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The following message appeared as a full page advertisement in the West Coast edition of The New York Times on Tuesday, June 27, 1995. The ad was sponsored by the Hawai`i Ecumenical Coalition. Founded in 1989, the Coalition has organized symposia and briefings on sustainable tourism, sovereignty, cultural and environmental issues, and promotes the recognition by governments and churches of their historical culpability and future responsibility toward the Kanaka Maoli.

No paradise without peace. No peace without justice.


U.S. business and sugar barons backed by U.S. Marines overthrew the sovereign Kingdom of Hawai`i in 1893. And despite the message of trust they preached, missionary families, their descendants and friends, invoking the name of God, took over the land. The deaths of indigenous Hawaiians can never be redressed. But their lost land can be returned. It's time to do the right thing, embracing the true spirit of reconciliation...

The Hawaiian Islands have a secret history unknown to most visitors and carefully suppressed by the island's missionary-inspired educators for more than a century.

It is a history different from any other star in the U.S. flag. It is a history which demands redress for past crimes and present injustice - a history which mocks the true spirit of aloha, but which must be revealed if we are to promise a brighter future to all the peoples of Hawai`i.

1. Paradise Found.

The Hawaiian Islands were settled be seafarers from the South Pacific over 2,000 years ago. They founded a unique and elaborate culture that flourished wholly undisturbed for 1,800 years before the first European ships encountered the islands.

These encounters coincided with the unification of the island by their first monarch, King Kamehameha. Hawaiian sovereignty, initially threatened, was guaranteed by treaty with Europe's great powers and with the United States. As an independent nation, Hawai`i survived intact the imperialist frenzy which overtook so many other Pacific peoples in the 18th and 19th Centuries.

2. Paradise Stolen.

It turned out that the danger to Hawai`i would come from within. American traders serving Yankee whalers early established themselves on Maui. New England missionaries soon followed. both vied for influence with the Hawaiian monarchy. By the late 19th century, missionaries and their heirs had cleared vast plantations for sugar and pineapple, importing much of their labor from China, Japan, and Portugal. Native Hawaiians, the Kanaka Maoli, were slaughtered by sexually transmitted diseases, smallpox and other epidemics brought from overseas. As their numbers fell, their lands were absorbed by foreigners' plantations and missionary families.

The Hawaiian monarchy rallied to resist these encroachments, but militancy among the traders and plantation owners grew. Finally, leading American businessmen organized an armed militia and on January 17, 1893, launched a coup d'etat with support of the U.S. military forces anchored in Honolulu Harbor.

The plotters sought annexation by the U.S., but President Grover Cleveland, citing violations of treaties of friendship with the Kingdom of Hawai`i, ordered them to restore Queen Lili`uokalani.

Instead, the coup leaders declared a Republic of Hawai`i in 1894 and confiscated Crown Lands and Hawaiian Government Lands, parceling out the best among themselves and offering the rest to the U.S. Government in exchange for annexation.

Torn between lobbying by the U.S. sugar industry and bribes from Hawaiian sugar barons, the U.S. Senate never achieved the two-thirds majority required for annexation. Instead, in 1898 a joint Congressional resolution made Hawai`i a U.S. territory. Arable land taken from the Kanaka Maoli was never returned. More labor was imported from the Far East to work the land. By the 1950's, the Kanaka Maoli had become a minority on their own islands. In 1959, the authorities felt it safe to hold a plebiscite on statehood. The only majority Kanaka Maoli community, the Island of Ni`ihau, voted solidly against it.

3. Paradise Regained?

Visitors on a package tour of Hawai`i don't know its shameful history. But you can be sure that the Kanaka Maoli, one-third of whom live in poverty, their own land off-limits, never forget.

Over the last generation, Kanaka Maoli have struggled to reclaim their heritage. They have campaigned against military bombing ranges and geothermal projects. They have organized politically to fight land evictions and gain access to Hawaiian Home Lands, government and public lands. Today, a growing sovereignty movement calling for nation status has sparked widespread debate throughout the islands.

The centennial of the coup against the Kingdom of Hawai`i coincided with the 1993 U.N. International Year for Indigenous Peoples. It also brought an official apology from the U.S. Government (Public Law 103-150).

For the Kanaka Maoli, however, the only apology is action. It is time to return Hawai`i to its true spiritual keepers.

It is as a peaceful people that the Kanaka Maoli lost their home. It is as a peaceful people that they seek its return. Please join with us.

The original people of Hawai`i, the Kanaka Maoli, numbered 800,000 when Captain Cook landed in 1778. A century later, only 40,000 survived. Kanaka Maoli now make up 20% of the Hawaiian population. After 200 years of racism and systematic impoverishment, the Kanaka Maoli lead Hawai`i in mortality and homelessness.

Hawaii Ecumenical Coalition
Kaleo Patterson, Director
766 North King Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96817

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