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A series of Hawaiian sovereignty public forums in 2014 -- A small group of independence activists uses deceptive advertising to make a one-sided propaganda circus seem to be an open and honest discussion, tells falsehoods about Hawaii history as though they are true, and allows no rebuttal.

(c) Copyright February 26, 2014 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved

On December 11, 2013 an article was published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, written by a group of Hawaiian independence activists, explaining their viewpoint and announcing that throughout 2014 there will be a series of monthly public forums about Hawaiian sovereignty. The authors, most of whom have a long history of independence activism and would become panelists in the 2014 forums, included University of Hawaii Professor Jonathan Osorio, attorney and radio broadcaster Hayden Burgess (alias Poka Laenui) and his wife Puanani Burgess, Leon Siu, Tony Castanha, Pilipo Souza, Kuhio Vogeler, and others.

The spokesman for the group was Michael Kioni Dudley, a Caucasian retired school teacher with a self-adopted and misspelled middle name who co-authored a book in 1990 with Keoni K. Agard entitled "Hawaiian Nation: A Call for Hawaiian Sovereignty." Dudley is typical of liberal social-justice activist Caucasians from the mainland who come to Hawaii, immerse themselves in Hawaiian culture, learn a distorted narrative of Hawaiian history portraying the natives as poor downtrodden victims of American imperialism, and quickly become aggressive supporters of Hawaiian independence. He lived as a Catholic monk in Southern California for 17 years. In Hawaii Dudley has also been active for many years serving the typical liberal political agenda: supporting environmental stewardship, sustainable agriculture, and preservation of farmland; while opposing genetically modified crops and development of housing subdivisions. He ran for Governor on the Green Party ticket, and has been a member of his neighborhood board and chairman of its [ethnic] Hawaiian Affairs Committee. Further biographical information is contained in a certificate of commendation awarded to him by the Honolulu County Council:

The panels were advertised as welcoming all views and open to the public, including people of all races. But in fact these performances were carefully choreographed so all the panelists presented different aspects of the same viewpoint. They were staged as propaganda for independence. The first 90 minutes were televised live, while a question and answer period afterward was taped but not televised live and might or might not become available later after being edited (censored).

The basic dishonesty of advertising an event as open to all views but then conducting it as one-sided propaganda was amplified by the dishonorable beavior of spokesman Kioni Dudley. He advertised the first forum as being sponsored by the neighborhood board of which he is a member, when in fact the board never agreed to sponsor it. Here's the flyer advertising the first forum:

In a highly unusual action, the neighborhood board held a special meeting at the Kapolei civic center at the same time as the first forum was being televised live from the Kapolei High School cafeteria. The board reprimanded Dudley for falsely publicizing his forum as being sponsored by the board. They did not merely remove him from his committee chairmanship because of his abuse of their trust -- they completely abolished his committee! The use of the high school cafeteria where the first forum was held in January might have been given free of charge because it appeared to be an officially sponsored neighborhood board event, or else the neighborhood board might have been expected to pay for it -- either way Dudley's actions might have created liability for the board. He also tried to sell copies of his book with proceeds to go directly to his personal address, which violated the rule that government officials are not allowed to use government sponsored meetings in government facilities to sell things for personal profit. More information about Dudley and the neighborhood board censure of him is below. The official minutes of the neighborhood board special meeting are here:

Having lost any appearance of board sponsorship, the second forum, in February, was held in a small studio at the headquarters building of 'Olelo Community Media in Mapunapuna, where such panel discussions are produced and televised under terms of the cable television company's license which requires it to provide facilities, equipment, and air time free of charge for community events. Although publicity said the public was invited to attend and to join the discussion, not many people could fit into the studio, and of course any unscripted discussions happened only after the 90-minute live broadcast had finished. Here's the flyer for the February forum:

The announced topic of the February forum was "A fresh look at Hawaiian history from Kamehameha to 1900." Later in this essay are the main conclusions about Hawaii's history that the forum speakers tried to make viewers believe. Of course no rebuttal was allowed during the carefully scripted live propaganda broadcast. Nevertheless, brief rebuttals are provided below in this essay for some of the topics.

