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Legislation in Hawaii in 2009 to declare ethnic Hawaiians as an indigenous people

The word "indigenous" has become a huge buzzword in recent years in the politics of Hawaii. In the context of Hawaii, "indigenous" means neither more nor less than "having a drop of Hawaiian native blood."

In Rice v. Cayetano the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that ancestry can be a proxy for race, and that ancestry was indeed being used that way in the Hawaii state Constitution. Following that ruling, Hawaiian sovereignty activists started trying to say their claims are not about race or ancestry, but about genealogy. As though that would somehow be different!

More recently the sovereignty activists have latched onto the word "indigenous" in the same way, perhaps hoping to hitch their star to the United Nations work on the rights of indigenous peoples. A few years ago, in the Arakaki#2 lawsuit, OHA introduced a motion for the court to take judicial notice of the "fact" that Native Hawaiians are the indigenous people of Hawaii. The judge very properly refused. For complete details about Arakaki#2, see

A bill in the Hawaii state Legislature in 2009 seeks to accomplish what the federal judge in Arakaki#2 refused to do.

HB1660 is extremely short. Here is its full text.

SECTION 1. Chapter 5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:
"ยง5- Indigenous people of the State.
(a) The Hawaiian people are the indigenous people of the State of Hawaii.
(b) For purposes of this section: "Hawaiian" means any descendant of the aboriginal peoples inhabiting the Hawaiian Islands who exercised sovereignty and subsisted in the Hawaiian Islands in 1778, and which peoples thereafter have continued to reside in Hawaii."
SECTION 2. New statutory material is underscored.
SECTION 3. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

Here is the testimony I submitted to the House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs in opposition to HB1660. Yes, the Hawaii House of Representatives has an entire committee devoted to race-based issues concerning ethnic Hawaiians, and of course the Chair and Vice Chair of the committee are ethnic Hawaiians.


Is the bill is intended as a statement of fact (ethnic Hawaiians are an indigenous people)? Then legislating it as a bill is irrelevant. As a factual issue it is either true or false, and there's nothing you can do to make it true merely by passing a bill. Wishing will not make it so. I will provide information showing that the statement is indeed false.

Is the bill is intended to be a definition (adding the term "indigenous" to the already-existing statutory definition of "Hawaiian" which is repeated in part (b))? Of course you can define cows as mammals with wings who meet various additional criteria, but then your definition would be useless because there are no such creatures.


The bill seeks to declare (ethnic) Hawaiians as indigenous people of Hawaii, and repeats the already existing definition of "Hawaiian" as anyone who has at least one ancestor who lived in Hawaii prior to 1778.

The Supreme Court of the United States, in Rice v. Cayetano, ruled that ancestry can be a proxy for race, and that the same definition of "Hawaiian" provided in HB1660 part (b) was indeed a racial designation when used in the Constitution of the State of Hawaii to limit who could vote in OHA elections. Any future legislation based on HB 1660 would meet the same fate in the courts as the racial restriction on voting in OHA elections.

There must be some purpose the race-mongers have in mind for wishing this bill to be enacted. I would hazard a guess that those who benefit from race-based entitlement programs in Hawaii have some practical reasons why they want the Legislature to declare ethnic Hawaiians to be an indigenous people.

Perhaps they think that declaring ethnic Hawaiians to be an indigenous people will give them an advantage over the other citizens of Hawaii in getting race-based benefits. But, of course, the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution makes that illegal. In any case it is immoral for our government of a multiracial society to treat one racial group as having superior rights or entitlements. Do we want Hawaii to resemble Mississippi or Alabama of 60 years ago, where the disadvantaged group (Negroes) had separate drinking fountains and had to sit in the back of the bus? Is that the reason why the race mongers want you to pass this bill?

Perhaps they think they can benefit from recent work by the United Nations on its declaration regarding the rights of indigenous people. However, the United States has not agreed to that declaration and is not bound by it. Furthermore, it is improper for any State to have its own foreign policy because foreign policy is the domain of the federal government.


Let me briefly summarize some points in a webpage I wrote on this topic. For a more thorough analysis please read that webpage: "Are kanaka maoli indigenous to Hawai'i? Would the status of being indigenous give them special rights?" at:

Does "indigenous" mean "who got here first"? There are disputes among anthropologists, but it is generally believed that today's "Native Hawaiians" are descended from Tahitians who invaded Hawaii around 1200-1300 and who wiped out the previous "first people" of these islands. They imposed their own new gods, and the hierarchical social system of ali'i, maka'ainana, and kauwa. They introduced the new concept of human sacrifice, and the death penalty for even minor infractions of a taboo system, and severe restrictions on what and where women could eat.

