Opinion: The life of the land is in question

On Jan. 17, 1893, the United States and Hawaiian League, led by Lorrin A. Thurston and John L. Stevens, illegally overthrew the Hawaiian Kingdom. However, the United States had already recognized the Hawaiian Kingdom’s independence for over fifty years.

The Hawaiian queen at the time, Lili‘uokalani, submitted to the overthrow in order to limit any casualties to her people. The queen, who was a close friend of then-U.S. President-elect Grover Cleveland, expected Cleveland to immediately restore the Kingdom when he took office.

Unfortunately, the previous president, Benjamin Harrison, was in favor of the annexation of Hawai‘i. The process of transitioning to a new administration left Hawai‘i in a limbo of sorts.
Fearing the restoration of the Kingdom, the instigators of the overthrow, dubbed the “Provisional Government,” instituted the Republic of Hawai‘i.

There are many issues surrounding this event. For one, the Kingdom of Hawai‘i was a sovereign nation whose independence was recognized by dozens of countries, including the United States. The Kingdom of Hawaii was a member of the Family of Nations, predecessor to the United Nations, before any non-European countries, including the United States.

Despite being world leaders in many aspects of civilization, both in history and in the modern world, the Hawaiian culture has been neglected in the option of self-government and Native Hawaiians have yet to be recognized as an Indigenous People.

It took over one hundred years for the United States to officially admit and acknowledge that the overthrowing of the kingdom was carried out by United States military personnel and was instigated by U.S. officials. Prior to that, U.S. government reports and statements on the events surrounding Jan. 17, 1893 claimed that there was no evidence that the United States played an active role in the overthrow.

The state motto has even been twisted by American supporters to limit the possible uproar regarding sovereignty. On July 31, 1843, Kamehameha III, Kauikeaouli, took to Thomas Square to address the recent returning of hawaiian independence following another illegal takeover, this time by British navy Admiral George Paulet. “Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono” originally translated to English as, “The sovereignty of the land is perpetuated in legality.” However, upon statehood, the translation was changed to “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.”

Even today, Hawaiians are faced with racism and neglect by much of the world. Take, for example, the shopping center recently built at the corner of Maui Lani Parkway and Kaahumanu Avenue, across from Baldwin High School.

The lot upon which the shopping center is built was a Hawaiian burial site. Rather than relocating, the developers, HRT of the Weinberg Foundation, claimed the dozens of burial sites found even before any infrastructure was installed would not play a significant cultural impact whatsoever. Hundreds of bodies, warriors and victims in the battle of Kakanilua in the 1770s, older than America herself, were desecrated and disrespected in favor of a couple bucks for another mainland company to take advantage of the Hawaiians.

When the Native Hawaiian community called out HRT, the Weinberg Foundation, and Safeway, the companies arranged a ceremony to honor and properly respect the bodies. On the day of the ceremony, many members of the Hawaiian community showed up, ready to honor their kūpuna. Not a single representative not employee of HRT, the Weinberg Foundation, and Safeway showed up.

The list goes on and on. Native Hawaiians are being disrespected and ignored. Without any affirmative representation in the government of our rightful homeland, the rest of the world will continue to walk us, our ancestors, and our culture.

The late Hawaiian musician and activist George Helm, whose mysterious disappearance is a whole nother story, perhaps said it best when it comes to fighting for legality for the Hawaiian people: “Call me a radical for I refuse to remain idle. I will not have the foreigner prostitute the soul of my being, and I will not make a whore out of my soul (my culture).”

It is time that more people stood up for respect, and common sense towards not only Hawaiians, but also indigenous peoples all over the world