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400 gather at rally on palace grounds

The Honolulu Advertiser

Monday, January 17, 1994

By Jon Yoshishige
Advertiser Staff Writer

Ohana Council members yesterday declared independence from the United States for all native Hawaiians, saying it was the most important step in restoring the Hawaiian Kingdom overthrown 101 years ago today.

"The kanaka maoli (Hawaiian people) proclaim our right of self-determination as a people in accordance with . . . the United Nations Charter and join the world community of states as an independent and sovereign nation state," Ohana Council member Iaukea Bright read from a proclamation.

In response, cheers erupted from a crowd estimated by police to be about 400 gathered on the grounds of Iolani Palace during yesterday's He Hawaii Au march and rally. Event organizers said more than 400 were there.

The sovereignty movement is all about "making a wrong right and returning what rightfully belongs to Hawaiians," participant Nohea Maika`i said at the event.

Ohana Council leader Dennis "Bumpy " Kanahele told the crowd, "The proclamation came from upstairs, it didn't come from (me)... it didn't come from (the Ohana Council) per se, it came from akua , from the spirit."

Just a week ago, Kanahele resigned from the 20-member Hawaiian Sovereignty Commission, which was established last year by the Legislature to recommend a process by which Hawaiians could work out the nature and form of self-rule they are seeking.

Kanahele, who claims the loosely knit Ohana Council represents nearly 7,000 members, urged other members of the Sovereignty Commission to resign on the premise that the panel has no legal basis to exist.

By Kanahele's estimate, there are as many as 300 Hawaiian sovereignty support groups at present. He acknowledged that some sovereignty groups still disagree over how they envision the sovereign Hawaiian nation , but said events like yesterday's will build unity.

Mililani Trask, kia aina - governor - of the Ka Lahui Hawaii sovereignty group, said the declaration is merely a statement, not a form of government. At least three similar declarations have been issued during the past 20 years, none of them resulting in any substantial change for native Hawaiians, Trask said.

Ka Lahui Hawaii is holding ceremonies of its own beginning at 8:30 a.m today at Iolani Palace to mark the 101st anniversary of the monarchy's overthrow.

In the Ohana Council proclamation, the Hawaiians claimed "all the land, natural wealth, resources, minerals and waters" that had previously belonged to them, and called on military forces based here to "withdraw immediately."

But in an Advertiser interview after the proclamation was read, Kanahele conceded that change will not be instant because the U.S. and state governments won't just leave.

Whether Hawaiians should continue to pay state and federal taxes or obey existing laws has yet "to be determined," he said.

While some suggested models of a sovereign Hawaiian nation have included nation-within-a-nation status similar to American Indian reservations, the Independent and Sovereign Nation of Hawaii encompasses the entire Hawaiian archipelago.

Its citizens consist of descendants of Hawaiians who lived in these islands prior to the first contact with westerners in 1778 and others who lived here before the illegal overthrow of Jan. 17, 1893.

A naturalization procedure will be established for non-Hawaiians "who are habitual residents of Hawaii as of (yesterday's) date," Bright said. A council of kupuna (elders) will serve as the nation's provisional government until the Hawaiians convene a constitutional convention .

First on their agenda is to meet with Gov. John Waihee "to set up certain provisions that we need right now so we can get our kupuna going," he said.

Kanahele said the independent nation will seek control of the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

The department was created by Congress in 1920 to place native Hawaiians on 187,000 acres of land across the state. OHA was created by the 1978 state constitutional convention to develop and coordinate programs to improve conditions for Hawaiians.

Both exist illegally based on the Ohana Council members' interpretation of the federal government's November apology resulted in yesterdays proclamation, which was crafted with the help of Francis Boyle, a professor of international law at the University of Illinois.

Boyle, who spoke in Honolulu last month, said that in approving the apology, the United States conceded that native Hawaiians have a right to restore their status as an independent nation.

"Congress is effectively conceding now that the (statehood) vote is meaningless, as a matter of international law and united states domestic law," he said. "So you're not bound by it. Rather, I'm suggesting you're now free to determine your own fate pursuant to the principle of self-determination."

Kanahele likened yesterday's proclamation to a "shield" over Hawaiians, a blanket claim that will prevent the state or U.S. government from later saying Hawaiians had failed to take advantage of their right to self-determination.

March organizer A`o Pohaku, founder of the Nation of Kuho`one`enu`upono, stressed that the event was to share information and dispel fears of sovereignty by educating people about it.

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