A webpage for the series of forums has been created by the independence activists, entitled "The Sovereignty Conversation: Looking Back, Looking Ahead in Hawai'i" The webpage is beautifully designed, and will be providing videos of each of the forums, a collection of suggested activities for families to engage in at home, and a discussion board where people can post comments about various topics. However, anyone who wants to post any comments must first register for the bulletin board, and then must log in on each occasion. It's unclear whether the moderator will be filtering who is allowed to register and perhaps also censoring the individual comments. Perhaps there will be interesting things to read there! "The Sovereignty Conversation" webpage is at


Most independence activists oppose federal recognition for a "Native Hawaiian" tribe that would be comparable to an Indian tribe, whether it would be created through a bill in Congress (the Akaka bill), through a bureaucratic process in the Department of Interior, or through a Presidential Executive Order. They oppose federal recognition because it would place ethnic Hawaiians under the plenary power of Congress rather than providing a direct pathway to independence; and because ethnic Hawaiians who sign up for the tribe would thereby be acknowledging that they are Americans and that the U.S. has sovereignty over them. The independence activists also oppose the Kana'iolowalu process passed by the state legislature whereby a racial registry (now with more than 100,000 names) will become the charter membership of a state-recognized tribe which could then negotiate for land, money, and jurisdictional authority from the state and could also seek federal recognition. The Kana'iolowalu process is moving forward, and there are many indicators of recognition activity behind the scenes inside the Obama administration. Thus the independence activists feel an urgent need to grab public attention for their views; and know they must seek support from the 80% of Hawaii's people who have no native blood.

Hawaii's independence activists usually behave a certain way whenever they stage public events. Their behavior can best be described as follows. Carefully plan the event to make sure that all speakers, exhibits, etc. unanimously support their message; make it seem open to all views by inviting the public to attend and to ask questions afterward, but limit questions or comments to friendly ones; make a videotape which can be edited to delete unfriendly comments or questions and can then be shown many times on public-access television. It works that way for forums on Hawaiian history or Hawaiian culture, whether such forums are held on the lawn at Iolani Palace or at a college. At a university there should be open discussion and vigorous debate where opposing views are heard; but that never happens in a professor's classroom or when there's a public forum on Hawaiian history or culture -- a panel with four professors or community activists will have each panelist presenting one aspect or topic, but all agreeing and merely amplifying each other on every aspect of the discussion. Students are often required by their teachers to attend these forums or watch them on TV, and are then required to write reaction papers which will not receive good grades unless they parrot the official doctrine.


Professor Jonathan Osorio spoke about chiefly leadership styles in the Kingdom, for about 30 minutes, focusing on three monarchs whom he characterized as defenders of Hawaiian nationhood.

Osorio described Kamehameha The Great as a charismatic fierce warrior who had compassion for the commoners as shown by his Law of the Splintered Paddle, and the difficulties he faced in governance because of the 50-75% decline in population during his reign caused by Western diseases. Unfortunately Osorio never mentioned the the role of Kamehameha's European military weapons (metal spears, guns, cannons, oceangoing ships) and the advisors without whom he could never have succeeded in unifying all the islands -- most notably John Young, Isaac Davis, George Vancouver, and others. Osorio did not mention that the Europeans were full partners in building the Kingdom -- for example John Young was not only a battlefield general, teaching the natives how to use the European weapons and the strategies for deploying them, but after the Kingdom was unified Young served in the council of chiefs, was Governor of Hawaii Island, was given one of Kamehameha's daughters in marriage and a house immediately next to the great sacred Heiau Pu'ukohola. See webpage "Were non-kanaka maoli historically full partners in Hawai'i, or only second-class guests?" at

Osorio described Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III as a well-educated man who was literate in English, French, and Hawaiian; who often felt in conflict with his American missionary advisors; and who fended off the demands of British consul Charleton and the military takeover by Lord Paulet. But Osorio minimized the great importance of Kauikeaouli's two closest advisors, the American missionaries William Richards and Rev. Dr. Gerrit Judd. He briefly described how Admiral Thomas restored sovereignty after Paulet's takeover. But Osorio never mentioned that it was Dr. Judd who risked his life in the dead of night to write the appeal which resulted in getting Admiral Thomas to come to the rescue. Osorio never mentioned the crucial role played by Rev. Richards in helping Kauikeaouli conceive and write the Constitution of 1840, including the magnificent keynote first sentence "God hath made of one blood all races of people to dwell upon this Earth in unity and blessedness." Osorio never mentioned how Kauikeaouli entrusted to Richards signed and sealed blank parchment to take on a trip to America and Europe in 1843 for use in selling the Kingdom if in his judgment that was the best thing to do. See a webpage about how today's sovereignty activists engage in ethnic cleansing of Hawaiian Kingdom holidays in an effort to minimize the importance of American and Europeans as full partners:

