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Native Hawaiians Seek Demands

© The Associated Press
December 10, 1999


HONOLULU (AP) - Native Hawaiians on Friday demanded some form of redress for American involvement in the 1893 overthrow of the islands' queen - some even suggesting a restoration of the monarchy.

In a hearing with federal officials, many Hawaiian leaders said such a demand represented a minority view among the islands' indigenous people. But they said many still feel deep pain from the overthrow of Queen Lili`uokalani.

Her removal was orchestrated by American businessmen and supported by American troops lining the streets outside Iolani Palace. The queen was imprisoned and an American-dominated provisional government was established.

Five years later, the United States annexed Hawaii.

``Apology is not enough,'' said Hannah Reeves, a full-blooded Hawaiian. ``You must help our people.''

The U.S. Interior and Justice departments have held hearings throughout the islands to discuss issues affecting the 200,000 descendants of Hawaii's original inhabitants.

Those inhabitants have disproportionately higher rates of poverty, illness, incarceration and school dropout compared with the general population.

A 1993 joint congressional resolution, signed by President Clinton, apologized for America's role in the overthrow and called for the hearings.

``Our role in supporting the overthrow of Hawaii's government at gunpoint, and in pursuing our own national interest in denying an opportunity to vote for the majority of residents of these islands was an injustice, and its guilt continues to stain our existence today,'' said Assistant Interior Secretary John Berry.

Berry and Mark Van Norman, director of the Office of Tribal Justice, want to present proposals to Congress by next spring.

Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, both Democrats, want official recognition of Hawaiians as a native group of Americans and the establishment of a federal office specifically for Hawaiian issues such as health, education and employment.

``They'll put the stamp of legitimacy on these programs,'' Inouye said Friday.

But Inouye said the resolution does not authorize the government to consider secession from the United States or restoration of the monarchy.

``I think the question was resolved in the Civil War,'' Inouye said.

But that hasn't stopped many Hawaiians from calling for immediate restoration or the payment of billions of dollars in reparations.

``The U.S. has deprived us of our right to self-determination,'' said Dr. Kekuni Blaisdell, spokesman for an independence coalition.

But Roy Benham, leader of an alumni chapter for the Hawaiians-only Kamehameha Schools, said most Hawaiians don't share that view, or expect reparations.

``Who does the United States give it to?'' he said. ``To each one of us - the 220,000? We've got to do something that's more inclusive so the Hawaiian people can really say that's what we agree with.''

Inouye also apologized to Berry and Van Norman for the acrimony they faced at some hearings.

``Having been involved in native Hawaiian matters for most of my adult life, I believe I understand some of the frustrations - the anger, impatience and distrust that have been expressed,'' Inouye said. ``Nevertheless, I am deeply saddened by the lack of respect and aloha demonstrated by a few.

AP-NY-12-10-99 1923EST

Copyright 1999 The Associated Press.

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