Hawaiian rights activists protest on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu
By Michael Levine – The Garden Island
Published: Sunday, January 18, 2009 3:10 AM HST
LIHU‘E – While an estimated 5,000 demonstrators protested the state of Hawai‘i’s stance on so-called ceded lands in Honolulu, roughly 15 assembled at the junction of Kapule Highway and Ahukini Road in Lihu‘e in a sign of solidarity yesterday.
Katy Rose, a member of Kaua‘i Alliance for Peace and Social Justice who helped organize the sympathy rally, said the 116th anniversary of the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy is a “very significant date to keep history in people’s consciousness and brings up the pressing question of (Gov. Linda) Lingle’s appeal to the (U.S.) Supreme Court.”
“Most of us that were out there today were not Hawaiian people, but it’s our responsibility as non-Hawaiians to show that we stand side-by-side with Hawaiians, that we stand for justice for Hawaiian people, and that we don’t want Lingle to successfully divide our communities from each other,” Rose said.
The Lingle administration is appealing a January 2008 Hawai‘i Supreme Court decision that overturned a prior Circuit Court ruling and in effect put a hold on the sale or transfer of ceded lands until the issue is resolved further.
More than 30 states have filed briefs on the state’s behalf in preparation for the hearing in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, scheduled for next month. State Attorney General Mark Bennett said last month he expects a ruling by the end of June.
Demonstrator Kip Goodwin said yesterday that the state’s stance that native Hawaiian people have no legal claim to the lands is “an insult added to a century of injury.”
Raymond Catania, another Kaua‘i demonstrator, described the lands as “seized” rather than “ceded” and said they “should be given back to the Hawaiian people to decide how to use them.”
The Hawaiians’ right to “self-determination” was a common refrain from the three Kaua‘i demonstrators during their phone interviews.
“Ultimately, the question of these Hawaiian lands and these questions of Hawaiian independence and sovereignty need to be determined by the Hawaiians themselves,” Rose said. “I can’t say one way or the other what I think would be best for the Hawaiian people, but I believe they have the right to self-determination.
“Right now, they are living as an occupied nation, and their right to self-determination has been taken away. That’s the nature of occupation,” she said.
According to an Associated Press report, the peaceful Honolulu rally, featuring dozens of Hawaiian sovereignty groups performing chants and hula, drew the attention of hundreds of tourists.
“I think it was successful,” Catania said of the Kaua‘i rally, “because we were in an area where there were a lot of people, and they are beginning to be aware of the issue.”