by Anuhea Reimann-Giegerl
Recent events and publicity regarding the past, the presentand the future of Native Hawaiians continue to leave theirpoignant imprint upon the souls of many. Great numbers of NativeHawaiians have had to let flow the painful emotions and thoughtswhich have been suppressed for a lifetime. The anger and thesadness transferred in the womb from one generation of NativeHawaiians to the next has been validated and punctuated.Ancestral memories have forced their way to the surface and manyNative Hawaiians know that those memories will haunt them untilthe spiritual forces which made life flow so easily for theirkupuna are allowed to flow freely and abundantly once again. Theprofound grlef of Native Hawaiians is now exposed to the worldand while the world figures out what, if anything, it will doabout the Native Hawaiians, I and other kanaka maoli willcontinue to reach out for ways to deal with our grief whichultimately bring us serenity and wholeness.
In the spirit of encouraging honest and open discussions aboutHawaiian sovereignty, I am offering my Native Hawaiianperspective about the importance of and urgent need forsovereignty. There are only about 200,000 Hawaiians walking thisearth today who are inextricably rooted in this 'aina. Myviewpoint is only one of those 200,000 voices. I do not presumeto speak for the minds and the souls of any other NativeHawaiian, nor can I reveal ail that is in my na'au. Nonetheless,my views about this complex issue are valid and should be countedalong with the mana'o of each and every Native Hawaiian man,woman and chlld. I hope that the mana'o Iam sharing here willfoster a deeper understanding and greater acceptance of theNative Hawaiians' rlght to move beyond their pain and into thelrcore.
Webster defines sovereignty as the state or quallty of beingindependent of all others: supreme and independent politicalauthority. In the case of Native Hawaiians, it is the appllcationand consequences of sovereignty that deeply confuse and frightenso many. Sovereignty wlll allow us to exercise our ability todecide for ourselves how we should live free of the oppressiveand prejudicial control by those who have raped our lands and oursouls since 1778. The pain of that rape must be cured andsovereignty ls our only peaceful means of bringing about thatcure, now that we know that other means controlled bynon-Hawaiians, have grlevously failed and further violated ourspirits.
After centurles of lies and secrecy, the truth of Hawai'i'shistory is now being exposed to show that since 1778, theaboriginal people of Hawai'i have been denied their ability tomake decisions for memselves - individually and as a nation -free from control of others. From the catastrophic decline lnpopulation because of imported disease, to the prohibition ofspeaking our native language and worshiping our gods because ofimported prejudlce and ignorance, to the overthrow of ourmonarchy and the theft of our lands because of imported greed andpower-mongering, our island people have been systematically,powerfully and almost totally stripped of their ability to makesound, responsible decisions for themselves and to learn fromtheir mistakes.
Asserting sovereignty is our way of correcting at least one badchoice made more than two centuries ago. We trusted men from adifferent culture to be our friend. Paramount mistake! Ultimatewrong choice!
Our dreams and hopes of a sovereign Hawaiian nation aremorally just and not unreasonable. Our desire to control andmanage the public trust lands set aside for us in 1920 and 1959is born out of our dream to have schools where our ancestrallanguage is taught, and to have sacred places where our minds,bodies, and spirits are allowed to heal. One of these days ournative language will be spoken daily and without shame in ourhomes, schools, places of worship and employment, at the beachesand grocery stores. The day will come when our deity will berestored to their divine places in our lives, and we will againbe empowered by the soclal values that once moved the thoughts,words and actions of our ancestors. When our hula, our oli, andour mele are no longer staged for another's economic gain anduneducated pleasure, and when attitudes whlch foster the beliefthat Hawai'ians and thelr aloha were created solely for another'sentertainment and pocketbook are extinguished, our souls willonce again know joy. The day wlll come when balance and harmonybetween po'e Hawai'i, na aumakua ame na Akua, and 'aina will berestored for our own sake. From education to health, fromreligion to the arts, from politics to soclal issues, we willassert and exercise our sovereign right to live our lives in away that balances our spiritual, intellectual and physicalrelationshlps.
What good reason is there for anyone to deny us these dreams?
Others may have no understanding or acceptance of thespiritual losses we have suffered since 1778, but that does notmean that our spiritual losses are non-existent or unimportant.Simply because others have absolutely no comprehension of ourancestral connections, does not mean that those connections arenot real or central to our lives. Another's lack of intellectual,emotional or spiritual feeling for our value system, does notmean that we should make any compromises in our beliefs. Becauseothers will not or cannot use our language correctly andrespectfully, does not mean that we must foresake the spirit ofour language for the convenience or desire of others. Those whowant us to believe that we are not the first people of this 'ainaand therefore have no special rights to this 'aina, will neverdestroy our special ancestral connection and obligation to this'aina. Those who believe our struggle for sovereignty is foollshwill not smother our burning quest to determine our own destiny.Others will trivialize and ridicule our dreams, but we will notbe ashamed of or discard our hopes and aspirations.
The turmoil in our na'au tells us forcefully that there issomething very wrong about statements defending the actions ofmissionaries and annexationists between 1820 and 1898. We mustnow speak openly and peacefully with the believers of suchstatements and make clear to them that our lives have not beenmade better by the actions of their ancestors, nor will our livesbe made rlght under the control of the same values of greed andoppression that stirred their forefathers. The very real and verydeep scars left in our souls by the actions of yesterday'smissionaries and annexationists and today's real estatedevelopers, military leaders, and politicians, will not allow usto do anything less than reject the false and contemptuousstatements and acts of others, work hard to achieve sovereigntyand work hard to make sovereignty work for us.
To all po'e Hawai'i, remember that there is no greater giftthat our ancestors left us but that of the "ha". We must alwayrscelebrate the precious and priceless gift of the breath of llfethat possesses the core of our being. We must aloha it. We mustmalama it. We must look to our core and draw upon the "ha" forclarity and calm. Our ancestors did the very best they could indifficult times to protect and sustain the "ha" for themselvesand for us. Let us recognize, acknowledge and malama that legacy.We know what our responsibility is. Let's do it. 'Onipa'a.
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