List of Hawaiian sovereignty movement groups

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Hawaiian sovereignty movement groups (Hawaiian: ke ea Hawai‘i) are political organizations seeking some form of sovereignty for Hawaii. Generally, their focus is on self-determination and self-governance, either for Hawaii as an independent nation (in many proposals, for "Hawaiian nationals" descended from subjects of the Hawaiian Kingdom or declaring themselves as such by choice), or for people of whole or part native Hawaiian ancestry in an indigenous "nation to nation" relationship akin to tribal sovereignty with US federal recognition of Native Hawaiians.

Some groups also advocate some form of redress from the United States for the 1893 overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani, and for what is described as a prolonged military occupation beginning with the 1898 annexation. The movement generally views both the overthrow and annexation as illegal.


Hawaiian sovereignty advocacy groups vary, both in defining the problem and proposing solutions. Among those who advocate for complete independence, proposals range from constitutional democracies in varying forms (some of which advocate reinstatement of aliʻi within their constitutions), to democratic anarchism.

Most, but not all, formal sovereignty proposals focus on short-range, interim governmental structures. Recognizing Hawaii's profound economic and political integration into the United States, some propose solutions developed incrementally with the approval of the United Nations. Since most groups are focused on an international legal solution, many (but not all) proposed structures are based on the kingdom that existed in 1893. The logical basis is that undoing of the 1893 overthrow might legally necessitate a return to the pre-overthrow government. Many groups include some long-range ideas in their proposals, but others focus upon the immediate problem of overcoming what they see as American occupation or colonization of the islands.

Historical – Royalist Organizations (from 1880s)[edit]

Some groups formed following the 1887 enactment of the Bayonet Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii by King Kalākaua under threat of armed force by mainly white residents against the indigenous government. Rebel and pro-Hawaiian organizations formed in support of the monarchy and native Hawaiians were known as "Royalists".

  • Liberal Patriotic Association
The Liberal Patriotic Association was a rebel group formed by Robert William Wilcox, to overturn the Bayonet Constitution. The faction was financed by Chinese businessmen who lost rights under the 1887 Constitution. The movement initiated what became known as the Wilcox Rebellion of 1889, ending in failure with seven dead and 70 captured.
  • Insurgency
The former head of the royal guard other supporters began an arms build up and training insurgents in 1894 to return Queen Liliʻuokalani to power. In 1895 the plot was exposed leading to a war between the insurgents and the Republic of Hawaii known as the 1895 counter-revolution. The rebels were forced into the mountains where fighting continued for a week. After being arrested and imprisoned, Liliʻuokalani formally abdicated the throne to prevent further bloodshed.
  • Home Rule Party of Hawaii
Following the annexation of Hawaii, Wilcox formed the Home Rule Party of Hawaii on June 6, 1900. The Party was generally more radical than the Democratic Party of Hawaii. They were able to dominate the Territorial Legislature between 1900 and 1902. But due to their radical and extreme philosophy of Hawaiian nationalism, infighting was prominent. This, in addition to their refusal to work with other parties, meant that they were unable to pass any legislation. Following the election of 1902 they steadily declined until they disbanded in 1912.
  • Democratic Party of Hawaii
The Democratic Party of Hawaii was established April 30, 1900 by John H. Wilson, John S. McGrew, Charles J. McCarthy, David Kawānanakoa and Delbert Metzger. The Party was generally more pragmatic than the radical Home Rule Party, which included gaining sponsorship from the American Democratic Party. They attempted to bring representation to Native Hawaiians in the territorial government and effectively lobbied to set aside 200,000 acres (810 km2) under the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920 for Hawaiians.

Modern – Sovereignty Organizations (1960s–present)[edit]

The Aboriginal Lands of Hawaiian Ancestry (ALOHA) as well as the Principality of Aloha were organized sometime in the late 1960s or 70s when the Native Alaskan and American Indian activism was beginning. Native Hawaiians began organizing groups based on their own national interests such as ceded lands, free education, reparations payments, free housing, reform of the Hawaiian Homelands Act and development within the islands.[1] According to Rich Budnick's book Hawaii's Forgotten History, the group was established by Louisa Rice in 1969. Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell claims that it was first organized in the summer of 1972.[2]
ALOHA sought reparations for Native Hawaiians by hiring a former US congressman to write a bill that, while not ratified, did spawn a congressional study. The study was only allowed six months and much of it relied on biased information from a historian hired by the territorial government that overthrew the kingdom as well as US Navy historians. The commission assigned to the study recommended against reparations.[3]:61
  • Ka Lāhui
Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi was formed in 1987 as a local grassroots initiative for Hawaiian sovereignty. Mililani Trask originally lead the organization.[4] Trask was elected the first kiaʻaina (governor) of Ka Lahui.[5] The organization has a constitution, elected offices and representatives for each island.[6] The group supports US Federal recognition as well as its independence from the United States[7]:38 and supports inclusion of Native Hawaiians in federal Indian policy.[3]:62 The organization is considered the largest sovereignty movement group, claiming a membership of 21,000 in 1997. One of its goals is to reclaim ceded lands. In 1993, the group led 10,000 people on a march to the Iolani Palace on the 100 year anniversary of the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani.[8]
Ka Lāhui, along with many sovereignty groups opposes the "Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009" (known as the "Akaka Bill") proposed by Senator Daniel Akaka that begins the process of federal recognition of a Native Hawaiian government, where the US State Department would have government-to-government relations with the US.[9] The group believes that there are concerns with the process and version of the bill.[10] Although Ka Lāhui may oppose the Akaka Bill, its founding member, Mililani Trask, supported the original Akaka Bill and was a member of a group that crafted the original bill.[11] Trask has been critical of the bill's 20-year limitation on all claims against the US, stating: "We would not be able to address the illegal overthrow, address the breach of trust issues.." and "We're looking at a terrible history. ... That history needs to be remedied."[12]
  • Nation of Hawai'i
The Nation of Hawaiʻi is the oldest Hawaiian independence organization.[13] It is headed by Dennis Pu‘uhonua "Bumpy" Kanahele,[14] who is the group's spokesperson and Head of State.[15] In contrast to other independence organizations which lean to the restoration of the monarchy, it advocates a republican government.
In 1989 the group occupied the area surrounding the Makapuʻu lighthouse on Oʻahu. In 1993 its members occupied Kaupo Beach, near Makapuʻu. Kanahele was a primary leader of the occupation, as well as the leader of the group overall. Dennis Pu‘uhonua Kanahele is a descendant of Kamehameha I, eleven generations removed[16] and is both the spokesperson for the organization as well as the "Head of State" of the Nation of Hawaiʻi. The group ceased their occupation in exchange for the return of ceded lands in the adjacent community of Waimānalo, where they established a village, cultural center, and puʻuhonua (place of refuge).[16]
Kanahele made headlines again in 1995 when his group gave sanctuary to Nathan Brown, a Native Hawaiian activist who had refused to pay federal taxes in protest against the US presence in Hawaii. Kanahele was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to eight months in federal prison, along with a probation period in which he was barred from the puʻuhonua and from participation in his sovereignty efforts.[14]
  • Ka Pakaukau
Richard Kekuni Akana Blaisdell is a medical doctor and professor of medicine who advocates for the total independence of Hawaii. The position of Blaisdell's group, Ka Pakaukau, is that Hawaii does not need to secede from the U.S., for the U.S. has the moral obligation to "return what it has stolen" and to remove its "occupying forces" (i.e. the U.S. military) from Hawaiian lands. Blaisdell advocates putting continual non-violent pressure on the U.S. military to vacate Hawaii. He also feels that the military has an unmet obligation to clean up the pollution it has left in areas such as Pearl Harbor and Kaho'olawe. Blaisdell has travelled numerous times to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland to advocate for international recognition of Hawaii as an independent nation under illegal colonial occupation, and to lobby for international assistance with the process of decolonization.
