Hawaiian Sovereignty

Topics: United States, Native Americans in the United States, Hawaii Pages: 5 (1799 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Is Hawaiian Sovereignty Something That Can Be Afforded?

"If all of this seems long ago and far away, it is worth remembering that the past is never past." (Faulkner cited in Ellison, P.274)

Many different groups today are seeking the sovereignty of Hawaii. The reason being that these mostly Native Hawaiian groups feel that they suffered a severe injustice when they were annexed into the United States against their own free will. They feel that since they were treated like objects rather than human beings with rights and emotions, they now deserve reparations. The intentions of the different groups vary. Some only want reparations in the form of money and acknowledgements of the inhuman acts that were committed against them and others want it in the form of independence for the island. However, restoring sovereignty to Hawaii would cause great injustices toward the non-natives living on the island today. So these groups should not be granted the sovereignty they are seeking.

"When we have pleaded for understanding our character has been distorted, when we have asked for simple caring, we have been handed empty inspirational appellations, then stuck in the farthest corner."(Walker, p. 698). When the United States managed to annex Hawaii in 1898, they did break the law and the human code of conduct. A joint resolution of Congress produced the annexation rather than a two-thirds majority vote, which is required under the United States Constitution. (MacKenzie, p.24) Also, the Native Hawaiians were vastly opposed to the annexation because it violated a treaty the U.S. had with Hawaii stating that they would not interfere with Hawaii's right to self-government. (Castanha, p.2) So when the U.S. held a vote on whether or not Hawaii should become a state, many Hawaiians did not vote because their only choices were statehood or staying a territory of the U.S. and they did not want either of these. Many people today question the validity of the statehood because of the legal violations of long ago. Also, as human beings there is a naturally agreed upon law that we share with one another and that is to treat people with respect and dignity. The U.S. did not do this when they disregarded the treaty and the law to annex Hawaii. These are the reasons that Native Hawaiians are presently seeking reparations.

Prior to 1778, about 600,000 people, mostly all Native Hawaiian, inhabited the island of Hawaii. Currently, the island's population is about 1.2 million and only 200,000 of those people have Native bloodlines. (Jovek, p.408) So in reality, there are only a small percentage of people living on the island seeking reparations. Right now, there are two main models of self-determination requests: the first being a Hawaiian Nation within the U.S. and the second one having complete independence from the U.S. The first group wants recognition of Native Hawaiians as indigenous people and reparations in the form of money. The problem with this is the difficulty of determining who should pay and who should receive compensations since most people with native bloodlines are only descendents of those who had their land and culture taken away. It is hard to track down those with native bloodlines because so many ethnicities have intermixed in Hawaii and records have not always been well kept. The second group is advocating the return of lands and self-government. They believe that only full control over their language, schools, health care, cultural practices and particularly their land let Hawaiians regain their traditional ways of living. The dilemma with this is that these groups feel that since Hawaii was a self-sufficient nation once before that it can return to the way it was. Currently though, Hawaii's economy relies heavily on the U.S., especially for imported goods. The young and still premature Hawaiian Nation would be extremely vulnerable to other nations and very susceptible to attack. There...
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