The sun was stronger than the clouds this morning, pushing through in a burst of pink and orange, casting shadows on the ancient face of Waialeale.
It was so lovely out that when the road ended, Koko and I continued on to the trail, where she chased chickens and made a couple of walkers feel sorry for her, thinking she was lost. Too bad they didn’t have any snacks so she could really work their pity.
One pity that doesn’t need to be worked, because it’s a truly tragic event, is the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, which happened 115 years ago today. It’s a classic case of colonialism, with the usual results: cultural oppression and fragmentation, land theft, political and social disenfranchisement of the indigenous people.
It was an illegal overthrow, and 100 years later, on Nov. 23, 1993, President Clinton signed a resolution, U.S. Public Law 103-150 , acknowledging that fact and apologizing for America’s role in the coup.
U.S. Public Law 103-150 is an interesting, and not lengthy, document that serves as a useful primer for those who wish to educate themselves on the events that set the wheels in motion for Hawaii to become an American colony.
One key provision of the Apology Resolution states: “Whereas, the indigenous Hawaiian people never directly relinquished their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people or over their national lands to the United States, either through their monarchy or through a plebiscite or referendum.”
Although the apology never amounted to much, in terms of righting the wrongs that were done to the Hawaiian nation, that provision has served as a rallying point for sovereignty efforts.
It’s the cornerstone of the Reinstated Hawaiian Nation, which reasons that since the kanaka maoli never relinquished their sovereignty, it still exists, and needs only to be exercised — reinstated, if you will.
The logic is sound, but the challenge is getting other nations, including the U.S., to recognize that. In the meantime, kanaka maoli continue to live in system that in so many ways is at odds with their culture.
One example is the start of the Hawaii State Legislature, which comes during makahiki, a time when Hawaiians traditionally did not engage in politics or war. But if Hawaiians want to be heard on the many issues that affect them, they have to show up at the Capitol.
As the Nation’s Prime Minister, Henry Noa, so eloquently expressed it on the radio yesterday: “We have to come with the spirit of Ku during the time of Lono.”
Henry Noa also noted that he is three generations removed from the monarchy, and so it is difficult to imagine how his nation must have looked and functioned.
But for him and many other kanaka maoli, the longing for repatriation has never diminished. That’s why they gather each year at Iolani Palace to commemorate the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani.
I’m not there physically today, but I am in spirit. The reinstatement of Hawaiian sovereignty — the real kind, not the Akaka bill version — is long overdue. Without it, Hawaii will never be truly pono.