Ku i Ka Pono
Thousands march to protect Hawaiian Lands
Marking the 116th anniversary of the illegal over throw of the Hawaiian kingdom, a parade of several thousand participants wearing red shirts made their way down Kalakaua Avenue in Honolulu last Saturday. Carrying signs and bearing Hawaiian flags, a clear statement was made in what appears to be a unified front that “Native Hawaiians do no support Governor Lingle's decision to appeal the Hawai'i Supreme Court ruling which prohibits the state from transferring or selling ceded lands pending unresolved claims by Native Hawaiians”.
The issue of ceded lands is no doubt complex but at the very heart of the issue lies the question of the very legitimacy of ceded lands. According to American law, lands can only be ceded or “cessed” from one country to another by treaty of annexation. Keeping in mind that Hawaii was an independent sovereign nation at the time, Hawaii would have had to agree to such a treaty, of which no record exists.
As history would reveal, following two failed attempts of annexation, the US finally occupied Hawaii, out of what it felt was necessity, during the Spanish American war. According to American military law and laws established by the Geneva conference, occupation by a foreign country does not give the occupier the right to cede what were referred to at that time in Hawaii as “Government” or “Crown” Lands. A modern day example of the application of these laws is the American occupation in Iraq which in no way allows the US to deny the sovereignty of Iraq or allow for the cession or transfer of Iraq government lands.
Both the territory of Hawaii and State of Hawaii went on to assume the original legitimacy of the cession of these lands, an issue which is being seriously challenged in our current time. Further giving credit to the challenges being made by Native Hawaiians is the 1993 Apology Resolution which recognizes that Native Hawaiians have unrelinquished claims to ceded lands.
Governor Lingle has stated that her administration will not drop the U.S. Supreme Court appeal, claiming that the state does possess the legal claim to these ceded lands and that the state recognizes the ceded lands to belong to all of the people of the state, not just Native Hawaiians.
Lingle noted that it was Gov. John Waihee, a native Hawaiian, who wanted to sell the former monarchy lands as part of an affordable housing development and that the proposed sale by Gov. Waihee is what finally led to the lawsuit that is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Saturday’s event entitled Ku I Ka Pono (Stand for righteousness) included food, good music and Hula performed by several halau, honoring the events of the past and in honor of Queen Lili’uokalani. Also present were several key speakers including OHA Chair Haunani Apoliona, Representative Mele Carrol, Senator Clayton Hee and Molokai’s Walter Ritte as well as many other speakers of diverse backgrounds, all resounding this message in unison.
Senator Hee made a point of reminding the participants that unless people stepped out and let their voice be heard, this action being pursued by Governor Lingle would ultimately lead to the state’s ability to sell over one million acres of what are being referred to as “Ceded Lands” and that these sales could take place without resolving Native Hawaiian claims.
One sign carried by a protester read "This ain't Lingle Land." On a somewhat humorous note and imitating a recent event in the Middle East, demonstrators threw rubber slippers at a large