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Scripps Howard News Service
Release date: 08-07-98

Scripps Howard News Service

WASHINGTON _ Native Hawaiians will be saying more than "aloha" whenthey march into the nation's capital this weekend.

They'll be talking about the U.S. invasion of the islands and overthrowof the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893. And they're not happy about it.

That action, said Butch Kekahu, founder of the Aloha March, ultimatelycaused the downfall of an entire culture. "We're still hurting after 105years," he said.

Planned activities for this weekend include a 24-hour prayer vigil andthe march itself, from the Capitol Building to the White House.

The march will mark the 100th anniversary of the 1898 annexation of theHawaiian Islands by the U.S. Hawaii became a U.S. territory in 1900.

For the marchers, it also will signify a turning point in the Hawaiiansovereignty movement as they seek to make their campaign an issue ofnational interest.

Native Hawaiians are defined as the descendants of the aborigines ofthe Hawaiian Kingdom and represent 18 to 20 percent of the totalpopulation of Hawaii, Kekahu said.

"We want to bring before America the plight of Native Hawaiians," saidRiley Cardwell, media coordinator for the Aloha March.

Cardwell said indigenous people in Hawaii have little access to healthcare or education, are burdened by low economic status and have thehighest rate of strokes, cancer, heart disease and diabetes in thestate.

Francis Boyle, a professor of international law at the University ofIllinois, said the 1898 annexation was illegal because Congress failedto ratify two treaties of annexation, as required by the Constitution.

Hawaii became the 50th state of the union in 1959. Even then,independence was not an option, Kekahu said, because voters were givenonly two choices - to become a state or remain a territory.

Kekahu said President Clinton and Congress inadvertently sparked theindependence movement in 1993 when they issued a formal apology toHawaii for overthrowing the kingdom and depriving citizens the right ofself-determination in the 1959 special vote.

"He (Clinton) just opened up the door when he signed the apology bill,"said Kekahu. The apology states that the Native Hawaiians had a"sophisticated language, culture and religion" before the arrival of theEuropeans, and economic and social changes have been "devastating to thehealth and well-being of the Hawaiian people."

"The Hawaiian Kingdom was never validly annexed and therefore, theywant their kingdom back," said Boyle. "We (the U.S.) stole theirkingdom."

Kekahu said other organizations in Hawaii support the sovereigntymovement but disagree on whether to seek full independence or a lesserform of autonomy.

"It's time to put back our culture, our language, our people," Kekahusaid. "Every nationality in this world has a home to go to except theHawaiians."

(Anu Manchikanti is a reporter for Scripps Howard News Service)

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