[News] Hawaiian groups work to get the kingdom back

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Fri Jun 20 12:03:50 EDT 2008



Hawaiian groups work to get the kingdom back




Islanders seek to reverse overthrow of the monarchy

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/06/20/MNEA11C1L5.DTL&type=politics

Mark Niesse, Associated Press


(06-20) 04:00 PDT Honolulu - --

Surrounded by royal guards and the occasional tourist, Her Majesty 
Mahealani Kahau and her government ministers hold court every day in 
a tent outside the palace of Hawaii's last monarch, passing laws and 
discussing how to secure reparations for the Native Hawaiian people.

Kahau and her followers are members of the self-proclaimed Hawaiian 
Kingdom Government, which is devoted to restoring the Hawaiian 
monarchy overthrown in 1893. Nearly two months ago, they stormed the 
gates of the old Iolani Palace, and they have politely occupied the 
grounds ever since, operating like a government-in-exile.

"We're here to assume and resume what is already ours and what has 
always been ours," said Kahau, who is a descendant of Hawaii's last 
king and was elected "head of state" by the group.

The Hawaiian Kingdom Government, which was founded seven years ago 
and claims 1,000 followers, uses its own license plates and maintains 
its own judicial system. In recent years, members have voted to 
dissolve the state of Hawaii, its land titles, welfare programs and 
public schools. They also claim the right to confiscate all bank 
assets in Hawaii.

The organization's actions do not carry the force of law, and the 
state has mostly taken a hands-off approach. It has not confiscated 
any of the license plates, for example, or arrested anyone for using them.

Hawaii has about 200,000 Native Hawaiians out of a population of 1.3 
million. The Hawaiian Kingdom Government is just one of several 
native organizations that claim sovereignty over the islands, tapping 
into a strong sense among Native Hawaiians that they were wronged by history.

More than a century ago, a group of sugar planters and other 
businessmen, most of them Americans, overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy 
with the support of U.S. military forces. Queen Liliuokalani was 
imprisoned at the ornate Iolani Palace, built in 1882 by her brother, 
King David Kalakaua. Hawaii was annexed by the United States in 1898 
and became a state in 1959.

"We are definitely trying to correct a wrong that we feel has been 
done to us as a people," said Hawaiian Kingdom Government spokesman 
Orrin Kupau.

On April 30, members of the Hawaiian Kingdom Government trooped onto 
the palace grounds in the heart of Honolulu and shut the gates behind 
them, leading to a few tense hours before they finally reopened the entrance.

Every day, Kahau and about a dozen of her government officials meet 
in the tent. Every evening, they fold up their tent and go home, 
returning in the morning.

State officials have largely ignored them, and police have made no 
arrests. The Hawaiian Kingdom Government has said it has no intention 
of resorting to violence.

Every week, the Hawaiian Kingdom Government obtains a public-assembly 
permit that allows it to occupy the grounds of the palace, a museum 
and popular tourist attraction next door to the state Capitol.

As far as the state is concerned, the Hawaiian Kingdom Government is 
treated the same as any other group that wants to conduct activities 
on public ground, said Deborah Ward, spokeswoman for the Department 
of Land and Natural Resources.

"As long as they comply with the permit conditions, they may continue 
to request permits to meet," she said.

Those conditions prohibit the Hawaiian Kingdom Government from 
interfering with access to the palace, harassing pedestrians, 
collecting money, posting banners or entering several government 
buildings. State authorities gave Kahau a warning when she went 
inside one of the buildings to collect her mail.

It is unclear how the organization's members intend to oust the state 
government. They also want reparations in the form of housing, 
low-cost health care and cash. The kingdom slapped a $7 trillion fine 
on the Hawaii state government in 2007.

This article appeared on page A - 5 of the San Francisco Chronicle




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