Hawaiians consider themselves Americans

Uprising in paradise

FROM CORNEL FALTIN


From a legal point of view, there is no question: the US annexation of Hawaii in 1893 was wrong. But the efforts of the Hawaiians for independence take place to the exclusion of the world public: because anger in the tourist paradise would be bad for business.Honolulu - Crowds of surfers wait about 100 meters from the beach to jump on the right wave. On the shore, vacationers watch the hustle and bustle in the turquoise water. Waiters in white livery walk between the lounge chairs with piƱa coladas and other tropical drinks. Everyday life in paradise. This is how Hawaii is offered to vacationers in the prospectus, this is how they get it. Waikiki Beach is the heart of Honolulu tourism. While American and Japanese entrepreneurs, who own almost all of the shops, hotels and restaurants here, are happy about the millions of tourists and billions in sales, Nalani Milton cannot take anything positive from the hype. "We are a very hospitable people," the native Hawaiian says quietly, "but I wish the vacationers would boycott Hawaii. They would help our cause a lot." Their "cause" is nothing less than the planned secession of the 50th US state from the United States and the restoration of the sovereign nation of Hawaii. For almost a century, the Hawaiian independence movement could only work underground. A public advocacy of its goals would inevitably have been viewed by the USA as an attempted coup and would have resulted in draconian penalties. However, a few years ago the descendants of the Hawaiian indigenous people managed to bring their fight to the public. Three large groups have formed in the process. While the moderate wing has nothing against remaining the 50th state of the USA, but demands economic autonomy, the middle would like to establish a "state within a state" with its own parliament, but tolerate the "occupiers" in moderation - both politically and economically Independence for indigenous people and their descendants. The radical faction, however, wants full sovereignty and once again to be a nation of its own, as it was before the events in January 1893. At that time, American pineapple and sugar barons had forged a plot against the Hawaiian crown together with the US diplomat John L. Stevens. The plantation owners feared that the extremely popular Queen Lili'Uokalani might harm their interests. The monarch had promised her people a new constitution that would curtail the rights of the increasingly powerful foreign landlords in Hawaii. On January 17, 1893, Stevens and a delegation of plantation owners, with 160 US soldiers in tow, marched to the Iolani Palace in Honolulu and informed the Queen that she had been deposed. To prevent bloodshed, Lili'Uokalani agreed "under protest". Although the incumbent US President Grover Cleveland had condemned the action as an "act of war, committed with the participation of a diplomatic representative of the United States and without the approval of Congress", the US never returned Hawaii. Cleveland's successor, William McKinley, signed the annex five years later. On August 21, 1959, the island paradise became the 50th state in the USA. Legally speaking, there is no question that the United States is wrong, and that is what most of the Hawaiian sovereignty activists are hoping for. Kekuni Blaisdell, the most influential representative of the radicals, would rather throw off "the yoke of the US" today rather than tomorrow. At a meeting of like-minded people in Kualoa Park, an hour's drive from Honolulu, he put his anger off his chest: "We are a colony of the United States according to all international views, and if we stay with the United States, it will become our country continue to exploit. " Applause from around 50 men and women, some of whom are wearing traditional wraparound skirts and braided flower chains. Henry Noa, leader of the royalists, is confident: "Our independence will come sooner than many can imagine." Nalani Minton of the Kanaka Maoli tribe has been traveling the world for years to raise awareness of the situation of the indigenous people of Hawaii in front of human rights bodies and at universities. The energetic woman with shiny black hair has problems with the expression "Aboriginal". "There are barely 1,000 purebred Hawaiians left today, and it is estimated that they will be completely extinct by 2044," Minton said. The majority of the Hawaiians the activist fights for have at least some Hawaiian blood in their veins. Their total population is estimated at around 300,000. In Washington there is growing unrest over the growing number of Hawaiians who are calling for a secession from the United States. Of course, the rulers in the capital, some 8,000 kilometers away, know that they are wrong. Various efforts have been made over the past 20 years to "pacify" the indigenous people. You don't need any restlessness in a tourist paradise. The economy needs the travel billions. Vacationers should just not notice anything of the controversy. In 1978 the US government founded the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), an organization that aims to improve the life and education of the original Hawaiians. The American government gave a total of 729,000 hectares of land that had previously belonged to the royal family back to the state of Hawaii on the condition that the state pays 20 percent of the income generated on this property to the OHA Trust. "In theory, it all looks very good, but instead of the 33 million dollars we would have received in 1996, we only got 15 million," says Malama Solomon, who has been one of two indigenous people in the 25-person Senate of Hawaii for 18 years sits. Rowena Akana, who works as the trustee of the OHA, is also going tough with those responsible in Washington. The lawyer: "The US government is unfair and criminal, never adheres to contracts and lies and deceives us wherever it can." Although almost all freedom fighters have committed themselves to nonviolence, there are also militia groups on some islands that want to bring about a decision with armed violence and acts of terrorism. Like most of her fellow combatants, Nalani Minton understands the mostly young militiamen, but she knows that "her cause" will ultimately only be brought to a successful conclusion through education and passive resistance. "Mahatma Gandhi showed us that you can regain your freedom without violence," explains the activist and asks rather rhetorically: "Why shouldn't that work for us too?"