This past June, the United States Department of the Interior invited Native Americans of Hawai’i to gather at a very special meeting concerning the possible formation of a federally-recognized nation. Of course, like any debate, there were two opposing schools of thought. Some believed that the nation would be a good idea, while others hope to remove the United States entirely and reclaim independence from any and all foreign powers. The latter group formed most of the speakers that night.
Despite the majority of the speakers protesting an illegitimate, occupational government, according to University of Hawai’i’s law professor Williamson Chang, only approximately 35% if those present fell into the camp of independence, and they are simply a loud minority, albeit a large minority. However, the importance in this movement is the surprising amount of unity. Hawai’i is not very well-known for it’s people coming together and agreeing on subjects of interest.
King Kamehameha I united the Hawai’ians for the first time in history in 1810. By the time of Queen Lili’uokalani fifty years later, the United States had begun to encroach on Hawai’ian rights. Dole Company, backed by U.S. Marines, seized the island chain in 1893, although it was quickly rescinded by President Taft. A mere six years later, after stalemating between the executive and legislative branches, Hawai’i was annexed unlawfully by Congress, but without protest.
Hawai’i’s best hope at either a federally-recognized nation or independence is quickly fading, however. President Obama is nearing the end of his second term. A Hawai’ian himself, Obama promoted the Hawai’ian nation the last time it had been brought before Congress.
The aha, or convention, concerning the Hawai’ian nation has been chartered for April 2015 to allow time for level heads to reign and tempers to simmer. Perhaps opinions will change by then. If the past has shown anything, only dramatic policy change for Hawai’ians would persuade many of them to remain in the fold.