Osorio's biggest factual mistake of the night was his statement that Kauikeaouli was 19 years old when he became King -- actually he was only somewhere between 11-13 years old, depending on which of several plausible years he was actually born. See "King Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III chose St. Patrick's Day to be his official birthday. But why did neither he nor anyone else know his actual biological birthdate?" at

Osorio described Queen Lili'uokalani as having been hamstrung by the Bayonet Constitution of 1887 and betrayed by her cabinet ministers; and how she surrendered without a fight in the Revolution of 1893 in order to avoid bloodshed; and how she surrendered to the Americans rather than to the revolutionaries but preserved her sovereignty by including a protest in her surrender message. The trouble is that Lili'uokalani actively conspired in the use of violence on several occasions, most notably with Robert Wilcox in the abortive coup of 1889 which attempted to overthrow Kalakaua (and would have put Lili'uokalani on the throne) and the attempted counterrevolution of 1895 when guns, ammunition, and grenades were found stashed in a flowerbed at her private home Washington Place. see "The Lili'uokalani Cult" at and
"Was Liliuokalani Really Like Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi?" at

After Osorio finished, then Kioni Dudley showed maps while speaking about how Hawaii fell victim to the U.S. expansionist "Westward Ho" dream of God-given Manifest Destiny. Dudley gave the usual narrative about how there was a conspiracy at the highest levels of the U.S. government under several Presidents to take over Hawaii. But of course there are many ways to interpret what was said and done. For example John McAllister Schofield had visited Hawaii in 1872 to study whether Pearl Harbor would be suitable for a naval base. Dudley portrayed this as some sort of a spy mission; but of course it was normal due diligence prior to the U.S. making major concessions to the Kingdom regarding sugar tariffs a few years later in a treaty signed with King Kalakaua. Discussions in the White House in 1892 among President Harrison, Secretary of State Blaine, and Hawaii diplomat Lorrin Thurston were described by Dudley as a conspiracy to take over Hawaii. But of course there are many ways to interpret what was said and done. When Secretary of State Blaine told Hawaii delegate Thurston that if things in Hawaii developed in such a way that Hawaii were to offer itself for annexation, there would be a ready reception in Washington -- was that in effect a command to make a revolution, as Dudley implied, or was it merely an assurance that if things go the way Thurston is predicting, then the U.S. would not turn its back on Hawaii?

The next speaker was Chris Lum Lee, who has an MBA and is a candidate for the O'ahu seat on the OHA board. Mr. Lee read lengthy excerpts from President Cleveland's December 1893 message to Congress deploring U.S. actions in the Hawaiian revolution. President Cleveland's message was full of misstatements and hyperbole, but Mr. Lee did a good job of reading it. With an MBA to help OHA manage its $600 Million in assets, and his good reading skills, perhaps Mr. Lee deserves to be elected. His campaign webpage is at

The next speaker was attorney Hayden Burgess, alias Poka Laenui, who covered Hawaii's history between 1894 and 1900. Burgess argued that the revolutionary Provisional Government, the Republic of Hawaii, the annexation of 1898, and Organic Act of 1900 were all examples of de facto authority by the United States but not de jure sovereignty which remained with the illegally overthrown Kingdom. He complained that the U.S. peacekeepers had done the overthrowing of the Queen. But actually the local militia did the job and the U.S. peacekeepers did not take over any buildings, did not patrol the streets, did not give any food or ammunition to the revolutionaries.