In 1993, Blaisdell convened Ka Hoʻokolokolonui Kanaka Maoli, the "People's International Tribunal", which brought indigenous leaders from around the world to Hawaii to put the U.S. Government on trial for the theft of Hawaii's sovereignty, and other related violations of international law. The tribunal found the U.S. guilty, and published its findings in a lengthy document filed with the U.N. Committees on Human Rights and Indigenous Affairs.
  • Poka Laenui
Hayden Burgess now goes by the Hawaiian name Poka Laenui and heads the Institute for the Advancement of Hawaiian Affairs. An attorney-at-law, Laenui argues that because of the four international treaties with the United States government (1826, 1849, 1875, and 1883) the "U.S. armed invasion and overthrow" [17] of the Hawaiian monarchy, a "friendly government," was illegal in both American and international jurisprudence. Therefore, the current government of the State of Hawaii is also illegal and residents owe it no fealty or taxes, based upon the illegitimate standing of both the Territory of Hawaii and the Republic of Hawaii resulting from the illegal violation of the United States Treaties to conduct itself in a friendly and civil manner and classifying the landing of U.S. Marines as an act of war against the peaceful Hawaiian Kingdom. He advocates a process of decolonization, resulting in a totally independent government that would include all non-Hawaiians living in Hawaii. He uses other island nations who are achieving decolonization throughout the Pacific as his primary model.
Laenui has regularly analyzed Hawaii's historical, political, and economic situation on his talk shows, which air on AM radio 1080 KWAI (Sat. 4–6pm & Sun. 7–9am) and on Public, educational, and government access (PEG) cable tv channel ʻŌlelo TV. He also hosts a website:
  • Hawaiian Kingdom
David Keanu Sai and Kamana Beamer are two Hawaiian scholars whose works use international law to argue for the rights of a Hawaiian Kingdom existing today and call for an end to US occupation of the islands.[7]:394 Trained as a U.S. military officer, Sai uses the title of Chairman of the Acting Council of Regency of the Hawaiian Kingdom organization.[18] Sai has done extensive historical research, especially on the treaties between Hawaii and other nations, and on military occupation and the laws of war. Dr. Keanu Sai teaches Hawaiian Studies at Windward Community College.[19]
Sai claimed to represent the Hawaiian Kingdom in a case, Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom, brought before the World Court's Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague in the Netherlands in December 2000.[20][21] Although the arbitration was agreed to by Lance Paul Larsen and David Keanu Sai, with Larsen suing Sai for not protecting his rights as a Hawaiian Kingdom subject, his actual goal was to have U.S. rule in Hawaii declared in breach of mutual treaty obligations and international law. The arbiters of the case affirmed that there was no dispute they could decide upon, because the United States was not a party to the arbitration. As stated in the award from the arbitration panel, in the absence of the United States of America, the Tribunal can neither decide that Hawaii is not part of the USA, nor proceed on the assumption that it is not. To take either course would be to disregard a principle which goes to heart of the arbitral function in international law.[22]
In an arbitration hearing before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in December 2000, the Hawaiian flag was raised at the same height at and alongside other countries.[23] However, the court accepts arbitration from private entities and a hearing before the court does not equal international recognition.[24]
  • Hawaiian Kingdom Government
Since April 30, 2008, members of a group calling themselves the Hawaiian Kingdom Government have regularly protested on the grounds of ʻIolani Palace in Honolulu. Led by Mahealani Kahau, who has taken the title of "Queen", and Jessica Wright, who has taken the title of "Princess," they have been meeting each day to conduct government business and demand sovereignty for Hawaii and the restoration of the monarchy. They negotiated rights to be on the lawn of the grounds during regular hours normally open to the public by applying for a public-assembly permit.[25]
  • Kingdom of Hawaii
The Interim Provisional Government Council and Privy Council assembled pursuant to the Law of Nations and the Constitution and laws of the Kingdom of Hawai`i on April 15, 1994 and signed its position paper on June 20, 1994. Amendments were made on August 23, 1998. The primary mission is to reinstate the Kingdom of Hawai`i, also known as Hawaiian Kingdom, Government of the Hawaiian Islands pursuant to the Law of Nations and Recognition Doctrine by educating qualified men to assembly the legislative body and bring forth the Kingdom of Hawai`i and its Government out of an impaired state and rejoin the Family of Nations.
  • Kingdom for an Independent Oahu
The Kingdom for an Independent Oahu is a group who believes that the takeover of the island of Oahu by Maui forces in 1738, led by Kahekili II, and the subsequent takeover of the island by Kamehameha I's forces in 1795, were "cruel and unjust.". The group, led by Patricia Aupoliana Rodie, seeks a formal apology from the descendants of Kahekili II and Kamehameha I for the events. Patricia Rodie was crowned queen of Oahu in a coronation ceremony in 2004 in Kalihi Valley. Rodie claims to be a direct descendant of Kahahana, Oahu's 24th Alii Aimoku.[26]

