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Reinstating the Hawaiian Nation

On March 13, 1999, a group of Kanaka Maoli reinstated the former Hawaiian government of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Since the overthrow of the government in 1893 by a group of European and American landowners, the Kingdom and its citizens have been living under the laws of the United States. Now, the reinstated Hawaiian nation boasts nearly 400 “nationals” in Hawaii and nine on Molokai, according to Prime Minister Henry Noa.

Noa visited Molokai earlier this month to discuss the nation and the progress it has made. Since 1999,the reinstated Hawaiian nation has reconstructed its government, with executive, legislative and executive branches and offices of the House of Nobles and Representatives; conducted elections for the nation; passed laws, including amending its constitution in 2000; and developed government departments, such as the Dept. of Health and the Dept. of Transportation, and more.

“It’s you that can make the difference now to make this sovereignty stand up – all you have to do is participate,” said Noa.

“[The U.S. government is] taking everything from us – culture, identity, lands, everything,” said Duke Kalipi, representative for the Molokai district – one of 24 districts in the reinstated nation. “We all can make this work if we unify – we can get the recognition we deserve.”

Following the Law
The goal, Noa said, is to “reclaim the inherent sovereign right of absolute political authority and jurisdiction in Hawaii.” These rights, he explained, are possible under international law. The international law of perfect right, according to Noa, states that every sovereign nation does not have to ask another sovereign nation what it can or cannot do.” The former Hawaiian nation was recognized as a sovereign nation, and the perfect right was never relinquished.

“As long as there was no Hawaiian government, there was no one to give the land back to,” said Noa.

On the day of the overthrow, Queen Lili`uokalani sent a letter of protest of the U.S. president, invoking international law by stating her objection to the overthrow. One hundred years later, in 1993, President Bill Clinton signed a resolution acknowledging the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii and apologizing to Native Hawaiians for the United States’ participation in the overthrow.

Noa marked a distinct difference between his goals and the Akaka Bill. Under the Akaka Bill, Noa said, Hawaiians will still be subject to U.S. laws, whereas the sovereign nation is only subject to their own laws. Noa also placed the Akaka Bill as an example of “imperfect” international law, as opposed to perfect right. The bill, he said, asks permission of the occupying government to return to sovereignty, rather than “reinstating their inherent right to sovereignty on their own.”

The group’s ultimate goal, said French, is to become a sovereign nation, rather than a state under the U.S.


In order to become a citizen, Kanaka Maoli and others who wish to support the cause must take classes to understand the government, process and rights. They must pass a citizenship test, give up their U.S. citizenship and swear an oath of allegiance. As citizens, they will be given a Hawaiian Kingdom ID, certificate of citizenship, birth/marriage certificates, driver’s license, vehicle registration and license plates and other documents.

– most people don’t even realize what is theirs,” said Noa.

Teams on every island will be organized to work peacefully on the effort. Molokai’s nationals have already erected one ahu on the island in Ulalpue on east end, according to French, and plan to continue.

Noa and French stressed it is not the intention to place ahu on private kuleana lands, and they ask for understanding if land identification errors are made.

“Building a nation is not an easy task – I have nine children and I thought that was hard – but this is way harder.”

“We gotta work together,” said Kalipi. “In 50 years there won’t be kanaka left – we’ll just be in legends and memory.”

For more information, visit hawaii-gov.net, or call Duke Kalipi on Molokai at 213-5416.


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