So it appears today's ethnic Hawaiians are not descended from Hawaii's first people, whom their ancestors invaded and destroyed. Even if the Tahitian invaders, following their conquest of the islands, could be called truly "indigenous", we must hope that today's ethnic Hawaiians do not follow the religion or customs of those people.

Truly indigenous people live in close contact with the land. They hunt, fish, gather, and grow food, utterly dependent upon the land and sea for daily survival. They pray throughout the day and night to their indigenous gods, in their indigenous language, on every important occasion such as arising in the morning, gathering plants or hunting animals, felling a tree, eating, or going to sleep. Most of today's ethnic Hawaiians have no such intimacy with the land or the gods. For truly indigenous people today, look to the Indians living in the Amazon River basin in Brazil, or tribes living in the African bush, or Australian aborigines living in the outback. Do not look to ethnic Hawaiians whose lifestyles are totally non-indigenous and indistinguishable from everyone else.


Every ethnic group in Hawaii, including ethnic Hawaiians, are "settlers" in the sense that every one of their ancestors came here from somewhere else. Even a native Hawaiian with 100% native blood quantum has 99% of the bones of his ancestors buried somewhere else in the world. Today we celebrate the revival of voyaging canoes which navigate by the stars, which brought the first Polynesians to settle Hawaii and later brought the Tahitian invaders. Thus ethnic Hawaiians acknowledge they are settlers.

There is only one reason why ethnic Hawaiians could possibly claim that they are different from all other mere settlers. They can claim that they have a genealogical family relationship with the land itself and with the gods. Such a claim is indeed being asserted by today's activists seeking race-based sovereignty. It is an extraordinarily dangerous assertion.

The basic concept, terribly shortened, is this. The gods mated and gave birth to these Hawaiian islands as living beings (thus every piece of land is sacred, and all the plants and animals and the rocks themselves are sacred). Later the gods mated and gave birth to the primordial kanaka maoli ancestor -- the first man from whom all other ethnic Hawaiians are descended. Therefore anyone with a single drop of Hawaiian native blood is a child of the gods and a brother to these islands in a way nobody can ever be who lacks a drop of the magic blood. Therefore ethnic Hawaiians are entitled to racial supremacy in government, and especially in land management. They own not only the ceded lands, but all the lands and seas and skies of these islands. The best word to describe racial dominance by law is fascism. This particular theory can properly be called Hawaiian religious fascism. For further discussion of this religious theory see "Religion and zealotry in the Hawaiian sovereignty movement -- how religious myths are used to support political claims for racial supremacy in Hawaii" at:

The U.S. Constitution, First Amendment, says there shall be no governmental establishment of religion. Every time the Legislature passes laws to give special rights to ethnic Hawaiians based on their assertion of "sacred place" or "indigenous" those laws constitute an establishment of religion. This bill, HB 1660, would use the word "indigenous" to establish Hawaiian religious fascism as the law.

A book published at the end of 2008 by University of Hawaii Press is written by sovereignty activists who assert the theory of indigeneity as the only thing which separates ethnic Hawaiians from other settlers. The book then explains that Asians in Hawaii are settlers who are collaborating with haoles to oppress Hawaii's indigenous people under the colonial domination of the United States, and that Hawaii's people of Asian descent have a duty to be subservient to ethnic Hawaiians and help them throw off the yoke of American imperialism. This bill, HB 1660, gives aid and comfort to Hawaiian religious fascism in general, and to those who tell Hawaii's Asian people to kow-tow to their ethnic Hawaiian masters in an anti-American jihad. See a book review of "Asian Settler Colonialism" at


To run for election and become a member of the Legislature you took an oath "to support and defend the Constitution of the United States." You accepted the responsibility of passing laws that will treat people equally regardless of race. You have a fiduciary duty to 100% of the people of Hawaii not to establish racial supremacy by law for a group consisting of 20% of them. Hawaii should not become like South Africa before Mandela, where a small minority exercised dominion over a much larger majority. To learn about the very real danger that we are headed in that direction, read my book "Hawaiian Apartheid: Racial Separatism and Ethnic Nationalism in the Aloha State" at:

Please vote against HB 1660.


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(c) Copyright 2009 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved