Approaching Statehood Day 2010

another year has gone by where many have reflected upon the benefits and disadvantages of Hawai‘i statehood, many have continued advocating for sovereignty and independence.  What that means for the citizens: both Kanaka Maoli and residents; both Kingdom-era subjects who supported the monarchy and those who supported the Republic; for those whose families settled during the territory-era and those who have arrived during statehood; for those who have done well financially and those who continue to struggle; for those residing in Hawai‘i or abroad,  it is too early to tell what an independent Hawai‘i might look like and what role it will play in the 21st-century Pacific and the world.  It is a good time, however, to seriously engage in dialogue over this matter, and imagine what we might like to see, and how we might like to see this occur. This year, 2010, (also the bicentennial of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i) should inspire us to discuss how we might imagine our future. As campaigns for state elections have begun and debates over hot-button issues are beginning, a book like Craig Howe’s and Jon Osorio’s edited “The Value of Hawai‘i” have at least begun to frame some of this dialogue by creating a list of important issues specific to the social, political and economic health of Hawai‘i.  This may represent a departure from some other earlier state elections in which the general population may not have participated to the content of these debates. This is not to say that results of Hawai‘i’s general election will be the culmination and determination of our collected voices, rather, it is to say that it is for us to shape the dialogue and continue with the work that our ancestors accomplished during the Kingdom-era, when people had engaged voices and asserted issues that the legislature addressed and responded to.  There were dozens of newspapers in the Kingdom-era in which the critical concerns of people were heard, where arguments were made and real issues advocated. What happened? I’d argue that following the overthrow and 1898 occupation, many felt that they had lost their voice. Since the political turmoil of the overthrow, what vehicle had there been for asserting a political voice? The overwhelming support of the Ku’e petitions demanding restoration of the Hawaiian monarchy that was presented to Congress were ignored, and international agreements were dismissed as if contracts had no value. Fifty years later, around WWII, suddenly many in the Japanese community and in labor had discovered their voices due to the unjust internment camps and the ILWU labor struggles, and soon after, statehood was attained. Now another 50+ year later, there are legitimate voices calling for de-occupation, decolonization, and de-militarization.  This is not a betrayal of the efforts of the now-entrenched governing community that advocated for statehood, this is a continuation of those struggles that we have inherited from the 1940s and 50s, and above all, it reclaims the role we once played as Hawaiian kingdom citizens. Previously in this website, I have posted some original research on the plebiscite, statistical numbers of the electoral precincts from Hawai‘i’s 1959 plebiscite.  We should look at this and consider what those numbers reflect.  I also encourage you to view last year’s Statehood Countdown.  Twenty-one postings of mostly unpublished, archived correspondences from the post-war era United Nations, State Department, Congress, international labor unions, and Hawai‘i’s territorial government that consider a more far-reaching understanding of how Hawai‘i was assigned the statehood relationship we currently have today with the United States. As there are more events occurring this year that continue to challenge the assertion of statehood and advocate de-occupation, Statehood Day is a good time to engage in this discussion and think about how each of us might like to participate in a future administration of Hawai‘i.]]>

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