Voting Rights, Property Rights, and Hawaiian Sovereignty: The Outrageously Racist Demands of the Hawaiian Supremacists

(c) Copyright 2000 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

A bumper sticker said, "Sovereignty: the time has come." I reply, "Sovereignty: We have it now already."

We all have the right to vote and own property. We all are guaranteed the equal protection of the laws, regardless of race, national origin, ethnicity, or gender. Is there something I'm missing? Do sovereignty activists propose to change this hard-won social compact, so that only certain people can vote or own property?

Many years ago I first felt the spiritual power of Hawai'i and its people. I naively assumed the sovereignty claims flowed from that. After 8 years listening and learning at hundreds of sovereignty meetings, intensive reading, and numerous conversations, I slowly but firmly came to the opposite conclusion. There is great danger here, and it is time to speak out.

The Hawaiian supremacists seem to think that some people are more equal than others. They think kanaka maoli (persons with at least one drop of native blood) should have special entitlements just because one of their ancestors lived here prior to 1778. If race is not the issue, then why do virtually all sovereignty proposals exclude non-kanaka maoli? Who can vote to decide what model of sovereignty would be best? Who decides whether to partition the state to create an apartheid system? Why are non-kanaka maoli excluded from equal voting rights and property rights inside the newly-created political entity? Especially if the new entity includes all of Hawai'i?

The Kingdom of Hawai'i never restricted voting to KM alone. Thousands of non-KM voted. Many non-KM loyally held high government offices and privileges which they lost because of the overthrow. KM were only 40% of the population in 1893 (Native Hawaiian Databook). Yet somehow the sovereignty activists think the race of KM alone is entitled to reparations for the overthrow. They think the ceded lands belonged to the race of KM alone. Actually, government lands were held on behalf of ALL the people. Crown lands were held by the office of head of state (not by the monarch personally, and certainly not by the KM race). Non-KM are not merely guests in a KM homeland. Non-KM were essential in establishing the Kingdom (John Young), preserving its independence (Gerrit Judd, William Richards), and helping it flourish. Non-KM were welcomed as full partners and remain so today.

Some sovereignty proposals do allow citizenship to non-KM. But these proposals restrict non-KM to non-voting "honorary" citizenship (Ka Lahui). Or they require that KM must have more than half the seats in the legislature, plus the chief executive and all judgeships, and special lands for KM alone (Bumpy Kanahele). Or they require non-KM to pass inspection by political police, pay "back taxes," and obtain "clear title" to currently-owned property through a bogus real estate title firm (some of the "Kingdoms").

Very few sovereignty activists propose to set aside only 20% of Hawai'i, proportionate to population, for a KM Indian reservation. Ka Lahui demands at least the ceded lands (about half of the state). Many independence activists demand everything. Aren't all the lands sacred? The islands were either created by the gods or are actually the body-forms of the gods. Every place has its own specially-named rains and winds embodying the gods. KM possessed all of Hawai'i prior to 1778. Everything that happened since then is genocide, colonial exploitation, and military occupation.

Previously activists talked mostly about the "ceded" lands, claiming (wrongfully) to have racial entitlement to them. For example: since the University of Hawai'i at Manoa sits on ceded lands, KM claim racial entitlement to free tuition. The State in 1978 created a racially restricted OHA and agreed to fund it with 20% of ceded land revenues -- a major error which the State can and should correct.

But more recently, all private land titles are under attack. Activists say the Mahele was incomplete. Maka'ainana never got fee simple titles to replace their undivided interest. And because the overthrow and annexation were illegal, all land transactions since then have been improperly certified by an illegal Bureau of Conveyances. Also, under "international law," land transfers during 107 years of "military occupation" are invalid. Therefore, virtually all private land titles in Hawai'i are void, unless they are "perfected" (for a large fee) through a "title search" and "warranty deed" certified by a self-appointed "acting regent" of the "still-existing" Kingdom of Hawai'i. If someone buys stolen property from a thief, the money is wasted and the property must be returned to the rightful owner.

When Hawaiian supremacists cannot persuade citizens to give them special race-based entitlements at the State level, they go to the national level. An "Apology Bill" was passed in 1993 (to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the overthrow), with no hearings, after assurances from Senator Inouye on the floor of the Senate, just before the vote was taken, that it was merely a harmless apology. When U.S. Senator Slade Gorton from the State of Washington expressed concern about the apology bill and asked Senator Inouye about the intention of the bill, Senator Inouye said, "I once again say that the suggestion that this resolution was the first step toward declaring independence or seceding from the United States is at best a very painful distortion of our intent.... To suggest that we are attempting to restore the Kingdom, Mr. President, I find it most difficult to find words to even respond to that.... No, no, this is not seceding or independence. We fought for statehood long enough and we cherish it and we want to stay there. I can assure you, I do not wish to leave this place. So, Mr. President, I hope that our assurance would suffice. After all, we are the authors of this resolution, and that is not our intention.... As I tried to convince my colleagues, this is a simple resolution of apology.... It is a simple apology." Senator Gorton then said, "This Senator wants to sincerely thank the senior Senator from Hawaii for that answer and accepts it as such. This Senator believes the Senator from Hawaii has said this resolution is unrelated to any kind of special treatment for Native Hawaiians."

In December 1999 the Clinton administration sent representatives for "reconciliation" hearings to see how the U.S. could take over race-based entitlement programs, anticipating that the State of Hawaii might be unable to continue them as a result of the expected verdict in Rice v. Cayetano. Bills now in Congress would provide race-based entitlements for all KM (even wealthy ones) allegedly for benign purposes like getting housing(S225), education(S1767), or healthcare(S1929). But these bills contain trojan-horse language buried in the fine print conveying permanent political recognition. A lawsuit seeking recognition for the Kingdom was filed at the Supreme Court, but was so obviously bogus that the Court refused to consider it.

And just in case things don't work out at the national level, KM try the international level. They ask the United Nations to place Hawai'i on the list of non-self-governing territories eligible for decolonization. Or they file a cooked-up dispute between two friends to be resolved by the International Court of Arbitration, claiming the resulting paper-trail establishes international recognition.

The claim that the Kingdom still exists and is the rightful government is the most logical and comprehensive of all the sovereignty arguments. It attracts highly intelligent supporters, including some attorneys, because it has the appearance of intellectual respectability. But it is based on false assumptions, logical gaps, and inconsistencies.

In high school Geometry we learned about deductive systems. Thousands of conclusions are proved by logical deduction from a handful of basic assumptions. For example: if there is a line and an outside point, then there is exactly one line which goes through the point and is parallel to the given line. All of Euclidean Geometry is derived from five assumptions, including this one. However, mathematicians since 1825 have created alternative theories of Geometry by changing just that one assumption. Assume: if there is a point outside a line, then an infinite number of parallel lines can be drawn through the point; or assume no such parallel lines exist. These alternative theories have engaged thousands of mathematicians. They enjoy the intellectual game and win prizes for their castles in the air.

Assuming the overthrow and annexation were illegal or never happened leads to some interesting conclusions. For example: the Kingdom of Hawai'i still exists and its laws are still in force, despite 107 years of "illegal military occupation" by the "colonial" forces of the United States. International pressure can force the U.S. to withdraw, thereby restoring the Kingdom.

But other conclusions are not so widely publicized. For example, it is claimed that under Kingdom law, being born in the Kingdom is not enough for citizenship -- one must either be a descendant of a citizen or be officially naturalized. All kanaka maoli living today are automatically citizens with voting rights and property rights, because they are descended from citizens. Few non-KM would have citizenship in the Kingdom today, unless an ancestor was officially naturalized prior to 1893. Also, many naturalized citizens later committed "treason" (by supporting the revolution, or taking a loyalty oath to the Provisional Government to keep a job), so they and their descendants are stripped of citizenship.

Virtually all today's Hawai'i residents of Chinese, European, Filipino, and Japanese ancestry are not native-born or naturalized U.S. citizens, because Hawai'i has never been part of the U.S. They are also not citizens of the Kingdom (unless they can go to the Archives and find Kingdom naturalization papers on file for an ancestor who never later committed treason). So perhaps, like descendants of U.S. citizens, they can go "back" to their country of "origin" (which probably no longer recognizes them as citizens) or beg their new kanaka maoli masters to let them stay. How much must be paid for "naturalization" or "back taxes?" Will a currently fee-simple land title (issued by the defunct State of Hawai'i) be confirmed by the new government as rental leasehold? How long is the transitional period before total confiscation? (Land is sacred and cannot be owned).

Kanakaland is my name for the sovereign political entity (perhaps an independent nation) in which racially-defined kanaka maoli have guaranteed supremacy. The beginnings of Kanakaland are already present in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Department of Hawaiian Homelands, and Kamehameha Schools; all restricted by race to KM. Most Hawaiian supremacists do not want a Kanakaland reservation limited to a population-proportionate 20% of the land. Many believe Kanakaland rightfully includes all the present State of Hawai'i.

Racial segregation in the South was evil when practiced by majority whites against minority blacks. In the old South Africa, apartheid was even more evil because the white minority refused to let the black majority vote. In Kanakaland, which might include the entire State of Hawai'i, the 20% KM minority would rule the 80% non-KM majority in a race-based KM supremacist regime.

There are some non-KM who support the sovereignty movement. Some have KM spouses, children, or other relatives and feel sure they would be "protected." Some are honoring ancestors who were citizens of the Kingdom or supported the monarchy. Some are activists who support many "humanitarian" causes like vegetarianism or save-the-whales. These non-KM "allies" are valuable to the sovereignty movement. They are put on display as proof of multiracial righteousness, much as the white Republican power structure is happy to give prominence to some outstanding black statesmen or scholars who agree with them, such as Congressman J.C. Watts or Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. But non-KM "allies" are expected to "know their place" and always subordinate themselves to KM, just as non-KM in Kanakaland would be legally subordinate second-class citizens under their KM masters.

Some kind-hearted people feel that something wrong happened in Hawai'i's past, and should be corrected. Anyone interested in examining historical and legal issues can read my website (below), showing that kanaka maoli have no historical or legal entitlement to race-based sovereignty. But logical arguments and historical facts seldom persuade people to switch sides on these issues (although that is what happened to me!). Some sovereignty activists are irrational zealots. Some young adults have been victimized by growing up under a constant barrage of one-sided sovereignty propaganda at home, in school, on TV, and at the University. They developed strong feelings of entitlement. They get angry when they do not get what they "deserve." But people are not entitled to have something at everyone else's expense simply because they want it badly. When one child in a family constantly gets whatever he wants and everyone says he is special, he grows up with a feeling of entitlement. Then comes the real world, real disappointments, and real anger.

We must call upon our Aloha Spirit to deal compassionately with people who feel, however incorrectly, that their race entitles them to special rights. Government help should be based on need alone, not race. If KM are most in need of housing, healthcare, education, etc., then assistance programs based on need alone will give them more help than other groups receive, without resorting to unconstitutional and immoral racial entitlements. Some current and proposed entitlement programs give help to all KM, even wealthy ones, before any help at all is given to the neediest non-KM. That's the way racial entitlement programs work, and is outrageous. 39% of KM families (compared to 37% of all families in Hawai'i) have incomes between $50,000 - $100,000, while an additional 11% have incomes above $100,000. (OHA website).

Sovereignty is not just a friendly gesture of support. Sovereignty is about power. We all have sovereignty now, including kanaka maoli, on an equal basis. We all vote, own property, and have the equal protection of the laws. We all may freely associate to form voluntary groups for mutual support, pooling resources with friends and families, as those of Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino ancestry often do. Most citizens of Hawai'i recognize and respect the cultural and spiritual primacy of the first people of these islands. We love Hawai'i because the land itself is sacred, and the proud KM cultural heritage makes Hawai'i especially beautiful. There can only be one government of the State of Hawai'i, and it belongs to all of us. Kanaka maoli rise to positions of power just like anyone else, obtaining the free consent of admiring people across ethnic lines. Let it always be so.

(c) Copyright 2000 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved