|The Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement:
Roles of and Impacts on Non-Hawaiians
By Anthony Castanha, August 1996
103rd Cong. 1st Sess.
139 Cong Rec S 14477
REFERENCE: Vol. 139 No. 147
TITLE: 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE OVERTHROW OF THE HAWAIIAN KINGDOM
SPEAKER: Mr. AKAKA; Mr. BROWN; Mr. DANFORTH; Mr. FORD; Mr. GORTON; Mr. INOUYE
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the clerk will report Senate Joint Resolution 19.
The bill clerk read as follows:
A joint resolution (S.J. Res. 19) to acknowledge the 100th anniversary of the January 17, 1893, overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii and to offer an apology to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the United States for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
The Senate proceeded to consider the joint resolution.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Debate on the resolution is limited 1 hour equally divided and controlled in the usual form.
Mr. INOUYE addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Hawaii is recognized.
Mr. INOUYE. Mr. President, it is my honor and privilege to call upon my colleague from the State of Hawaii, a son of whose ancestors were present on that fateful day 100 years ago when the beloved Queen Liliuokalani was overthrown illegally. So, if I may, I would like to yield 15 minutes to my colleague.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Hawaii, Senator Akaka, is recognized for 15 minutes.
Mr. AKAKA. Mr. President, I thank my senior Senator for his graciousness and for his leadership in the Senate and for the people of Hawaii.
I appreciate this opportunity to speak about a very, very important but forgotten chapter in American history concerning U.S. policy toward its native peoples. I am referring to the involvement of the U.S. diplomatic and military representatives in the 1893 overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani, the last ruling monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
Earlier this year, on January 17, native Hawaiians commemorated the 100th anniversary of this historic event which brought an untimely end to the Kingdom of Hawaii and altered the destiny of the native Hawaiian people. In an effort to educate the Congress and the American public on the profound impact that this event has had on native Hawaiians, the Senate last year passed a resolution I introduced which acknowledged the 1893 overthrow and offers a U.S. apology to native Hawaiians for its complicity. Unfortunately, the House was unable to act on the measure before the 102d Congress adjourned.
The resolution we are considering today, Mr. President, is identical -- identical -- to the legislation as passed unanimously by the Senate last year. I had hoped that we could pass the resolution through a unanimous-consent agreement again in the 103d Congress. That is why we are debating this issue today.
Senate Joint Resolution 19 acknowledges the historic significance of the January 17, 1893, overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii. It offers an apology to the native Hawaiians on behalf of the United States for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii with participation of citizens and agents of the United States. It commends efforts of reconciliation initiated by the State of Hawaii and the United Church of Christ with Native Hawaiians, and it urges reconciliation efforts between the United States and the native Hawaiian people.
While the primary purpose of Senate Joint Resolution 19 is to educate my colleagues on the events surrounding the 1893 overthrow, the resolution would also provide the proper foundation for reconciliation between the United States and Native Hawaiians. This, I believe, is the least our Government can do.
As some of my colleagues may know, the United Church of Christ, through its American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, sent the first missionaries to the Kingdom of Hawaii between 1820 and 1850. In recognition of the complicity of some members of the church in the 1893 overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani, the 18th general synod directed the president of the United Church to offer a public apology to the native Hawaiian people and to initiate the process of reconciliation between the United Church of Christ and of Native Hawaiians. This action, which occurred on the centennial of the overthrow earlier this year, was a significant gesture by the United Church of Christ and was deeply appreciated by the native Hawaiians.
Mr. President, the Federal Government must also begin the healing process. Not until our Nation understands the significance of the events surrounding the 1893 overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii will American people appreciate the meaning of the Native Hawaiian rights movement, which grows each day.
Few Americans know that the Kingdom of Hawaii was a highly organized, civilized, and sovereign nation from the unification of the Hawaiian Islands under King Kamehameha I in 1810 until the overthrow of its last monarch in 1893. Few Americans appreciate that for nearly 70 years, between 1826 and 1893, the United States recognized the independence of the Kingdom of Hawaii, extended full and complete diplomatic recognition to the Hawaiian Government, and entered into treaties and conventions with the Hawaiian monarchs to govern commerce and navigation.