Hawaiian sovereignty activists and advocates[edit]


Native Hawaiians Study Commission[edit]

The Native Hawaiians Study Commission of the United States Congress in its 1983 final report found no historical, legal, or moral obligation for the U.S. government to provide reparations, assistance, or group rights to Native Hawaiians. As mentioned above, the commission was viewed by ALOHA as having been inadequate due to only being allowed six months to investigate, and basing much of its findings on biased information from a historian hired by the territorial government that overthrew the kingdom as well as US Navy historians.


There has also been something of a backlash against the concept of ancestry-based sovereignty, which critics maintain is tantamount to racial exclusion.[32] In 1996, in Rice v. Cayetano, one Big Island rancher sued to win the right to vote in OHA elections, asserting that every Hawaiian citizen regardless of racial background should be able to vote for a state office, and that limiting the vote to only Native Hawaiians was racist. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor and OHA elections are now open to all registered voters. In reaching its decision, the court wrote that "the ancestral inquiry mandated by the State is forbidden by the Fifteenth Amendment for the further reason that the use of racial classifications is corruptive of the whole legal order democratic elections seek to preserve....Distinctions between citizens solely because of their ancestry are by their very nature odious to a free people whose institutions are founded upon the doctrine of equality".[33]

Of further concern is the implication that claims for hereditary political power are connected to land claims. Proponents of sovereignty assume that if they can show that American presence at the time of the 1893 Revolution was unjust then it follows that the United States owes enormous reparations in cash and land to Hawaiians.

There were three kinds of land in 1893: private lands, Crown lands, and government lands. No private lands were seized as a result of the 1893 Revolution.[34]

Crown lands in 1893 belonged not to any individual or to any group of individuals but to the office of the Sovereign. In 1893, The Government of the Republic of Hawaii provided explicitly that the former Crown lands were Government lands. The Crown lands in 1893 were the remaining lands acquired by Lili'uokalani's royal predecessor Kamehameha I in his conquest of the islands, as well as his kingdom's previous holdings.

