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The Truth of Independence

An Essay on Hawai`i's Future

From the Office of the Honorable Pu`uhonua Kanahele
Head of State of the Nation of Hawai`i

January 1995


In 1893, the internationally recognized independent Kingdom of Hawai`i was overthrown in an "act of war" by the United States and the Public Law 103-150, the "Apology Resolution." The overthrow, annexation, and statehood were all illegal under the United States Constitution and international law. Congress and the President recognized that "the indigenous Hawaiian people never directly relinquished their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people or over their national lands to the United States, either through their monarchy or through a plebiscite or referendum."

As Senator Gorton from Washington stated during the Congressional debates, "...the logical consequences of this resolution would be independence." (Congressional Record -- Senate, Wednesday, October 27, 1993, 103rd Cong. 1st Sess., 139 Cong Rec S 14477)


Now in 1995 the Hawaiian people have established perhaps the strongest legal claim in the world for independence, and the restoration of the sovereign nation-state of Hawai`i is well under way.

To understand the legal foundation and process for independence, let us take a brief look back over the past year, since the passage of the Apology Resolution, at the self-determination being exercised by the Hawaiian people.

In December, 1993, Pu`uhonua Kanahele, invited legal testimony to the Governor's Sovereignty Advisory Commission and the public on the implications of the Apology Resolution.

Professor Boyle testified that, " the United States government, after one hundred years, has finally and officially conceded, as a matter of United States law, that Native Hawaiian people have the right to restore the Independent Nation State that you had in 1893 when the United States government came and destroyed it. a matter of international law, the Native Hawaiian people have the right to go out now and certainly proclaim the restoration of that State..."

On January 16, 1994, at `Iolani Palace, a coalition of Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) and pro-sovereignty groups delivered such a proclamation: the Proclamation of Restoration of the Independence of the Sovereign Nation State of Hawai`i. This Proclamation empowered the 'Aha Kupuna, the Council of Elders, as the Provisional Government of Hawai`i, to provide measures of development for the restoration of independence, leading to a constitutional convention.

In March, nearly 200 kupuna, elders, from all the major islands gathered in Kaanapali, Maui, and convened the First Legislative Session of the Provisional Government of Hawai`i. At this convention, Pu`uhonua Kanahele was unanimously selected as the Head of State, and given the mandate to act of behalf of the people to pursue the full restoration of sovereignty for Hawai`i.

Throughout the year, under his leadership, Kanaka Maoli and supporters on all islands organized themselves, educated the community, and drafted a constitution.

On September 8, President Clinton sent a letter to the Honorable Pu`uhonua Kanahele, addressing him as the "Head of State of Hawaii" and giving de facto recognition to the sovereign and independent Nation of Hawai`i.


In October, the first 'Aha Kumu Kanawai, Constitutional Convention, was held in Waimanalo on the island of O'ahu, and a Constitution was ratified for the independent Nation of Hawai`i, an organic document from and for the people. A second convention was held in November to work on the document further, andthis month the delegates convened again on January 13th to finalize the document.

On January 16, 1995, the one year anniversary of the Proclamation of Restoration - and the one hundred year anniversary of the imprisonment of Queen Lili`uokalani in `Iolani Palace by the conspirators who overthrew her - Kupuna, Ali`i (descendents of Hawaiian royalty), spiritual leaders, and delegates from all islands, along with nationals, citizens, and supporters of the Nation, gathered at `Iolani Palace and signed and promulgated the new Constitution of Hawai`i.


One fear sometimes expressed about sovereignty is that non-Hawaiians will no longer be welcome, but this fear is truly unfounded. Hawai`i is the land of Aloha, even if it has been abused for many long years. Ho`oponopono, forgiveness and reconciliation, are at the foundation of the movement and its success.

While the Constitution is based on the "inherent sovereignty" of the Kanaka Maoli people and is designed to protect and perpetuate the culture and rights of the original people of these islands, at the same time it is an inclusive document that recognizes the unique multi-cultural heritage of modern Hawai`i, and provides for citizenship and participation in government for all the inhabitants of the INDEPENDENCE AND HAWAI`I'S FUTURE

It is quite clear that restoring Hawai`i's independence is legal, justified, and real. The next question is, Why? How will we all benefit? What might the future look like in an independent Hawai`i?

It is obvious that the existing political and economic system, aside from being illegal, is not working well in terms of real meaningful values, such as our quality of life and the sustainability of our environment. Discontent with the government is at an all time high, and a feeling of being out of control of the decisions which affect our lives and lands is rampant, both at a state and federal level. If we keep going in the same direction, we'll certainly end up where we're headed, which would be most unfortunate.

Our society, here in Hawai`i and globally, is not living in anywhere near a sustainable manner, and an evolution of values and visions is essential for the quality of our future. So we are in for a change, and we must be ready to create a positive change, before the economic and environmental circumstances force us into a more drastic negative one. We must collectively empower a form of self-government that works in a real way, with humanity's laws in deep alignment with the natural and spiritual laws that are the basis for our very existence.

"Independence" means more than just political independence. Right now, Hawai`i is a very "dependent" society, depending on outside sources, primarily the United States, to meet most of our basic needs. For example, we import over three-quarters of our food, and even more of our energy, despite the fact that we inhabit the most isolated land mass in the world. Therefore we are subject to the control of outside forces. We lack self-reliance and suffer from great vulnerability. Hawai`i must become more independent in many ways to ensure the future stability and security of our land and people.

Once one shifts perspectives from US domestic law to international law, the range of options becomes much more broad. The opportunity exists to evolve quickly in a positive direction with independent political status. Life won't change drastically overnight, but can change steadily for the better.

Economically, we will be able to take advantage of our unique global position in the center of the Pacific Rim, controlling our 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone, and becoming a center for international trade and the development of global ethical banking, while at the same time investing in the diversification of our local economy with innovative community based projects for meaningful employment and self-sufficiency.

Do we have the will to take that opportunity? How we develop, how we move through the transition toward sovereignty, and how Hawai`i's future self-governance and real independence unfolds, depends on how educated and involved each one of Hawai`i's inhabitants becomes.

If there is any place in the world capable of evolving politically, economically, culturally, and spiritually in a smooth and peaceful transition toward a truly equitable and sustainable future, it is Hawai`i. In the process, we will be an example for the entire world.

We must remember, the wisdom of the ancestors is essential for our success. With Aloha, we can do it.

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