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Land Acknowledgments: The dangerous new fad of institutions expressing appreciation for aboriginals who long ago occupied their lands and whose descendants, however attenuated and assimilated, remain.

(c) Copyright November 6, 2019 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved


There's a new fad of institutions expressing respectful appreciation for aboriginals who long ago occupied their land and whose descendants of low native blood quantum still live there. In Hawaii we often dedicate a new building or open a meeting with a brief ceremonial blessing, prayer, or chant. Perhaps now a land acknowledgment statement might be given instead of or in addition to the traditional blessing. But such a well-meaning statement of sentiment is often given under pressure and can be abused by today's descendants in ways that the traditional blessing does not allow, because a land acknowledgment asserts an alleged historical fact and could be construed as an apology warranting demands for reparations. Do such statements of appreciation convey an implication that permission is required from today's descendants for continued use of the land by the acknowledging institutions? Do such statements imply that money, or control of an institution, is owed as rent for continued use of the land? Should such statements be taken as implying an apology for prior use when there was no permission, and perhaps also as a pledge to make restitution? Today's descendants say that an apology without restitution is worse than meaningless; it is an arrogant slap in the face telling descendants to forget the past and to accept ongoing dominance, oppression, and exploitation of environmental resources and descendants' low-paid labor. Today's seemingly humble descendants are "licking their chops" as they expect to pounce upon land acknowledgment statements as evidence supporting legal and political demands for racial supremacy in government decision-making in general and land-use policy in particular. That's why a land acknowledgment can be dangerous -- it carries risks of legal and political consequences which purely ceremonial blessings do not entail.

Four news events provide evidence that the fad exists and explain what it means. Three of these events were reported in Hawaii's news media within a span of a few days in late October 2019, while another commentary provides a detailed "politically correct" analysis of a land acknowledgment made at the beginning of a dance performance in New York during the same time period. Following those materials there are numerous references with clickable links providing further analysis of specific topics related to Hawaiian sovereignty.

OUTLINE OF TOPICS (Scroll down to find each one)

The militant attitude of today's activist descendants and their well-meaning but naive left-wing allies

Four published news reports from late October 2019: Official UH announcement of Land Acknowledgment; UH Board of Regents publishes proposed final set of rules for Mauna Kea; "Dance Magazine" publishes a commentary reporting a Land Acknowledgment offered at the beginning of a dance performance in New York including politically correct analysis of its purpose; Letter in Hilo newspaper from married couple pledging their estate will donate to Native Hawaiian groups the value of the land under their house

Apologies; demands for restitution; creditor race vs. debtor race; Liliuokalani v. United States 45 Ct. Cl. 418 (1910) [demanding restitution for ceded lands]; Morgan Report (1894); Congressionally authorized Native Hawaiians Study Commission Report (1983); Hawaii v. Office of Hawaiian Affairs 556 U.S. 163 (2009) [ruling that the ceded lands belong to State of Hawaii in fee simple absolute and apology resolution is irrelevant)]

Which people are truly indigenous? Why should they be entitled to special rights and protections? Why ethnic Hawaiians are not indigenous and should not be granted such status. Indigenous intellectual property rights. Hawaiian epistemology -- a theory of how ethnic Hawaiians create knowledge in unique ways based on their indigenous status. How revival of ancient Hawaiian religion provides a theological justification for race-based political fascism. How understanding the universality of the Aloha Spirit can overcome Hawaiian religious fascism.

How "make-nice" sentimental acknowledgments and apologies have been abused in political power-plays. Examples of "Native Hawaiian" victimhood claims and associated demands for restitution: Ceded lands; hundreds of government racial entitlement programs; special rights and exemptions from laws; free tuition at University of Hawaii; how allegations that Hawaiian language was suppressed led to its recognition as an official language in the 1978 Constitution and ongoing demands to use it in government documents and court proceedings.


The militant attitude of today's activist descendants and their well-meaning but naive left-wing allies

Here is the attitude of today's activist descendants. This is OUR land. It is our ancestral homeland from time immemorial. We and this land are children of the gods. The gods, and these lands, and we, are a family, having a genealogical relationship with each other. Outsiders are not part of our sacred family, although they might make babies with us; those children share our blood and therefore do belong. Love for the land is part of our DNA. It runs in our blood along with the wisdom of our ancestors, passed down to us through generations of inborn racial memory and storytelling. Outsiders came. They oppressed our people, suppressed our language and culture, and took control of our land. But this is not their place -- they have no inherent relationship with our gods or our land. We feel generational trauma from events that happened before anyone now living was born. We have awakened to our ancestry and our destiny. Past is prologue. Our ancestors, including the gods and the land, are calling us to action. We are a nation rising. We are now working to throw off the yoke of colonial imperialism and seize control of what is rightfully ours.

Here is the attitude of today's well-meaning but naive left-wing liberals; and also the attitude of their intellectually astute politically militant Marxist allies. We apologize. We are truly sorry for the evils perpetrated upon you by our ancestors; and we are sorry for our own misdeeds which we have committed due to our ignorance of your culture and your relationship to your sacred lands. We beg for forgiveness. We ask that you educate us so we may know what is right. And we pledge to give restitution in the form of money, land, and political power. One way to begin the process of restitution is to acknowledge that this is the homeland of your aboriginal ancestors and it rightfully belongs to you descendants today. We will assist you as you seek financial and restitution, control of the land, and political empowerment.


Four published news reports from late October 2019:


1. The official University of Hawaii news website reported that the provost of the University's flagship Manoa campus "offered a Land Acknowledgement, a formal statement paying tribute to the original inhabitants of the land."

UH Mānoa offers Land Acknowledgment to Native Hawaiians at national conference

Thursday October 31, 2019 UH News

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa offered a Land Acknowledgement, a formal statement paying tribute to the original inhabitants of the land, during the opening session of the 2019 National Diversity in STEM Conference by the Society for Advancement of Chicano/Hispanics & Native Americans (SACNAS). UH is the presenting sponsor of the three-day conference held at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center.

