Core Attitudes of Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement -- Racial Separatism, Ethnic Nationalism, Anti-Americanism, Racial Supremacy

(c) Copyright 2002 - 2004, Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved

There are two major theories of what Hawaiian sovereignty or self-determination should look like. These theories and their advocates are often in conflict with each other and even within themselves. But both approaches are characterized by the same underlying attitudes toward the United States and toward people who have no Hawaiian blood. This webpage will briefly describe the two theories of racial separatism and ethnic nationalism, and then focus on the core attitudes underlying both theories. Public statements illustrating the core attitudes will be provided.


Racial separatists are reluctantly resigned to remaining part of the United States and the State of Hawai'i. But they demand the right for ethnic Hawaiians to control all the government and social institutions that provide services to ethnic Hawaiians.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs was established in 1978 as a branch of the state government where only ethnic Hawaiians could vote for the trustees, only ethnic Hawaiians could run for or serve as trustees, and only ethnic Hawaiians could receive benefits. The Department of Hawaiian Homelands was established in 1978 as a branch of the state government to administer the racially exclusionary lands set aside by the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1921.

Kamehameha Schools, established under the will of Bernice Pauahi Bishop (died 1884), has with rare exceptions excluded all students who lack Hawaiian blood. School administrators and trustees fell under severe criticism from ethnic Hawaiians when a single exception was made (perhaps by accident) in 2002.

Hawaiian language immersion schools have operated as private preschools and as public K-12 schools since the mid-1980s; and while theoretically open to students of all ethnicities, nearly all the students have been ethnic Hawaiians. Under the public New Century Charter School program started in 2001, it turned out that half of the initial 25 public charter schools were established as Hawaiian culture immersion schools controlled by Hawaiian activists and providing an ethnocentric curriculum filled with the attitudes to be described later in this essay. In 2002 a bill in the Legislature proposed to establish a separate "public" school system comprising all the Hawaiian culture charter schools, with explicit guarantees that the majority of students and the majority of the governing board must be ethnic Hawaiian.

At the University of Hawai'i flagship campus in Manoa, the Center for Hawaiian Studies functions as a propaganda factory, drawing in hundreds of ethnic Hawaiian students with free tuition waivers to study a politically radical ethnocentric curriculum. The Center for Hawaiian Studies exercises tremendous power over the Hawaiian-related curriculum in other university departments and at all UH community colleges, to the extent that any professor or student anywhere in UH who openly disagrees with the CHS party line is subject to intimidation and suppression of academic freedom. Huge government grants are given for ethnocentric teaching and research, specifically for students of Hawaiian ethnicity, in the medical school and other departments; and the Center for Hawaiian Studies exercises substantial influence on curriculum, faculty selection and student selection in all Hawaiian-related areas.

But civil rights activists have been fighting back against racial separatism and racial entitlement programs, and have scored some significant victories.

Voting in OHA elections was desegregated in February 2000 by a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court (Rice v. Cayetano);
candidacy for running or serving as OHA trustee was desegregated by a decision of the U.S. District Court in Honolulu in August and September, 2000 (Arakaki #1);
and desegregation of the class of OHA beneficiaries (or complete abolition of OHA) has been sought in federal court lawsuits from 2001 through 2003 (the Barrett, Carroll, and Arakaki#2 lawsuits).

Kamehameha School's racially exclusionary admissions policy has come under increasing scrutiny from federal agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Education, and the U.S. military (ROTC programs) to the extent that Kamehameha has withdrawn from participating in some programs to avoid possible legal challenges.

