The Great Puzzlement

Frederich Trenchard

Just for a minute, imagine that the situation in Hawaii involving land, Native Hawaiians and Hawaiians could be boiled down so that Hawaii has one of those Old World medieval walled cities, where a population known as the Native Hawaiian community lives, inside the walls. The total land area of the city is 200,000 acres, of scrub land.

Like in one of those medieval sieges, Hawaiians are outside the walls, cutting off all supplies, hoping to force those inside the walls to surrender to them. When this happens, the Hawaiians will loot the city. Of course, while laying siege to the city, they are broadcasting propaganda to the Native Hawaiians inside the walls that paint a rosy picture of life after surrender, when the Hawaiians take physical possession of the 200,000 acres.

When Hawaiians use local government to take Maui Loa's lands, this is part of the siege because this cuts off any source of revenue produced outside the walls for the city's residents remaining inside the walls.

The Hawaiians, vast in numbers in comparison to the Native Hawaiians, derive a miniscule financial benefit from around eight times as much land as the 200,000 acres inside the walled city of the Native Hawaiians. If the city's lands were in their physical possession, the Hawaiians reason, the income from their use would be enough to satisfy the vastly larger number of Hawaiians. This would be possible by opening gambling facilities, which would supply the larger amounts of revenue.

So the argument being used in the minds of Hawaiians laying siege to the walled city is that those two hundred thousand acres actually belong to them, and not to the Native Hawaiians exclusively, because the acres are included in all of the lands of the kingdom that the United States took from their ancestors when the United States “overthrew” the monarch of that Hawaiian kingdom. Their kingdom, in which their monarch owned all the land in royal title, European style, and gave some of it in royal land patent title, to nobility, and non Hawaiian friends, for sublease to “commoners” for agriculture and commerce.

Instead of battering rams and cannons taking out the walls shot by shot, the Hawaiians are using a legal device. The wall that was originally constructed around the city, let's give it a name. Let's label it the Federal Constitution Wall. It was erected, as it were, by the stone masons contracted to erect it by the United States Congress. It was neutral gray in color, reflecting the material used. Try to picture in your mind one of those walled medieval cities one sees surrounding castles throughout Europe and the British Isles and in the Middle East.

When starting to lay the siege, the Hawaiians built another wall. Let's label it the State Constitution Wall. It was yellow and red in color, reflecting the material used to construct it. The odd thing about this wall is that it was built right on top of the first wall, the Federal Constitutional Wall, so that the federal wall is no longer visible and only exists in the memory of those who live inside the city. The Native Hawaiian inhabitants of the city, however, being victims of the Hawaiian siege, grow physically weaker by the year, so are losing their ability to remove the red and yellow wall as a way to prove there are two walls appearing as one wall to the press corps which is itself laying siege to the besieged city's acres and Native Hawaiian inhabitants, from outside. You can find them staked out, watching from the AP tent, just off the large, iron gate barred from the inside.

Now, the Hawaiians have moved up another siege weapon, another wall. This one is not a real wall, but rather, is made of paper. It is plastered onto the State Constitutional Wall, both inside and outside, like a massive billboard selling cold green tea in cans. It is the Hawaiian Constitution Paper Wall. It purports to give legal title and physical possession to the Hawaiians of the Native Hawaiian's 200,000 acres, through being surrendered by the Native Hawaiians, using it as an instrument.

Observing all this from a distance are the descendants of those who constructed the Federal Constitution Wall and closed the gates in the wall after the Native Hawaiians fought their way into the walled city's scrub lands, where they could afford to scratch out a living without having to pay to use their own land the same way Hawaiians have to pay to use what they consider their own land, the public lands outside the walled city.

The descendants of those who built the original wall are listening to the same propaganda being broadcast by the Hawaiians as part of the siege. They are being mesmerized in the same way a stage magician diverts the perceptual apparatus of the audience in order to produce the illusion of the magic trick. Magicians alter a spectator's perception in a variety of ways, but their specialty is attention management—known as misdirection.

There is a Mighty Weapon that exists that brings the state constitutional wall tumbling down and so takes down the paper wall plastered on the red and yellow wall. There are three ways to remove the State Constitutional Wall by reducing the stones that form it, rendering it into a pile of colonial royal detritus, where it can be piled up and put on display for viewing by those who want to experience American history in these distant Asian American islands. The BIA or the DOI can do this. The Courts can do this. The Congress can do this.

The chief of the Hou 1778 Hawaiians is asking the Hawaii federal court to reduce to a pile of colonial royal detritus the foundation laid by the 50th state's majority population in the statehood act of 1959 with this language: “according to the laws and constitution said state may provide." It is the cornerstone of egregious actions producing landlessness and abject poverty for the Native Hawaiian. The Hou is asking the court to order the Secretary of the Interior to approve Native Hawaiian HEARTH Act leases as relief. The constitutional convention organized by the state's Hawaiians and supported by the Obama administration was last week quietly dissolved. 

Frederich Nicholas Trenchard, MFA, was a visiting professor at a University in Hawaii when he met Kahuna Kamuela Price, Elder Counsel of the Hou 1778 Hawaiians. Advocating for the native Hawaiian then became a lifelong pursuit.


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