Burgess referred to the U.S. apology resolution of 1993 as a confession by the U.S. that it had illegally overthrown the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893. However, the apology resolution is filled with historical falsehoods, and never had a committee hearing where those falsehoods could have been exposed. Today's sovereignty activists also violate the promise made by Senator Inouye on the floor of the Senate that is is merely an apology and would never be used to demand secession or to demand reparations or restitution. For details and citations regarding all these points see

Burgess is correct that the Provisional Government had only de facto authority, although he failed to mention that all the local consuls of foreign governments sent short letters officially acknowledging that de facto authority within two days after the revolution. See those letters on pp. 1103-1111 of the Morgan Report at

Burgess is completely wrong when he said that the Republic had only de facto authority and was nothing more than a placeholder until the Queen could be restored. A Constitutional Convention was held in 1894, and at least five of the names on the committee were Hawaiian. John Kaulukou, a full-blooded Hawaiian and former royalist, became Speaker of the House of the Republic. During the last half of 1894 emperors, kings, queens, and presidents of at least 19 nations on 4 continents personally signed letters in 11 languages formally recognizing the Republic as the de jure government. This is how new permanent governments get recognized de jure following a revolution -- when the heads of state of other sovereign nations personally acknowledge their sovereignty. Those letters are in the Hawaii archives. Photos of them are on display on a webpage at

Burgess complained that the Treaty of Annexation was illegal because it was not passed by a 2/3 vote of the Senators who were present. Although the final vote in the Senate was 42-21, which is exactly 2/3, Burgess is correct that additional Senators were present but did not vote, and the Constitution requires 2/3 of all who were present. But the fact remains that it is a matter of U.S. law, for the U.S. alone to decide, by what method a treaty can be ratified. 50 years previously a precedent had been set when Texas was annexed by means of a joint resolution of the Senate and House signed by the President. That same method was now used, in 1898, to ratify the Treaty of Annexation which Hawaii had offered. Senators who had opposed the annexation of Texas, or of Hawaii, could have filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court, but chose not to do so. See "Treaty of Annexation between the Republic of Hawaii and the United States of America (1898). Full text of the treaty, and of the resolutions whereby the Republic of Hawaii legislature and the U.S. Congress ratified it. The politics surrounding the treaty, then and now." at

Burgess also raised the issue whether the legal citizenship status of the people of Hawaii could be changed without their consent. He noted that the Constitution of the Republic declared that all subjects of the Kingdom were now citizens of the Republic; and then later the Treaty of annexation declared that all citizens of the Republic were now citizens of the United States. But nobody asked them whether they wanted to be citizens of the Republic or of the United States. Mr. Burgess often holds himself out to be an expert on "international law." Surely he must know that neither in the 1890s nor at the present time does "international law" require that the citizens of a nation must be asked for their permission when their nationality or citizenship is changed as a result of annexation. Those individuals who dislike the change are certainly free to go to a different place where they might request refugee status or seek citizenship; but those who stay automatically become citizens owing allegiance to the new government. Did Kamehameha The Great ask permission from the people of O'ahu when he overthrew their government and demanded their allegiance to his new sovereignty? Burgess would reply that there are different standards in different historical periods a century apart. But even so, throughout the latter 1800s and the 1900s, nations have been merged, split apart, etc. without permission of their citizens; yet the citizens then get voting rights and passports under the sovereignty of their new nationality. As Kioni Dudley pointed out in his presentation on U.S. Manifest Destiny, about 1/3 of today's mainland U.S. was purchased from France in the "Louisiana Purchase"; but Dudley failed to point out that nobody asked the permission of the people living there who now owed their allegiance to the U.S. Poland has been repeatedly broken into pieces passed back and forth between Germany and Russia and sometimes back again to Poland, and the individuals living there have whatever citizenship was decided for them. In the 1930s the people of Austria voted to merge with Germany under the leadership of Hitler; many Austrians strongly disagreed with the merger (just as many Hawaiian natives strongly disagreed with Hawaii's merger into the U.S.), but the only way individuals can choose to remain outside a merger is if they leave their nation. The people of Mexico were citizens of Spain; then citizens of Mexico; and then many of them became Texans after Texas seceded from Mexico; and then they became U.S. citizens after Texas was annexed. A vote was taken among some citizens of the independent Republic of Texas to see whether they would agree to be annexed to the U.S.; but only the Anglos voted and the indigenous people were never asked for their permission. So far this rebuttal has focused only on the residents of an annexed area who were alive at the time the annexation took place; but of course it's even more clear that people born and raised in a place decades after annexation are clearly citizens of the new sovereignty. However much Burgess might disagree with historical precedent and claim it is immoral or contrary to international law, he needs to accept that international law is what is established in practice, not what might be written on paper by theoreticians.

The February forum concluded with a brief presentation by Kuhio Vogeler announcing the webpage devoted to the series of forums, entitled "The Sovereignty Conversation: Looking Back, Looking Ahead in Hawai'i" The webpage is beautifully designed, and will be providing videos of each of the forums, a collection of suggested activities for families to engage in at home, and a discussion board where people can post comments about various topics. However, anyone who wants to post any comments must first register for the bulletin board, and then must log in on each occasion. It's unclear whether the moderator will be filtering who is allowed to register and perhaps also censoring the individual comments. Perhaps there will be interesting things to read there! "The Sovereignty Conversation" webpage is at


Kioni Dudley has not been very active on sovereignty for the past 15 years or so. But there are two main reasons why he was chosen to be organizer and spokesman for this series of forums: (1) He is Caucasian, and therefore might be able to calm the fears of Caucasians who are the most vocal opponents of Hawaiian sovereignty; and (2) He has been very active in politics, knows how the process works, and has served for many years as a member of the Makakilo, Kapolei, Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board where he was also chairman of the Committee on [ethnic] Hawaiian Affairs.

Dudley (ab)used his position on the neighborhood board to make it appear that the board was sponsoring the series of sovereignty forums, and to get the use of the Kapolei High School cafeteria as a place where a large audience could come. But the neighborhood board never gave its approval to sponsor this event. The board was so outraged that it held a special meeting on the same date and time as Dudley's first sovereignty forum, censured him, and not only stripped him of his chairmanship of the Hawaiian affairs committee but actually abolished that committee.

The official minutes of the neighborhood board special meeting include the following findings:

"All members present agreed that committee chair (Dr. Kioni Dudley), had acted independently, as a committee of one person, released press releases spoke on behalf of the Board, and improperly gave the public a false impression that the Makakilo, Kapolei, Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board sponsored, hosted, or was presenting a Hawaiian Sovereignty forum series, when in reality the board, as a committee, or in its entirety, had never voted or agreed to this representation. Board members were unanimous in finding that the committee chair Dudley had violated sections 214-21E and 214-23 of the Neighborhood Plan. Member D. Kalani Capelouto pointed out that it was wrong for Committee Chair Dudley to have used the Board's name (and reputation) as leverage for the event, without properly giving the board a chance to opine on the subject. He also indicated that because the press releases had the "name of the Board" as an official entity, when the Board had not in fact endorsed it, and that book had an order form on the back, with funds being sent to Dudley's personal residence, that it was possible that member Dudley "could have been" in a position to have improperly gained financially from his unauthorized actions. ... it was agreed that although many felt that Hawaiian Sovereignty series of forums was a worthwhile undertaking; member Dudley had "clearly" acted outside his authority regarding press releases, his misrepresenting the collaboration of this Board and that of the Kana'iolowalu organization, and speaking on behalf of the entire Makakilo Kapolei, Honokai Hale Board, when the Board had not given its permission to do so. ... Given the improper handling of this by the Hawaiian Affairs Committee Chair Dudley, it was also was necessary, as a Board to take action to prevent another violation. A motion was made by member D. Kalani Capelouto to "dissolve the Hawaiian Affairs Committee and in its place, request that DHHL send a representative as a community conduit to address Hawaiian concerns and issues". ... A vote was taken and the results were 5 (Yes), and 1 (No) ... NOTE: During this "entire" Special Meeting, the presentation on Hawaiian Sovereignty, presented by Dr. Dudley at Kapolei High School was also being simulcast (via Olelo) on the large screen at Kapolei Hale for board members and guests to observe."

The entire minutes for that meeting are on the neighborhood board's webpage at

Here is the publicity flyer circulated by Kioni Dudley a few days before the forum, clearly identifying the neighborhood board as sponsor


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(c) Copyright February 26, 2014 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved