Native Hawaiians insulted by proposed recognition

More than 100 years after illegally overthrowing the Hawaiian Monarchy, DOI seeks to restore government-to-government relations with the Kingdom of Hawaii

By Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

On Friday, August 1, the United States Department of the Interior held a consultation at the Tulalip Resort Casino to discuss whether or not they should restore government-to-government relations with the Kingdom of Hawaii, and what that might look like. The meeting is one of five consultations with tribal leaders, following 15 public meetings in Hawaii. Approximately 30 people attended the meeting, and of the Native Hawaiians in attendance, none of them support the proposed recognition of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

“Recognition is a slap in the face to Hawaiian people. I say no to recognition,” said Gabriel Makanani  Reyes-Gomez, a Lahaina native now living in Seattle.

That sentiment seems to be the popular opinion of Native Hawaiians. The meetings in Hawaii were all ill received as well, rejecting what the DOI is proposing.

The suggested method of restoration of the government-to-government relations would follow the model most tribes operate under, which is a recognized sovereignty that allows for tribes to deal with the federal government on a nation to nation basis, holding them to their treaty obligations. For tribes who entered into treaties with the United States, that works. But for the Kingdom of Hawaii, there never was a treaty.

In 1898 the Hawaiian Islands were unlawfully annexed by the United States. Through a serious of more than 150 congressional acts and executive orders between then and the time Hawaii was granted statehood in 1959, the United States began asserting authority in the territory. Those acts also assumed a trust relationship with the Native Hawaiians. Unlike tribes, there is no treaty with the Hawaiians in which the federal government is obliged to trust responsibility. Some Native Hawaiians are upset that the tribes are even being consulted in this matter.

Hawaiian elder Herb Kai said, “It is our issue. With respect to the 200 plus U.S. tribes, it is not your issue, it is ours.”

The trust obligation to Hawaiians only exists in the way the United States has defined it.

“When I met with members of the Native Hawaiian community last year during my visit to the state, I learned first-hand about Hawaii’s unique history and the importance of the special trust relationship that exists between the Federal government and the Native Hawaiian community,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “Through this step, the Department is responding to requests from not only the Native Hawaiian community but also state and local leaders and interested parties who recognize that we need to begin a conversation of diverse voices to help determine the best path forward for honoring the trust relationship that Congress has created specifically to benefit Native Hawaiians.”

The issue, as viewed by the Native Hawaiian community, is not about a trust relationship, it is about reconciling the unlawful annexation of their country. Is recognition the way to do that? In 1993, Public Law 103-150, which is the formal apology for the act of war 100 years prior, acknowledged the coup as an interruption of Hawaiian self-determination. Based on the trust relationship built since that time, the apology also called for action by the United States in restoring Hawaiian self-determination. The proposed answer is recognition, though the tribal model shows that the United States maintains too much control. With no treaty, they then have the power to reinterpret that relationship at will.

Native Hawaiian Brad Slavey said, “I do not want the United States to dictate our self-determination. I do not want their assistance in defining how we govern ourselves.”

In 1893, the provisional government of Hawaii, backed by the United States military, overthrew the monarchy of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Up to that time, the Kingdom of Hawaii was an independent nation state with several constitution drafts. At the time of the last accepted draft in 1864, the Kingdom of Hawaii had longstanding international trade relations with England and the United States, mainly, as well as others. Under duress of gunpoint, the last queen, Liliuokolani, surrendered her authority to the provisional government. This illegal action was acknowledge by President Cleveland as an atrocity.

“The military occupation of Honolulu by the United States on the day mentioned was wholly without justification, either as an occupation by consent or as an occupation necessitated by dangers threatening American life and property,” reads Cleveland’s official report to the Committee of Foreign Relations. “It must be accounted for in some other way and on some other ground, and its real motive and purpose are neither obscure nor far to seek.”

In the surrender of her authority, Queen Liliuokalani wrote, “Now to avoid any collision of armed forces, and perhaps the loss of life, I do this under protest and impelled by said force yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representatives and reinstate me in the authority which I claim as the Constitutional Sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.”

Cleveland responded in kind, “Believing, therefore, that the United States could not, under the circumstances disclosed, annex the islands without justly incurring the imputation of acquiring them by unjustifiable methods, I shall not again submit the treaty of annexation to the Senate for its consideration.”

After Cleveland’s departure from office, the annexation was passed through Congress under the McKinley administration.

What then is the solution? Ideally, resolution would mean that the United States would have to relinquish its claim to the State of Hawaii, and restore the monarchy, which is unlikely. The United States offers recognition of Hawaiian sovereignty to strengthen the promises that they have made through numerous congressional acts. There is still a movement in Hawaii, however, that holds to the belief that as a sovereign, the Kingdom of Hawaii has the right to seek aid from other sovereigns, or the United Nations.

“There does need to be a dialogue,” added Slavey, “but are we in a dialogue with the right people?”

The taking of Hawaii for the United States was unjust, essentially an act of war on another nation. Now, more than 100 years, deciding how to undo that damage to Native Hawaiians will require concessions on both sides which no one wants to make.

“I do want the Kingdom of Hawaii acknowledged, but at what cost,” added Slavey.


Andrew Gobin is a staff reporter with the Tulalip News See-Yaht-Sub, a publication of the Tulalip Tribes Communications Department.
Phone: (360) 716.4188

Kingdom of Hawaii may still exist, challenges US over sovereignty

May 22, 2014

Australia Network News


Photo: Bluejackets of the USS Boston occupying Arlington Hotel grounds during overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani, the last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, January 1893. (Hawaii State Archives: PP-36-3-002)
Photo: Bluejackets of the USS Boston occupying Arlington Hotel grounds during overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani, the last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, January 1893. (Hawaii State Archives: PP-36-3-002)

The CEO of the Hawaiian Affairs Office (OHA) has retained his job and gained public support to challenge the US on whether the Kingdom of Hawaii still exists as a sovereign country.

Kamanaopono Crabbe sparked an internal crisis when he sent a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry, asking for a ruling on whether the Kingdom of Hawaii still legally exists.

The letter, which was quickly rescinded by the OHA’s trustees, was prompted by the US Government’s acknowledgment that the overthrow of the kingdom in 1893 was illegal.

Political scientist Dr Keanu Sai, from Windward Communtiy College in Honolulu, told Pacific Beat the OHA board thought Dr Crabbe had violated their policy by sending the letter without approval, but later realised they were mistaken.

“[Dr Crabbe] was not in violation of any policy of the board but rather was operating on his diligence and risk management,” Dr Sai said.

Mr Crabbe has now won the support of the OHA trustees, who have moved to send the letter again and retain him in his role as CEO.

“They’re in full support and they say that his questions definitely do have merit.”

Public support for Mr Crabbe’s campaign is also growing, with 2,500 people signing an online petition.

Dr Sai said Hawaiians need clarification on the issue.

“What was overthrown was the government, not the country,” he said.

Dr Sai blames revisionist history education for misconstruing local understanding of Hawaii’s true status.

“A revisionist history has been taught here in Hawaii since the early 1900s that presented Hawaii as if it was a part of the United States when in fact there is clear evidence that it’s not,” he said.

“We need to address this because it will affect our people but it also affects everyone.”

Dr Sai says if the Kingdom of Hawaii does indeed still exist, many historical treaties with nations including the UK and Australia would still be in effect.

International law

The US may be in violation of international law if Hawaii is still technically its own country.

The US would be guilty of appropriating funds by taxation and other related crimes, by not complying with occupation laws.

Dr Sai says within the framework of international law, there is presumed of continuity of a country when it is established.

“All that needs to be provided is evidence that Hawaii was a country (and it was, fully recognised by the United States and Great Britain and everyone else),” he said.

“It places the burden upon the United States to provide overwhelming evidence that it in fact extinguished Hawaii as an independent state under international law.

“In the absence of that evidence, the Hawaiian kingdom continues to exist.”

Why Indigenous arts and Hawaii artists matter


Crab Hula by Patrick Makuakane

Dawn Morais Huffington post


Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) President and CEO T. Lulani Arquette is visibly moved as she describes how the audience responded to the innovative work of Christopher Kaui Morgan at the 2013 Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement Conference. “There was a palpable thrill in the room, a sense that we were witnessing something new and exciting. This is the kind of work we want to encourage,” she says. Not yet four years since it began funding, NACF has made significant investments to nurture native artistic expression, celebrate culture and engage communities. These investments help keep tradition alive — but also help indigenous artists push past old forms and break new ground.

That clearly is what makes the work of NACF so significant. This isn’t just about feeding struggling artists. Underlying everything NACF does is the conviction that native artists and culture-bearers play a vital role in enlivening the community. Through its mission and its outreach, its grants and the platforms it provides for creative expression and collaboration, NACF attests to the importance of the artist as both voice and conscience, healing and keeping alive the hope of a better, more just world.

