On this July 4th I am torn in two halves. My American half celebrates the good and self-evident truths espoused and affirmed in the Declaration of Independence - those of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
But I have a second half, the knowledge of which I was deprived until two months ago when CEO Kamana`opono Crabbe of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry seeking to clarify the political status of Hawai`i under national and international law. Since then it has been revealed to me that as a matter of citizenship I am not only American, but also Hawaiian. By “Hawaiian” I do not refer to a concept of race or culture, but one of nationality. Despite the overthrow of its government in 1893, Hawai`i as a sovereign nation continues to exist, and the U.S.A. does not have legal jurisdiction over Hawai`i to this very day.
This fact, were it to become common knowledge, would have far-reaching implications for America. Its role as leader of the free world is thrown into question as is the status of its president, as to be born in Hawai`i is to be born outside of U.S. territory. As I type this message the Department of the Interior is conducting meetings in Hawai`i, hoping to buy off Hawaiian Nationals with offers of Federal Recognition as a Native American tribe. Secretary Kerry has yet to respond to CEO Crabbe’s letter.
"Ua mau ke ea o ka `āina i ka pono" – The sovereignty of the land is perpetuated in righteousness. This phrase was uttered by King Kamehameha III after Hawai`i's independence was acknowledged and restored by the United Kingdom in 1843. The Hawaiian Nation's independence is maintained in its citizens – all those who descend from the citizens of the Kingdom (regardless of race) who never gave up their sovereignty, neither in the 1893 overthrow nor in the false annexation of 1898.
So it is that my identity is split between two nations. One is acknowledged and free. The other is occupied and ignored. One day the 121-year-long occupation (the longest occupation in history) will be settled, but until it is settled in a true and legal way, my conscience does not permit me to celebrate the independence of one nation while the other is subjugated.
PSA Kamahana Kealoha from Scott Wong on Vimeo.