Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Musings: At the Core

The rain came in the night and then departed, leaving droplets that shimmered and sparkled on barbed wire fences, ironwood needles, lauae fern, when Koko and I went out walking. It was a mauve morning; or rather, it started out gray, with piles of dark clouds in the east and streaks of pink above an enshrouded Waialeale, but then dawn came and turned the black into purple, which soon became gold and before long these pearlescent puffballs appeared, headed south, and I was left marveling, as I often am, at how rapidly things change.

And don’t.

I get a lot of email from various people involved in various causes, concerned about various things — land use, water, GMOs, Hawaiian independence, burials, pesticides, pollution, war, sustainability, economics, government corruption.

Lately I’ve been receiving extensive missives about the burials at Kawaiahao Church and two Senate bills — SB1, co-sponsored by our own Ron Kouchi, and Senate Bill 1520 — that seek to create a governor-appointed commission charged with deciding who is a Native Hawaiian for the purpose of organizing a Native Hawaiian governing entity. The bills totally ignore the fundamental principle that kanaka maoli have a right to self-determination, and should not be subjected to a process created and controlled by the state.

The issues are related because both speak to the lingering distrust that Hawaiians feel about the government, and both have worked to pit Hawaiians against one another in that old imperialistic strategy of “divide and conquer.”

As one woman wrote about the Kawaiahao burials controversy:

this project is NOT about the church`s multi purpose bldg anymore if it ever was, it is about sanctioning the removal of iwi kupuna to pave the way by state government for future development. keep that in mind and spread the word.

It’s not a far-fetched assertion, when you consider that the State of Hawaii, even in its impoverished condition and under the reign of a Republican governor, gave the project $1 million, as did OHA, and that if it proceeds, it will allow developers and elected officials to point to the building and say, see, even the Hawaiians don’t care if you dig up their dead.

Another woman, responding to a Ku`e action at the state Capitol this morning to protest the Senate’s passage of the Hawaiian roll bills, circulated this article, which reportedly was published in the February 1, 1893 edition of the Advertiser:

You can click to make it larger. It’s definitely worth a read.

If you’ve ever wondered why so many kanaka maoli reject the state government, just read this account, which is steeped in the religiosity and racism of those who perpetuated the overthrow. The final paragraph speaks volumes:

It is doubtless premature to forecast confidently what shape the opinions of native Hawaiians will take, as to the political change now in progress. No doubt the majority of them are now governed by their long existing jealousy of white ascendancy, and are dissatisfied and sullen. We have, however, personal knowledge of some of the best and wisest among them who rejoice in the removal of the terrible incubus of Palace influence, with its debauching and heathenizing effect. These men also enthusiastically welcome the prospect of union with America. We are reliably informed that this feeling is growing and extending among the native people. After the final arrangements have been concluded, and the new form of government has been definitely settled, we anticipate satisfaction among the natives, and their cordial cooperation with the whites in public affairs.

Here we are, 118 years later, and those same sentiments live on, from the dissatisfaction and sullenness of the overthrown (though I don't believe it's rooted in jealousy), to the cocky confidence of the occupiers who remain wholly convinced of their virtue and superiority in all things.

This is what lies at the core of the pejorative "fucking haole."


Anonymous said...

"Here we are 118 years later,...............................

.................. the core of the pejorative "fucking haole""

Pretty much hits the nail squarely on the head. Well done Joan.

It doesn't make me ashamed to be white or feel guilty.
Human subjugation is endemic to the our species as exampled even by the Kanaka Maoli's purported treatment of the original indigenous population, the "menehune"

In the hope that we might someday get it right it would seem a good place to start is in redressing those things in the not so distant past that were wrong, ie the overthrow of a sovereign, friendly nation.

Anonymous said...

SB1 and SB1520 are both divisive proposals. Hawaiian culture, language, and music are strong. There are many prominent Hawaiians in high profile jobs. It is even possible to be educated from preschool all the way to a PhD in Hawaiian! Many in the Hawaiian community oppose these bills & the Akaka bill.

There are already dozens upon dozens of programs that benefit native Hawaiians that it is really beginning to be unfair. I do have Native Hawaiian family and friends but creating a special entity to give just a few people even more flies in the face of equality and democracy. A race based system is unconstitutional and unjust. Instead, we should have an asset/income based test that would help those who really need the help. I would rather see money go to getting homeless Hawaiians off the beaches & streets, job training, scholarships, and an area for those who want to live a traditional life.

In regard to the Kawaiahao Church issue, it really is Hawaiian vs. Hawaiian. Many of the iwi were found UNDER an existing church road!

Movement of iwi has been authorized in the past including by none other than Kamehameha III. The Hawaiians who oppose Kawaiahao's expansion plans are misguided. There is no question regarding respect for iwi. In ancient times, the iwi were often given back to the 'aumakua to which the family belonged. For example, if the family 'aumakua was Pele, the bones were deposited into the volcano. If the family 'aumakua was a shark or sea creature such as octopus he'e, the bones were deposited into the sea. If the family 'aumakua was the stream creatures, the bones were deposited in the stream. Often, the bones were hidden in caves.

Kaahumanu and Kamehameha II abolished this old religion before the missionaries arrived. All Hawaiians were supposed to follow what the ali'i proclaimed. The kings & queens of Hawaii were Christians including for example Queen Liliuokalani who was an Anglican.

Five hundred year old iwi of High chiefs Liloa and Lonoikamakahiki were moved by Native Hawaiians from Waipio Valley to Iolani Palace. Native Hawaiians then moved these iwi again from Iolani Palace to Mauna 'Ala. These iwi were again moved from Mauna 'Ala to Bishop Museum by no other than Prince Kuhio! So there are many precedents for moving Hawaiian iwi including Hawaiian royalty by Hawaiian royalty!

Past members of the Kawaiahao church buried there WOULD allow the building to be built. The key is to honor the iwi in a reverent way.

I doubt that anyone wants to go back to the monarchy days in which commoners were once considered property & could be killed by the will of the king. Hawaiian monarchy has sold out in the past; that's why Niihau is privately owned and why vast tracks of land on Kauai are in private hands.

We need to move towards reconciliation and healing. Race based solutions are not the answer. We need to help those who really need help, not enrich those who already have plenty (e.g., Bishop Estate with its BILLIONS of dollars) or have it wasted by a group such as OHA. Aloha.

Anonymous said...

In regard to the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, we have to understand the circumstances at the time. Just before the 1893 overthrow, there was a severe economic depression. The economic depression was worldwide. Meanwhile, Kalakaua was spending lavishly (something like $300 million in today's dollars) on Iolani Palace that had electricity before the White House! And according to Jack London, Kalakaua would be imbibing on bottles & bottles of French Champagne! Excessive indeed. It would take weeks for luxury goods to get to Hawaii.

I don't condone the actions of the sons of Missionaries who took so much land for themselves. But the Monarchy had been already weak & was selling land to enrich themselves too. For example, Kamehameha V sold Niihau out right. Princess Ruth sold huge plots of land including those in Lihue & Kalapaki.

The monarchy was weak at best. It only came to be in 1810 after King Kaumualii of Kauai stepped down. The 1839 LaPlace affair, 1843 Paulett Affair, and the 1849 French Invasion could have overthrown the Hawaiian monachy.

Remember also that MU people of Kauai and Menehune were here before present day kanaka maoli. This is according to kanaka maoli stories.

In the end, we just need to all get along. We need to help those who really need help. We need to think as one people and not take advantage of each other. We need to protect the natural environment. We need to help each other. We need to love one another...Equally, without regard to race or ethnic identity.

Anonymous said...

