Hawaii Diary 4

Hawaiian Sovereignity and Nostalgia

Someone once had said me that no group is in majority in Hawaii. All are minority. Surprisingly, Hawaii does not look like a US state. The faces that we see usually are Asian. The physical distance that it maintains with the US mainland is worth noting. And I saw the state a bit more distanced than any other state in the US in many respects.

During the first two weeks of orientation in the East West Center, we had a chance to understand Hawaii in all its manifestations. Prof Aa La Paki of the Hawaii Study Center took us to many places of historical and political significance. Being a native Hawaiian, he speaks with full of pride and admiration about the history and culture in Hawaii. He would not miss to brief us what is going on currently in Hawaii political sphere.

What happened that Friday afternoon was something very embarrassing at least for the US federal government. A Native Hawaiian sovereignty group stormed into the Iolani Palace premises to display their discontent with the US federal government. The palace is in fact the residence of Hawaii's last monarch and is a strong symbol of what the Native Hawaiian call 'nationality'. They displayed some placards that read "Property of the Kingdom of Hawaiian Trust."

I was taken aback to know that there are still some groups who want their Hawaiian Kingdom back. The day was special day for the Native Hawaiians to protest, as it was the day of Hawaii's annexation to the Union. Hawaii is the last state to be annexed in the United States. It was annexed on Aug. 21, 1959.

I asked one Haule, "What do you think are they trying to do with such trifling?" "These guys want their palace back. They feel that their land has been confiscated forcefully. There are about 25 of them; they've got a king and the king wants to sit on the throne."

I came to learn about this new world "Haule" from one of natives. He said Hawaians call the whites, Haule. One Indian friend of mine who is doing his PhD said that the native beat up Haule when they find them walking alone at night. That was scary.

When we were in the palace in one of the orientation days, I met some native Hawaians, they were all giant figured. "Do you think such protests will do some good yo you?" I asked one of them. He said, "We're going to fight as long as we don't get our palace back". He declined to give his name.

What was more surprising was to read a local bulletin distributed by a member of the group. It would read: "Majesty Akahi Nui, the King of Hawaii, has now reoccupied the throne of Hawaii. The Kingdom of Hawaii is now re-enacted." I thought it was making a fiction out of the news.

The so-called new king, Akahi Nui was coronated in 1998 by the native Hawaiians who want to continue with their royal dynasty. I felt pity on them because what they want seemed to me almost impossible. Though there is no hope, the few determined natives are not going to give up. They have long used Iolani Palace -- the site of Queen Liliuokalani's imprisonment following the 1893 US overthrow -- as a prime location for protests against the United States' occupation of the islands. There was similar kind of protests in the past by the Native Hawaians.

One of my friends in the APLP happened to be from the Hawai senate. She works there in the administration of the Senate of Hawaii. She said there is no one in the senate who feels like the way these protesters do. They all are happy with the way they are. There is no thought to secession. I wish I could meet some of the key leaders who are still in what they call "Hawaiian sovereignty movement".

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