Termites Resolution

Saturday’s Advertiser, “State Taking New Tack in Ceded-Lands Battle.” Gordon Pang writes of the appeal by the State of Hawai’i to the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue of ceded lands, “Bennett’s…brief cites the Newlands Resolution, an 1898 Congressional act that led to Hawai’i’s annexation and the establishment of Hawai’i as a territory.” If Bennett is indeed asserting to the U.S. Supreme Court that the Newlands Resolution gives substantial evidence that all land belonging to the “Government of the Hawaiian Islands” in 1898 is now “absolutely ceded” to the United States, then this case has an opportunity to redefine the territorial status of Hawai’i annexation in the national spotlight. Since Hawai’i will officially be “celebrating” its 50th anniversary, as well as being on the tourist map of international Obama-philes, this Supreme Court case will be one to watch. Invariably, any discussion on the legitimacy of the Newlands Resolution,  also known as the Joint Resolution Annexing Hawaii to the United States, will have to contend with the controversy over the “Government” of the Hawaiian Islands while calling itself the Republic of Hawaii. The Apology Resolution, United States Public Law 103-150 is not the only legal document that acknowledges that the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii was illegal. Acts 340 (1993), Act 354 (1993), and Act 359 (1993), passed by the Hawaii State Legislature in 1993, preceding the passage of the Apology Resolution, offers the same conclusion. These documents all challenge the legitimacy of the Government of the Hawaiian Islands formed after the overthrow of Queen Lili’uokalani in 1893, and whose government did not find legal recognition from even the United States until this joint resolution was signed in 1898. No matter how narrow the Supreme Court’s focus is in deciding this appeal, any discussion or debate on the issue of the Newlands Resolution could generate all kinds of unforeseeable repercussions– mostly, I think, in favor of Native Hawaiian independence. An example is that the U.S. might then be thwarted into a position of redefining it’s historical colonial ambitions inevitably challenging the very existence of Hawai’i statehood. And that is a very risky proposition for this administration to take, no matter how the Supreme Court should rule on this issue. I hope that OHA will be assigning an historian/lawyer to challenge Bennett’s claim, someone like Keanu Sai for example. It’s wishful thinking, I know, but I’m looking forward to Keanu Sai presenting Hawaiian history on CNN, FOX and MSNBC. What’s happening? Between Lingle not going to the Governor’s convention, to her impolitic invitation to meet with Obama while he is here during the holidays, to a strategy where the Newlands resolution– already full of holes– will be used in this ceded lands appeal, it all suggests something like a house on the verge of collapse. Termites.]]>

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