The Proclamation of Restoration of the Independent Nation of Hawai’i:
A Fantasy Theme Analysis

By Darin J. Arsenault, May 1997

Table of Contents



A close inspection of the 1994 Proclamation of the Restoration of the Independence of the Sovereign Nation State of Hawai’i reveals that the themes discovered in Chapter IV can be dramatized through the method of fantasy theme analysis into a coherent rhetorical vision. This chapter discusses the rhetorical vision of the Independent Nation as defined through its structure of values. This structure of values involves interconnected ideas about justice, cultural integrity and independence, and environmental protection. First, the rhetorical vision framed within the Independent Nation’s Proclamation of Restoration is discussed in terms of interconnecting fantasy themes and underlying values for both Hawai’ians and Americans. Second, the influence of this vision is examined in terms of the impact the Proclamation has had on society and what further measures the Independent Nation and other sovereignty groups have undertaken since the Proclamation was publicized. Third, the Proclamation of Restoration is assessed for the relevance of symbolic convergence theory and fantasy theme methodology. Fourth, implications for future research are presented.

Rhetorical Vision

As explained in Chapter III, a rhetorical vision is a slogan, name, or label, usually with a short title, that defines and provides social reality for a group and its followers. The critic who conducts a fantasy theme analysis must explain the fantasy chaining in terms of a rhetorical vision. Specifically, the critic focuses on what motives drive members and nonmembers responding to these messages to become involved in the movement. By discovering these motives, the critic will more deeply understand why a group responds to fantasy themes, types, and visions.

Through fantasy theme analysis, the term "Independent Nation" emerges as a slogan that defines and provides reality for this group and its followers. This term indicates that there is a group of members and constituents motivated to assume and maintain political as well as cultural self-control of Hawai’i. Such imaging is created through the juxtaposition or intermeshing of various themes that provide support for a central image. Foremost in the vision of an Independent Nation is the idea that foreign meddling in the affairs of the Hawai’ian people must stop immediately. Native Hawai’ians must no longer condone outsiders who disrespect the people and ‘aina. These invaders must be removed from the physical, cultural, and political environment unless they are willing to follow Hawai’ian norms and rules. By differentiating between the good people of Hawai’i and the villainous invaders, this vision represents change in present psychological, cultural, and economic practices. It indicates that Kanaka Maoli have the political right to decide how they will live their lives, rule their lands, and run their economy.

In addition to differentiating between the good and evil people involved in the sovereignty movement, the rhetorical vision of an Independent Nation also depends upon positive dramatis personae themes in order to connect Proclamation arguments to Hawai’ian history and its people. The characterizations of Spirituality, Kanaka Maoli, Kupuna, and Lili’uokalani all provide warrant for the importance of sovereignty issues because each implies positive images for Native Hawai’ians to accept. For the highly ethnic Hawai’ian, images of Spirituality are all that is needed to provide psychological impetus to be attracted to the group. For a more moderate spectator, all personas are needed for persuasion.

The Proclamation of Restoration’s vision of an Independent Nation also includes interrelated elements of setting, action, and saga. To strengthen this mixture, Proclamation writers combined these characterizations within the same setting, Ka Pae ‘Aina O Hawai’i, noting that all take place and will continue to take place within this greater setting of Hawai’i until action by Native Hawai’ians, hapu-Hawai’ians, islanders, and international governments reverse the demise of this disappearing people. Thus, setting and action help dramatize this vision. Yet one must not overlook saga: aspects of this vision are rooted within the Kanaka past, present, and future. Writers imply that time will not stop to wait for the Hawai’ian people to act. The time to act is now so that the future of Native Hawai’ians can be changed. This idea of acting now is central to the rhetorical vision because without action, haole control will increase until the Kanaka Maoli have no influence in island politics. Proclamation writers have realized the importance of messages that can motivate members and nonmembers to gain awareness and participate in Independent Nation issues. By utilizing different time periods, Nation writers are addressing difficult-to-persuade audiences to become actively involved in sovereignty issues. Through this interweaving of different themes and time periods, the Independent Nation slogan links together the past’s symbolic Overthrow of Lili’uokalani, the present’s Kanahele and his civil disobedience, and the future’s rebirth of the Nation of Hawai’i. Thus, Proclamation spectators as well as electronic mail users can begin to share a common set of goals, values, and expectations for the return of the monarchy by identifying with these symbolic themes.

In essence the vision of an Independent Nation is dramatized as a positive force, one that stands for all Native Hawai’ians. In this way the group is symbolized as a hero for the people as well as a fountain of great strength. It takes courage and discipline to stand up against a stronger force, especially a force that has been an oppressor for many generations. Although this symbolization can attract a number of people, it seeks even greater public support.

