How to Steal a Nation—Twice

Anne Keala Kelly

Note: This column fist appeared on the Honolulu Star Advertiser Site on Novemeber, 8, 2015.

Na‘i Aupuni is happening because the US wants to extinguish Hawaiian rights to the Crown & Government lands of the Hawaiian Kingdom, about 40 percent of the archipelago. These are Hawaiian national lands, referred to as “ceded lands.” But to create the appearance of a legal transfer of title, the state and federal governments need Na‘i Aupuni, Hawaiian acquiescence to the US takeover.

Na‘i Aupuni was invented and funded by the state, in conjunction with the Department of Interior (DOI), which acts on directives from President Obama. The list of Hawaiians who can vote was derived from Kanaiolowalu, which was the result of Act 195, a mandate to create a Hawaiian roll. $4 million from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) was spent in an effort to secure 200,000 Hawaiian names, but only 19,000 signed on. So, another state law, Act 77, was passed to disguise that abysmal failure, giving permission to Kanaiolowalu commissioners to loot other state registries. Lists of Hawaiian people, who were trying to get scholarships and loans or signed other forms of enrollment separate from Kanaiolowalu were counted, ballooning the number to 125,000.

It took a court order to make the list public, which was good because it includes people who have passed away. 24% of the names were removed for various reasons, whittling Kanaiolowalu’s list down to 95,000. That means that 80% of the people on this new, state manufactured list of “voters” did not consent. $2.5 million so far has been spent on this fake election, but we’re supposed to believe Na‘i Aupuni is a grassroots movement for Hawaiian self-determination.

Although it’s funded by the state, when the legality of Na‘i Aupuni was challenged recently in a federal court, the judge held that it’s a private election. But why push this now, after failed attempts during the past 15 years to pass Na‘i Aupuni’s predecessor, the Akaka Bill?

Simply put, President Obama wants to invoke Executive Order privileges to recognize a group of Hawaiians who will sell our national lands. And he’s in a hurry because of pending legislation intended to cut the DOI out of the federal recognition process. But more concerning is what preceded this rush to contain the Hawaiian sovereignty movement.

About a year and a half ago, Kamanaopono Crabbe, the CEO of OHA, sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry requesting proof of jurisdiction. Although Crabbe later rescinded the letter, after blowback from inside OHA, the gauntlet had been thrown. It was a direct challenge to the US occupation by a respected Hawaiian leader who works for the state.

All the US has to do is produce a Treaty of Annexation proving the Hawaiian Kingdom, a nation state, was legally annexed as opposed to illegally occupied. Rather than show proof of ownership over what we Hawaiians say is our stolen country, the Obama Administration chose to hold public hearings about federal recognition.

During late June and early July 2014, a series of hearings took place on the major islands. About 99% of those who testified told the DOI that Hawai'i is not part of the United States, and Hawaiians are not Native American.

Just over a year after those powerful hearings, and a few months after thousands of Hawaiians rallied in defense of Mauna Kea, all of which sparked a tremendous resurgence of Hawaiian political agency, where is our resistance?

If Na‘i Aupuni manages to maintain even the appearance of legitimacy, President Obama will federalize us. Hawaiians being bumfuzzled or unable to grasp the deception at hand is one thing. To be complicit, indifferent, or complacent as Hawaiian nationality is about to be lobotomized is like us colonizing ourselves.

Anne Keala Kelly is the award winning filmmaker of “Noho Hewa: The Wrongful Occupation of Hawaii,” and journalist, whose work has appeared in The Nation and Indian Country Today, and on the Pacifica Network and Al Jazeera. She is currently working on a film about the struggle to protect Mauna Kea entitled, “Why The Mountain.”

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