If at first you don't secede . . .

I've posted before on secession, but that involved a small minority of fringe type people moving to a state in the hope of making it secede. (In reality they stand little chance of seeing it happen.) Today I see a new idea: secession by means of multiculturalism. That link is very tough to open, so here are some excerpts (it's an NPR interview by reporter Martin Kaste discussing Senator Akaka's "independence" bill, SB 147):

KASTE: Earlier this month, thousands came out to protest a recent appeals court decision striking down the Hawaiians-only admissions policy at a prominent private school. Illegal racial bias, the judges said. The problem is favoring natives is the whole point of the Kamehameha Schools, which are funded by the estate of a 19th-century princess who wanted to help her fellow natives.

And she wasn't the only one. After the overthrow, the old Hawaiian royalty often used its lands to set up institutions to benefit natives, but in 21st century America, this ethnic exclusivity has come under attack in the courts. Natives, who are now only about 20 percent of the state population, worry that their special institutions are in danger of being swallowed up, and that's where the Akaka Bill comes in.

Senator DANIEL AKAKA (Democrat, Hawaii): It creates a government-to-government relationship with the United States. KASTE: Democratic Senator Dan Akaka, himself a native, wants Congress to let Hawaiians re-establish their national identity. He says his bill would give them a kind of legal parity with tribal governments on the mainland, but he says this sovereignty could eventually go further, perhaps even leading to outright independence.

Sen. AKAKA: That could be. As far as what's going to happen at the other end, I'm leaving it up to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

KASTE: The native Hawaiian bill leaves many important details unresolved. Once established, the new governing entity is supposed to negotiate with the U.S. to settle major issues such as legal jurisdiction and land ownership. It even puts off defining who would qualify as a citizen of the native nation. The bill's vagueness alarms some non-natives such as Dick Roland.

Mr. DICK ROWLAND (The Grassroot Institute): It's empty, and it's got an enormous sucking machine in it that is going to suck in there all these people and all this land and so forth.

KASTE: Rowland, who moved to Hawaii three decades ago, is the president of a local public policy group called The Grassroot Institute which has opposed the bill. One of his collaborators is attorney Bill Burgess, who's argued in court against the preferences for natives.

Mr. BILL BURGESS (Attorney): Creating a new nation and giving the citizens of that nation political privilege that other citizens don't have, not to mention assets and all kinds of other privileges, that's all about inequality.

Needless to say, some of the activists think the proposal doesn't go far enough:
KASTE: But for some native Hawaiians, the Akaka Bill doesn't go far enough.

Mr. BUMPY KANAHELE (Native Hawaiian): My Hawaiian name is U'u Koanoa(ph). Of course, the American name I've got, it's Bumpy Kanahele.

KASTE: Kanahele is a burly man who calls himself the head of the Nation of Hawaii. At the moment, his domain consists of a small village nestled in the shadow of green mountains on Oahu. The village also flies the flag of Hawaii, but it flies upside down as a sign of distress over what residents see as the illegal occupation by the United States. Kanahele is a prominent figure in the independence movement, which received a boost in 1993 when Congress formally apologized for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Kanahele says that apology opened what he calls a can of worms for the United States.

Mr. KANAHELE: They never thought that Hawaiians would take the road to restoring their independence. Well, what do you expect? You just admitted to a crime -- Right? -- the crime of the overthrow. KASTE: After the congressional apology, Kanahele says, native Hawaiians started to think seriously about independence, and he says the Akaka Bill is an attempt to divert natives toward more tribal-style sovereignty.

In Washington, the bill's prospects are unclear. The House passed a version back in 2000, but in the Senate, the bill has been stuck in an open-ended debate. Leaders say they'll try to get a vote on the legislation in September. The Justice Department has recommended a few changes, such as a safeguard for the U.S. military presence on the island, something the bill's supporters see as a positive step. They believe it means the White House is willing to accept some version of native Hawaiian self-government.

Hawaiian self government?

Whatever the hell that means. (There's more here.)

Next, I suppose it'll be native Pennsylvania self government? The first step, of course is to apologize for William Penn's sons swindle of the Indians.

Then there's the long-overdue apology for the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, to be followed by an apology for the fascistic Gadsden Purchase.)