The Proclamation of Restoration has been read during an important historic event in order to tie history to current and future action. By being read publicly, the Proclamation suggests that the time to act is now, rather than waiting for the future. It is a rallying call for the people to show interest and support sovereignty issues. By observing and participating in future Nation events, participants add personal legitimacy to the movement, and hence, this rhetorical vision. When Hawai’i reemerges as a sovereign Independent Nation, free of the auspices of haole tyranny, the goals of the Proclamation will have been met.

Although the vision of an oppressed nation set on gaining independence becomes clearer upon inspection, other issues within the Proclamation of Restoration must be addressed for a deeper understanding of how the writers structured their arguments for public consumption. Culture and values must be investigated within the themes of this artifact to ascertain which themes these writers have concentrated on in order to persuade the populace to act.

Culture and Values

Culture and values must be considered in fantasy theme analysis in order to get at the essence of a rhetorical artifact. Culture in a sociopolitical sense refers to the customs of the people as a collective, including dress, music, economic and political systems (Bruner, 1990, p. 21). Yet at another level, culture can also be discerned through the use of symbolic representation-- the meanings that we store in our minds and share with others through verbal and nonverbal means within a common context (Streek, 1994). Inherent in this idea of symbolic representation are values, which Hart (1997, p. 234) typifies as "deep-seated, persistent beliefs about essential rights and wrongs that express a person’s basic orientation to life." Thus people in any geopolitical location tend to have a similar culture and distinct underlying values. The scholar can sift through communicative acts of a culture in order to discern aspects of culture and values that promote or prevent symbolic unification. The culture of the Kanaka Maoli is a prime example of a culture that can be partially investigated through the Proclamation of Restoration’s use of fantasy themes in order to uncover underlying values differentiating it from its oppressor, the United States. The following sections focus on three values that emerge in the Proclamation of Restoration through fantasy theme analysis and contrast them with conflicting values of the United States in order to show how audience values can influence the symbolic chaining of messages.

Independent Nation Values Versus American Values

In the Proclamation of Restoration, three values become clear as one listens to or reads this speech: justice, cultural integrity and independence, and environmental protection. These values apply to both the Kanaka Maoli as well as the United States, but the emphases are different for each culture. These values are created though the Proclamation writers’ interpretation of both cultural value systems.

Justice as implied in the Proclamation of Restoration suggests that one should be fair and expect others to do the same. If one is unjust to another, measures must be taken to help the victim regain his or her rights. For the Hawai’ian, the historic Overthrow, current oppression of the Native Hawai’ians, and the unwillingness to provide them with their own political unity and power can be seen as unjust acts. Only by providing "freedom in our homeland" (p. 5) can the injustice be wiped clean, and rebirth of the Independent Nation begin anew.

Conversely, Proclamation writers realize that not all Americans are completely aware of these historical precedents. If Americans were aware that Hawai’i was overtaken by stealth and cunning rather than being voted into statehood by active voters, many would instead rely on their ideals of justice and help seek reparations for the Kanaka Maoli. Justice would prevail because Native Hawai’ians would have the ability to reclaim their lost nation.

The value of cultural integrity as reflected in the Proclamation of Restoration means that the original culture must be preserved through remembrance of the past and a reliance on tradition that has worked. Rebirth of an independent Hawai’ian nation is an example of cultural integrity. The Proclamation notes that prior to the Overthrow, historic Hawai’ians had security in their system because it had worked "since time immemorial" (p. 1). After the haoles enforced change on the Hawai’ian people, the culture disintegrated. The Proclamation’s rhetorical vision of an Independent Nation argues that cultural integrity must be regained in order for the Kanaka Maoli to reestablish themselves. In order to repossess cultural integrity, Native Hawai’ians must assert their independence and claim autonomy from the foreign invaders. Only self-determination ensures cultural integrity because it provides the people with choices as to how their nation should be run, how the land should be protected and managed, and what cultural norms will be observed. In the vision of the Independent Nation, the psychological, physical, and spiritual health of the people will change for the better. For example, fantasy themes such as the Kupuna provide grounding for cultural integrity and independence because they invoke memories of the historic past.

Although Americans also support the value of cultural integrity, their focus is again depicted by Proclamation of Restoration writers as somewhat different from the Hawai’ian view. Americans are implied as respectful of their own culture and its customs stressing individual success. Whereas the Kanaka Maoli cherishes its identity as a group, Americans are more prone to seek out achievement above and beyond any group goals involved. Thus it may be difficult to garner American sentiment towards Hawai’i unless appeals can convince Americans of the importance of Hawai’ian autonomy as collectivity-oriented rather than individual-oriented. It seems as if the Proclamation was designed to alert Americans to be aware of the importance of ethnicity within the Hawai’ian sovereignty movement. With such awareness some will be swayed to show outright support for Native Hawai’ians.

The value of environmental protection within the Proclamation of Restoration suggests that Native Hawai’ians were and must continue to be caretakers of the ‘aina. This means that they must be allowed to return to their original spiritual harmony with nature. To accomplish this certain measures must first be taken. Current land divisions must cease and ‘aina must be regained from its foreign possessors. The land must be returned back to the Kanaka Maoli and it will be their choice as to what should be done with it. All United States government held lands must be released from various "trusts" back to the Kanaka Maoli immediately. Development must be slowed or discontinued until Native Hawai’ians decide construction is needed. Only with the enacting of such measures can Kanaka harmony with nature return, and some semblance of historic Hawai’i, with a modern twist, reemerge.

Although environmental protection is perceived by Proclamation writers as important to many Americans, the American ideal of progress supersedes this value. For Americans taming of the land is paramount because it shows an ability to manage the environment. In this way land management indicates that progress has been made. It is far easier for Americans to build on a parcel of land and spare a section for environmental protection -this is different from the Hawai’ian perspective that one should build only if the community requires construction. Regardless, it seems as if Proclamation writers are attempting to create an understanding of the Hawai’ian perspective on environmental protection to provide impetus for American action.

In essence the Kanaka Maoli values of justice, cultural integrity, and environmental protection suggest several points about the Proclamation of Restoration’s depiction of Kanaka Maoli and American culture. First, these values imply that there are deep-seated Kanaka beliefs that were important in the past and are still important now to Proclamation writers. It is these values that lie submerged within the vision of the Independent Nation and are revealed to the critic through fantasy theme analysis. These values are used to attract Hawai’ian attention to Proclamation messages. Second, the Native Hawai’ian issues of political self-determination, cultural integrity, and environmental protection cannot continue without profound effects: changes that are urged must be instituted immediately or the Kanaka Maoli and their culture will become extinct within a handful of generations. Only by providing political, economic, and social control will the people of Hawai’i stabilize their cultural and spiritual disintegration. Third, these aforementioned values of the Proclamation differ from those depicted of the United States. Proclamation writers attempt to bridge these different cultural perspectives with the use of justice. The value of justice will provide impetus for some Americans to become involved in sovereignty issues because many will be able to recognize the unfairness of the Overthrow and the current oppression of Hawai’ian culture as depicted within the Proclamation. It is this value of justice that will motivate some Americans to support Hawai’ian ideation of cultural autonomy and integrity and environmental protection within Hawai’ian and mainland American communities.

In future negotiations with the Independent Nation as well as other groups with similar views on Native Hawai’ian sovereignty, the United States would do well to heed this rhetorical vision of an Independent Nation as depicted in the Proclamation of Restoration. The imagery of the Proclamation suggests strong stances on core issues of autonomy, cultural integrity, and environmental protection that must be negotiated between the United States and Hawai’i so that Native Hawai’ians can gain political freedoms that they have not had since the Overthrow. In the eyes of the Independent Nation this gain requires that the United States relinquish some of its oppressive control over the Islands and allows Native Hawai’ians political autonomy. If the United States continues to ignore these groups, civil disobedience is sure to continue until the international community steps in. The United States must therefore recognize the themes, values, and related claims that are defined in documents such as the Proclamation so that these Native Hawai’ians’ views can be rectified.

The Proclamation of Restoration thus functions as a powerful rhetorical tool for the Independent Nation for several reasons. First, this speech was presented in a public cultural event where spectators were allowed to question Nation members about the Proclamation’s depiction of sovereignty. This kind of interaction supports the seriousness of the Independent Nation kupuna and members and provides potential members an informal arena to pledge support. Second, it suggests the importance of specific values to Native Hawai’ians and proclaims these values in a symbolic form of communication. This symbolic form of communication allows participants as well as political leaders to understand the importance of various themes to Nation members.

Impact on Society

The impact that this rhetorical artifact has had on society must be examined. The Proclamation provides two memorable items: insights into a culture that were not previously available and impetus for future events in the sovereignty movement. First, the Proclamation suggests insights into United States history that seem to conflict with the ideas that many have been taught in educational institutions, especially of Manifest Destiny. The use of fantasy themes and rhetorical vision in this artifact indicates that certain proponents of Hawai’ian culture are able to consider an existence independent of the United States and other intruders. The Native Hawai’ians have a culture that is worthy of international consideration and social significance. Yet the American valuation depicted within the Proclamation reminds listeners to stop and consider the ramifications of American political and economic domination over other countries: cultures are disappearing because of political self-interests. When the peoples of these cultures cry out for relief against the burgeoning tyranny of American takeover, it is time to reconsider the role of the United States government and economy in today’s international market. Perhaps the assumptions of Manifest Destiny should be rethought.

Further, in addition to reconsideration of American history and its perspective of Manifest Destiny, insights into negative aspects of American culture and its underlying values should be examined. By our acts of infiltrating the lands of the Kanaka Maoli, Americans and other foreigners have changed the face of this nation, through incessant building and developing as well as through the destruction of these lands and nonrespect for the cultural history of this people. By destroying Hawai’ian lands Americans have endangered the very place they go to visit. By suppressing the Kanaka Maoli, Americans have reduced Hawai’ian cultural integrity and failed to show personal and cultural respect. Given the way the Hawai’ian monarchy was overthrown, the policy of Manifest Destiny reflects a blatant disregard for subjugated peoples. This is not a sociopolitical policy worth keeping because it depersonalizes those who are repressed. Although the Proclamation of Restoration suggests a new future for the Kanaka Maoli, it also suggests that it is time for Americans to reconsider their positions on Manifest Destiny and its effects upon subjugated peoples. This can prove to be difficult. Americans believe that their form of government is the best in the world and that their institutions ensure democratic processes that preserve the rights of individual (Minnick, 1968). It may be difficult for many to envision a collective control of land and satisfaction with a cultural system that is not entrepreneurial in vision. It is possible that the international community will have to step in to shame Americans into realizing the Kanaka Maoli have a right to exist their own way. In this sense, the Native Hawai’ians will be calling upon a greater power than the United States to right these wrongs. Whatever steps are undertaken to secure freedom for Native Hawai’ians, justice will be served and cultural integrity reinstituted. Harmony with Spirit and Nature will again resume for these people.

Regardless, representatives of the Kanaka Maoli will not wait any longer to see if North Americans will reconsider their political stance or if other nations will become involved. Various public events have occurred since the Proclamation of Restoration was read at international, state, and local levels. Several treaties have been initiated and signed with other native nations recognizing the sovereign claims of participants. Representatives of different sovereignty groups have been sent to the United Nations in hopes of gaining international recognition (Hakala, 1995). For these events the Proclamation serves as a beginning point for sovereignty because this was the first time the Independent Nation aired its views in a public forum and received overwhelming support.

One year to the day of the Proclamation of Restoration, a ratified Hawai’ian Constitution was publicly offered to the Hawai’ian people for their signature at ‘Iolani Palace, and amendments have since been added, indicating a willingness to provide a Kanaka Maoli government. A plebiscite vote on Hawai’ian sovereignty has been twice offered to voters to determine what kind of political model they would like to consider in their future. Individual groups are frequently reported on in local and state news. For example, both the Independent Nation as well as Ka Lahui continue sovereignty workshops in order to educate the people of Hawai’i about their lost culture and what it will look like once prospective new political models have been established. The Proclamation thus provides a perspective on sovereignty for potential members or supporters that can be publicly examined.

Pu’uhonua O Waimanalo continues its existence as its members adjust the community to their needs. Independent Nation members frequently upgrade electronic mail and Internet information so that the world community knows what is happening within the movement. The Proclamation remains an important document available for public and political consumption.

Bumpy Kanahele is frequently in the news as his stand on sovereignty and his legal battles are publicized through the media. Although a newspaper poll (Omandum, 1995) showed little support for Kanahele and the Independent Nation, group members argued that this was because of negative media depictions of Kanahele’s legal problems. As Kanahele’s problems are overshadowed by sovereignty issues it is quite possible that the Independent Nation’s popularity will increase, and its vision will alter its form to accommodate Kanahele’s insurrections.

The Independent Nation of Hawai’i and similar groups will probably not stop their actions of civil disobedience. It is common knowledge that haoles in Waikiki are still given handouts that say "Yankee go home" and treated rudely by Natives in local hangouts. Many Native Hawai’ians still disregard American law and drive around with sovereignty plates and insurance cards. By all indications sovereignty groups will continue to rally together in the cry for Hawai’ian legitimacy and cultural reemergence until some connected semblance of self-determination, land management, and environmental protection has been agreed upon and achieved.

