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73 percent say yes to Hawaiian sovereignty
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Thursday, September 12, 1996

Hawaiians take step toward self-determination
The Associated Press, Thursday, September 12, 1996

The Nation of Hawai`i has taken a position in support of the work of the Hawaiian Sovereignty Elections Council for education and unification, under Article XVII, Transitional Provisions, of the Nation's independent Hawai`i Constitution.

For more on the vote, see Native Hawaiians Vote in Ethnic Referendum, The New York Times, July 23, 1996


Pu`uhonua "Bumpy" Kanahele was the first commissioner selected by Governor Waihee in mid 1993 to serve on the Sovereignty Advisory Commission (SAC), the predecessor to the Hawaiian Sovereignty Elections Council. In early 1994, following the passage of the United States' Apology (US Public Law 103-150) and international law expert Prof. Francis A. Boyle's legal interpretation of that law, and how it cleared the way for the full restoration of Hawaii's independence, Kanahele resigned from the Commission, realizing that the state of Hawaii is illegal and has no authority to control Hawaiian self-determination. Soon after his resignation from the Commission, Kanahele led the Proclamation Restoring the Independence of the Sovereign Nation-State of Hawaii, according to customary international law. Kanahele was then outspoken in opposition to the Commission, while still respecting the work of the members.

Throughout 1994, kupuna and delegates on all islands, along with international legal advisors, developed the Nation's Constitution and established a legal foundation for the full restoration of independence. On Jan. 16, 1995, the Constitution was ratified at `Iolani Palace.

Knowing that we are in a transitional process, the delegates who authored the Nation's Constitution, ratified on Jan. 16, 1995, created Article XVII, Transitional Provisions, which includes the following sections:

Realizing that much more education was needed for the Constitution to be widely embraced and truly implemented, and being secure that it provided the legal foundation and protection for the right of independence, Kanahele stated in early 1995 that the Nation would be willing to support the efforts of the Hawaiian Sovereignty Elections Council for education and unificiation.

In other words, the process of the Sovereignty Elections Council was seen under Article XVII as a possible remedy being provided by the colonizing entity which we are not precluded from seeking, and the Nation could deem the services of the Council proper and expedient for a peaceful transition towards restoration.

However, the one factor which precluded this support was the term "plebiscite," which the Nation felt was inaccurate, misleading and dangerous. Therefore, the Nation requested an official legal opinion from Prof. Boyle on the term "plebiscite," and received a response which clearly indicated that the vote being pursued by HSEC did not meet the international criteria of a true plebiscite. The Nation presented this opinion to the Council and the legislature, and requested that the term be changed to reflect the true nature of the vote.

Earlier this year, HSEC finally announced their intention to change the term "plebiscite" to "Native Hawaiian Vote" (Sovereignty voting renamed for clarity, Honolulu Advertiser, Feb. 12, 1996). Prof. Boyle's opinion and the position of the Nation have been cited as partly responsible for this revision.

Now the Nation of Hawai`i supports HSEC and the Native Hawaiian Vote for the purposes of education and unification of the Hawaiian people.


Unity among the people is the single most important factor in the restoration of sovereignty. It doesn't mean all have to agree on everything, but we can identify the common ground and work from there cooperatively toward the goals that will benefit all. HSEC is one important aspect of the unifying process.


Many diverse perspectives from the community are represented on the Council. It is an acceptable and safe process for a wider population to participate in, and many voices are now involved in sovereignty who had not felt comfortable before.


We see opposition to HSEC as a drain of valuable time and energy, and support for them as a unifying action. This does not preclude support for other unification efforts as well. In general we would rather support than oppose any efforts which will bring people together and move us towards sovereignty, even if we don't agree wholly in strategy. The more the Hawaiian people are pitted against each other and divided over issues such as this, the longer it will take to restore sovereignty and the narrower our window of opportunity grows, while our society continues to degrade. Ho`olokahi, Holomua.


The process of HSEC provides a forum to present education on independence and international law. It is better to participate and have our voice involved to ensure that these perspectives are well represented.


The claim is made that native Hawaiians were not ready for this vote, that more education is needed. However, the participation in the Vote (38% of ballots mailed were returned) was high considering standards for mail-in ballots, with an overwhelming "YES" (73%) from those who voted, indicating the desire to proceed in restoring a sovereign Hawaiian nation. Education will now continue, encouraging the community to enter into the substantive debate about the models and options of nationhood. Ongoing education will always be needed, and claims of a lack of education should not impede the process from moving forward. Furthermore, this claim is made by Ka Lahui, whereas they have in previous years submitted legislation for themselves to be recognized as the native Hawaiian government, so the double standard is apparent and the objection void.


The credibility of the sovereignty movement and the inevitability of realizing our goals is enhanced with this vote. The overwhelming "YES" votehas clearly established the foundation of popular support for the restoration of nationhood. The fact that the process originated with the state means that it will be more difficult for the colonizing entity to question the results or hinder the process.

The Vote has been covered in major media throughout the United States and internationally, including front page articles in the New York Times and the Washington Post, bringing attention to and awareness of the sovereignty movement that had not been achieved otherwise.


The charge is made that because the state originated and funded the process, it is controlled by the state and is not true self-determination. However, it is clear under international law that the colonizing government has an obligation to assist in the self-determination process, including with funding. The Nation of Hawaii, in observing the activity of the Council members, believes that they are acting of their own will, independent from any state coercion or control, and truly have the best interest of the people in mind. The more that the community participates in the Council's activities, the more insurance we have that it is independent from state control and represents the will of the people.


Opposition to the vote is also raised in reponse to the final clause of the legislation which created the Hawaiian Sovereignty Elections Council, which states that the vote will have no affect on the Constitution or laws of the state of Hawaii. Critics charge that this means that the state is not bound to abide by the results of the vote. This is true, they are not bound to it, and it will effect no immediate change itself. However, the state is presently not bound in any greater way to any other expression of self-determination (despite the fact that they are the illegal entity). The fact that they are sponsoring this process will make it even more difficult for them to deny or impede the will of the people in self-determination as it progresses. The "YES" vote will now lead to a Constitutional Convention, and that can and will effect the Constitution and laws of the state.


Eventually, when we reach the stage of a Constitutional Convention, the Nation will present our independent Constitution as a model, with its principles and structures to be considered and improved upon. Our Constitution is valid and real, and at the same time we realize that to be truly effective it must be accepted by the majority of Hawaiians and the population as a whole. We also realize that it is in need of amendment to improve and clarify some areas. We see the HSEC process as a mechanism to achieve both of these goals, to introduce the Constitution to a broader population after having provided education on independence, and have larger participation in what will hopefully be an improved organic document for an independent government.

See related news article, Sovereignty voting renamed for clarity, Honolulu Advertiser, Feb. 12, 1996

Following is the statement given to the media concerning the Nation's position on the Hawaiian Sovereignty Elections Council and the term "plebiscite."

On March 18, 1995, Head of State of the Nation of Hawai`i Pu`uhonua Kanahele presented to the Hawai`i Sovereignty Elections Council (HSEC) the official opinion of Professor of International Law Dr. Francis Anthony Boyle, regarding the requirements for a "plebiscite" according to generally recognized standards of international law and practice. (see text of letter below)

The question must be asked, Why "plebiscite"? This is clearly not a plebiscite, and using the term only causes fear and confusion among the people of Hawai`i regarding this important issue and process, recalling the illegal 1959 "plebiscite" by which statehood was imposed on Hawai`i. (see Article 73)

The Nation of Hawai`i supports the efforts of the Council towards education and unification, under Article XVII "Transitional Provisions" of the Hawai`i Constitution of 16 Jan. 1995 (Section 5. Governmental transition. The illegal occupying foreign regime of the State of Hawai`i and the United States of America may continue to provide services in Hawai`i to such extent necessary as the government of the Nation of Hawai`i shall deem proper and expedient for a peaceful transition towards restoration).

However, the Nation will withdraw its support if the needed change is not made to eliminate the word "plebiscite."

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
College of Law
204 Law Building
504 East Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820

217 333-0931
217 244-1478 fax

March 9, 1995

The Honorable Pu`uhonua Kanahele
Head of State
Post Office Box 80
Waimanalo, O`ahu, Hawai`i

Dear Sir,

You have asked me to render an opinion on whether or not the elections to be supervised by the Hawaiian Sovereignty Elections Council as described in H.B.976 would constitute a genuine "plebiscite" in accordance with the generally recognized standards of international law and practice. At a minimum, international law and practice would require the following conditions to be fulfilled for there to be a genuine plebiscite for the Native Hawaiian People:

  1. A genuine plebiscite would have to be supervised by the United Nations Organization in order to guarantee a free, fair, impartial, and objective electoral process in accordance with historically recognized international standards and procedures;

  2. Prior to the beginning of the plebiscite process, the United States government must withdraw its military forces, security agencies, and intelligence services (e.g., FBI, CIA, DEA, BATF, etc.) to their military bases and offices where they would be confined for the duration of the process, and their confinement must be monitored and ensured by the United Nations Organization;

  3. After U.S. military forces and security agencies and intelligence services have been confined to their bases and offices, the Native Hawaiian People would need a substantial period of time in which they could engage freely and without fear of threat or intimidation in the processes of educating themselves and publicly debating among themselves as to the various options available, together with their meaningful access to the mainstream news media in Hawaii;

  4. It must be guaranteed before the process begins that the will of the Native Hawaiian People is determinative and will be honored and respected whatever the results of such a plebiscite might be, including independence.
Based upon my reading of H.B.976, it does not appear that the process described therein would qualify as a genuine "plebiscite" in accordance with the generally recognized standards of international law and practice. Therefore, in order to ensure honesty, fairness and candor for the Native Hawaiian People, I would recommend that you seek to amend this legislation so as to call the process described therein something other than a "plebiscite".

Yours very truly,

Francis A. Boyle
Professor of International Law

Monday, February 12, 1996

Plebiscite is too weird a word for most Hawaii residents, or at leasttoo confusing to risk a pivotal vote on the sovereignty issue. So says theHawaiian Sovereignty Elections Council, which last week renamed itsupcoming plebiscite as a "native Hawaiian vote." This year, Hawaiianswill determine whether or not they will elect a set of delegates to guidethe formation of an independent native Hawaiian government. People ofnative Hawaiian ancestry around the world are eligible to participate inthe July vote, provided they are at least 18 years old by Sept. 2.
From `Upena Kukui Internet News Service

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