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The Hawaiian sovereignty movement (Hawaiian: ke ea Hawai‘i) is a political movement seeking some form of sovereignty for Hawai'i. Generally, the movement's focus is on self-determination and self-governance, either for Hawaiʻi as an independent nation (in many proposals, for "Hawaiian nationals" descended from subjects of the Hawaiian Kingdom or declaring themselves as such by choice), or for people of whole or part native Hawaiian ancestry in an indigenous "nation to nation" relationship akin to tribal sovereignty in the U.S.
Some groups also advocate some form of redress from the United States for the 1893 overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani, and for what is described as a prolonged military occupation beginning with the 1898 annexation. The movement generally views both the overthrow and annexation as illegal.
A counter-sovereignty movement also exists in Hawaiʻi, which views the historical and legal basis for these claims as invalid and discriminatory.
Hawaiian sovereignty efforts vary in both defining the problem and proposing solutions. Among those who advocate for complete independence, proposals range from constitutional democracies in varying forms (some of which advocate reinstatement of aliʻi within their constitutions), to democratic anarchism. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) already exists as a state-sponsored commission but is generally not considered legitimate within sovereignty discourse. One controversial "nation-within-a-nation" proposal (similar to the status of Native American tribes) called the Akaka Bill has been repeatedly brought to the U.S. Senate by Daniel Akaka. This measure has been vociferously opposed by both sovereignty activists, who believe that it might be used to dismiss legal claims for independence, and by sovereignty opponents, who feel that it is "race-based" and therefore discriminatory against non-native residents of Hawaii.
Most, but not all, formal sovereignty proposals focus on short-range, interim governmental structures. Recognizing Hawaii's profound economic and political integration into the United States, some propose solutions developed incrementally with the approval of the United Nations. Since most groups are focused an international legal solution, many (but not all) proposed structures are based on the kingdom that existed in 1893. The logical basis is that undoing of the 1893 illegal occupation might legally necessitate a return to the pre-illegal-occupation government. Many groups include some long-range ideas in their proposals, but others focus upon the immediate problem of overcoming what they see as American occupation or colonization of the islands. The matter of whether or not Hawaii can lawfully regain its sovereignty after becoming a state also has significance to other secessionist movements, as the Supreme Court has previously ruled in Texas v. White that unilateral secession is illegal.
Some groups formed following the 1887 enactment of the Bayonet Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii by King Kalākaua under threat of armed force by mainly white residents against the indigenous government. Rebel and pro-Hawaiian organizations formed in support of the monarchy and native Hawaiians were known as “Royalists”.
The Liberal Patriotic Association was a rebel group formed by Robert William Wilcox, to overturn the Bayonet Constitution. The faction was financed by Chinese businessmen who lost rights under the 1887 Constitution. The movement initiated what became known as the Wilcox Rebellion of 1889, ending in failure with seven dead and 70 captured.
Following her 1893 overthrow, Queen Liliʻuokalani did not formally abdicate the throne, so the Hawaiian Kingdom became a government in exile. With aid from Grover Cleveland, she lobbied for the restoration of her government and postponed annexation, even threatening military force to return her to power.
Liliʻuokalani's own response to her overthrow changed over the years. Although at first she worked to effect a counter-revolution, eventually she reconciled herself to the course Hawaii had taken. Opponents of the Hawaiian sovereignty movements see this as ex post facto justification for the overthrow, whereas sovereignty advocates dismiss this as a purely personal position taken by the Queen that does not bear on their legal assertions.
Although there was some controversy as to the accuracy of the second quote, research done by DeSoto Brown of the Bishop Museum, who was originally doubtful, was able to prove its authenticity.[better source needed]
In recognition of the 100th year since the overthrow, sovereignty activist Dallas Kealiihooneiaina Mossman Vogeler directed a three-day re-enactment of the event on the grounds of ʻIolani Palace in Honolulu. Tens of thousands of people witnessed the play, which was also broadcast on Hawaii Public Radio.
The former head of the royal guard other supporters began an arms build up and training insurgents in 1894 to return Queen Liliʻuokalani to power. In 1895 the plot was exposed leading to a war between the insurgents and the Republic of Hawaii known as the 1895 counter-revolution. The rebels were forced into the mountains where fighting continued for a week. After being arrested and imprisoned, Liliʻuokalani formally abdicated the throne to prevent further bloodshed.
Following the annexation of Hawaii, Wilcox formed the Home Rule Party of Hawaii on June 6, 1900. The Party was generally more radical than the Democratic Party of Hawaii. They were able to dominate the Territorial Legislature between 1900 and 1902. But due to their radical and extreme philosophy of Hawaiian nationalism, infighting was prominent in addition to their refusal to work with other parties, they were unable to pass any legislation. Following the election of 1902 they steadily declined until they disbanded in 1912.
The Democratic Party of Hawaii was established April 30, 1900 by John H. Wilson, John S. McGrew, Charles J. McCarthy, David Kawānanakoa and Delbert Metzger. The Party was generally more pragmatic than the radical Home Rule Party, which included gaining sponsorship from the American Democratic Party. They attempted to bring representation to Native Hawaiians in the territorial government and effectively lobbied to set aside 200,000 acres (810 km2) under the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920 for Hawaiians.
Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole was Republican. Kūhiō's decision to align himself with the powerful Republican Party was fraught with pitfalls, but it allowed him to pursue his agenda of helping Native Hawaiians from a position of real influence. He is credited with developing the county government system still in place today, and with staffing civil service positions with Hawaiian appointees.
Kūhiō's greatest accomplishment came in 1920 with the drafting of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, an ambitious measure that would make 203,500 acres of land available for Native Hawaiian use.
Following the death of Bernice Pauahi Bishop, her husband, Charles Reed Bishop, used her estate for the betterment of the Hawaiian people particularly indigent children and with education in accordance to the Princess' Will and dying wishes. Before the death of Charles Reed Bishop, he made preparations to ensure that the estate to continue after his death which came in 1915. The Bishop Estate continues to be one of the largest land holders in Hawaii.
The Aboriginal Lands of Hawaiian Ancestry (ALOHA), also the Principality of Aloha, may have been organized in 1969 or 1972. According to Rich Budnick's book Hawaii's Forgotten History, the group was established by Louisa Rice in 1969. Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell claims that it was first organized in the summer of 1972.
On July 27, 1973, Maxwell, then-president of ALOHA, sought reparations from the U.S. government for the government and crown lands claimed by the Republic of Hawaii in 1894, transferred to the U.S. government in 1900, and then transferred back to the State of Hawaii in 1959. He specifically demanded the return of Kahoʻolawe, saying, "Our kupuna [elders] saw it first." He informed the Maui County Council in late 1973 that his organization's "primary objective [was] to seek land or money reparations from the United States Congress".
Of the groups in the current Hawaiian sovereignty movement, the best funded is the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA). OHA, a department of The State of Hawaii, was created in 1978 by the State of Hawaii Constitutional Convention. OHA's stated purpose was to represent the interests of Native Hawaiians in the administration of the Hawaiian Homelands and the Ceded Lands — land formerly belonging to the Hawaiian government and crown that were ceded to the United States as public lands when the islands were annexed in 1898. When the Territory of Hawaii became a state in 1959, these lands were passed to the new state. The act transferring them ordered that they be administered for five public purposes:
Because there was strong sentiment that the second purpose had been largely ignored, part of OHA's charter was to address this issue. Originally, OHA trustees were to be elected only by Native Hawaiians, but in 2000 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Rice v. Cayetano that this restriction was unconstitutionally race-based. As a result, OHA trustees are now elected by all registered voters in the state.
The OHA Board of Trustees has historically been known for factional infighting that some believe hamper its mission for helping Native Hawaiians.