Native artists cannot always turn swords into plowshares. But they at least give us the beauty of art in place of the brokenness that we see all around us. Native artists, like artists everywhere, give so generously to us all simply through their creativity. We owe it to them — and to ourselves — to give back in some measure what they have given us in priceless cultural treasure. –Arquette

NACF hopes that those who wish to put their wealth to work will see in the work of the Foundation the prospect of a return on investment that is more significant than what the market can offer. Founding NACF Board Member Elizabeth A. Woody (Navajo/Warm Springs/Wasco/Yakama) explains: “The act of giving was part of the ‘gifting economy’ of the Northwest where one’s wealth was measured by generosity, good work and a good heart.” That’s not unlike the spirit that moves those who engage in philanthropy. Thanks to that spirit of giving, donors across the country have allowed NACF to help 85 Native artists and organizations across 22 states. Awardees were part of over 300 events and activities, creating opportunities for 46,000 participants and taking the beauty and power of Native arts and cultures to nearly 850,000 people.

Individual Fellowships
Individual grants of up to $20,000 each help native artists continue to practice what has been handed down to them while also moving beyond to open up new ways of seeing the world. Time-honored ways of defining our shared humanity are preserved while new prisms are created through which to see and understand. Powerful voices are amplified in visual arts, music, dance, literature, film and traditional arts.

Community-Based Initiatives
People are not generally aware of the urgent need to map and secure ancestral arts and practices before they are lost forever. Nearly $380,000 has been given to grantees, some tied to universities, for this purpose. Apprenticeships, teaching, participation in youth programs and festivals also help ensure the transmittal of traditional skills to the next generation. This support seeds the ground for ongoing collaborations and exchanges, such as residencies, arts conferences and dialogue across native art disciplines.

Capacity-Building Initiatives
NACF creates partnerships between artists, tribal entities and nonprofit organizations. The spirit behind these partnerships is the recognition that the work of the artist is a lens through which to help the community understand and engage collaboratively in addressing issues vital to the well-being of the community.

Proven leadership in offering broad-based arts services including arts grants, professional development for artists, and market opportunities for Native artists has led NACF to make an investment of nearly $300,000 in organizations positioned to help artists in these ways. In Hawai`i, the Pa`i Foundation received a NACF grant to support their work as part of a group dedicated to recovering the language, cultural traditions, healing practices, voyaging, and agricultural practices of the Native Hawaiians, now a minority in their ancestral land.

Arquette is particularly proud to see artists in her native Hawai`i recognized, and is gearing up to announce new initiatives in 2014.

2014-01-08-NACFTLulaniArquette-thumb“Our grants go towards helping artists address issues such as cultural equity, land and water rights, food sovereignty, and Native knowledge,” she said. NACF artists received a Bessie Award for Outstanding Dance Production, had an exhibit at the 18th Biennale of Sydney, Australia, and are taking their film to the national festival circuit and PBS. “This kind of recognition inspires others to help keep the arts alive through their own artistic endeavors — or through their financial support,” she added.

The NACF website offers several examples of the work of artists NACF has supported. “We need the voices of our Native artists and culture-makers. They help make us wiser and more compassionate towards each other, ” said Arquette.

Native American veterans memorial gets legislative push

By Katherine Boyle,
The Washington Post  May 23, 2013

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introduced legislation Thursday to reauthorize the construction of a Native American veterans memorial on the Mall. A quirk of the original legislation, passed in 1994, allowed for the construction of the memorial but did not allow the National Museum of the American Indian to raise funds — a predicament for a memorial required to be built with private funds on the museum’s property. The new legislation allows the Smithsonian Institution to engage in fundraising and removes the responsibility from the National Congress of American Indians, a nonprofit organization originally tasked with finding resources. The legislation was first proposed by the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

(Oskar Garcia/AP) - U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz speaks at a news conference accepting an endorsement from the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers union in Honolulu on Friday, May 3, 2013. Schatz introduced legislation Thursday to reauthorize the construction of a Native American veterans memorial on the Mall.
(Oskar Garcia/AP) – U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz speaks at a news conference accepting an endorsement from the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers union in Honolulu on Friday, May 3, 2013. Schatz introduced legislation Thursday to reauthorize the construction of a Native American veterans memorial on the Mall.

“American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians served in all of the American wars since the Revolutionary War,” Schatz said during a media call. “It is critical that we recognize their bravery and patriotism with a fitting memorial.”

Advocates noted that veterans memorials on the Mall do not recognize the contributions of Native Americans in American wars. Robert Holden, director of the National Congress of American Indians, said that while the Three Servicemen Statue at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial represents Caucasian, African American and Hispanic service members, it excludes Native Americans, and does not fully depict their contributions.

Planning for the size and scope of the memorial will begin if the legislation passes. The memorial would be on museum property, but the exact location has not been determined.