Today, we celebrate Ka La Hoʻihoʻi Ea, Sovereignty Restoration Day; it relates back to 1843 when Lord George Paulet, purportedly representing the British Crown, overstepped his bounds, landed sailors and marines, seized the government buildings in Honolulu and forced King Kamehameha III to cede the Hawaiian kingdom to Great Britain.
Queen Victoria, on learning the injustice done, immediately sent Rear Admiral Richard Darton Thomas to the islands to restore sovereignty to its rightful rulers. After five-months of occupation, on July 31, 1843, the Hawaiian flag was raised and sovereignty restored.
The ceremony was held in an area known as Kulaokahuʻa (The Plains;) the site of the ceremony was turned into a park, it was later called Thomas Square.
Today, there remain ongoing claims and discussions about restoring the Hawaiian Government that was deposed on January 17, 1893 and replaced by the Provisional Government of Hawaiʻi, later the Republic of Hawaiʻi, then annexation and statehood.
The Hawaiian nation was overthrown … not the Hawaiian race (it was a constitutional monarchy, not race-limited.)
Yet, to date, apparently, the only people permitted to exercise their rights related to discussions on restoration, reparation, sovereignty, independence, etc related to the Hawaiian nation have been those of one race, the native Hawaiians.
In the ongoing nation-building exercise, lately there was Kau Inoa (registration of Native Hawaiians in Hawaiʻi and abroad who will be a part of the new Hawaiian nation and receive benefits provided by the new government,) later Kanaʻiolowalu (registration on an Official Roll and joining together to rebuild a Hawaiian nation,) and now Na‘i Aupuni (who are guiding an election, convention and ratification process where Hawaiians who wish to participate can be heard.)
Kanaʻiolowalu limits participation to “lineal descendant[s] of the people who lived and exercised sovereignty in the Hawaiian islands prior to 1778”; a goal of the registration is “self-recognition of our unrelinquished sovereignty”. The latter and latest, suggests an ʻAha (“convention … gathering of elected delegates”) that may conduct a ratification vote.
Likewise, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (Akaka Bill,) and groups like Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi, Nation of Hawaiʻi, Ka Pakaukau, Poka Laenui, Hawaiian Kingdom, Hawaiian Kingdom Government and the rest seem to seek to restore or reclaim on behalf of kanaka maoli.
However, all Hawaiian citizens lost their nation in 1893 … Hawaiian citizens with their varying ethnicities, not just those who lived in the Islands prior to 1778.
Why aren’t all Hawaiian citizens included in the recognition and sovereignty discussions and decisions today?
Nationality derives from what nation you are from. It’s your citizenship. Another term for nationality is your political status. Race is not nationality. It’s not a political status. Race is your ethnicity. (Keanu Sai; noted in AlohaQuest)
Hawai‘i was built up of many racial ethnic extractions or heritage, but they all came under one nationality, called a Hawaiian citizen or subject. (Keanu Sai)
A Hawaiian citizen or subject is someone that has the political status of being a Hawaiian national. And it’s not limited to the native race or the aboriginal blood. (Keanu Sai)
If annexation did not happen, today descendants of Hawaiʻi-born or foreign-born naturalized Hawaiian citizens (with no proof of later naturalization to another nation) are still Hawaiian subjects, as their predecessors were in the Kingdom era. (Keanu Sai)
‘Nationality’ means the legal bond between a person and a State and does not indicate the person’s ethnic origin. Everyone has the right to a nationality. (European Convention on Nationality)
At one time, jus sanguinis (right of blood) was the sole means of determining nationality in Asia and Europe (where it is still widespread in Central and Eastern Europe.) An individual belonged to a family, a tribe or a people, not to a territory. It was a basic tenet of Roman law.
Jus soli (right of the soil,) also known as birthright citizenship, is a right by which nationality or citizenship can be recognized to any individual born in the territory of the related state.
At times, exceptions limit citizenship, typically when a child was born to a parent in the diplomatic or consular service of another state, on a mission to the state in question or a child born to enemy forces engaged in hostile occupation of the country’s territory.
One of the earliest laws in Hawaiʻi dealt with citizenship; it was part of King Kamehameha III’s Statute Laws 1845-1846. The Chapter for that law was titled: “Of Subjects and Foreigners” and the specific Article was labeled “Aliens, Denizens and Natives.”
Section III of that law noted: All persons born within the jurisdiction of this kingdom, whether of alien foreigners, of naturalized or of native parents, and all persons born abroad of a parent native of this kingdom, and afterwards coming to reside in this, shall be deemed to owe native allegiance to His Majesty. All such persons shall be amenable to the laws of this kingdom as native subjects.
All persons born abroad of foreign parents, shall, unless duly naturalized, as in this article prescribed, be deemed aliens, and treated as such, pursuant to the laws. (Ka Huli Ao Digital Archives – Punawaiola-org)
Hawaiʻi followed the Anglo-American common law rule of “jus soli;” those born in the country and subject to its jurisdiction are citizens. Subsequent interpretation of the laws and practices affirmed who were Hawaiian citizens and what rights and obligations they possessed.
In 1850, HW Whitney, born in Hawaiʻi of foreign parents, asked the Minister of the Interior, John Young II, about his status. The question was referred to Asher B Bates, legal adviser to the Government, who replied that, “not only the Hawaiian Statutes but the Law of Nations, grant to an individual born under the Sovereignty of this Kingdom, an inalienable right, to all of the rights and privileges of a subject.” (Hanifin)
In 1856, the Kingdom’s Supreme Court decided Naone v. Thurston, recognizing that persons born in Hawaiʻi of foreign parents were Hawaiian subjects.
On January 21, 1868, the Minister of the Interior for the Hawaiian Kingdom, Ferdinand Hutchison, stated the criteria for Hawaiian nationality:
“In the judgment of His Majesty’s Government, no one acquires citizenship in this Kingdom unless he is born here, or born abroad of Hawaiian parents (either native or naturalized,) during their temporary absence from the kingdom, or unless having been the subject of another power, he becomes a subject of this kingdom by taking the oath of allegiance.”
Subsequent laws through the Republic, Territory and State provide that “All persons born or naturalized in the Hawaiian Islands, and subject to the jurisdiction of the Republic, are citizens thereof.”
A lot of non-kanaka maoli were born in the Islands or became naturalized citizens, or are descendants of such. By laws and practice, they, too, are Hawaiian citizens … history and the laws related to Hawaiian citizen status are clear and unambiguous.
In 1893, all Hawaiian citizens lost their nation … Hawaiian citizens with varying ethnicities. As noted by Keanu Sai, “Hawai‘i was a country of laws and nationality and not necessarily a specific race.”
If there are to be discussions and decisions leading to restoration, reparation, sovereignty, independence, etc that affect all Hawaiian citizens, whatever their ethnicity, all should be included in that process.
Again, why aren’t all Hawaiian citizens included in these discussions and decisions, today?
I am sure these others will be heard from at some time – it would be better that they are included, sooner than later.
The image shows the Hawaiian Kingdom flag, ‘Ka Hae Hawaii’ as observed by Louis Choris in 1816. It flew over the Islands from 1816-1843.