Federal Recognition, Independent Nation, or What?
As the ramp up toward an election of delegates who will convene to discuss and make recommendations for the re-emergence of a Hawaiian Nation moves along I’m compelled to repeat some thoughts I expressed in a previous column about nationhood.
We have wasted years preoccupied by our anger at the federal government and frozen in the straightjacket of our tragic history. We’ve squandered so many time-sensitive opportunities to work on shaping and defining a common vision of our political future with a level of specificity that articulates what we mean by restoring the nation. The clock is ticking down and I fear we are not prepared to have the kind of dialogue that will present clear choices for Hawaiians and the rest of Hawai’i to consider.
An Independent Nation?
Hawaiian nationals, an intense and growing constituency of Hawaiians, citing the historical truth that Queen Lili’uokalani never relinquished her throne, therefore, Hawaii is an illegally occupied nation. They do not recognize the authority of the State or Federal government and demand the nation be restored.
They advocate a path to restoring the Hawaiian nation lies in an appeal to the international community for intervention under international law. While I understand the logic and respect the case for independence from the U.S. it’s not likely this strategy can succeed. The global body politic of the international community, for all its good intentions, is without authority to stop the human massacres occurring in the Middle East, the massive genocidal operations of fantastic militarists of the African continent, the starvation of children by the millions, and so forth. It’s naive to think that the international community can coerce the United States into walking away from Hawaii, a critical geo-militaristic command center of the nation’s forward thrust to the entire Pacific-Asian theater, which includes China, Japan, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Korea.
The Federal Recognition Option
If federally recognized as Native Americans Hawaiians can then through a democratic process such as Na’i Aupuni propose a nation-within-a-nation model to the United States. While this model stops short of total sovereignty it does present self-determination opportunities that would restore a legitimate Hawaiian national consciousness that could yield, a realignment of our political, social, cultural economic institutions into a national growth model. The Hawaiian institutional pantheon of the Ali’i Trusts, OHA and Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has a considerable combined economic capacity to support a unified national growth model.
What good is a nation if it cannot generate prosperity for its citizens? If our children cannot access a quality education? If home ownership, the foundation of all family wealth, is beyond the dreams of a vast majority of our people? If we continue to be grossly overrepresented in every socio-economic statistic? Who cares what flag flies over us if the transgenerational trauma of whole communities of dysfunctional families claims yet another generation of our children? What good is nationhood if the only thing that changes are the politicians?