To take the words of Jack London seriously in reference to Hawaiian history/culture is ludicrous. Read "Displacing Natives" regarding London and Mark Twain's take on kanaka culture. Both self-proclaimed experts on Kanaka Maoli culture, knowing better than say a true-blooded kanaka. Their writings reeked with a sense of superiority and racism towards Kanaka Maoli that encouraged the opinion of Euroamericans that kanaka were incapable of ruling themselves, justifying the ILLEGAL overthrow of a friendly nation, for the betterment of kanaka who were looked upon by haole as childlike savages.

It is irrelevant whether the Hawaiian Nation could've or would've been taken over by another country. Using that to justify American takeover only makes it more palatable for non-natives to digest.

It was foreign merchants that bought liquor to the islands during a time of genocidal loss of native population. The alii did what they could to deal with foreign pressures but succumbed easily to the temptation of alochol to deal with unprecendented loss and change. Communities and families were dying off en masse. Increased pressure from foreigners living in the islands and from their mother countries forced the hand of alii to change land tenure in Hawaii and allow property ownership by non-natives.

Maka'ainana were never considered "property" and were free to come and go if they chose to leave the domain of the chief/alii of their ahupua'a. It was the kuleana of the alii to take care of their people and in return, the maka'ainana would live on the land using the resources to provide shelter and sustenance for the 'ohana as well as the alii.

"fucking haole" came long after...Kanaka Maoli always gave generously and were welcoming to foreigners who first came here. It was the greed for more and more resources and the disenfranchisement of natives from their land that planted the seeds of resentment that exist today.

Dawson said...

^ To Joan for her post and to the Anonymous writer for the above comment, kudos.

Very, very well written, both of you.

Anonymous said...

There were no international laws in 1893 to govern whether a take-over was legal or illegal.

The 1907 Hague Convention rules were written 14 years AFTER the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy. To retrospectively apply laws to past events is futile. It would be like saying the US is not a country because they overthrew the English king in 1776 and so forth.

Furthermore, international rules created in 1945 by the UN cannot be retroactively applied to events in 1893.

The Republic of Hawaii existed between 1893 and 1898, a full five years and gained international recognition as the legitimate government of Hawaii. Countries such as France, England, etc. recognized the Republic of Hawaii.

In regard to whether the US needs a treaty to annex a territory is concerned, the Newlands Resolution of 1898 was all that was needed. Texas, an independent Republic was annexed in 1845 by joint resolution.

Therefore, there is no valid claim that the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy was illegal.

Anonymous said...

The overthrow was also illegal because it violated a treaty of friendship between Hawaii and the U.S.
Just read PL 103-105, the apology bill. Just read it. Its all right in there.

Anonymous said...

Well, I wish that locals and kanaka maoli and the FAKE kanaka maoli (who just happen to be brown) could distinguish between the "cocky" haole newcomer and the "local" haole (that just happens to have an attitude because they have been subjected to racism and cruelty for their entire lives.)
Since you are saying the "fuck" word, I laugh at your fucking ignorance that your kanaka maoli are FAKES, that you have mouthpieces who haven't been raised in your culture and your stupidity and evil breeds nothing but hate. If you were actually decent to white people, maybe the smart ones would stay and improve the community, instead of leaving...every single brilliant white mind leaving your little, evil, mean, cruel, racist island to improve another community. Those that act like Asian secretaries and accept the fact that they are second-class citizens are those that stay. Leave the sheep, baa baa!

Anonymous said...

Kanaka maoli's are the most peaceful loving people on the planet. Polynesians are the true God's choosen people, and just like everywhere else in the world, when europeans (white people) show up, they bring diseases and corruption and sow their evil seeds and change what truely is a way of life. Every place the 'whites' have touched has become tainted and destructive bound! They rewrote history to feel your minds w/ great lies so they will apease the soarness of their real identities--(The seed os satan). They do the work of their father, the lawless one. But, there is a GOD, and He will show the world who His children really are and then and only then, will true justice be delivered. Me'kea loa nui'e, Na'kane pono hawai'i nei...