(c) Copyright June 11, 2010
Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D.
All rights reserved
June 11 is Kamehameha Day -- an official holiday of the State of Hawaii.
The greatest accomplishment of King Kamehameha The Great was to unify all the Hawaiian islands under a single government 200 years ago (1810).
But now once again we are threatened with the Akaka bill in Congress, whose primary purpose is to rip us apart along racial lines, thus undoing Kamehameha's achievement.
H.R.2314 already passed the House, and S.1011 awaits floor action in the Senate. The bill would authorize creation of a racially exclusionary government empowered to negotiate with federal, state and local governments for money, land, and legal jurisdiction.
The Kingdom founded by Kamehameha was multiracial in all aspects. The reason he succeeded when all previous warrior chiefs for 1500 years had failed, was because he used British-supplied ships, guns, and cannons; together with the expertise of English sailors John Young and Isaac Davis. A grateful Kamehameha gave Young and Davis chiefly rank. He appointed Davis as Governor of O'ahu. More importantly, Kamehameha appointed John Young (Hawaiian name Olohana) as Governor of Kamehameha's home island (Hawaii Island), gave him land and a house immediately next to the great Pu'ukohola Heiau, gave him a daughter to be his wife, and gave him a seat next to himself in the ruling council of chiefs. John Young II (Hawaiian name Keoni Ana) was Kuhina Nui under Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III -- the second-highest office in the nation. Every law was required to be signed by both the King and the Kuhina Nui, who in effect had veto power over the King. The second Constitution of the Kingdom, in 1852, bore two signatures: "Kamehameha Rex" (King Kamehameha III), and "Keoni Ana" (John Junior). The granddaughter of John Young was Queen Emma, wife of Alexander Liholiho Kamehameha IV, and founder of Queen's Hospital and St. Andrews Cathedral.
John Young was so important to the founding of the Kingdom that his tomb is in Mauna Ala (the Royal Mausoleum on Nu'uanu Ave.), where it is the only tomb built to resemble a heiau, and is guarded by a pair of pulo'ulo'u (sacred taboo sticks). His bones are the oldest bones in Mauna Ala. Yet the Akaka bill would deny John Young membership in the Akaka tribe because he lacks a drop of native blood.
Also excluded from Akaka's tribe would be all the other Euro-Americans who were Hawaiian Kingdom cabinet ministers, department heads, legislators, and economic powerhouses; and the Asians whose sweat-equity helped the Kingdom thrive. The Akaka bill insults Kamehameha -- it is the very definition of racism and divisiveness.
For short videos and audios about John Young, Saint Damien, navigator Mau Piailug, and other Hawaiian cultural heroes who lack Hawaiian blood and would be excluded under the Akaka bill, see
Those who favor the Akaka bill have an interesting rebuttal to the evidence that the Hawaiian Kingdom was multiracial. They say, in a whining sort of way, "Yes, we Hawaiians are a very generous people. We were very open to newcomers and gave them full partnership with voting and property rights. And now you're punishing us for it. You're holding it against us that we were so warm and welcoming, by telling us that we are not an indigenous people entitled to self-determination." But of course the answer is that this is not about Caucasians and Asians being ungrateful recipients of Hawaiian generosity and inclusiveness. Rather, this is about the fact that there would never have been a creation and flourishing of a unified Hawaiian kingdom if it were not for the contributions of the Caucasian and Asian newcomers -- expertise in Western weaponry and tactics, massive investment of money and expertise, massive amounts of wealth-creating labor. It is historically, legally, and morally wrong for one partner to say to all other partners "OK, we let you in; thanks for the help; now everything we built together belongs to us exclusively." The "native Hawaiian Government Reorganization" bill seeks to "reorganize" something that never existed; i.e., a government ruling all the Hawaiian islands consisting solely of ethnic Hawaiians.
The first sentence of Hawaii's first Constitution (1840), known to historians as the kokokahi sentence, was written on advice of American missionary William Richards. It is perhaps the most beautiful expression of unity and equality ever spoken or written: "Ua hana mai ke Akua i na lahuikanaka a pau i ke koko hookahi, e noho like lakou ma ka honua nei me ke kuikahi, a me ka pomaikai." In English, it can be translated into modern usage as follows: "God has made of one blood all races of people to dwell upon this Earth in unity and blessedness." For further information see "The Aloha Spirit -- what it is, who possess it, and why it is important" at
The Akaka bill would do exactly the opposite of the one-blood concept, ripping us apart for no reason other than race, establishing a binary opposition of "us vs. them," dividing Hawaiian children from non-Hawaiian parents, spawning jealousies between members of the Akaka tribe and their cousins who are not allowed to belong. This is not aloha.
Instead of one Hawaii there would be two. A government composed exclusively of ethnic Hawaiians would constantly demand more and more money, land, and special rights to be taken away from the ever-diminishing government representing all Hawaii's people. Ethnic Hawaiians would vote for State Senators and Representatives at the same time they are voting for tribal leaders who will sit across the bargaining table from them. This dual voting is far more serious in Hawaii than in any other state, because ethnic Hawaiians comprise 20% of the State's population, and politicians generally kow-tow to them out of fear of racial bloc voting. For example, Clayton Hee was head of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for many years, and now sits as head of the state Senate Committee on Water, Land, Agriculture, and Hawaiian affairs. His thumb will weigh heavy on the scale when he decides how much of the State of Hawaii's lands and waters should be given to the Akaka tribe.
The Kingdom of Hawaii was founded by people of different races working together on the battlefield and in the government. That cooperation continued throughout the Kingdom's history. Every person born in the Kingdom, regardless of race, was thereby a subject of the Kingdom with all the same rights as ethnic Hawaiians. Immigrants could become naturalized subjects of the Kingdom, with full rights; and many Asians and Caucasians did so. From 1850 to 1893, about 1/4 to 1/3 of the members of the Legislature at various times were Caucasians appointed by the King to the House of Nobles and also elected to the House of Representatives (and later elected to the House of Nobles after a Constitutional change). Nearly all government department heads and judges were Caucasian. At the time the monarchy was overthrown in 1893 only 40% of Hawaii's people had a drop of Hawaiian native blood; and by the time of the first U.S. Census (1900) after Annexation, only 26% were full or part Hawaiian. The Hawaiian Government Reorganization bill (Akaka bill) proposes a government of, by, and for ethnic Hawaiians alone. There has never been a unified government for all the Hawaiian islands that included only ethnic Hawaiians, either among the leaders or among the people.
The Reform Constitution of 1887 (bayonet Constitution) had the primary purpose of fighting corruption by severely limiting the power of the King. It was actually a revolution, since a mob of 1500 armed men gave the King the choice of signing the Constitution or being ousted. One part of that Constitution denied voting rights to Asians. It was the first time in the history of Hawaii that voting rights were denied on the basis of race. But that evil in 1887 was embraced by Kalakaua and the natives just as much as it was embraced by the Caucasians, because both groups saw the rapidly rising Asian population as a threat to their joint hegemony. The number of Asian immigrants who gave up citizenship in the land of their birth to become naturalized subjects of the Kingdom was small. But Asians were rapidly becoming the majority race. All their babies born on Hawaiian soil were automatically subjects of the Kingdom and would become eligible to vote 20 years later unless something was done. That's why Kalakaua never protested the disenfranchisement of Asians, and signed the new Constitution to hang onto his crown at their expense.
Today we once again have Hawaiian sovereignty activists telling Asians that they are merely settlers in an ethnic Hawaiian plantation even if their families have been here for seven generations. The activists demand that Asians know their place, which is to be subservient to anyone with a drop of Hawaiian blood; and to help ethnic Hawaiians overthrow the yoke of American occupation and oppression. See a book review of "Asian Settler Colonialism" (UH Press, 2008) at
Today, everyone born or naturalized in Hawaii or anywhere else in the U.S. is a citizen of the U.S. with full voting rights, full property rights, and equal protection under the law. We can keep it that way only by defeating the Akaka bill. Please see "Hawaiian Apartheid: Racial Separatism and Ethnic Nationalism in the Aloha State" at
A letter to President Obama asks him to consider the evils of the Akaka bill in light of African-American history and aspirations. Suppose we create a government exclusively for all 40 Million Americans who have at least one drop of African blood, and empower that Nation of New Africa to negotiate for money, land, and jurisdictional authority. Would that be good for America? Would it be good for African-Americans? The impact on Hawaii of passing the Akaka bill would be far worse than the impact on all of America of creating a New-Africa tribe. That's because only 13% of Americans have at least one drop of African blood, whereas 20% of Hawaii's people have at least a drop of Hawaiian blood. America had a racial separatist movement, just as the Akaka bill heads the list of Hawaiian separatist proposals. But the black separatists like Elijah Muhammad, Louis Farrakhan, the Black Panthers, and Malcolm X (before his pilgrimage to Mecca), fortunately lost the battle for hearts and minds to integrationists like Martin Luther King. The letter to President Obama can be seen at
On Wednesday, June 15, 2005 the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii (a local think-tank) published an advertisement in the Honolulu Advertiser that took up almost the entirety of page 14. The ad featured a huge photo of the Kamehameha Statue at Ali'iolani Hale, together with text (below). The beautiful ad, in shades of gold, brown, red, and white, can be downloaded in pdf format at:
Here is the text of the ad: "Kamehameha united us all. Long before he unified the islands in 1810, Kamehameha the Great brought non-natives on to his team and into his family. Ever since then, non-natives have continued to intermarry, assimilate and contribute to the social, economic and political life of Hawaii. Most Native Hawaiians today are mostly of other ancestries and Hawaii's racial blending has become a model for the world. Akaka would divide us forever. The Akaka bill would impose on the people of Hawaii an unprecedented separate government to be created by Native Hawaiians only. It would require the U.S. to recognize the new government as the governing body of ALL of the Native Hawaiian people whether a majority of Hawaiians agreed or not---no vote, no referendum, no chance to debate. On his deathbed, King Kamehameha the Great said, "I have given you -- the greatest good: peace. And a kingdom which -- is all one -- a kingdom of all the islands." The Akaka Bill would divide the people of Hawaii forever and undo the unification which made Kamehameha not only the greatest of the Hawaiian chiefs, but one of the great men of world history."
We've all heard the closing line spoken by ministers presiding over weddings: "What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." Today, in honor of Kamehameha Day, let's say: What Kamehameha hath joined together, let not Akaka rip asunder.
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(c) Copyright 2010 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved