Flag of Hawaii I don’t know if being ejected from her home was the cause of a Kihei woman’s correspondence regarding Hawaiian Sovereignty four months later, but I don’t imagine it improved her outlook on the US, State, or County legal apparatus. Regardless of her motivation, others sharing her viewpoint regarding the legal status of Hawai’i as a state within the United States frequently see print in letters to the Maui News. For those unfamiliar, the arguments wind down to these:

  • Hawai’i was an independent nation, with international recognition. (True)
  • In 1893, the monarch Lili’uokalani was illegally overthrown by a cabal lead by plantation owners of American lineage, assisted by the presence of 162 US sailors and Marines. (True)
  • The Republic of Hawai’i was illegal. (False. The staying power of a new government is a function of 1) exercising control over its claimed territory, and 2) recognition by major nations of the day. The Republic passed these tests.)
  • The US Annexation by Congressional resolution was illegal, and unConstitutional. (False. The Constitution doesn’t define how foreign territory is annexed. The Republic of Texas was also annexed by resolution.)
  • The US Annexation was illegal because indigenous Hawaiian people never consented through a plebiscite or referendum. (False. The point was immaterial, because the indigenous people had lost control of their country, arguably well before 1893.)
  • The 1940 and 1959 Statehood referendums were invalid, because they didn’t include independence as an option, as required by the UN Charter. (False. The UN was formed in 1945, and its Charter wasn’t amended to require ballots to include independence for dependent territory referendums until the early 1960’s.)
  • The 1940 and 1959 Statehood referendums were invalid, because newcomers and servicemen were allowed to vote. (False. Hawai’i was a self-governing territory within the US, therefore enjoyed the same voter eligibility rules as elsewhere in the country.)

My response, in a nutshell: One hundred six years ago, the U.S. did make possible the Republic of Hawaii. It was illegal (until it succeeded, by definition), it was treacherous, and two years later when the Republic’s own National Guard defeated the royalist insurgents at the Battle of Manoa, it was moot. The Kingdom was history, the Republic was free to negotiate their best deal with the U.S., and we find ourselves where we are today. There is no lawyering our way out of it. If someone wants sovereignty, limited or complete, they’re going to have to gain it through the US political system

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