UH Mānoa Provost Michael Bruno delivered the Land Acknowledgement as part of his opening remarks stating, “…it is with profound reflection that I offer up this Land Acknowledgement, acknowledging Hawaiʻi as an indigenous space whose original people are today identified as Native Hawaiians. The ʻāina on which we gather is located in the ahupuaʻa of Waikīkī, in the moku of Kona, on the mokupuni of Oʻahu, in the paeʻāina of Hawaiʻi. I recognize that her majesty Queen Liliʻuokalani yielded the Hawaiian Kingdom and these territories under duress and protest to the United States to avoid the bloodshed of her people. I further recognize that generations of indigenous Hawaiians and their knowledge systems shaped Hawaiʻi in a sustainable way that allows me to enjoy her gifts today. For this I am truly grateful.”

Bruno also spoke about how this is a moment of change in Hawaiʻi’s history and of the universityʻs struggle with its support of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea and its commitment to becoming a Native Hawaiian place of learning and a model indigenous-serving institution.

Provost Bruno’s full message

Aloha kākou,

Wow, as I look out and around this room, I am inspired, humbled, and full of hope for the future. And I am honored to welcome you, on behalf of the University of Hawaiʻi, to the 2019 National Diversity in STEM Conference!

On behalf of the University of Hawaiʻi, it is with profound reflection that I offer up this Land Acknowledgement, acknowledging Hawaiʻi as an indigenous space whose original people are today identified as Native Hawaiians. The ʻāina on which we gather is located in the ahupuaʻa of Waikīkī, in the moku of Kona, on the mokupuni of Oʻahu, in the paeʻāina of Hawaiʻi. I recognize that her majesty Queen Liliʻuokalani yielded the Hawaiian Kingdom and these territories under duress and protest to the United States to avoid the bloodshed of her people. I further recognize that generations of Indigenous Hawaiians and their knowledge systems shaped Hawaiʻi in a sustainable way that allows me to enjoy her gifts today. For this I am truly grateful.

Located in the most diverse community and environment in the world, the University of Hawaiʻi is one of the world’s leading research universities AND the most community-serving institution I have ever known. This duality of scholarly excellence and community service is in fact what drew me to the university and what keeps all of us going every day. The 10-campus University of Hawaiʻi System is one of the most ethnically diverse institutions in the nation; a land, sea, space, and sun-grant university that includes the only freestanding school of indigenous knowledge at a major research university (UH Mānoa), and the only college dedicated to an indigenous language at a public comprehensive university (UH Hilo).

By way of introduction, I am a first generation student and the son of immigrant parents who sacrificed everything so that my siblings and I could follow our dreams. My journey from the islands of New York to the islands of Hawaiʻi was made seamless by the aloha shared with me by the faculty, staff and students of this great university. I am humbled every day by the profound and lasting impact of the efforts of our faculty, students and staff here in Hawaiʻi and well beyond. Our world-class research portfolio and our commitment to excellence in teaching defines and guides our kuleana—our responsibilities and privileges—to Hawaiʻi, the Pacific, and the world.

It is important to consider the context in which we come together this morning. This context is embodied in the Hawaiian phrase HE HULIAU: A time of change; a turning point. We are all witnessing huliau. Climate change requires that we re-examine the ways in which we care for our lands, and in which we conduct our research and educate our students. We see rapid technological change all around us, as well as geopolitical shifts, rising income inequality, disparities in health care and education, and demands for social justice across our communities and institutions.

Here at home, our struggle over the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea challenges us to reflect on the mission of the University. We are internationally recognized for our research strengths, including astronomy. At the same time, we have publicly committed to becoming a Native Hawaiian Place of Learning and a model indigenous-serving institution. How do we, then, reconcile the building of the telescope? As I consider this question, I cannot help but recognize the opportunity for our students to develop research and critical thinking skills, and to engage with our learning objectives of sustainability and civic engagement. It is my strong belief that by introducing our students to different knowledge systems, including those that can appear at times to be in conflict, we will build ethical leaders with the confidence and creativity to thrive even in times of change and disruption.

I look forward to spending the next few days with you, and I wish you well as we come together to listen and learn from each other, and chart a course to do great things. Together. Mahalo!

Michael Bruno
UH Mānoa Provost


2. On the same Thursday as the Land Acknowledgment was published, the University of Hawaii Board of Regents also published what it expects will be the final list of regulations governing how the summit area of Mauna Kea can be used for commercial and cultural activities (including "Native Hawaiian" traditional and customary practices protected by the state Constitution). A final round of public hearings on these regulations will be held the following Wednesday. There have been massive protest marches and blocking of access roads to the summit to prevent construction of a huge new Thirty Meter Telescope following ten years of environmental impact statements and related lawsuits where most of the opponents and road blockers are ethnic Hawaiians claiming Mauna Kea is sacred. The Governor, and the mayor of the island where Mauna Kea is located, are frightened -- they have delayed and refused to use police to enforce implementation of the construction permit. The leaders of the protest are ethnic Hawaiian sovereignty activists who have never displayed much zeal for the ancient Hawaiian religion, but are using the protests and assertions of sacredness to recruit large numbers of supporters for their secessionist movement.

Hawaii Tribune-Herald [Hilo] Friday, November 1, 2019

Maunakea rules unveiled


The final version of proposed administrative rules for Maunakea lands managed by the University of Hawaii were unveiled Thursday.

At the bottom of nearly 1,700 pages of meeting materials for the upcoming meeting of the UH Board of Regents is the last proposed draft of the administrative rules,which have been a point of contention for the Hawaiian community for more than a year.

The rules, whose purpose is to “provide for the proper use, management and protection of cultural, natural, and scientific resources of the UH management areas,” have gone through two major revisions since being first revealed in late 2018. After two rounds of public hearings throughout the state, the Board of Regents will make a decision regarding the final draft of the rules at a meeting on Wednesday in Hilo.

The most recent changes to the rules, brought about by public hearings in June, are largely “non-substantial,” primarily concerning revised language for the sake of clarity. For example, the previous draft included language that prohibits activity that would “harass” visitors to the mountain; the final draft removes the word “harass” because it is unnecessarily vague.

Other changes made since June include:

• Clarifications explaining that vehicles that are left unattended in closed areas, left in an open area for 48 hours, or causing a safety hazard can be impounded at the discretion of an authorized agent.

• A provision adding vaping and e-cigarettes to the rules’ prohibition on smoking.

• A revision to vague language that had stated that rule violators could be banned from the mountain for an indefinite period of time; the rules now read that the prohibition lasts “until the violation has been corrected.”

• The removal of a requirement that officers issue a verbal warning for nonharmful violations before issuing a citation; the American Civil Liberties Union noted that requirement was “confusing and self-contradictory.”

• A broader and less detailed definition of the word “camping,” which now only reads “the use of UH management areas (other than designated facilities at Halepohaku) for living accommodation purposes such as sleeping activities, or making preparations to sleep using any tents or shelter or other structure or vehicle for sleeping, between one hour after sunset and sunrise.” The simpler definition allows for visitors to use tents and similar equipment to facilitate activities such as stargazing.

• An extension of the deadline to submit an appeal of a violation from seven to 10 days, at the request of the ACLU.

• Removal of “overly broad” language that required certain groups applying for a group use registration to provide proof of “indemnification of the university.” The final draft removes that requirement entirely.

The rest of the draft is identical to the version of the rules presented at the June hearings.

The proposed rules have been contentious among residents for their apparent power to impede Hawaiian cultural practices and unfettered access to the summit. Both rounds of public hearings attracted nearly universally negative testimony, with many testifiers going beyond the text of the rules to condemn the university’s management of the land.

Several substantial changes were made following the overwhelmingly negative reaction at the first set of hearings in 2018, including the outright removal of a section that appeared to set regulations on Hawaiian cultural practices, revisions to a noise prohibition to ensure that chanting and singing would remain legal, and the naming of UH President David Lassner as the sole person implementing the rules, instead of the previous language referencing an ambiguous “president’s designee.”

Despite these changes, testimony at the subsequent public hearings in June was still extremely negative.

Andre Perez, a leader among the ongoing protests at the Maunakea Access Road against construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope, said that, even with the changes, the rules seem distinctly slanted against Native Hawaiians.

“It’s very vague regarding traditional customary practices and rights,” Perez told the Tribune-Herald on Thursday. “It feels like it’s putting the onus on Hawaiians to have to prove their rights.”

Perez also said that language prohibiting the use of transmission devices north of Halepohaku and the use of drones seem tailored to specifically limit activism on the mountain.

The rules are only part of the scheduled agenda for Wednesday’s meeting. In addition, the Board of Regents’ Maunakea Governance Permitted Interaction Group, which was formed in August to identify issues relating to the university’s stewardship of the mountain, will present its findings Wednesday.

The Permitted Interaction Group will also present a resolution that, if passed, would begin the process of creating a more transparent Maunakea governance program and establish a timeline for the ongoing decommissioning process of the summit telescopes, among other things.

Finally, the Board of Regents also will rule on a request for about $900,000 to repair a building servicing the university’s 2.2-meter telescope. That building’s roof was damaged by heavy winds in February.

The Board of Regents meeting will take place at 9:45 a.m. on Wednesday at the UH-Hilo Performing Arts Center. Attendees will be allowed to testify in person or submit written testimony.

The final draft of the rules, along with some 1,650 pages of ancillary material, can be found at

** Note by website editor Ken Conklin: In September 2018 I submitted 18 pages of testimony regarding the first draft of the rules. My testimony provided general principles to support equal treatment for people of all races and religions, and specific comments applying those principles to several individual proposed rules which would give preferential treatment or even exclusive rights to ethnic Hawaiians. See


3. "Dance Magazine" publishes a commentary reporting a Land Acknowledgment offered at the beginning of a dance performance in New York. The commentary describes what a Land Acknowledgment is, and analyzes what circumstances make it sincere and not merely a public relations token performance to make an institution look good while it continues to colonize and exploit native descendants. Readers of this magazine commentary should apply the analysis of insincere tokenism to the fact that the University of Hawaii Land Acknowledgment was published on the same day as the controversial proposed final set of rules for Mauna Kea.

Dance Magazine, Oct. 31, 2019

Who Are Land Acknowledgments Really For?

by Lauren Wingenroth

Most dance performances used to begin predictably: The lights dimmed, the curtain rose and the music started. But in recent years, some audiences have started experiencing a new kind of preshow ritual: Someone walks onstage — perhaps the director or an usher — and names the indigenous tribes that have lived on the land where the venue is situated, maybe offering some information about those people or taking a moment of silence to honor them.

Land acknowledgments like these have become a bona fide trend in institutions of all kinds—from business conferences to major universities to art museums — across the country. (And in Canada, New Zealand and Australia, where they are even more common.) But they've particularly caught on in socially conscious dance venues.

It's possible that this bandwagon effect stems from the embodied nature of our form — as dancers we physically feel our connection to the land and the space we occupy. Or perhaps it's just a matter of people wanting to jump on a trend. Either way, their rising popularity in dance raises questions about who these acknowledgments are really for.

Though land acknowledgments are now most visibly practiced by non-native people as a kind of reparatory action, they stem from the ways in which native people have been relating to the land — and to one another — for centuries. This can take the form of welcoming newcomers onto a piece of land, or of asking permission to travel into a territory.

"We have always acknowledged, paid respect to and been in relationship to where we are, whether in our own homelands or when we travel," says Emily Johnson, a New York City–based Yup'ik artist who has helped venues like Abrons Arts Center develop their land acknowledgments.

In dance, most land acknowledgments are practiced as part of a preshow announcement — sometimes lumped in with information about fire exits or a thank-you message to donors and board members. For audiences who have never experienced one, they can feel out of place or jarring. More importantly, there's a danger of trivializing their meaning, or of them becoming so scripted that audiences tune out.

"Sometimes they sound like reading off a list of people who died in a war," says Rosy Simas, a Minneapolis-based Seneca dancer and choreographer, adding that this can further invisibilize native people, or perpetuate the myth that there are no native people left.

Rather than reading words off a page at all, some native dance artists instead practice nonverbal land acknowledgments. Santee Smith, for example, a Toronto-based artist from the Six Nations of the Grand River, has a solo work called Blood, Water, Earth, which she considers to be like "an embodied land acknowledgment." In Christopher K. Morgan's piece Pohaku ("stone" in Hawaiian), he enlists community members to help gather stones from the land and return them after the performance. This teaches the audience about how Hawaiians use stones traditionally, and about the natural environment where the piece is being performed.

Not all native people do land acknowledgments, though, and there are nearly as many protocols around acknowledgment as there are tribes in the U.S. But these nuances often get lost when organizations introduce land acknowledgments without proper research, says Simas.

Some make the mistake of grouping all native people together, she says, while others fail to realize the full history of the land they're on. For example, with forced removal and voluntary relocation, the descendants of the original inhabitants of a given area may now live across the country. Or in New York City, while some land acknowledgments mention only the Lenape people, Simas points out that the island of Mannahatta was for hundreds of years a place of trading where many nations came and went. "When you exclude the complexity of the history of native people, it adds to the damage of colonization," she says.

Learning the full history — and creating a land acknowledgment that has depth and intention — requires connecting with local indigenous communities. This process should be a collaboration; find out the community's protocols and discover what kind of relationship would be meaningful to them (which may or may not even include land acknowledgment).

For institutions that have historically not engaged with native artists, this can be an uncomfortable step. "Indigenous people want to make connections with organizations, but they don't want to come in through the usual door, which is a revolving door," says Sandra Laronde, who is originally from the Teme-Augama-Anishinaabe in northern Ontario and is director of Toronto-based Red Sky Performance. "Imagine the distrust of not being included in an institution forever and now people want to build relationships."

But that discomfort can be generative, says Ali Rosa-Salas, director of programming at Abrons Arts Center. While writing Abrons' land acknowledgment, Rosa-Salas consulted with Johnson and the Lenape Center, both of whom she has since worked with on other projects, such as a series of ceremonial fires featuring dancing, food and sharing of indigenous knowledge.

Rosa-Salas emphasizes that acknowledgments should say something specific about the institution itself: Its relationship to colonization, the commitments it is making to indigenous people, how it will be held accountable to these commitments.

Acknowledgment must be paired with action; otherwise it amounts to tokenization, or what Johnson calls "performing solidarity." "If you are performing solidarity so that you look good, you're not going to look good," she says. "That's seen from the very beginning. You are continuing colonizers' efforts."

Some organizations even use their land acknowledgment as an excuse not to do more, she says. "If you're not embedding this within the DNA of your organization, your board structure, your policies, your curatorial practices, your bylaws, you are at the risk of losing the steps forward," she says.

Laronde points out that sometimes institutions may want to do a land acknowledgment, "but indigenous people are not on their boards or staff and are not the artists they program," she says. "It has to be more pervasive. They have to start somewhere, but they can't stay there."

Indeed, acknowledgments are often framed as a starting point for organizations. Simas takes issue with this idea: "It's like, What do you mean, 'start'? As if there hasn't already been constant activism for the last seven generations of my people." Even the word "acknowledgment" can feel passive. "We can say something happened, but if we're not working to rectify that, things are remaining in a stasis," says Rosa-Salas.

Building a meaningful land acknowledgment, and do-ing the work that should go along with it, takes time. Morgan, a native Hawaiian who serves as executive artistic director of Dance Place in Washington, DC, says his organization has been working to form a connection with DC's indigenous community first. This coming year, it plans to develop a land acknowledgment through community engagement work associated with Simas' project Weave.

Forming real and long-lasting relationships with indigenous communities and artists can help organizations form deeper connections to their sense of place, says Laronde. And when done with intention, an acknowledgment can be someone's much-needed first exposure to the history of the land where they're living.

"As an indigenous person it feels so good when I hear others acknowledge the land," says Johnson. "It means we are being seen more and more."

** Footnotes in the article

What are land acknowledgements and why do they matter? | locallove ›

Guide to Indigenous Land and Territorial Acknowledgements for ... ›

Indigenous Land Acknowledgement, Explained | Teen Vogue ›


4. A married couple, presumably Caucasians originally from the mainland, are homeowners in Kona, Hawaii Island. In a letter to editor of the local newspaper they make a Land Acknowledgment and pledge of restitution. Their letter was published the day before the University's official Land Acknowledgment; although there is no apparent contact or relationship between the couple and UH, the simultaneity of the two events displays a growing public sentiment for apology and restitution. The couple pledge that when they die their estate will donate the value of the land under their house (but not the house itself) to local ethnic Hawaiian institutions as restitution for the loss of land and historic oppression of ethnic Hawaiians by mainland Caucasians; and they express hope that others will follow their example. Ken Conklin offers a sarcastic comment at the end of their letter, telling them that donating only the value of their land but not their house, and waiting until after they die, is too little and too late. They owe it all, right now, and should get out of Hawaii before they inflict further damage on the poor downtrodden indigenous people and their land.

West Hawaii Today [Kona] Wednesday, October 30, 2019, guest commentary

Pay your respects to this great land

By Dan and Melanie Lewis

A lot of us have been blessed to own a home and live on what many (like we do) feel is really Hawaiian land. The lands of these islands were illegally taken from the Hawaiian people so many years ago. The state and local governments are not doing right by Hawaiian interests and never will, as so many recent and past injustices have shown.

I believe that the majority of us love these islands for all the right reasons. I would like to propose a little something that may help perpetuate Hawaiian studies and traditions for everyone to learn about, enjoy and respect.

I propose that the private sector can do better for these islands than the short-sighted government agencies. I hope that what I’m proposing and what I am doing personally will catch on. I have always said that I am just looking after the Hawaiian land I have the great pleasure of living on. So, when we pass away or sell our hale, a percentage of the sale price (or profit) will be set aside to give back to further Hawaiian culture.

I only own the lumber, nails, roof and all the materials that built my house and the sweat equity and hard work I put into building it, but not the land. When I or my ohana decide to sell the property, a percentage of the profit that reflects the land’s worth will be diverted directly from our family trust to a local Hawaiian nonprofit charter school or a local institution that teaches Hawaiian traditions as a part of their studies, keeping it out of the state and local governments corrupt, inept and wasteful hands.

I take this action not as a charity, but out of pure respect and love for Hawaii, Hawaiian traditions and the Hawaiian people, what Hawaii and her people have been through, and also for how blessed I am to be here. It just seems right.

To anyone who can, I would encourage you to join me by including something like this in your last will and testament or sale plans. It doesn’t matter how small or large — I hope you choose to pay your respects to this great land, its traditions and its indigenous people.

Every homeowner with equity in their property could do something, no matter how large or small. It can be done easily by including it in the sale of your hale as a donation or in your final wishes. Take care of your ohana to be sure, but I urge you to consider to do what you can, large or small, to pay back for the great chance we have to live here.

If you don’t already know, take a moment to learn the Hawaiian history regarding land use, how it was governed, and also study our sordid history that allows us to be on it. It is something that is not taught in our schools. We certainly had no idea.

We can’t reverse the pain and anguish caused by both past injustices and current ones. There is no way that I can understand the pain; I’ve never walked in those shoes. I think this is something all of us homeowners can do, big or small, to honor the Kanaka Maoli.

Let’s all volunteer our time to help in any way we can to give back and keep Hawaii Hawaiian!

Dan and Melanie Lewis are residents of South Kona

** Ken Conklin's comment [could not be posted because this newspaper does not allow commenting on opinion essays]

Poor Dan and Melanie Lewis. You suffer from the self-loathing of white guilt for alleged crimes which neither you nor your white predecessors committed. You have succumbed to the insidious propaganda of the Hawaiian grievance industry.

There's only one cure. You must recognize that, according to the insights you have proclaimed, your presence has always been a blight upon this land. Now that you acknowledge that fact, you are morally obligated to leave this land without further delay.

Donating only your land but not your house to the "indigenous people", and making the donation only after your death, is both too little and too late. Your reparations for all those years you have lived here must include the full value of your house, not merely your land. And waiting until you die means you foist the reparations for your sins onto the shoulders of the people who would otherwise inherit your wealth, rather than actually feeling the pain by bearing the burden yourselves. Give it all. Give it now. Get out of here before you inflict further damage upon this sacred 'aina and its poor downtrodden indigenous people.


References: Some related topics including webpages that provide further analysis and scholarly evidence


1. Apologies; demands for restitution; creditor race vs. debtor race; Liliuokalani v. United States 45 Ct. Cl. 418 (1910) [demanding restitution for ceded lands]; Morgan Report (1894); Congressionally authorized Native Hawaiians Study Commission Report (1983); Hawaii v. Office of Hawaiian Affairs 556 U.S. 163 (2009) [ruling that the ceded lands belong to State of Hawaii in fee simple absolute and apology resolution is irrelevant)]

Apologies between individuals are sometimes (ab)used in lawsuits to establish blame and demand restitution. Apologies between nations, races, or tribes are often (ab)used to assert long-term or permanent status where one group owes the other a debt which can never be fully repaid. Well-meaning historical narratives and apologies are abused as though they are confessions of crimes, and then get cited as evidence in political campaigns and lawsuits demanding special entitlements and reparations.

In his short story "The Man Upstairs" P.G. Wodehouse wrote: "It is a good rule in life never to apologize. The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them." We've seen the truth of that here in Hawai'i with the 1993 Congressional apology to Native Hawaiians for the alleged U.S. role in the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in his concurring opinion in Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, (1995) made the following statement which was also included in the 7-2 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Rice v. Cayetano (2000) authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy: "Individuals who have been wronged by unlawful racial discrimination should be made whole; but under our Constitution there can be no such thing as either a creditor or a debtor race. That concept is alien to the Constitution's focus upon the individual ... To pursue the concept of racial entitlement -- even for the most admirable and benign of purposes -- is to reinforce and preserve for future mischief the way of thinking that produced race slavery, race privilege and race hatred. In the eyes of government, we are just one race here. It is American."


The U.S. "apology resolution" of 1993

"U.S. apology resolution 20th anniversary" In 2013 a resolution was introduced in the Hawaii legislature to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the U.S. apology resolution; and testimony was offered to the Hawaii legislature in the form of a substitute resolution explaining that the apology resolution is filled with falsehoods, has produced bad consequences, and should be repealed.
The most substantive refutations of what the apology resolution says are in the footnotes at the bottom, which comprise more than half of the webpage and which cite authoritative sources.

Here are some of the references in those footnotes authored by legal authorities with national reputation:

Hawaii Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand (Essay by Constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein, as printed In the Congressional Record of June 14, 15, and 16 of 2005 by unanimous consent, by request of Senator Kyl)
The section printed in the Congressional Record on June 14, 2005 is entirely devoted to a point by point refutation of the apology resolution. 14-pt1-PgS6471.pdf#page=1

Hawaii v. Office of Hawaiian Affairs, 556 U.S. 163 (2009). For about ten years, 2000 through 2009, a lawsuit worked its way through the courts. The lawsuit was based on the assertion that the U.S. apology resolution puts Congress on record that the ceded lands were illegally stolen from native Hawaiians, and then illegally transferred to the U.S. in the illegal 1898 annexation, and then back to the State of Hawaii in the 1959 statehood act. And because those land transfers were illegal, therefore the State of Hawaii should be prohibited from selling any parcel of ceded lands until such time as the state and federal governments reach a settlement with Native Hawaiians. On January 31, 2008 the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii ruled 5-0 in favor of plaintiffs, based on the USAR. But on appeal the U.S. SUPREME COURT RULED 9-0 ON MARCH 31, 2009 TO OVERTURN THAT DECISION ON THE GROUNDS THAT THE U.S. APOLOGY RESOLUTION HAS NO POWER TO DEPRIVE THE STATE OF ITS OWNERSHIP OF THE CEDED LANDS WHICH WERE CONVEYED TO HAWAII IN FEE SIMPLE ABSOLUTE AT STATEHOOD IN 1959. A very large webpage provides text of all major decisions throughout the history of the case, accompanied by news reports, commentaries, amicus briefs and oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court. See

Liliuokalani v. United States, 45 Ct. Cl. 418 (1910)
The webpage provides full text of Lili'uokalani's complaint and the Court's decision, plus valuable appendices including the Treaty of Annexation. There is one and only one court case in which the ex-queen Lili'uokalani sued the United States for any reason. On November 20, 1909, nearly 17 years after the overthrow and more than 11 years after the annexation, she filed a lawsuit in which she tried to get money for the Crown Lands, claiming those lands rightfully belonged to her but were illegally confiscated by the Provisional Government, Republic of Hawaii, and United States. The case was decided May 16, 1910. The ex-queen lost the case. But in the process, many of the claims made today by the sovereignty activists were asserted by the ex-queen and rejected by the court. After seeing all the evidence and hearing all the arguments on both sides, the Court of Claims became convinced that her claims had no merit. The decision itself is a valuable legal document. It is important not only because it contains these arguments concerning the Crown Lands, but also because of the very important appendices included by the Court as part of the evidence.

Does the U.S. owe reparations to Native Hawaiians for the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893? Does the U.S. owe Native Hawaiians special treatment, group rights, or political sovereignty on account of anything that happened in the past, or on account of current economic or social afflictions? See a short summary of the conclusions of the Morgan Report (1894) and the Congressionally authorized Native Hawaiians Study Commission Report (1983) including excerpts which refute the U.S. apology resolution.


2. Which people are truly indigenous? Why should they be entitled to special rights and protections? Why ethnic Hawaiians are not indigenous and should not be granted such status. Indigenous intellectual property rights. Hawaiian epistemology -- a theory of how ethnic Hawaiians create knowledge in unique ways based on their indigenous status. How revival of ancient Hawaiian religion provides a theological justification for race-based political fascism. How understanding the universality of the Aloha Spirit can overcome Hawaiian religious fascism.

The word "indigenous" has more than one meaning. Until a few decades ago its most usual meaning was people, animals, or plants whose permanent residence or regular habitat was a particular geographic area. Indigenous people are not mere short-term visitors or invaders; but they can be permanent residents of any race and need not have been born or raised there, or have ancestors who lived there.

In recent decades the word has come to refer to only one racial group among the people who live in a place, and might include individuals of that racial group who do not now or perhaps never have lived there but can trace their ancestry back to the original people who first settled a place, or to the people who came later and wiped out the original settlers and remained there ever since.

Clearly, it is not necessary for an ancestor to have sprung up organically out of the mud in that place; because if that were the definition then no place except the Garden of Eden would have indigenous people, or else all humans would be indigenous specifically to Eden and generally to the entire Earth.

The word "indigenous" also conveys an implication of something inside a person that is spiritual or mystical, far deeper than ordinary people possess. All the ancient racial memories and wisdom lie inside and are accessible through meditation, prayer, or dreams sent from the gods or the ancestors. An 'olelo no'eau (Hawaiian proverb) says "He 'elele ka moe na ke kanaka": A dream is a messenger for a person.

A creation legend popular among ethnic Hawaiians and taught to all Hawaii's people in the schools does portray "Native Hawaiians" as springing forth from the land and the gods in a way shared by no other race. According to the correct interpretation of this beautiful legend, the gods mated and gave birth to the Hawaiian islands as living beings. Then they mated again and gave birth to a deformed dead baby, whose corpse they buried, and from that burial grew the first taro plant. Then the gods mated again and gave birth to a perfect baby boy -- the primordial ancestor. The actual legend is race-neutral -- all humans are descended from the gods and are siblings to the land. But the legend is twisted by ethnic Hawaiian racial supremacists to say that it is only ethnic Hawaiians who are included. Thus anyone with a drop of Hawaiian native blood is a child of the gods and a brother/sister to the land, while nobody else is part of this sacred family. Therefore ethnic Hawaiians are entitled to racial supremacy and to govern these islands. The twisted version of the creation legend is a theological justification for Hawaiian religious fascism -- it is very dangerous both spiritually and politically. The Hawaiian racial supremacists also assert that the Aloha Spirit dwells exclusively in ethnic Hawaiians. But of course the Aloha Spirit is simply the Hawaii version of the Holy Spirit of the Christian Trinity; or the Form of the Good in Plato's metaphysics -- this transcendent spirit is immanent in the souls of all humans regardless of race or place.

Examples of truly indigenous people would include the Australian aborigines, some Indian tribes living in the jungles of the Amazon River basin, and some primitive African tribes. They have lived in their homelands for thousands of years. They are totally dependent upon their local environment for a subsistence lifestyle of hunting, fishing, or growing animals or crops. They grow up speaking their native language, praying to their tribal gods, and practicing the culture handed down to them by their families. They have no concept of the term "indigenous" just as a fish has no concept of the water that it swims in and flows through its gills. Truly indigenous people can maintain their cultures and lifestyles only if they are protected against outside interference. Upstream water sources must not be polluted, or they will die. Anthropologists, missionaries, and tourists must stay out. Airplanes must not fly over.

Ethnic Hawaiians are not an indigenous people. The original people of Hawaii might have been the (perhaps mythical) Menehunes. Then came peaceful, egalitarian Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands. Then came Polynesians from Tahiti who brought a social caste system, human sacrifice, and warfare as a way of life -- the Tahitians slaughtered or enslaved their predecessors. Today's "Native Hawaiians" are descended from the Tahitians; they are not descended from the original settlers. According to prominent anthropologists like Terry Hunt and and Patrick Kirch, the entire span of human habitation in Hawaii might be considerably less than a thousand years -- far shorter than any other indigenous people. The white Angles and Saxons who were conquered by the Norman invasion of 1066, have longer tenure in Britain, and greater claim to indigeneity, than the Polynesians in Hawaii.

Ethnic Hawaiians also have a history and lifestyle completely unlike American or Brazilian Indians. In Hawaii, British and American explorers, traders, missionaries, and businessmen were eagerly welcomed. British sailors John Young and Isaac Davis provided guns, cannons, ships, and expertise which enabled Kamehameha to defeat all his rivals and consolidate all the islands under a single ruler for the first time in history. Youngand Davis were appointed Governors of Hawaii Island and O'ahu. Throughout the Kingdom period white men were a majority of department heads and cabinet members, and sometimes about 1/4 to 1/3 of the elected and appointed members of the legislature. No Indian tribe ever had a majority of its leaders who were not Indians. Today ethnic Hawaiians are fully assimilated and intermarried, living in all neighborhoods, occupying all economic and political levels; working, eating, playing, and praying alongside everyone else.

In Hawaii the word "indigenous" is purely a racial buzzword which means the same thing as "Native Hawaiian" which is defined as anyone who has at least one ancestor who lived in Hawaii before Captain Cook's arrival in 1778. One drop of the magic blood is all that's required. Someone might be called "indigenous" to Hawaii even if he and his parents were not born in Hawaii, never even visited Hawaii, and know nothing about Hawaii; so long as one of them has a great-great-great ... -great grandparent who was Native Hawaiian. Even if a one-drop "Native Hawaiian" residing on the mainland donates an egg or vial of sperm to an anonymous fertility bank, and it is then used to create a pregnancy by implantation of a zygote into the uterus of a non-Hawaiian Yak-herder in Kazakhstan, the baby would be an "indigenous" "Native Hawaiian." By law such an "indigenous" "Native Hawaiian" would be entitled to all the hundreds of racial entitlement programs so long as he can prove his native ancestry. Now, isn't that silly? It's racism, pure and simple.


"Are kanaka maoli indigenous to Hawai'i? Would the status of being indigenous give them special rights?"

Hawaiian epistemology -- a theory of how ethnic Hawaiians create knowledge in unique ways based on their indigenous status. The work of Manulani Aluli Meyer stakes a claim to a Hawaiian indigenous right to have a separate educational system controlled by a race-based political power structure.

Indigenous Intellectual Property Rights -- The General Theory, and Why It Does Not Apply in Hawaii

United Nations Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the General Assembly in 2007

An Analysis of the United Nations Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including a discussion of attempts to define “indigenous peoples”

The Coolangatta Statement On Indigenous Peoples' Rights in Education, produced in Coolangatta Australia and reaffirmed in the World Indigenous Peoples' Conference on Education, Hilo, Hawaii, August 6, 1999

Hawaii Bioprospecting Bill -- The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (a bill to regulate biological research on public lands is a trojan horse for racial supremacy in land use policy)

"Native Hawaiians as the State Pet or Mascot: A Psychological Analysis of Why Hawai'i's People Tolerate and Irrationally Support Racial Separatism and Ethnic Nationalism

Hawaiian religious fascism. A twisted version of a beautiful creation legend provides the theological basis for a claim that ethnic Hawaiians are entitled to racial supremacy in the governance and cultural life of the Hawaiian islands.

"The Aloha Spirit. How aloha for all, manifested in the twin pillars of unity and equality, can overcome Hawaiian religious fascism"

The U.S. "apology resolution" of 1993 repeatedly refers to ethnic Hawaiians as "indigenous"

Federal legislation providing racial entitlements for healthcare and education repeatedly use the term "indigenous" in their preambles; counter-arguments are provided in testimony.
S.1929 federal legislation to provide racial entitlement for healthcare: point-by-point rebuttal of false and twisted historical and legal claims buried in the fine print by sovereignty activists (1999 and 2001)
S.66, the Native Hawaiian Health Care Improvement bill in the 112th Congress (2011) -- Reauthorizing an ineffective but socially dangerous pork-barrel waste of taxpayer dollars

Procedures for Reestablishing a Formal Government-to-Government Relationship With the Native Hawaiian Community, proclaimed in the Federal Register on October 14, 2016
Ken Conklin's testimony against that regulation, submitted November 26, 2015:


3. How "make-nice" sentimental acknowledgments and apologies have been abused in political power-plays. Examples of "Native Hawaiian" victimhood claims and associated demands for restitution: Ceded lands; hundreds of government racial entitlement programs; special rights and exemptions from laws; free tuition at University of Hawaii; how allegations that Hawaiian language was suppressed led to its recognition as an official language in the 1978 Constitution and ongoing demands to use it in government documents and court proceedings.

Section 1 of this webpage, on apologies and demands for restitution, provides several important examples of how kindly expressions of sentiment, such as Land Acknowledgments, can be turned into weapons in courtroom lawsuits or political warfare. There are many more examples whose smaller scope makes it easier to see how such weaponizing gets implemented.

Examples and references

In 1993 the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution, signed by President Clinton, apologizing to ethnic Hawaiians for the alleged U.S. role in the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy a century previously. The "whereas" clauses contained numerous falsehoods, but overly polite Senators from other states chose not to challenge the Hawaii Senators on those assertions. The most important objection came when Senator Slade Gorton suggested that the resolution could be used by Hawaiian racialists to demand Hawaii's secession from the U.S. and/or special race-based government handouts. Senator Inouye said no, no, the resolution will never be used for those purposes. But of course Senator Gorton was right. Those are in fact the primary purposes the resolution has been used for. Inouye and Akaka knew damn well that's what it would be used for. Ethnic Hawaiian activists will use sweet music, hula, prayers, chants, storytelling, etc. to lull decision-makers and the public into passive acceptance of outright historic falsehoods and thinly disguised blatant racism. For extensive documentation of dialog between Senators Inouye and Gorton regarding how the apology resolution would be used for secession and for racial entitlements; and evidence of how it has been used for such purposes, see footnotes 3 through 10 at

As discussed in section 1, the 1993 apology resolution was a make-nice resolution of sentiment which has been used by ethnic Hawaiian activists for many bad purposes. We saw that one of those bad purposes has been an insistence that the public lands of Hawaii, ceded to the U.S. as part of the Annexation treaty, were "stolen" from ethnic Hawaiians. When the state Constitutional Convention of 1978 created the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to speak on behalf of that racial group and to provide funding for racial entitlement programs, the following year the state legislature passed a law to send to OHA 20% of all the revenue from the "ceded lands." No other department of the government gets money this way. The theory is that ethnic Hawaiians somehow have a special right to the ceded lands. That theory has caused an enormous amount of litigation and strife. One specific outcome has been repeated efforts during many years to pass bills in the legislature to give ethnic Hawaiians free tuition to the University of Hawaii as restitution, because of the fact that some of the university buildings sit on ceded lands. How absurd is that! But it illustrates how statements of sentiment, or Land Acknowledgments, can be used as political weapons to make absurd racist demands.

For Hawaiians Only. Webpages identifying and describing government funded racial entitlement programs providing benefits exclusively to Native Hawaiians using taxpayer dollars from the U.S. and State of Hawaii.

Native Hawaiian victimhood -- malpractice in the gathering and statistical analysis of data allegedly showing disproportionate Native Hawaiian victimhood for disease and social dysfunction. How and why the Hawaiian grievance industry uses bogus statistics to scam government and philanthropic organizations, politicians, and public opinion.

Hawaiian Language as a Political Weapon -- a very large webpage with many sub-pages filled with examples thoroughly documented.

Holding the State of Hawaii Department of Education accountable for propagating the lie that Hawaiian language was banned. Dawn Kau'ilani Sang, Director of the Office of Hawaiian Education, stonewalls and doesn't correct two-page webpage proclaiming that lie in three places, despite lengthy, detailed, irrefutable proof it is false. Full text of all communications, including news reporter and editor who cited the DOE webpage as authority for refusing to correct that falsehood in published newspaper article.

Hawaiian is an official language of the State of Hawaii, according to the State Constitution. Does that mean that criminal defendants or civil plaintiffs or defendants must be allowed to provide court testimony in Hawaiian? Does it mean that official State documents must be published in Hawaiian, or at least must have Hawaiian-language letterheads? Read the actual wording of the state Constitution, and the transcript of the floor speech by Frenchy De Soto from the 1978 Constitutional Convention in which she pushed the amendment making Hawaiian an official language. De Soto made it clear it was all about honoring Hawaiian language and not treating it as a "foreign language", and that nobody would be forced to speak Hawaiian because of it. But also read how ethnic Hawaiian protesters arrested for blocking a road successfully used the "official language" clause to force a judge to allow a protester to demand that he be provided with a Hawaiian language interpreter to translate everything said to him into Hawaiian, and to translate his own Hawaiian statements into English, even though English is the language he grew up speaking and he speaks English perfectly well when teaching his courses at a UH community college.

On March 31, 2005 two committees of the Legislature of the State of Hawaii held a joint meeting to receive information about the Akaka bill from Hawaii's two U.S. Senators and Hawaii's two U.S. Representatives. The real purpose of the meeting was to create propaganda to rally public support for the Akaka bill. The meeting opened with the singing of the Christian Doxology in Hawaiian language. It was amazing to see an official legislative committee hearing open with such a blatantly Christian prayer, and using Hawaiian language as a political weapon; and to see that apparently everyone in the room knew the prayer and the Hawaiian language and were happy to display their zealotry for both. See transcript (Hawaiian and English) and analysis at

The legislature, and various government agencies, frequently propose bills or regulations which prohibit certain activities EXCEPT THAT ETHNIC HAWAIIANS ARE ALLOWED TO DO THEM. The reason for the racial exemption is often not stated, because apparently people are expected to know that ethnic Hawaiians are the "indigenous" people, or the legislation might mention that such activities are protected because they are traditional and customary elements of Native Hawaiian cultural practice.

SB 489 and HB 808 in the 2019 legislature related to shark and ray protection. Establishes an offense of knowingly capturing, taking, possessing, abusing, entangling, or killing a shark in state marine waters, along with penalties and fines. Expands the existing prohibition on knowingly capturing or killing a manta ray in state marine waters to apply to all rays and to also include knowingly taking, possessing, abusing, or entangling a ray. Provides certain exemptions.
Bill text (including all amended versions), history, committee hearings, pdf of all testimony submitted to each committee, YEAs and NAYs, committee reports:
Excerpts from Ken Conklin's testimony:
This bill provides good reasons why sharks and rays should be protected. The bill provides severe penalties for anyone who captures, kills, or takes a shark or ray within state waters. The problem with this bill is that it contains language strongly implying that exceptions should be made only for members of one particular racial group. But those exceptions should not be based on race. The exceptions should be for the exercise of traditional or customary cultural or religious practices which were done by some native Hawaiians prior to 1778 but which are now done by some Hawaii residents of many races and cultures. The exceptions should be defined by cultural or religious practices regardless of the race of today's Hawaii residents who engage in those practices. There are many residents of Hawaii whose heritage is from various Pacific island nations such as Samoa, Tonga, Marshall Islands who engage in Polynesian or Micronesian cultural practices, and should be allowed to continue doing so, even if they have no Hawaiian native ancestry. Likewise there are thousands of residents of Hawaii of Asian or Caucasian ancestry, with no Hawaiian native blood, who participate actively in hula halaus, for example, where their kumu hula might expect them to make their own sharkskin drums or sharktooth martial weapons. There is no good reason to make the exemption racial. The exemption should be based on preservation of historic skills or ongoing cultural or religious uses, regardless of race.


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