When the Rice decision was handed down in February 2000, far-seeing advocates of Hawaiian racial separatism and defenders of government racial entitlement programs immediately recognized the threat. They began crafting federal legislation to recognize ethnic Hawaiians as an Indian tribe. Indian tribes can legally engage in racial discrimination in elections for their tribal government and in handing out government benefits. Although there has never been anything like an Indian tribe in Hawai'i, and Hawaiians cannot possibly satisfy the seven mandatory criteria for federal recognition, bills have been pending in Congress since the summer of 2000 to create and recognize a phony Native Hawaiian tribe. The sole purpose of such legislation is to provide legal protection for Hawaiian racial separatism. For a major webpage about the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill, see:

Racial separatism has already become firmly entrenched in government and private programs in Hawai’i that are racially exclusionary. Ethnic Hawaiians have become established as the ali’i class (elite), while everyone else is in the maka’ainana class (worker, servant, second-class citizen). Liberals nationwide call for a one-nation policy to overcome the “two America” separation between haves and have-nots. Such concern for unity and equality should also be applied to Hawai’i. See:


The Kingdom of Hawai'i was an independent nation. In the late 1700s and early 1800s Kamehameha the Conqueror engaged in bloody warfare against other Hawaiian chiefs, with massive military equipment and advice from England. He succeeded in defeating or intimidating all his opponents, and thereby unified all the Hawaiian islands under a single leader for the first time in history. In 1843 England returned sovereignty to the King Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III after a period of months when a rogue British naval commander had seized and maintained control of the Hawaiian government. Later in 1843 France and England signed a mutual agreement with each other to respect the independence of Hawai'i. Thereafter the Kingdom of Hawai'i established diplomatic relations and negotiated formal treaties with numerous other nations. See:
and also the first two sections of

A revolution in 1887 severely weakened the powers of the King, with no outside interference. In 1893 the Kingdom was finally overthrown, with minor assistance from the United States. The revolutionary Provisional Government consolidated power, adopted a Constitution to become the Republic of Hawai'i in 1894, and continued full diplomatic relations with all the nations that had previously recognized the monarchy. The Republic defeated an attempted monarchist counter-revolution in 1895, and placed the ex-queen under house arrest in her former Palace for several months for knowing about the hiding of guns at her private home prior to the attempted counter-revolution. In 1893 U.S. President Grover Cleveland had demanded that the Provisional Government restore the ex-queen to the throne, and Hawai'i President Sanford B. Dole had refused. Thus, the U.S. government was hostile toward the Republic of Hawai'i throughout the Presidency of Grover Cleveland, and the U.S. actually helped smuggle guns to the monarchists for the attempted counter-revolution of 1895. Nevertheless the Republic of Hwai'i held power for more than four years, with full diplomatic recognition from the international community. Finally in 1897 the Republic of Hawai'i offered a treaty of annexation, which the United States accepted in 1898 by joint resolution of Congress signed by the new President McKinley. The annexation offer and acceptance documents explicitly extinguished the independence of Hawai'i and the diplomatic relations between Hawai'i and other nations, specifying that international agreements between Hawai'i and other nations would continue to be upheld by the United States until Congress passed new legislation and the U.S. could, if necessary, renegotiate Republic agreements with other nations. For complete text of the 1887 Treaty of Annexation and 1898 joint resolution accepting the offer, see the appendices to the court decision in Lili'uokalani v. United States, 45 Ct Cl. 418, 1910:

Hawaiian independence activists argue that since the overthrow and annexation were both illegal, therefore the independence of Hawai'i should be restored. Since the United States did the overthrowing and annexing, the United States owes big reparations. If the U.S. will voluntarily and peacefully withdraw from Hawai'i, independence would thereby be established. If the U.S. refuses to withdraw and/or refuses to pay reparations then it can be forced to do so under international law. However, efforts thus far to employ international law have met with failure. The efforts of Keanu Sai have been especially ludicrous because of their pretentiousness, resembling the scams of a con artist or a pseudo-intellectual version of Barnum and Bailey. See:

If Hawai'i were to become once again an independent nation, the question naturally arises what would become of the 80% of Hawai'i's population who have no Hawaiian blood. The answer is quite simple. They would have a choice to be deported, or to stay on as resident aliens with no voting rights and limited property rights, or to swear allegiance and become second-class citizens of the new nation. Most independence proposals envision that the entire archipelago of Hawai'i would become an independent nation in which people with no Hawaiian blood might be able to become citizens and might even be allowed to vote on certain issues; but ethnic Hawaiians would have guaranteed racial supremacy in land ownership and voting rights.


Most Hawaiian sovereignty leaders of both varieties show a public face filled with aloha. They seem truly friendly toward people of all races. Ethnic Hawaiians intermarry with other races at such a large rate that there are hardly any "pure" Hawaiians left, and probably 75% of the people who have any Hawaiian blood have a quantum lower than 50%. It seems impossible to imagine that such warm, friendly, welcoming people could be anti-American and racist. But consider the core attitudes shared by both kinds of activists.

The ethnic nationalists and racial separatists agree that Hawaiians are the indigenous people of Hawai'i and are therefore entitled to political and economic supremacy over everyone else. Both agree that the gods gave birth to the Hawaiian islands and then gave birth to Hawaiian forefathers. Therefore ethnic Hawaiians have a family relationship to the land and the gods which can never be shared with anyone who lacks Hawaiian ancestry. Thus, ethnic Hawaiians are entitled to special gathering rights and shoreline access regardless of laws against trespassing on private property. See:

For an in-depth analysis of the way ancient Hawaiian religious myths are used by modern Hawaiian sovereignty activists to support political claims for racial supremacy in Hawai’i, see:

Both racial separatists and ethnic nationalists say the overthrow of the monarchy was illegal, led mostly by greedy white American businessmen, or by Hawaiian subjects of American origin or ancestry.

Both say the annexation of Hawai'i to America was illegal, taking place despite strong protests by nearly all ethnic Hawaiians, and resulting in the theft of the Hawaiian crown lands and government lands by the United States. See:

Both say the U.S. is guilty of crimes against ethnic Hawaiians under international law, and Hawaiians are entitled to massive reparations.

Both say Hawaiian language was made illegal and the culture was suppressed by the white-led Republic of Hawai'i and Territory of Hawai'i.

The separatists and nationalists both agree that the U.S. owes huge reparations for perhaps 150 years of colonial exploitation, cultural suppression, and military occupation. Nationalists and separatists seem to have reached an informal agreement on a two-track strategy: let the separatists pursue reparations through racial entitlement programs and tribal recognition while the nationalists pursue independence and reparations through international law. The racial separatists do not wish to pursue independence immediately, preferring to wait until racial entitlement programs have provided huge reparations for a long enough time to lay a solid economic foundation. Those activists seeking racial entitlement programs through a tribal model regard themselves as very practical-minded, and see the independence activists as wild-eyed dreamers whose theories will never produce practical results, while the independence advocates see the seekers of entitlement programs as sell-outs who have given up the dream of independence for 30 pieces of silver. But both branches of the sovereignty movement are unified in their desire to to find some way for ethnic Hawaiians to exercise racial supremacy in Hawai'i and to get money, land, and power from the other ethnic groups in Hawai'i and from the United States. The soul of the sovereignty movement craves rebirth into independence while the body seeks sustenance through a temporary umbilical cord of reparations and tribal recognition.

Both nationalists and separatists are strongly opposed to the presence of the U.S. military in Hawai'i. The ethnic nationalists claim Hawai'i has been under foreign military occupation by the U.S. for more than a century. The first step toward ripping the 50th star off the U.S. flag would be to force the U.S. military out of Hawai'i. If the military leaves Hawai'i, then the rest of the U.S. government might also be persuaded to go, leaving behind an independent nation of Hawai'i. The racial separatists are willing to remain part of the U.S. at least temporarily, under a tribal model, but oppose the U.S. military presence because of the way it pollutes both the land and the culture of Hawai'i. Hundreds of thousands of acres of "Hawaiian land" are occupied by the military and inaccessible to Hawaiians; and the land itself is abused with pollution and live-fire training. Tens of thousands of American "foreigners" come to Hawai'i each year, making homes on military bases or in the community on rotations that last only a few years. The troops have little time or inclination to learn about or feel sympathy toward ethnic Hawaiians; their presence in the local economy drives up prices; their short-term presence in the local community destroys the intimacy of social relationships among people who have lived there for generations; the presence of their children in the local schools, bringing outside values and behaviors and expectations, changes the educational experience for local children.