One step at a time.

posted by Eric on 08.18.05 at 09:40 AM


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» Akaka: no independence; blogs: secession? from Hawaiian Independence
After Sen. Akaka's statement in the NPR interview that appeared to at least leave open the possibility of eventual independence, which was pounced on by Rush Limbaugh, Akaka apparently felt it necessary to clarify that statement in a release picked u... [Read More]
Tracked on August 19, 2005 5:55 AM


That's funny. I once wrote a story involving a Hawaiian secession movement.

But I love Hawaii too much to want her ever to secede. Ever since I read that book, back in 4th grade, Hawaiian Myths of Earth, Sea, and Sky, I have been in love with Hawaii. Hawaii is my favorite state of all states in the entire United States. Someday, perhaps, I should move there. The United States without Hawaii, stripped of that exquisitely lovely string of emeralds out in the blue Pacific, the Western Islands -- would be like the Earth without her Moon. It must not be! Stay, precious Hawaii, stay!, and bless America with thy beauty. I would restore the ancient monarchy, revive the ancient and eternal mythology, the Gods and the Goddesses. "For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever...." I am Conservative.

My wife's Hawaiian. I live in Hawaii but am NOT Hawaiian, as Hawaiian is an ethnicity. Giving Hawaiians self-government isn't at all the same as giving Pennsylvanin's self government.

I don't have an opinion on this bill because I know just enough about this issue to know that I don't know enoug about this issue to have an informed opinion.


Harkonnendog   ·  August 18, 2005 5:33 PM

This is ridiculous. Allthough Hawaii's history is more unique than that of Pennsylvannia, it's still irrelevant. We can't give in to every group that wants independence, lest we face a) a complete breakup of the United States b) conversion of the republic to an empire or c) full fledged civil war.

Sadly, this isn't the first case of the Bush admin doing this sort of thing. Didn't he speak in front of racist hate group La Raza recently?

An empire is where you have bunch of kingdoms (like maybe Aztlan and Hawaii and God knows what else) all pretending to be loyal to a central city, like Rome or Washington. Is an empire really what we want?

I like the republic just the way it is, thankyouverymuch. One Nation. Under God. Indivisible. With Liberty and Justice for All. Does this mean we have to dust off the muskets?

Jo„o   ·  August 18, 2005 9:22 PM

In high school I often precociously declared that the United States as we know it has about 50 to 100 years left. I now wonder if we have that much longer. 30 years maybe?

Patrick   ·  August 19, 2005 3:06 AM

As a museum curator of Hawaiiana I fancy I might have some expertise on this issue. Hawaii had an internationally recognized government made up of European educated aboriginals. They had multiple mutual trade and defense treaties in place with the US at the time their, by any standard, legitimate government was over throne by US military coup. It seems ridiculous that in light of this that anyone would even bother to challenge whether a constitutional Queen so unjustly deposed and then robbed of the majority of her possessions could then leave the incomes from her vestigial lands to school her own people. But some ass hole did and it ended up in court. What kind of houli wants their child to be the sole non-Hawaiian at an indigenous school? Regardless of any court decision, thatís one kid thatís going to have a rough time.

Iím struck by the fact that it is Conservatives that are so offended by the Hawaiian indigenous vote. I thought Conservatives favored self-determination and Statesí Rights. Regarding session, does not the legitimacy of a government derive from the people themselves? ďIndivisibleĒ must be by mutual consent not by the tyranny of the majority. We tried that once and 150 years later we are still divided into Red state and Blue states. If the residents democratically choose session would not the process of keeping them in the Union by force constitute tyranny? Would this not effectively reduce Hawaiiís status to a colony instead of a state? Why is this more just, more democratic or in any way preferable to session? It isnít. Itís just more imperial and thatís just what the Hawaiians are pissed about. (As are some Religious Right rednecks I know who still teach their children that Damnyankee is one word.)

The indigenous Hawaiians are at least entitled to the same autonomy as mainland indigenous peoples. In fact given the nature of their constitutional governance at the time of US military occupation they are more entitled. The Hawaiians have patiently stood by and watched as for fifty years their culture has been appropriated, defiled and exploited for the profit and amusement of mainland hotel chains in which they can hardly get hired as maids. If they seek to make the voice of indigeny as strong as that of hotel development capital it is certainly understandable. All this talk of session is hyperbole. It is respect the Hawaiians seek and some degree of self-determination. As free men so endowed by their Creator they are entitled to no less.

