M A N A ` O     I ` O

(Thoughts - Beliefs)

By ''Uncle Charlie''
Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr.

(Updated on May 5, 1997)

(Also please read the Petition for Writ of Mandamus by David Keanu Sai, filed with the U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 24, 1997, and my mana`o about it....)

If the plight of the native Hawaiians is going to be addressed properly, it will have to take the combined efforts of everyone, native and non-natives, working together for one common cause. What is the common cause? The common cause is the future continuance of the Hawaiian Culture. Everyone must realize that this land that is called Hawaii can only exist if the Hawaiian Culture is intact. Its native people, the Kanaka Maoli (indigenous native), who nurture this culture, must be kept alive and well. This is not happening in Hawaii, because of the misunderstanding of the elements that keep the culture flourishing.

Lono Cane

Capt. Cook, the Missionaries and everyone else who comes to these shores, even today, do not understand what the Hawaiian culture is based on. The answer is simply, "values." "Kanaka" (native) values and Western values clash and are completely opposite of each other. The land which is the basis of the culture, with its streams, mountains, beaches and oceans, must be held in reverence and protected as it was in ancient times. The natural resources in the mountains and ocean will have to be protected from commercialism that denudes and desecrates the commodities which are an important facet of the Hawaiian Culture. The historical sites, burials, language, arts, dances, canoe migrations, etc., will have to be promoted, nurtured and preserved.

In doing so, we will be able to pass on a legacy to the future generation of their true identify as Kanaka Maoli and insure that these islands we call Hawaii Nei will remain intact as it was intended by our ancestors, Kapo`e Kahiko (the People of Old).

We must stop the present trend to consume these islands, by changing its physical features, fostering "mainland" and Western attitudes, satisfying its insatiable lust to pave and build over every available open space.

We must stop the practice of using the "Aloha Spirit" to lure tourist to these islands pretending that everyone is "spreading the Aloha Spirit" when they are not. The visitors will have to be shown the true Hawaiian culture in dance and song and not "theatrics" of the fire and knife dancing with plastic fern leis. If the visitor industry proposes to keep tourism then they, along with the state of Hawaii, will have to keep promoting every phase of the culture.

Hawaii is a mixture of every ethnic race on the planet. Being the host culture of Hawaii, we as native people cannot go anywhere else in the world except here to find our culture.

We as Kanaka Maoli are keiki o ka aina, (children of the land) and the moment we were born, our veins flowed with the koko (blood) of our ancestors. Our sovereignty was never taken away by anyone or any event, as the same blood that flowed in the veins of Kapo`e Kahiko (People of Old), flows in ours today. We, like the Kuamo`o (the back of the lizard), using its vertebrae as a guide, can trace our genealogy thousands of years back to the Pacific and beyond.

The mere fact that American troops landed to assist the sugar and pineapple interest with the admittedly illegal "Overthrow" of Queen Liliuokalani in 1893, did not extinguish our sovereignty. She had a treaty that was broken (like all treaties) with the United States of America at the time of the incident. In 1898 the Treaty Of Annexation was signed by 16 non Hawaiians which made us into a Territory of America. This did not extinguish our sovereignty. In 1959 we became the 50th State and that did not extinguish our sovereignty.

In 1920 the Hawaiian Homes Act was passed in Congress setting aside 200,000 acres to get the Hawaiian people back on the land. In 1921 when the land was chosen, the sugar and pineapple interests lobbied congress to give the Hawaiians the lands that had no water, and were not in sugar or pineapple cultivation. So the lands that were chosen consisted of the worst lands that could be found. There was no funding to the act and it was mismanaged by the Territory of Hawaii and later the State. The lands were given for the use of big business, rich missionary ranchers, The State of Hawaii and also the U.S. Government. Hawaiians were leased a small portion of the land.

When we became a State in 1959, one and a half million acres were set aside by the U.S. Government for other public purposes and for the betterment of the Native Hawaiian People. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs receives 20 percent of these trust monies and the rest goes to the State Of Hawaii. These lands belonged to the Kingdom Of Hawaii. This is what we want back for our nation. The state of Hawaii owes us millions of dollars right now, but the Governor of Hawaii, who happens to be the first Filipino governor in the Nation, refuses to release the money.

Somebody soon will have to deal with our issue, because our people are getting tired of waiting. We as elders hope and pray every day that someone will listen soon, because our young people are tired of waiting. We have been sharing our Aloha (love) with everyone that has come to our shores. It is time that this aloha be returned in the same fashion it was given.

Everyone is afraid of the word sovereignty. Our view of sovereignty is that the United States of America, and the state of Hawaii recognize that the Kanaka Maoli have prior rights. These inalienable rights were given to us from the primordial gods Papa (earth) and Wakea (sky), who created the first Kanaka Maoli, Haloa, from whom we descended. Sovereignty is self determination and our way of taking care what is rightfully ours. The waters that flow from the mountains, the ocean surrounding our islands, are places were gods and goddess dwell and only we as Kanaka Maoli pay homage to them. Our oli oli (chants) which we perform in dance, speak of where they dwell. From the depths of the ocean, to the highest mountain peaks, to the red hot lava that continuously flows into the ocean, creating more land. Sovereignty or self determination will let us as natives of this land once again set the course Hawaii will take into the 21st Century and beyond.

The results of the Sovereignty vote were made known and in spite of the confusion of the votes, the majority who voted wanted the process to begin.

Since we declared ourselves a Sovereign Nation in 1974 with the Aloha Association in Hilo, I was strongly favoring a nation within a nation status. However, after learning what is happening to the Native American Nations who have this status with America, I now strongly feel that we would be making a tragic mistake.

In granting sovereign status to the Indian Nations, America controls the degree of their sovereign freedom. A perfect example was the Federal Gaming Act that exempted casino from paying tax on sovereign Indian land. Some Indian Nations made billions of dollars and the non-Indian casino owners banded together with their Congressman and are in the process of changing the laws.

We must find a method that will preserve our right to all the land because our possession of it was never broken. Our laws of this aina were being used and practiced for over a thousand years before the arrival of the first foreigner to touch these shores. How is it that within a period of 30 years our laws of the land were changed by the missionaries and their descendants, whereby today we are under foreign laws and our ancient laws of the land is no more?

We have to keep insisting that all land in the Hawaiian Archipelago has prior owners and that our interest to it is vested as a legacy from our Kupuna past. We have to insist that the United States of America recognize the Kanaka Maoli as the true owners of the aina who practiced Sovereignty as an Independent Nation, prior to their arrival.

The United States Of America has admitted through the Apology Bill that acts against our government in 1893 was illegal. All other acts that followed were illegal and not binding. It would be our choice as to the method of association we would want with the Untied States.

I strongly feel, especially after seeing what has happened in the Legislature, that we should not be concerned as to how we should structure a Hawaiian Government, but should closely watch the Governor and the State Legislature, because they are trying to bail out the financial problems of the State of Hawaii, by taking away entitlements from the Kanaka Maoli.

We are loosing so much raw land to development, forest to logging, endangered species to pollution, beaches to luxury hotels that are owned mostly by people from foreign countries.

For us to succeed, everyone, natives and non-natives, will have to support the idea of self-determination. It will have to be a popular campaign of everyone to restore the rights of the Kanaka Maoli. Sovereignty has to be the new "buzz word" and everyone will have to agree that it's the right thing to do. Every Kanaka Maoli will have to share the concept of Sovereignty with his friends and neighbors. This is a most important time in the history of Hawaii.

Everyone in the world must help protect the Environment, the Kanaka Maoli and the host culture, because without it, Hawaii as we know it, will be no more.

Ho`iho`i Mai