it’s lands!

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