Americans do not understand that without the active support and intervention by U.S. diplomatic and military representatives, the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani on January 17, 1893, would have failed for lack of popular support and insufficient arms.
Finally, few Americans know that in a message to Congress on December 18, 1893, President Grover Cleveland described the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii as "an act of war committed with the participation of a diplomatic representative of the United States without the authority of Congress," and he acknowledged that by such acts, the government of a peaceful and friendly people was overthrown.
No official apology has ever been made to native Hawaiians, nor has there ever been an attempt at a Federal policy addressing their rights.
Too often, when the American public and U.S. policymakers think about Native Americans, they mistakenly consider only native American Indians and Alaska Natives as native peoples of the United States.
This misperception is based on a lack of knowledge of events surrounding the 1893 overthrow of the Kingdom and the current status of native Hawaiians in our Nation's political system.
Long neglected by the United States, native Hawaiians have literally fallen through the cracks when it comes to a comprehensive Federal policy towards native Americans.
Mr. President, native Hawaiians are, indeed, native Americans. While we are culturally Polynesian, we are descendants of the aboriginal people who occupied and exercised sovereignty in the area that now constitutes the State of Hawaii. Like the varying cultures among the hundreds of American Indian tribes or Alaska Natives, native Hawaiians likewise have a unique political and historical relationship with the United States.
My colleagues, we are in an era of dramatic political and social evolution throughout our world community. America righteously leads civilized coalitions in nation-building and military actions against tyrants around the globe. It is an incredible irony that native Hawaiians, having had the most politically developed nation of all indigenous peoples in the history of the United States itself, continue to be the only such population that has never been accorded our country's recognition of its loss of sovereignty as a people.
The deprivation of Hawaiian sovereignty, which began a century ago, has had devastating effects on the health, culture, and social conditions of native Hawaiians, with consequences that are evident throughout the islands today.
My resolution simply seeks to reconcile the growing alienation by native Hawaiians toward the United States, which stems from a century of this Nation's neglect of their plight.
If we are to continue to tout our Nation as a model to the world community on freedom, justice, and democracy, then it is incumbent on us as leaders to reflect on America's own history and recognize past wrongs committed against all of its native peoples.
The purpose of Senate Joint Resolution 19, Mr. President, is to educate my colleagues, as I mentioned earlier, and the American public on events surrounding the overthrow. It would also provide for reconciliation between the United States and the native Hawaiian people.
Earlier, I mentioned the efforts of the United Church of Christ in Hawaii to reconcile with native Hawaiians. Just this past week, Mr. President, the presiding bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church, Rev. Edmund Browning, condemned the injustices committed against native Hawaiians a century ago.
In remarks before the convention of the Episcopal Church in Hawaii, Reverend Browning stated:
What happened 100 years ago in the islands with the overthrow of a legitimate and sovereign government is a memory that challenges us powerfully today, the whole church, the whole country, not just the diocese or this State. Until we understand our common grounds and common interests to be more important than those things which make us different from one another, we cannot act from compassion.
I would like to commend Reverend Browning for his compassion and for the generous support of the U.S. Episcopal Church in the Native Hawaiian cause.
Mr. President, in concluding my remarks, I would like to close with a plea made by Queen Liliuokalani to the American people 100 years ago in which she lamented the plight of her people.
Oh, honest Americans, as Christians, hear me for my downtrodden people. Do not covet the little vineyard of Naboth's, so far from your shores, lest the instrument of Ahab fall upon you, if not on your day in that of your children.
The children to whom our fathers told of the living God *** are crying aloud to Him in their time of trouble; and He will keep His promise and will listen to the voices of His Hawaiian children lamenting for their homes.
I ask my colleagues, Mr. President, to finally acknowledge Queen Liliuokalani's plea for justice. Let us pass this resolution and commence the healing process between the Federal Government and the Native Hawaiian people.
I yield the floor.
I reserve the remainder of my time, Mr. President.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Who yields time?
The Senator from Washington is recognized.
Mr. GORTON. Mr. President, in the summer of 1989, this Senator, with a number of his colleagues, attended a conference on the future of Eastern Europe, which took place in Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia, in either the last or the next-to-the-last summer during which that then multi-ethnic community was at peace with itself.
The most striking impression that this Senator has of the message that we received from at least those Yugoslavs of Serbian dissent was that that summer marked the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kossovo, a battle in which Turkish Moslems slaughtered the Serbian Christian army and ended the independence of Serbia for the better part of half a millennium. I remarked at the time that it seemed to me that that battle was more green and vivid in the minds of many Serbs than events which had taken place every bit as tragically during the course of their own lifetime.
A short 2 years later and continuing today, many of those Serbs are in the process of killing Bosnian Moslems in significant measure to revenge their loss at Kossovo in 1389.
That combination of ethnic politics and claims to particular pieces of land is literally lethal across stretches of Eastern Europe, throughout much of Africa, and in many nations in Asia.
It is an evil which we as Americans have largely avoided. And with all of the respect that I can possibly muster for my two friends and colleagues from Hawaii and for all of the evident goodwill in the world which they show, this resolution is a signpost pointing toward that dark and bitter road.
The operative language of this resolution -- not about the State's history which seems to this Senator to be largely accurate -- but the operative language of this resolution apologizes to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the people of the United States for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii more than a century ago, and expresses our commitment to acknowledge the ramifications of the overthrow of that kingdom in order to provide a proper foundation for reconciliation.
What those ramifications are is mentioned nowhere in the course of the resolution or in the modest committee report on that resolution.
But it is clear that the resolution accomplishes one goal. It divides the citizens of the State of Hawaii who are of course citizens of the United States into two distinct groups, Native Hawaiians and all other citizens.
I may say, Mr. President, that Native Hawaiians are defined as any individual who is the descendent of any person, any aboriginal people who prior to 1778 lived in or occupied what is now the State of Hawaii. That is to say in some cases people with 1/16th or 1/32d blood of Native Hawaiians.
It does so in what seems to this Senator, and I suspect it seems to both Senators from Hawaii, to be the single multiethnic community in the entire world in which a multitude of people from many ethnic backgrounds, perhaps a majority of them from mixed ethnic backgrounds, live together in peace and friendship.
In guidebooks about the State of Hawaii, and it is mentioned in our own history, that State is given as an example of how people from different backgrounds can live together happily and peacefully. Yet here we begin that process of division.
At the time of the commemoration of this coup, or this overthrow, last January the Governor of Hawaii caused the flag of the United States to be removed from the capitol for 5 days. I must hasten to add he was denounced by the two Senators from Hawaii for having done so. But it was symbolic of the divisive nature of this kind of proposal.
My distinguished friend, the junior Senator from Hawaii, made no mention in his opening speech of what these ramifications were or of how this reconciliation was to take place. Many members of the Native Hawaiian community in the State however have done exactly that. I will quote from stories from newspapers on the subject. The Los Angeles Times says:
A small minority advocates total independence, in effect the re-creation of the old kingdom, and an even smaller minority has gone on record for total independence coupled with expulsion of many non-natives from the State. A broad middle group wants a nation within a nation -- --
With a form of sovereignty perhaps, a legislative and an executive and a judicial set of bodies coupled with claims for somewhere between 200,000 and 1.4 million acres of public lands owned by the Federal Government and by the State of Hawaii, and I suspect some kind of monetary compensation at some point or another.
Mr. President, these demands for compensation differ profoundly from those offered to Japanese-Americans by this body in a bill of which this Senator believes that he was a sponsor not many years ago. Those reparations were given to individuals who were greatly wronged by their Government, who were deprived of their homes and of their livelihoods solely by reason of their race and ethnic origin, and who were alive to receive reparations granted to them by Members of this body and the other body almost all of whom were alive when that terrible injustice to individuals took place.
This coup took place more than 100 years ago. No one is alive who played any role in it. No one is alive, perhaps there are a couple of centenarians who may have been there when this took place. This is a different time and a different generation.
It goes without saying in this body, it seems to me, that every square inch of the United States of America was acquired in a manner which bears certain similarities to the acquisition by the United States of America of what is now the State of Hawaii.
Certainly this can be precedent for the Government of Mexico reclaiming Texas -- which was seized first in a war of independence and confirmed in a war against Mexico in which many died only about 50 or 60 years before the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Does this justify some kind of special acknowledgment to citizens of Mexico? The rest of this country was acquired either from its natives or by way of England, France, Spain, or Russia.
In fact, we are no different than any other society in the world today. I doubt that there is a square mile of the world which is occupied by exactly the same people who were the original human beings on the spot. But it is the genius of us as Americans, it seems to me, Mr. President, that this does not count in America. What counts is that we are all citizens, and that we are all equal.
In no realistic way did we apologize for the acts by people over whom we had no responsibility and with whom we shared no life whatsoever. As a consequence, it seems to me we must look toward the consequences not only of what we do here but the consequences of that coup. The consequences of that overthrow are the fact that Hawaii is the 49th State of the United States. The fact that it has more than 1 million inhabitants live together in peace and harmony in an extremely prosperous society, the fact that all except for aliens are citizens not only of the State of Hawaii but of the United States of America.
Are these adverse or unhappy consequences? Are these consequences or ramifications of that overthrow which we wish to undo? I know that the two Senators from Hawaii do not agree with the radicals who wish independence as a result, but the logical consequences of this resolution would be independence. That is the only way that the clock can ever truly be turned back.
This Senator intensely regrets the fact that we are in this process creating a division which does not exist. I probably can come up with no better description of both what Hawaii is like and what some thoughtful people think is an appropriate response than to quote a couple of paragraphs from a speech by a former president of the University of Hawaii, Harlan Cleveland. He says, after acknowledging the history that is included in this resolution, and I quote him:
But my judgment is also that diffusion of American democracy and enterprise with Hawaiian culture mixed now by immigration and intermarriage with Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, and other workways and mindsets has produced one of the worlds most intriguing experiments in the building of a multicultural society.
That is the actual real world consequence of something which took place more than a century ago. President Cleveland goes on to say that sovereignty which is what many of the native Hawaiian groups wished is unlikely to be the answer; that the way in which any individual problem should be dealt with is through education and through quite a different course of action than seems clearly implied from the proposal which we have before us here.
Mr. President, in concluding these remarks, I would like to remind my colleagues of a remarkable part of our early history and of our genius. On the Fourth of July in 1858, while he was in the midst of the campaign -- ultimately unsuccessful -- to be elected to the Senate of the United States, Abraham Lincoln spoke to a throng of his constituents about something which troubled those constituents even then: The distinction between Americans who could trace their descent to the generation which signed the Declaration of Independence and fought for our freedom, and those who were immigrants or the sons or daughters of immigrants.
This is what Abraham Lincoln said on that day, a century and a half ago:
We have, besides these who are descended by blood from our ancestors, those who are not descendants at all of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence or fought to establish it. But when they look through that old Declaration, they find: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal ..." and then they feel that that moral sentiment evidences their relation to those men, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration; and so they are.
That is Abraham Lincoln on the true American heritage, on the American heritage that all are created equal and that all deserve equal treatment -- not a divisive sentiment, but a uniting and inclusive one. That is the genius of the State of Hawaii, whether its inhabitants are native Hawaiians, Japanese, Chinese, or Caucasians from the mainland. And it is, regrettably, that equal heritage which, in the view of this Senator, this resolution significantly undercuts.
Mr. DANFORTH. Mr. President, will the Senator yield?
Mr. GORTON. Yes. I yield such time as the Senator wishes.
Mr. DANFORTH. Mr. President, I want to say to my friend, Senator Gorton, that he obviously has undertaken a thankless job here, but I think a very important one, in making the statement he just made on the floor of the Senate. I say this with all due respect to all Senators, especially the Senators from Hawaii, whom I admire very much.
The great challenge of this country has always been the challenge of attempting to hold together diverse people. The statement over the Presiding Officer's head, carved in the marble of this room: "E Pluribus Unum," from one, many. That is the motto and challenge of the United States of America, to keep us all together.
It is a challenge which is tested constantly. It is tested by bigots and by hateful people; by mean people; by people who like to lord over others and discriminate against other people. For most of our history, that has been the terrible challenge of America, from slavery on. How do we overcome that kind of mean divisiveness?
There is another kind of challenge, I think, to the test of living together, and that is that it is possible to divide not only by being mean, but by making ourselves victims. I think this is something of a national trend, of whatever group, to be treated terribly and to say: Well, we have been victims. And if we have not been victims ourselves, then somebody else has been a victim, some ancestor has been a victim, so please apologize.
So it is possible to keep others off balance and on guard, defensive at all times. Therefore, not only by meanness, but also by making ourselves a nation of victims, it is possible to emphasize what divides us and separates us, rather than what keeps us glued together.
For obvious reasons, I have not been one who has been constantly taking the floor of the Senate citing Scripture, but the words of Isaiah did come to mind as I listened to Senator Gorton. The prophet said:
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God; speak tenderly to Jerusalem and cry to her that her warfare is over, that her inequity is forgiven.
That, to me, is one of the messages that we should be proclaiming, those of us who are in public life -- that warfare and divisions are not things to be emphasized constantly; that the past is not something to be constantly relived with a view toward how to get other people to apologize.
There comes a time to put warfare behind us and divisiveness behind us and to dedicate ourselves to a common purpose, because we are all Americans, and because it is challenging enough to live together in this one country as one people, without constantly fighting the battles of the past.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Kerrey). Who yields time?
Mr. INOUYE. Mr. President, before proceeding with my remarks, I will respond to the statement of my distinguished colleague from Washington.
To suggest that this resolution is the first step toward declaring independence for the State of Hawaii is a painful distortion of the intent of the authors. To suggest that this resolution is intended to expel non-Hawaiians from the State of Hawaii is something that even the most severe critics of this resolution in Hawaii would not even consider.
Mr. President, this is a very simple resolution. It was authored by my friend from Hawaii because he loves America. It is because of our love for this Nation that this resolution was presented, to make it possible for all of us, even after 100 years, to cleanse one of our pages, to make it a bit brighter.
Mr. President, I realize that we are deluged with problems, and there are many pressing issues before us. Just to name a few: Bosnia, Haiti, Somalia, and a few moments ago, the President of the United States presented to Congress his health bill. And there is NAFTA, our economy, and jobs. So there may be some among us who would question the propriety of bringing this up at this time.
Why this measure? Is it that important? I wish to assure my colleagues that I believe it is important and most appropriate that we bring this matter before the body.
Mr. President, for the past few weeks, we have considered and debated long into the night the appropriateness of the deployment of our troops on foreign shores in Somalia and in Haiti.
While this was going on, the citizens of Hawaii were recalling another time in history when the United States sent troops to an island kingdom that was considered at that time to be far away and exotic.
Mr. President, a century ago, a company of uniformed U.S. Marines and two companies of U.S. sailors landed on the shores of the Kingdom of Hawaii at the behest of the Minister of the United States of America, Mr. Stevens, and by so doing, assisted a handful of American and European businessmen, the pillars of society, in an illegal overthrow of the kingdom, a kingdom which was then internationally recognized by treaty by the United States, Great Britain, France, and Germany with exchange of Ambassadors.
The overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani on January 17, 100 years ago, Mr. President, was not supported by the people of Hawaii. It was not supported by the elected members of the legislature of the Kingdom of Hawaii, and most certainly, it was not approved by the Queen.
It was an illegal act committed in violation of the constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii, and most importantly, it was an act which was supported without proper authorization by agents and representatives of this country.
But the Queen, fearing bloodshed of her native people, gave up her throne, not to the revolutionary Americans and Europeans, but to the Government of the United States, to the ship's captain. The Queen believed that once the facts were presented to the leader of the country, the United States would undo the unlawful acts, but history shows that she was not successful.
I think it will be well for all of us to look back 100 years ago -- and I am not saying this to be facetious -- but at that time we had no CNN, no television; we did not have the technology which would have enabled the Congress to know of and thus be able to debate the appropriateness of the actions taken by the Minister of the United States and Captain Wildes, the commanding officer of the USS Boston, who authorized the landing of marines and sailors upon the undefended shores of Hawaii.
We did not know, so the Congress could not debate whether Minister Stevens and Captain Wildes had exceeded the authority granted to them by the laws of the United States. We in the Congress could not debate whether the actions and the landing of U.S. troops was consistent with the foreign policy of our Nation. Nor could the Congress debate whether the actions of these unauthorized agents violated treaties between the United States and the Kingdom of Hawaii. And, obviously, we could not debate or demand an immediate withdrawal.
Our inability to act then and in the months and years that follows should not prevent our actions on a measure before us today. Some will suggest that it happened 100 years ago so why not forget about it?
I am chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, Mr. President, and if that is the attitude, we should do away with that committee. This committee has to act upon 800 treaties -- 800 treaties -- entered into by sovereign Indian nations and the sovereign Government of the United States. But, shamefully, 430 of these treaties were not even considered by this body. And of the 370 that we did consider and ratify, we violated provisions in every one of them.
Are we to forget that? That happened over 100 years ago. But it is the essence of the goodness of this country to remember that if we have done wrong we admit that, and if it calls for an apology we do so. That is all we are asking for.
So we stand here today in solemn observance and remembrance of that day in January 1893, yes, in hindsight, and extend an apology for the role of the agents of the United States in the illegal overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani, the constitutional sovereign of Hawaii.
We are here to recognize the results of the unfortunate events of that day. We all know that the history and actions of our great country have been less than honorable in dealings with native peoples of this Nation. But, as I have indicated, this fact should not prevent us from acting to recognize and rectify these wrongs. Obviously, we cannot change history. We are not here to change history. But we can acknowledge responsibility.
So I say to my colleagues the measure before us is important. It is appropriate. And it is significant as a first step in that process, as my colleague has so eloquently stated, to bring about some understanding and reconciliation.
Before I close, Mr. President, just a few footnotes in history, and this might give one a better picture of what happened. This so-called revolution that overthrew of our Queen was engineered by 12 men, leaders of the business community, owners of great sugar plantations and shipping companies. They called themselves the Committee of Safety. On that fateful day when the flag of the Kingdom of Hawaii was lowered over Iolani Palace and the American flag went up, it is reported that one of the Committee of Safety remarked to the others: "This is a glorious day. We need something to remind us of this auspicious moment." So someone is reported to have suggested, "Why don't we cut that flag in 12 parts; each of us take a piece, a piece of the action?"
And that is what happened. It is said that one piece remains today, the last remaining piece of the flag of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
I think that would give you an idea of the attitude of the Americans who were residing there at that time. It is not an attitude that we would condone today. We would not raise that attitude with accolades. Why not recognize it for what it was?
The United States is an extraordinary country. Though we may express hatred and animosity, we have certain principles that we have always abided with.
For example, I took part in the great war, World War II, and we had to seek the permission of the Pope to destroy the Monte Cassino Abbey because that was used by the Germans as an observation point. We did not want to destroy that. It was against our principles. And we promised the Pope once the war is over we will replace it.
In the same attitude of principle, we issued orders, orders that were devastating to our men -- and many lost their lives as a result of this military order -- not to bomb the palace of the Emperor of Japan, our most hated enemy, but not to bomb the palace, not to bomb the city of Kyoto, because that is the royal city, that is the sacred city.
But in this case, the first thing they did was take over the palace, the only palace in the United States at this time, ran the legislature in the throne room, imprisoned the queen in her bedroom, desecrated the palace, something that we Americans have never done before or since.
I think these footnotes might give you a different flavor of what happened on January 17.
And so I say to my colleagues, I think the time has come. One hundred years has been long enough. All we have to say is that we are sorry.
Mr. GORTON addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington is recognized.
Mr. GORTON. Mr. President, I intend in just a moment to yield to the Senator from Colorado, but I wish to make only one or two preliminary remarks.
Of course, this Senator does not believe that either of his colleagues from Hawaii wish the consequences of this resolution to be the restoration of the independence of Hawaii itself. What this Senator said was that there are some splinter groups in Hawaii who believe that is the only appropriate response to the overthrow and they will clearly use this resolution as the basis on which to make such a demand.
This Senator finds that he has been unable to disagree in most respects with anything that either of the Senators from Hawaii has said about the history which led up to the overthrow and the annexation of Hawaii by the United States.
But this Senator needs to point out that neither Senator from Hawaii has said one word about what the ramifications of the overthrow and the proper foundation for reconciliation is to be. In fact, the senior Senator from Hawaii said it is not to be independent. This Senator believes that, on the record of this debate should be spread the intentions of the two Senators from Hawaii in that respect.
Is this a purely self-executing resolution which has no meaning other than its own passage, or is this, in their minds, some form of claim, some form of different or distinct treatment for those who can trace a single ancestor back to 1778 in Hawaii which is now to be provided for this group of citizens, separating them from other citizens of the State of Hawaii or the United States?
At the very least, before we vote on their resolution, we ought to understand what the two Senators from Hawaii mean those ramifications and consequences to be.
With that, how much time does the Senator from Washington have remaining?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington has 8 minutes and 3 seconds.
Mr. GORTON. I yield 4 minutes to the Senator from Colorado.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Colorado is recognized.
Mr. BROWN. Thank you, Mr. President.
First, Mr. President, let me recognize the very thoughtful and very sincere and very moving words of the senior Senator from Hawaii. His comments and his observations, I think, hold great meaning for all Americans, regardless of their background or heritage.
As I read through the resolution, I have concerns -- concerns because I fear it is not clear as to what it implies or means.
Let me be specific. The apology states:
Apologizes to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the people of the United States for the overthrow of the Kingdom.
Included in the whereases that precede this is a recitation that at that time it involved communal land tenure.
That, as my friend knows, has been replaced by a concept of private property. Surely, we do not mean to suggest that we apologize for bringing the concept of private property to replace the concept of a communal land tenure system.
The whereases also note a unified monarchical government.
As everyone knows, that has been replaced by a representative democracy. Surely, we do not intend -- and I do not mean to imply that anyone intends that we apologize for having replaced a monarchy or a form of monarchy with a representative democracy.
My guess is, Hawaiians take great pride in our representative democracy, just as every American does.
I notice in the first section, it ends with these words, referring to the "event which resulted in suppression of the inherent sovereignty of the Native Hawaiian people."
Mr. President, it seems to me, we ought to be clear that we are not here apologizing for democracy or the concept of private property.
We do indeed and should apologize for a violent, forceful overthrow of the government.
I would like an opportunity to clarify this, which, I think, would meet the intentions of all parties. I ask unanimous consent that we be allowed an additional half hour of debate wherein amendments may be offered to clarify the intent of this resolution.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
Mr. INOUYE. Mr. President, reluctantly, on behalf of the leader, I must object, because a schedule has been established for the rest of the afternoon.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
Mr. BROWN. Let me simply conclude my remarks with this concern.
I, for one, am not going to be able to vote for this resolution, not because I do not sympathize with the very eloquent remarks of the distinguished senior Senator from Hawaii, but because I believe this is not clearly worded and perhaps may imply some things that this Chamber and the Members would not agree with. Specifically to lament or to imply a lamentation of moving private property away from communal property, I think, would be a mistake; specifically to lament or imply that we lament moving away from a monarchy to a representative democracy, I think, would not represent the feelings or intentions of the Members of this Chamber.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Who yields time?
Mr. INOUYE addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Hawaii has 2 minutes and 20 seconds and the Senator from Washington has 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
Mr. INOUYE. Mr. President, may I once again say that the suggestion that this resolution was the first step toward declaring independence or seceding from the United States is at best a very painful distortion of our intent.
The whereases were placed in the resolution for a very simple reason: So that those who are studying this resolution or those students of history in years to come can look back and say that is the way it was in Hawaii on January 17, 1893.
To suggest that we are attempting to restore the Kingdom, Mr. President, I find it most difficult to find words to even respond to that.
Mr. President, I indicated that we submitted this resolution because of our love for our country. It is that simple. Because we believe that our country is big enough and great enough to recognize wrong and admit it. It is simple.
And for those who may somehow question the patriotism of the people of Hawaii, it may be well to note that in World War II -- that great war -- there were more volunteers from Hawaii on a per capita basis than any other State in the Union. We sent more sons and daughters than any other State in the Union. Never did we complain, because we felt it was a matter of honor.
No, no, this is not seceding or independence. We fought for statehood long enough and we cherish it and we want to stay there. I can assure you, I do not wish to leave this place.
So, Mr. President, I hope that our assurance would suffice. After all, we are the authors of this resolution, and that is not our intention.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.
The Senator from Washington has 4 minutes and 28 seconds.
Mr. GORTON addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.
Mr. GORTON. Mr. President, I will suggest through the President to either Senator from Hawaii, that this Senator, as he has already said twice, has never had the remotest idea that independence was the meaning of this resolution on the part of the two sponsors. But this Senator will be happy to yield his own time to either Senator from Hawaii if they will tell us what their operative intention is. What are the appropriate consequences of passing this resolution? Are they any form of special status under which persons of Native Hawaiian descent will be given rights or privileges or reparations or land or money communally that are unavailable to other citizens of Hawaii?
Mr. INOUYE. If the Senator will yield?
Mr. GORTON. I will be delighted to do so.
Mr. INOUYE. As I tried to convince my colleagues, this is a simple resolution of apology, to recognize the facts as they were 100 years ago. As to the matter of the status of Native Hawaiians, as my colleague from Washington knows, from the time of statehood we have been in this debate. Are Native Hawaiians Native Americans? This resolution has nothing to do with that. This resolution does not touch upon the Hawaiian homelands. I can assure my colleague of that.
It is a simple apology.
Mr. GORTON. Mr. President, this Senator wants to sincerely thank the senior Senator from Hawaii for that answer and accepts it as such. This Senator believes the Senator from Hawaii has said this resolution is unrelated to -- it neither advances nor detracts from -- any kind of special treatment for Native Hawaiians.
In fact, if this Senator believed that this resolution could not be used in that fashion there would have been no such debate here. The Senator does not disagree with the history and would have been happy to restate it. This Senator feels, unfortunately, that the consequences of the portions of this resolution after the whereas clauses do in fact provide a basis -- perhaps even a legal basis -- for some kind of demand for special treatment or for the return of lands. It is for that reason, for that reason which this Senator believes to be very divisive within our society, that the Senator regretfully opposes the resolution, and at this point, Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
There is a sufficient second.
The yeas and nays were ordered.
Mr. GORTON. Mr. President, how much time remains?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator has one minute and 20 seconds.
Mr. GORTON. I yield the remainder of my time to the Senator from Colorado.
Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, I simply wanted to make it clear I certainly had not suggested that the resolution implies we wanted the monarchy back. I certainly hope it does not.
What I have said is the resolution is not clear. To apologize or to lament, and then spell out communal land and a monarchy government, in areas that I think can be implied as lamentation, does not represent the feelings of this Senate, does not represent, I believe, the feelings of any Member of the Senate.
What I am hoping is that we would have an opportunity to make that clear because I think the resolution, with the whereases, is not clear. The function, I think, of any legislator is to try to develop common grounds and develop clear language. It strikes me that we do agree as Members that a violent overthrow of that government in an unauthorized way is something we ought to apologize for.
Having that apology, though, linked with the resuscitation of a monarchal government and communal land tenure I think misrepresents what we believe and what we have to apologize for.
It is thus, why I wanted an opportunity to clarify the intent and I am sorry we were not afforded that opportunity.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. All time has expired.
The yeas and nays have been ordered.
The clerk will read the joint resolution for the third time.
The joint resolution (S.J. Res. 19) was ordered to be engrossed for a third reading and was read the third time.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on the passage of the joint resolution.
The clerk will call the roll.
The assistant legislative clerk called the roll.
Mr. FORD. I announce that the Senator from Georgia [Mr. Nunn] is necessarily absent.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber who desire to vote?
The result was announced -- yeas 65, nays 34, as follows:
Mr. INOUYE. Mr. President, I move to reconsider the vote.
Mr. FORD. I move to lay that motion on the table.
The motion to lay on the table was agreed to.
Congressional Record - House of Representatives, November 15, 1993
|The Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement:
Roles of and Impacts on Non-Hawaiians
By Anthony Castanha, August 1996