The Hawaiian Kingdom Government lands in 1893 were controlled ultimately by the Legislature. Private individuals had no powers, rights or privileges to use government land without Government authorization or to decide how it was to be used. If Hawaiians had any rights or powers regarding Government land, they had only the political right and power to participate in controlling the Government. Most ethnic Hawaiians then had no power to lose; they were a minority in Hawaii and most of them could not even vote. As the term "sovereignty" suggests, what was at stake in 1893 was political power over the government and hence over the Government Lands and the Crown Lands (which had come under control of a government commission in 1865). Legally, the land belonging to the Hawaiian Government in 1898 has passed to the U.S. Government and back to the State of Hawaii.[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Donald L. Fixico (12 December 2007). Treaties with American Indians: An Encyclopedia of Rights, Conflicts, and Sovereignty [3 volumes]: An Encyclopedia of Rights, Conflicts, and Sovereignty. ABC-CLIO. p. 207. ISBN 978-1-57607-881-5. 
  2. ^ Kahu Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell, Sr. "Spiritual connection of Queen Liliuokalani's book "Hawaii's Story" to the forming of the Aboriginal Lands of Hawaiian Ancestry (ALOHA) to get reparations from the United States Of America for the Illegal Overthrow of 1893". Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  3. ^ a b Keri E. Iyall Smith (7 May 2007). The State and Indigenous Movements. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-86179-7. 
  4. ^ Haunani-Kay Trask (1 January 1999). From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawaiʻi. University of Hawaii Press. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-8248-2059-6. 
  5. ^ Apgar, Sally (2005-09-25). "Women of Hawaii; Hawaiian women chart their own path to power". Honolulu Star Bulletin. Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  6. ^ Franklin Ng (23 June 2014). Asian American Family Life and Community. Routledge. p. 260. ISBN 978-1-136-80123-5. 
  7. ^ a b Noelani Goodyear-Ka’opua; Ikaika Hussey; Erin Kahunawaika'ala Kahunawaika’ala Wright (27 August 2014). A Nation Rising: Hawaiian Movements for Life, Land, and Sovereignty. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-8223-7655-2. 
  8. ^ Sonia P. Juvik; James O. Juvik; Thomas R. Paradise (1 January 1998). Atlas of Hawai_i. University of Hawaii Press. p. 182. ISBN 978-0-8248-2125-8. 
  9. ^ Elvira Pulitano (24 May 2012). Indigenous Rights in the Age of the UN Declaration. Cambridge University Press. p. 323. ISBN 978-1-107-02244-7. 
  10. ^ "Akaka bill and Ka Lahui Hawaii position explained". Ka Lahui Hawaii. Ka Lahui Hawaii. Retrieved 3 January 2015. 
  11. ^ Donnelly,Christine (2001-10-01). "Akaka bill proponents prepare to wait for passage amid weightier concerns; But others say the bill is flawed and should be fixed before a full congressional vote". Honolulu Star Bulletin. Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  12. ^ Bernardo, Rosemarie. "Hawaiians find fault". 2004 Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Honolulu Star Bulletin. Retrieved 3 January 2015. 
  13. ^ John H. Chambers (2009). Hawaii. Interlink Books. p. 286. ISBN 978-1-56656-615-5. 
  14. ^ a b Phillip B. J. Reid (June 2013). Three Sisters Ponds: My Journey from Street Cop to FBI Special Agent- from Baltimore to Lockerbie and Beyond. AuthorHouse. p. 178. ISBN 978-1-4817-5460-6. 
  15. ^ "United States' Compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" (PDF). International Indian Treaty Council and the United Confederation of Taino People. p. 4 (note 6). Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  16. ^ a b "Rebuilding a Hawaiian Kingdom". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  17. ^ Laenui, Poka. "Processes of Decolonization". Archived from the original on 2006-03-23. Retrieved 2012-12-31. 
  18. ^ Sai, David Keanu. "Hawaiian Kingdom Government – Welcome – E Komo Mai". Honolulu, H.I. Archived from the original on 2012-11-25. Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  19. ^ Tanigawa, Noe (2014-08-29). "Hawai‘i: Independent Nation or Fiftieth State?". Honolulu,HI: Hawaii Public Radio. Retrieved 2015-01-04. 
  20. ^ "International Arbitration – Larsen vs. Hawaiian Kingdom". AlohaQuest. Waimanalo, HI, USA: Aloha First. 2011-07-18. Archived from the original on 2012-11-08. Retrieved 2013-01-12.  External link in |work= (help)
  21. ^ "Most provocative notion in Hawaiian affairs". Honolulu Weekly. Honolulu, HI, USA. August 15–21, 2001. ISSN 1057-414X. OCLC 24032407. Archived from the original on 2012-04-18. Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  22. ^ International Law Reports. Cambridge University Press. 2002. ISBN 0-521-66122-6. 
  23. ^ Sai, David Keanu. "Dr. David Keanu Sai (Hawaiian flag raised with others)". Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  24. ^ "Permanent Court of Arbitration: About Us". Permanent Court of Arbitration. Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  25. ^ Dan Nakaso (May 15, 2008). "Native Hawaiian group: We're staying". USA Today. Retrieved December 23, 2010. 
  26. ^ "Kingdom for an Independent Oahu". 
  27. ^ "Francis A. Boyle – Faculty". College of Law, University of Illinois. Champaign, IL, USA: University of Illinois College of Law. Archived from the original on 2012-07-22. Retrieved 2013-01-12.  External link in |work= (help)
  28. ^ "Professor Noenoe Silva". Honolulu, HI, USA: University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. 2011-11-03. Archived from the original on 2012-10-22. Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  29. ^ Finnegan, Tom (2008-01-28). "Radio station on Kauai rapped for suspensions". Honolulu Star Bulletin. 
  30. ^ Gregg, Amanda C. "Resident seeks probe into KKCR". Kauai Garden Island News. 
  31. ^ "FRSO Program: Immediate Demands for U.S. Colonies, Indigenous Peoples, and Oppressed Nationalities". Freedom Road Socialist Organization. Retrieved 2014-06-27. 
  32. ^ Hill, Malia Blom (January 2011). "Office of Hawaiian Affairs: Rant vs. Reason on Race". Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. Honolulu, HI, USA: Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. Retrieved April 30, 2012.  External link in |work= (help)
  33. ^ "Supreme Court of the United States: Opinion of the Court". 2000. Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  34. ^ Hanafin, Patrick W. (1982). "Hawaiian Reparations: Nothing Lost, Nothing Owed" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  35. ^ Hanafin, Patrick W. (2001). "Aren't We All Sovereign Now?". Retrieved 2010-04-30. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Andrade Jr., Ernest (1996). Unconquerable Rebel: Robert W. Wilcox and Hawaiian Politics, 1880-1903. University Press of Colorado. ISBN 0-87081-417-6
  • Budnick, Rich (1992). Stolen Kingdom: An American Conspiracy. Honolulu: Aloha Press. ISBN 0-944081-02-9
  • Churchill, Ward. Venne, Sharon H. (2004). Islands in Captivity: The International Tribunal on the Rights of Indigenous Hawaiians. Hawaiian language editor Lilikala Kame‘eleihiwa. Boston: South End Press. ISBN 0-89608-738-7
  • Coffman, Tom (2003). Nation Within: The Story of America's Annexation of the Nation of Hawaii. Epicenter. ISBN 1-892122-00-6
  • Coffman, Tom (2003). The Island Edge of America: A Political History of Hawai‘i. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-2625-6 / ISBN 0-8248-2662-0
  • Conklin, Kenneth R. Hawaiian Apartheid: Racial Separatism and Ethnic Nationalism in the Aloha State. Print-on-demand from E-Book Time. ISBN 1-59824-461-2
  • Daws, Gavan (1968). Shoal of Time: A History of the Hawaiian Islands. Macmillan, New York, 1968. Paperback edition, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1974.
  • Dougherty, Michael (2000). To Steal a Kingdom. Island Style Press. ISBN 0-9633484-0-X
  • Dudley, Michael K., and Agard, Keoni Kealoha (1993 reprint). A Call for Hawaiian Sovereignty. Nā Kāne O Ka Malo Press. ISBN 1-878751-09-3
  • Kame‘eleihiwa, Lilikala (1992). Native Land and Foreign Desires. Bishop Museum Press. ISBN 0-930897-59-5
  • Liliʻuokalani (1991 reprint). Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen. Mutual Publishing. ISBN 0-935180-85-0
  • Osorio, Jonathan Kay Kamakawiwo‘ole (2002). Dismembering Lahui: A History of the Hawaiian Nation to 1887. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-2549-7
  • Silva, Noenoe K. (2004). Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism. Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-3349-X
  • Twigg-Smith, Thurston (2000). 'Hawaiian Sovereignty: Do the Facts Matter?. Goodale Publishing. ISBN 0-9662945-1-3

External links[edit]