Evaluation of Methodology

The current study suggests several points that are important when evaluating the use of symbolic convergence theory and the method of fantasy theme analysis. First, symbolic convergence and fantasy have been utilized coherently by Proclamation of Restoration writers. The writers have concocted themes that were aimed to maintain and recruit group membership as well as move audiences to act. The themes that were created for audiences have continued to influence ethnic listeners because later events such as the ratified Hawai’ian Constitution were directly influenced by the Proclamation of Restoration. Further, because the Independent Nation has devised an electronic mail system as well as an Internet Web site, both of which include rhetorical documents such as the Proclamation and Constitution, members are suggesting additional aspects of a cultural perspective for listeners and readers to accept and act upon.

Second, the current analysis shows that researchers can investigate speeches and documents within cultures that are not specifically "western" and analyze them with fantasy theme analysis. The investigator must work diligently to be sure that he or she is framing the fantasy theme analysis within cultural and group contexts so that ethnocentrism does not occur. The current study provides evidence that fantasy theme analysis can be conducted on a culture different in values and cultural perspective than the United States. Culture is the key here: it is revealed by close inspection of fantasy themes and underlying values. It is up to the rhetor to combine them together and promote understanding within the cultural context.

Implications for Future Studies

There are implications here for future research. First, there is a treasure trove of articles within the Independent Nation’s automated E-Mail system that can be examined to ascertain what images they provide. Because the information has been personally selected by Independent Nation members the arguments in different articles should be somewhat consistent. Careful analysis of this context should uncover further images that may support or conversely alter the Proclamation of Restoration’s rhetorical vision. Special attention should be addressed to further investigate if other fantasy themes emerge and their relationship with other fantasies and types.

Second, the Proclamation of Restoration should be compared to other proclamations to see if discernible rhetorical patterns emerge. Quite possibly proclamations might function as a rhetorical genre worthy of analysis. For example, it is quite conceivable that proclamations in different cultures hold similar arguments or present similar images. The use of proclamations could thus be examined to ascertain which rhetorical functions they provide as well as the degree of effectiveness needed to promote symbolic convergence and action in audiences. Symbolic convergence theory and fantasy theme analysis could suggest thematic dramatistic criteria for rhetorical analyses.

Third, further symbolic convergence studies should analyze sovereignty movement groups who have different goals in terms of the fantasy themes and rhetorical visions that such groups use. Questions should be aimed at where similarities and differences in fantasy themes occur and why these themes were chosen for their audiences. It is quite possible that some groups may have different rhetorical visions but similar fantasy themes. Specifically, a comparison should be made of rhetorical visions and fantasy themes of the Independent Nation and Ka Lahui Hawai’i. The Independent Nation is a proponent of independent autonomy whereas Ka Lahui supports a nation-within-a-nation model. A thorough description of fantasy themes of both groups would need to be completed first. A quick inspection of Ka Lahui Hawai’i literature (via Office of Hawaiian affairs pamphlets) indicates that this group also remembers Queen Lili’uokalani with reverence. Rhetorical visions can hence be compared to ascertain the significance of underlying messages and themes upon various audiences within the Hawai’ian arena.

Further, comparative studies along these lines may suggest future persuasive tactics or lines of argument that have not been previously considered. For example, because pono is a commonly referred-to value in Hawai’ian studies (Kanahele, 1986; Trask, 1993), future speeches or referendums in the Hawai’ian sovereignty movement should continue to address this value to persuade ethnic audiences to adapt and act upon messages. Yet more audience adaptation will be needed if sovereignty groups want to continue influencing non-Hawai’ian audiences to accept and act upon movement messages. Writers for sovereignty groups within the Hawai’ian arena may also want to craft messages upon common values found in the major communities in the islands in order to reach as vast an audience as possible. Dignity and integrity are two such values that one can expect to be found in Hawai’ian, American, Japanese, and Chinese communities. Although the importance of these values may vary across cultures, it is quite possible to create a message that addresses the importance of dignity and integrity in Hawai’i, no matter in which community one resides.

Finally, future researchers should consider the applicability of culture-centered criticism perspectives towards studies on cultures different than the status quo. Cultural criticism perspectives, per Brummett (1994) rely upon the integration of aspects of culture such as values, ideas, and ideologies as a means of understanding symbolic discourse. For the rhetorical scholar interested in truly understanding what value systems constitute a culture and how these values may be extended to its people, it is best to investigate within the framework of cultural context so that deeper analysis can be made. Ethnocentric approaches at best describe what is observable in other cultures but do not provide a true flavor to analysis.