by Keokani Kipona Marciel, MS, Professional Registered Parliamentarian (PRP)
Pelekikena, Hui Aloha ʻĀina o Las Vegas
Every ethnic group that has migrated to Hawaiʻi has a culture and a nationality that they can connect to in the homelands that they came from. Descendants of Hawaiian Kingdom subjects, aboriginal and non-aboriginal, are the only group in Hawaiʻi that that has been arbitrarily deprived of its nationality. This began with the insurgency in 1887, followed by unlawful seizure of the Hawaiian government in 1893.
Kalākaua was instrumental in sparking the revitalization of Hawaiian culture that continues to this day. However, the Hawaiian nationality that went with it has been dismantled through a systematic process of denationalization. The hālau hula movement has internalized this separation of Hawaiian culture from nationality, so that denationalization is perpetuated through a self-imposed process.
Decades of this socialization make it a challenge for Hawaiian cultural practitioners to snap out of this culture-only trap. In other words, Hawaiian society has largely been reduced to a culture without its nationality. There is a resurgence in Hawaiian nationality, but we have to avoid the danger of letting it develop separately from Hawaiian culture. By reducing us to a culture without a nationality, the world has been trained into perceiving us merely as a group akin to an indigenous tribe.
Why do Hawaiians have a nationality today? Because there is no treaty of cession transferring the sovereignty and territory of the Hawaiian Islands to another country. Historically, there have been two attempts to obtain a bilateral annexation treaty, in 1893 and 1897, both of which failed. Consequently, Hawaiian nationality remains intact and is undergoing a process of rediscovery.
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