Anonymous   ·  August 19, 2005 9:01 AM

Actually, I don't oppose whatever the citizens of Hawaii might want to do -- including their right to secede. I'd rather see this put to a statewide vote instead of allowing the loudest activists to get their way.

I don't know how "native" Hawaiian is to be defined either, and I think that might be problematic.

Eric Scheie   ·  August 19, 2005 10:34 AM

It's not about state's rights. It's about Federalism. This issue has already been settled by the civil war. Do we really need to have another one?

Jo„o   ·  August 19, 2005 2:09 PM


As a rule I like your writings and I regret using your blog to flog this dead horse, but...

"Settled" is in the eyes of the victor. Much like Bush's declaration of victory from the deck of a ship.

As for "Federalism," if one checks out the writngs of the totality of the Founding Fathers, not just Hamilton and his Funding Father international banking budies, you will find there was quite a bit of dispute at the time about the nature and extent of "Federalism."

The Founding Fathers designed an elastic document with provosions for "expansion" not for "imperialism." The idea of expansion implies contraction as an equally viable option. It is imperialism, not Federalism, that is inherently adverse to contraction.

What constitutes a "Native Hawaiian" could be problematic on its margins. But unlike the Hispanic or the African American ethnic experiences, for the aboriginal Hawaiians those are some very narrow margins indeed and not as problematic as one might imagine.

There should be some sort of renegotiation of Hawaiian indigenous autonomy and with it cooresponding land rights and compensation. But this should probably be negotiated amongst all current domestic residents of the Islands.

When they have reached accord on the desired terms then all Hawaiians, aboriginal and non-aboriginal alike, should jointly approach the Federal government with a new agreement. The Federal government should settle with the Hawaiians and in turn sue the giant agro corporations and hotel chains that have profitted from the exploitation of Hawaii for over a century. After all, the American taxpayer already paid for the invasion of Hawaii, the corporations profitted hansomely with what amounted to monopolies, why not let them pick up the tab for cleaning up their own mess.

Libertas   ·  August 20, 2005 1:15 AM

I have some comments on some of these comments, which I feel are really off base.

"They had multiple mutual trade and defense treaties in place with the US at the time their, by any standard, legitimate government was over throne by US military coup."
Not true. In what sense is any non-democratic government legitimate? The US Marines did land, but they did not participate in the coup. (I agree their presence may have stopped the coup from being put down violently, but that is not the same thing.)

"It seems ridiculous that in light of this that anyone would even bother to challenge whether a constitutional Queen so unjustly deposed and then robbed of the majority of her possessions could then leave the incomes from her vestigial lands to school her own people."
Again NOT TRUE. First of all you've got the wrong woman. Lilioukalani was the last queen, and Bernice Bishop was the one who created the Bishop Estate. 2nd, her will explicitly states that it is NOT supposed to go only to children of Hawaiian ethnicity. YOu should read it before you pretend to know what it says.
"But some ass hole did and it ended up in court."
I know Hawaiians who feel that since the boy's mother was hanaid by a Hawaiian the boy is as Hawaiian as a Niihauan... Therefore trying to impose the haole idea of blood percentage is just an example of you being an imperialist caucasian (if you are white) or a white Hawaiian, or whatever. Why try to simplify something that is complicated? Why try to create a villain where there may be none???

"Houli"... HOULI??? Do you mean haole? Where is this museum? France? How can a curator not know these basic things you are ignorant of?

"When they have reached accord on the desired terms then all Hawaiians, aboriginal and non-aboriginal alike, should jointly approach the Federal government with a new agreement."
Hawaiians are extremely individualistic, this is WAY easier said than done.

Again, this is a complicated issue.


Harkonnendog   ·  August 20, 2005 6:23 AM

"In what sense is any non-democratic government legitimate?'

WHAT???? You are way, way, WAY too far to the Left for me!, WAY too Revolutionary! That is the voice of Robespierre speaking! As a Catholic priest once warned: "The spirit of Luther and Voltaire leads to the spirit of Marx and Lenin."

A non-democratic government is, by definition, legitimate if it is a monarchy sanctified by a Catholic or Polytheist priesthood. Throne and Altar. It is NEVER legitimate to overthrow a Queen. Absolutely NEVER!!!! That is blasphemy against the Queen of Heaven.

The Divine hierarchy is eternal:
"God [and the Goddess: the Holy Quaternity] hath shapen lives three:
Boor and knight and priest they be."

It is NEVER legitimate to overthrow a Queen. Absolutely NEVER!!!! That is blasphemy against the Queen of Heaven!!!!

I'm not liking it. The bill leaves an awful lot undefined, like what the native Hawaiaan government will look like. Giving people rights based on their racial grouping is un-American (regardless of how many times and in what ways Americans did exactly this in the past. Enough already. Can we move on and not flog ourselves endlessly?) This would be pitting people of different racial background against each other for an extremely limited resource (land). Trouble!

I don't even think the bill defines what a native Hawaiian is. One drop? One eighth? One sixteenth? Given the very extensive intermarriage and mixing of natives and non-natives over centuries, this could get untenable real quick. Tell me again why "native Hawaiians" have different rights than non-natives, when there have been European, American, Asian and other Pacific Islanders living in Hawaii for centuries?

The native Hawaiians would come under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior. I bet American Indians would have some opinions on how well that's turned out for them.

Polls have shown that the majority of native Hawaiians don't even want this bill. John Kerry is in favor of it. That should be enough reason to be against it. Let's not go the Balkan route, OK?

miss kelley   ·  August 20, 2005 3:42 PM

"In what sense is any non-democratic government legitimate?'

the argument that a government's legitimacy depends on its democratic nature is ridiculous, but also irrelevant in this case because Hawaii was a democratic constitutional monarchy. It had three branches of government, including a representative legislature, which enacted a well-developed set of civil and penal codes. the constitution even had provisions for election of the monarch by the legislature during an interregnum without a clear line of succession, and this occurred twice during the relatively brief history of the Hawaiian kingdom.

but by your argument, it was the provisional government that was not legitimate. Here's the President at the time:

"By an act of war, committed with the participation of a diplomatic representative of the United States and without authority of Congress, the Government of a feeble but friendly and confiding people has been overthrown. A substantial wrong has thus been done which a due regard for our national character as well as the rights of the injured people requires we should endeavor to repair. The provisional government has not assumed a republican or other constitutional form, but has remained a mere executive council or oligarchy, set up without the assent of the people. It has not sought to find a permanent basis of popular support and has given no evidence of an intention to do so. Indeed, the representatives of that government assert that the people of Hawaii are unfit for popular government and frankly avow that they can be best ruled by arbitrary or despotic power."


scott crawford   ·  August 20, 2005 7:50 PM

It is NEVER legitimate to overthrow a Queen. Absolutely NEVER!!!! That is blasphemy against the Queen of Heaven!!!!


I stand corrected on the spelling of "haole" and on the details of this particular case involving Mrs. Bishop rather than the estate of Lilioukalane. My Bad.

But Mrs. Bishop is a highly complicated figure in Hawaii and she and her estate have been controversial with native Hawaiians for quite a while. Basically the hoteliers and corporate interests has not given a mango for the concerns of Hawaiian citizens native and immigrant alike. In this environment the Bishop estate has taken it on itself to speak authoritatively for aboriginal Hawaiians. But in recent years Hawaiians have wanted to speak for themselves and have been at odds with the Bishop Museum and other legacies over a number of issues.

Regarding blood percentages and clan identity: my point was not to establish some Nixonian idea of ethnicity but rather to let Aboriginal Hawaiians decide for themselves what constitutes membership in their group. This does not make me a Caucasian imperialist or a racialist of any kind. There is quite a bit of precedent for Polynesian cultures initiating non-Polynesians into their societies. Membership is a privilege granted by the moiety itself.

The museum isnít in France. It is in Texas. You can visit it online at www.sa-museum.org/ Check under Collections then under Oceanic and you can evaluate my handiwork for yourself. Read what you find there and then let me know if you still think I should move to France. I really hope not, the French have made the most deplorable racist contributions to this field and Iíd rather quit than follow in their footsteps.

Libertas   ·  August 21, 2005 8:09 AM

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