Opposition to the military is often informal and not directed toward the military itself so much as toward cultural differences. Military children may be shunned, harassed, or even physically attacked in school. Military families may have difficulty relating to the community, both because these outsiders don't appreciate or value local culture and also because local people find their strange manners annoying.

But serious, direct political opposition to the military takes two forms that can be dangerous to the security of the United States.

One form of opposition is to attack the military use of land by demanding environmental impact statements and harassing military operations. There are legitimate concerns about environmental pollution, destruction of cultural artifacts or sacred places, and the effects of military training on the health of local residents. But aside from legitimate concerns, the sovereignty activists attack the military by seeking (and obtaining) court orders to stop or reduce live-fire training, hoping the military will be forced to go elsewhere outside Hawai'i. The activists demand environmental impact statements as a way to delay and obstruct the military, and use the associated public hearings to fill the air with anti-military propaganda and historical grievances about the overthrow and annexation.

Another form of opposition to the military is thus far only speculative, although it might become significant as time goes by. Independence activists would be happy to see the United States weakened internally, so it must concentrate on the "homeland" (the 48 continental states) and might abandon Hawai'i. Independence activists also want to see the U.S. weakened internationally. Activists seek political recognition of Hawaiian independence from other nations, to establish credibility under international law. Such recognition could come from an opponent of the U.S., like Cuba, China, or Iraq. Most Hawaiian sovereignty activists are political leftists who strongly oppose U.S. foreign policy for the usual leftist reasons in addition to sovereignty reasons. Countries that are enemies of the United States, or have grievances, might make good use of ethnic Hawaiian opposition to the military and to U.S. foreign policy. A country like China, criticized by the U.S. for its actions in Tibet, might criticize the U.S. for its actions in Hawai'i. "If you'll pull out of Hawai'i, we'll pull out of Tibet." An enemy of the U.S. might decide to accept the "diplomatic credentials" of an "ambassador" from the Kingdom of Hawai'i, or grant political recognition to a nation of Hawai'i as a way to destabilize the U.S. Certainly it would be in the interests of any enemy nation to use anti-U.S. feeling among our local population to recruit spies or even saboteurs. Just as the Nazis aided the Irish independence movement against England as a way to weaken their enemy England, so Iraq or North Korea or Al Quaida might assist the ethnic Hawaiian independence movement against America. This is not so far-fetched as it may seem. Remember that the United States got independence from England partly because Benjamin Franklin and John Adams persuaded the French to send troops and supplies to America as a way of keeping English military power tied down in America where it could not be used against France elsewhere in the world. One way the Soviet Union waged the cold war against America was by helping Communist Cuba survive a U.S. economic boycot by purchasing Cuban sugar; and the Soviets then installed nuclear missiles in Cuba both to protect Cuba against a possible American invasion and also to threaten the United States directly. One way the U.S. waged the cold war against the Soviet Union was by providing military supplies and shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles to Afghan "freedom fighters" who kept large numbers of Soviet troops and military equipment tied up fighting in Afghanistan.

It must be remembered that most ethnic Hawaiians are not sovereignty activists at all. Most ethnic Hawaiians are patriotic Americans; many have served with distinction in the U.S. armed forces and some have given their lives for our country. Some of these distinuished ethnic Hawaiian military veterans were put on display at a propaganda forum in support of the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill in the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on July 15, 2002. The purpose was to show Senators and the public that supporters of the recognition bill are not anti-American. Perhaps some of the racial separatists see themselves as loyal Americans; but it is hard to imagine how they could feel that way in light of their beliefs about the history of Hawai'i. And certainly it is obvious that none of the independence activists are patriotic Americans.

If someone truly believes his native land has been colonized, invaded, and forcibly annexed by a foreign country whose people are of a different race, he would naturally be angry against that country and race. If the land, culture, and language were stolen, the thieves should pay reparations, and be punished and deported. If the foreign occupier takes over huge portions of the homeland for use as military bases, and conducts military training activities that burn and pollute the sacred land, and stations nuclear weapons and tens of thousands of troops on those bases for many decades, the natives become bitter and feel justified in doing whatever it takes to expel the occupier from their homeland. If the natives are brothers to the land and both the natives and the land are descended from the gods, then the natives are entitled to racial supremacy in land "ownership" and management.


Haunani-Kay Trask is former chairperson and current Professor at the Center for Hawaiian Studies, University of Hawai'i at Manoa (the flagship campus). She writes and speaks with a fiery passion that intimidates opponents and often frightens even her allies. Her language drips with hatred toward America, and anti-white racism. Yet she was born in California and thus is an American citizen and immigrant to Hawai'i! She has some white ancestors (perhaps half her ancestry), and her long-time live-in lover is a white immigrant from America who is a professor of American Studies. Nearly everyone says her views are extreme, and most sovereignty activists publicly disavow her. But privately she is applauded by both the racial separatists and the ethnic nationalists. The simple truth is that the views Professor Trask espouses so vehemently are the same views held quietly by nearly all sovereignty activists of both varieties. Most of the activists exercise restraint in their rhetoric either because they lack Professor Trask's courage or because they exercise careful prudence in public relations to preserve the image of Hawaiians as peaceful, welcoming, and filled with aloha. Many sovereignty activists, especially those seeking racial separatism inside the U.S. in a tribal model, say in public that they disagree with Trask. But in reality what they disagree with is Trask's honesty, aggressiveness, and publicly expressed anger.

Professor Trask vacillates between racial separatism and ethnic nationalism. Her most famous speech was delivered extemporaneously at 'Iolani Palace in January 1993 at a huge protest rally commemorating the 100th anniversasry of the overthrow of the monarchy. In that speech she proudly asserted the independence theme, saying "I am NOT an American. I am NOT an American. I will DIE before I am an American ..." (Unfortunately the complete speech is not available for this webpage.) But on other occasions she seems to support the tribal model of racial separatism. For example, she supported the original version of the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill, S.2899 in the 106th Congress, which was forwarded to the 107th Congress as S.81. But regardless of her ambivalence between racial separatism and ethnic nationalism, Professor Trask firmly endorses all their common core attitudes. For examples of her writings and speeches focusing on anti-Americanism and racism against whites, see:

These common core attitudes of Hawaiian sovereignty activists are opposed by the fundamental principles of unity and equality under the Aloha Spirit. For a "compare and contrast" explanation, see:


In September 2000 the Hawai'i Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights held a two day forum in Honolulu. The topic was the Rice v. Cayetano decision and the "threat" it posed to racial entitlement programs. Such programs are regarded by the Democrats on the civil rights commission as good protections for civil rights of poor, downtrodden ethnic Hawaiians! (The Democrat Commissioners utterly fail to acknowledge that racial entitlement programs and racially exclusionary voting and candidacy for State government officials are violations of the civil rights of all Hawai’i’s people!) Serving as panelists hearing testimony were three of the majority (Democrat) national Commissioners: Cruz Reynoso, Vice Chairperson, and Commissioners Yvonne Y. Lee and Elsie Meeks. The lengthy report from the hearings was very predictable. It enthusiastically supported enactment of the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill as a way to protect the racial entitlement programs. But at the end, the report also concluded that the overthrow and annexation had so grievously violated the civil rights of Native Hawaiians, as confirmed by the apology bill, that it would be entirely appropriate for Native Hawaiians to decide to take Hawai'i out of the U.S. The report identifies the U.S. Constitution as mere domestic law, and endorses a secessionist movement. The report is significant in the context of the present essay because it clearly shows that the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill is regarded by "civil rights" activists as merely a step along a possible path to secession, and that such secession is a matter for ethnic Hawaiians alone to decide; and if such a decision is made, then the U.S. should help educate the other 80% of Hawai'i's population to reconcile whatever conflicts might arise from implementing that decision. The report shows that the claims of illegal overthrow, illegal annexation, and apology bill are not merely supportive of racial entitlement programs and of the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill, but are also supportive of total secession -- a move that would have the blessings of the Democrat civil rights activists who support the recognition bill.

The complete report can be found on the USCCR website at
Near the end of the report (just above the footnotes) in a section entitled “Conclusions and Recommendations,” item number 4 includes the following startling language:

"International solutions should be explored ... as a part of the reconciliation process that the United States committed to pursue in the 1993 Apology Resolution. In order to make this process truly meaningful, the federal government should engage in a dialogue with Hawaiian leaders ... The principles of self-determination and self-governance—which are consistent with the democratic ideals upon which our nation is founded—can only be meaningful if Native Hawaiians have the freedom to examine diverse options for exercising the sovereignty that they have “never directly relinquished.”[418] Accordingly, the United States should give due consideration to re-inscribing Hawai‘i on the United Nations’ list of non-self-governing territories, among other possibilities. Our nation’s experiment in democracy will gain credence (and, therefore, influence) with members of the international community to the extent that we are able to fully embrace the ideal that motivated this country’s founding fathers: consent of the governed. The Hawaii Advisory Committee is fully cognizant of the concern expressed by some that international resolution would necessarily involve secession, a drastic endeavor over which this nation purportedly fought a civil war. However, this view ignores the troubled and racist roots of our nation’s history. ... The principle of self-determination necessarily contemplates the potential choice of forms of governance that may not be authorized by existing domestic law.[420] Whether such a structure is politically or legally possible under the law is secondary, however, to the expression of one’s desire for self-determination. The important proposition is that those who would choose to swear their allegiance to a restored sovereign Hawaiian entity be given that choice after a full and free debate with those who might prefer some form of association with the United States (including, perhaps, the status quo)... The United States should ... allow for conditions that will give Native Hawaiians the full opportunity to express their desires for self-determination. If necessary, that process should engage respected international observers who could help fashion a unique solution that suits the political needs of Hawaiians. Those supervising the reconciliation process should provide for an open, free, and democratic plebiscite on all potential options by which Native Hawaiians might express their inherent right to self-determination. The process should allow for international oversight by nonaligned observers of international repute. After a period for organization of that government, the federal government should engage in negotiations with the sovereign Hawaiian entity. The Hawaii Advisory Committee believes that these deliberations should take into consideration and protect, or otherwise accommodate, the rights of non-Native Hawaiians. Thereafter, the federal government should provide financial assistance for the educational effort that may be necessary to reconcile conflicts raised by the choices made by Native Hawaiians."


The history of Fiji has many similarities to the history of Hawai'i; and recent ethnic strife in Fiji raises important questions for Hawai'i's future.

The Akaka bill, and proposals for Hawaiian independence, threaten to take Hawai’i down a path leading to the kind of social and political system that has plagued Fiji for many years, devastating Fiji’s economy and resulting in the violent overthrow of the government on several occasions in the past 20 years.

Fiji and Hawai’i are both tropical island archipelagos in the Pacific, separated from their neighbors by long distances across the ocean. In both Fiji and Hawai'i, non-native immigrants and their descendants (some with 8 generations of residence) have come to feel entitled to equal rights with the natives. But in both Fiji and Hawai'i, racial equality has been called into doubt in recent years, as some of the citizens with native ancestry assert with increasing stridency that they have a right to racial supremacy in political power and control of the land.

Indo-Fijians are Asian citizens of Fiji whose ancestors were from India. They desperately want to have the rights that Asians have in Hawai'i (Asians whose ancestors came from China, Japan, and the Phillipines rather than India). But the Native Fijians have always held racial supremacy by law, and in recent years have used their control of the military to overthrow democratically elected governments that threatened to give full equality to Asians and establish race-neutral laws.

The following webpage examines the history of Fiji and its recent ethnic strife, paying special attention to similarities to Hawai’i regarding voting rights, property rights, and racial supremacy written into law.