Ka Lahui Hawaiʻi was formed in 1987 as a grassroots initiative for Hawaiian sovereignty. The Trask sisters, attorney and U.N. Representative Mililani Trask and University of Hawaiʻi professor Haunani-Kay Trask, were prominent in the effort. Mililani Trask was elected the first kiaʻaina (governor) of Ka Lahui. Native Hawaiians, as well as non-Native Hawaiians, may sign up as citizens of Ka Lahui. One of the group's goals is to bargain with the United States government for recognition, land, and restitution, while lobbying at the United Nations for decolonization relief. Their model shares some similarity to certain Indian reservations of the U.S. continent, which have increasingly become self-governing. Many thousands of Native Hawaiians, along with many non-natives, have signed up as members. Ka Lahui has attracted many critics; many of these critics question the degree to which Ka Lahui citizens actually participated in the affairs of the group after signing their name.
Ka Lahui opposes the "Akaka Bill" proposed by Senator Daniel Akaka that recognizes Native Hawaiians as a first nation on par with Native Americans and Alaskan tribes, as the group (along with most other sovereignty organizations) sees it as a poor compromise, and believes that the ramifications in terms of international law outweigh the bill's benefits. Although Ka Lāhui may oppose the Akaka Bill, its founding member and first governor, Mililani Trask, supported the original Akaka Bill and was a member of a group that crafted the original bill. Trask withdrew her support for the bill later, when changes were made to the Akaka Bill under the[which?] Bush Administration[disambiguation needed].
Richard Kekuni Akana Blaisdell is a medical doctor and professor of medicine who strongly advocates for the total independence for Hawaiʻi. The position of Blaisdell's group, Ka Pakaukau, is that Hawaiʻi does not need to secede from the U.S., for the U.S. has the moral obligation to "return what it has stolen" and to remove its "occupying forces" (i.e. the U.S. military) from Hawaiian lands. Blaisdell advocates putting continual non-violent pressure on the U.S. military to vacate Hawaiʻi. He also feels that the military has an unmet obligation to clean up the pollution it has left in areas such as Pearl Harbor and Kaho'olawe. Blaisdell has travelled numerous times to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland to advocate for international recognition of Hawaiʻi as a rightful independent nation under illegal colonial occupation, and to lobby for international assistance with the process of decolonization.
In 1993, Blaisdell convened Ka Hoʻokolokolonui Kanaka Maoli, the "People's International Tribunal", which brought indigenous leaders from around the world to Hawaiʻi to put the U.S. Government on trial for the theft of Hawaiʻi's sovereignty, and other related violations of international law. The tribunal found the U.S. guilty, and published its findings in a lengthy document filed with the U.N. Committees on Human Rights and Indigenous Affairs.
Hayden Burgess now goes by the Hawaiian name Poka Laenui and heads the Institute for the Advancement of Hawaiian Affairs. A lawyer, Laenui argues that because the "U.S. armed invasion and overthrow"  of the Hawaiian monarchy was illegal, the current government of the state is illegal, and that residents owe it no fealty or taxes. He advocates a process of decolonization, resulting in a totally independent government that would include all non-Hawaiians living in Hawaiʻi. He uses other island nations who are achieving decolonization throughout the Pacific as his primary model.
Laenui has regularly analyzed Hawaiʻi's historical, political, and economic situation on his talk shows, which air on radio and on Public, educational, and government access (PEG) cable tv channel ʻŌlelo TV.
|A major contributor to this section appears to have a close connection with its subject. (June 2012)|
Another leader who seeks to expose what is seen as the prolonged occupation of Hawaii by the United States is David Keanu Sai. Trained as a U.S. military officer, Sai uses the title of Chairman of the Acting Council of Regency of the Hawaiian Kingdom, a Hawaiian independence organization. Sai has done extensive historical research, especially on the treaties between Hawaiʻi and other nations, and military occupation and the laws of war. Sai recently finished his doctoral program in political science at the University of Hawaiʻi, where he founded the Hawaiian Society of Law and Politics, which publishes the Hawaiian Journal of Law and Politics.
Sai co-founded a Hawaiian title company, Perfect Title, which stated that all land transactions since 1893 were invalid if superseded by legitimate pre-existing claims; some clients of their own free will refused to make mortgage payments and lost their property to the bank via foreclosure. In 1997, the offices of Perfect Title were raided, and the company was barred from filing any documents with the state Bureau of Conveyances for 5 years, effectively shutting the company down. A jury on December 1, 1999, unanimously found Sai guilty of attempted theft (a class B felony) of title to a house (value approximately $300,000) for his role as an accessory to a man and woman who used his Perfect Title research services to investigate and discover who has actual legal title to said property and thereby once a discrepancy was found in the chain of conveyance the man and woman could then invalidate the foreclosure on that property on that basis. This conviction was held despite the fact that the theft statue does not apply to real property (objects that do not move or are attached to the soil) and that Sai did not attempt to benefit from the outcome of the research either way, See also Joseph Cook & Paul Markus, Criminal Law (1995) The theft statute only applies to personal property or while acting in a position of trust whereby A theft prosecution can be possible where the criminal actor, having power as a trustee, attorney, or otherwise to dispose of another's real estate, does so to his own benefit in violation of trust (American Law Institute, Model Penal Code and commentaries (1980). For his class B felony conviction, David Keanu Sai was sentenced to 5 years probation and a $200 fine on March 7, 2000. His appeal was denied by the Hawaii Supreme Court on July 20, 2004.
Sai claimed to represent the Hawaiian Kingdom in a case, Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom, brought before the World Court's Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague in the Netherlands in December 2000. Although the arbitration was agreed to by Lance Paul Larsen and David Keanu Sai, with Larsen suing Sai for not protecting his rights as a Hawaiian Kingdom subject, his actual goal was to have U.S. rule in Hawaii declared in breach of mutual treaty obligations and international law. The arbiters of the case affirmed that there was no dispute they could decide upon, because the United States was not a party to the arbitration. As stated in the award from the arbitration panel,in the absence of the United States of America, the Tribunal can neither decide that Hawaii is not part of the USA, nor proceed on the assumption that it is not. To take either course would be to disregard a principle which goes to heart of the arbitral function in international law. 
In an arbitration hearing before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in December 2000, the Hawaiian flag was raised at the same height at and alongside other countries. However, the court accepts arbitration from private entities and a hearing before the court does not equal international recognition. Hawaii has been recognized by other secessionist movements, though, such as the Alaskan Independence Party and the Second Vermont Republic.
Since April 30, 2008, members of a group calling themselves the Hawaiian Kingdom Government have regularly protested on the grounds of ʻIolani Palace in Honolulu. Led by Mahealani Kahau, who has taken the title of "Queen", and Jessica Wright, who has taken the title of "Princess," they have been meeting each day to conduct government business and demand sovereignty for Hawaii and the restoration of the monarchy. They negotiated rights to be on the lawn of the grounds during regular hours normally open to the public by applying for a public-assembly permit.
The Interim Provisional Government Council and Privy Council assembled pursuant to the Law of Nations and the Constitution and laws of the Kingdom of Hawai`i on April 15, 1994 and signed its position paper on June 20, 1994. Amendments were made on August 23, 1998. The primary mission is to reinstate the Kingdom of Hawai`i, also known as Hawaiian Kingdom, Government of the Hawaiian Islands pursuant to the Law of Nations and Recognition Doctrine by educating qualified men to assembly the legislative body and bring forth the Kingdom of Hawai`i and its Government out of an impaired state and rejoin the Family of Nations.
Dayne Aleka Aipoalani of Kekaha on the island of Kauaʻi founded a group called the Polynesian Kingdom of Atooi. "Atooi" was the spelling of the local pronunciation of Kauaʻi by the first British visitors in 1778. He contrasts his group to others, saying: "We welcome everyone, including landowners who are already here. Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians." He established relations with the group Te Moana Nui A Kiva (Royal Union of Pacific Nations), which supports other Polynesian indigenous people. He was arrested (under the name Dayne Gonsalves) in a protest against the Hawaiian Superferry on August 26, 2007. In September 2010 he hosted a meeting of Polynesian leaders in Hawaii.
Edmund Keli’i Silva Jr. announced the restoration of Nou Ke Akua Ke Aupuni O Hawaii (the Kingdom of Hawaii) in 2004. As King, he has subsequently outlined a vision for restoration and sustainable development, requesting $2.5 billion to implement the plan.
The Kingdom for an Independent Oahu is a group who believes that the takeover of the island of Oahu by Maui forces in 1738, lead by Kahekili II, and the subsequent takeover of the island by Kamehameha I's forces in 1795, were "cruel and unjust.". The group, lead by Patricia Aupoliana Rodie, seeks a formal apology from the descendants of Kahekili II and Kamehameha I for the events. Patricia Rodie was crowned queen of Oahu in a coronation ceremony in 2004 in Kalihi Valley. Rodie claims to be a direct descendant of Kahahana, Oahu's 24th Alii Aimoku.
Due to efforts by the various Hawaiian sovereignty movements and other Native-Hawaiian activist groups, the United States government issued an apology. Some with a different perspective of the historical record (see "Opposition" below) sharply disagree with the apology, questioning its accuracy and validity.
On November 15, 1993, President of the United States Bill Clinton signed an Apology Resolution apologizing on behalf of the American people for the U.S. government's role in the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. In Hawaii v. Office of Hawaiian Affairs (2009), the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court of March 31, 2009, was that the "whereas" clauses of the Apology Resolution have no binding effect, and the resolution does not change or modify the title to the public lands of the State of Hawaii.
The Native Hawaiians Study Commission of the United States Congress in its 1983 final report found no historical, legal, or moral obligation for the U.S. government to provide reparations, assistance, or group rights to Native Hawaiians.
There has also been something of a backlash against the concept of ancestry-based sovereignty, which critics maintain is tantamount to racial exclusion. In 1996, in Rice v. Cayetano, one Big Island rancher sued to win the right to vote in OHA elections, asserting that every Hawaiian citizen regardless of racial background should be able to vote for a state office, and that limiting the vote to Native Hawaiians only was racist. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor and OHA elections are now open to all registered voters. In reaching its decision, the court wrote that "the ancestral inquiry mandated by the State is forbidden by the Fifteenth Amendment for the further reason that the use of racial classifications is corruptive of the whole legal order democratic elections seek to preserve....Distinctions between citizens solely because of their ancestry are by their very nature odious to a free people whose institutions are founded upon the doctrine of equality".
Of further concern is the implication that claims for hereditary political power are connected to land claims. Proponents of sovereignty assume that if they can show that American presence at the time of the 1893 Revolution was unjust then it follows that the United States owes enormous reparations in cash and land to Hawaiians.
There were three kinds of land in 1893: private lands, Crown lands, and government lands. No private lands were seized as a result of the 1893 Revolution.
Crown lands in 1893 belonged not to any individual or to any group of individuals but to the office of the Sovereign. In 1893, The Government of the Republic of Hawai'i provided explicitly that the former Crown lands were Government lands. The Crown lands in 1893 were the remaining lands acquired by Lili'uokalani's royal predecessor Kamehameha I in his conquest of the islands, as well as his kingdom's previous holdings.
The Hawaiian Kingdom Government lands in 1893 were controlled ultimately by the Legislature. Private individuals had no powers, rights or privileges to use government land without Government authorization or to decide how it was to be used. If Hawaiians had any rights or powers regarding Government land, they had only the political right and power to participate in controlling the Government. Most ethnic Hawaiians then had no power to lose; they were a minority in Hawai'i and most of them could not even vote. As the term “sovereignty” suggests, what was at stake in 1893 was political power over the government and hence over the Government Lands and the Crown Lands (which had come under control of a government commission in 1865). Legally, the land belonging to the Hawaiian Government in 1898 has passed to the U.S. Government and back to the State of Hawai'i. People alive now have a democratic right to decide by majority vote how government land should be used now. No one deserves more than equality.
Although the Apology Resolution passed 65 to 34 in the U.S. Senate and by a two-thirds voice vote in the House, and without much public notice outside Hawaii, the Akaka Bill has generated a higher profile for the issues involved. An organized opposition now challenges the accuracy of historical claims and constitutionality of legislation they view as racially exclusive.
Opponents have called into question the accuracy of the Apology Resolution in that it is based upon an interpretation of the historical record that opponents reject.
Senator Inouye replied: