Healani Sonoda-Pale, a founding member of Protest Nai Aupuni, made clear what she thinks about the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Friday announcement regarding Hawaiians and self-governance.
“Today, President Obama spat in the face of every Hawaiian, from Queen Liliuokalani down to us Hawaiians here standing now,” she told several dozen supporters in front of Iolani Palace.
While the DOI described its rule-making process to set up government-to-government relations with an indigenous entity as “an opportunity” for Hawaiians, protesters like Sonoda-Pale said the action was “sad” and “painful.” Hawaiians, she and others insisted, are not an Indian tribe.
Sonoda-Pale said 95 percent of the people who turned out to testify at public hearings in the islands two years ago opposed the DOI’s proposals. For many, Hawaii is still an independent nation; therefore, America has no business trying to tell Hawaiians what to do.
Obama and his administration are furthering the “fake”annexation of the islands and “fake” statehood, they said. The president, who was born on Oahu, intends to create a “counterfeit settlement” regarding the disposition of former crown lands known as ceded lands.
“Federal recognition is a joke,” said Leon Siu, who said he represents the Hawaiian Kingdom. Obama, Siu insisted, should instead recognize that Hawaii is a “sovereign, independent nation.”
Other speakers included University of Hawaii professors Williamson Chang and Jon Osorio.
As Osorio put it, the DOI must stay out of Hawaiian affairs.
“They do not have a right to tell us what kind of government we can have,” he said, adding that the U.S. was essentially trying to strike a deal that’s not favorable to Kanaka Maoli.
In fact, Osorio contended, the DOI was dividing Hawaiians rather than letting them chart their own destiny in their own land — something Osorio suggested was already happening independently.
Inside the palace, the only royal residence in the U.S., curious docents and visitors stared out at the protest.
On the other side of the palace, meanwhile, the Royal Hawaiian Band played on.