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Federal officials hear demands to restore Hawaiian sovereignty

December 6, 1999

LIHUE (AP) -- Nearly 200 people, most of them Hawaiians, attended Sunday's reconciliation talks on Kauai and demanded federal officials restore the sovereign Hawaiian nation.

The talks continue today, with officials from the U.S.Justice and Interior departments on Maui to discuss ways to rectify the illegal overthrow of the monarchy in 1893 led by a group of U.S. citizens. The Maui meeting was scheduled early this afternoon at the Paukukalo Community Center.

Despite the near unanimous clamor for total independence, federal officials say that is beyond the scope of the talks, which are designed to explore ways to provide greater self-determination to Hawaiians.

``We're undertaking a process under domestic law,'' said Mark Van Norman, director of the Justice Department's Office of Tribal Justice. ``Greater self-determination or nation within a nation, that's the kind of dialogue we can have.''

The talks will center on issues involving ceded lands, compensation and political status. But most speakers still called for complete independence and restoration of the monarchy.

``All we want to hear from the federal government is, `You are restored to what you are, what you were -- a Hawaiian nation,' '' Henry Smith said.

The meeting was disrupted several times by sign-waving protesters, but the situation calmed down when police called in Hawaiian elders to talk with the protesters. The meeting was scheduled to last two hours, but lasted nearly twice as long.

``The hostility that you folks will be exposed to, I hope you can see beyond,'' Kaiopua Fyfe told the federal officials. ``It's not without reason.''

``We apologize for the incredible pain and injustice that was caused,'' said John Berry, assistant secretary of the Department of the Interior.

The reconciliation talks were mandated in the 1993 apology resolution approved by Congress and signed by President Clinton that apologized for the 1893 overthrow.

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