Thousands Of Hawaiians March For Sovereignty
HONOLULU (AP) _ About 10,000 native Hawaiians and their supporters marched to the former royal palace, denouncing the U.S. government for its part in the overthrow of their island queen a century ago.
Yet amid the calls Sunday for more Hawaiian sovereignty was disagreement about what exactly that meant.
Sentiments range from those seeking only an official apology from the United States to those calling for an independent Republic of Hawaii.
″They (Americans) are our enemies, they took our lands, they imprisoned our queen, they have banned our language, they forcibly made us a colony of the United States 3/8″ shouted Haunani Trask, a University of Hawaii professor and leader of Ka Lahui Hawaii.
Her group supports more autonomy for native Hawaiians within the current state and federal system.
Sunday’s march and other events climaxed five days of activities commemorating Queen Liliuokalani’s overthrow. It included Gov. John Waihee’s decision on Wednesday to remove the U.S. flag from state buildings in the capital district of Honolulu until today.
″I’m just proud. It’s just so exciting to see so many people,″ Waihee, Hawaii’s first governor of native ancestry, said after the march. ″It brings the issue before the people of this state and I think now we have an opportunity to do something about it.″
Marchers blew conch shells, chanted in Hawaiian and English and sang songs.
Many held hands and some wept as they approached the black-shrouded Iolani Palace, where 100 years ago the queen was deposed by a group of white business leaders and sugar planters bent on U.S. annexation of the Hawaiian islands.
The plotters were believed to have been supported by 162 American sailors from the USS Boston, which was tied up in Honolulu Harbor.
The big stake for Hawaiians today is some 1.75 million acres of crown and government lands that were ceded in trust to the Territory of Hawaii upon annexation by the United States in 1898.
Much of those lands were used by the territorial and federal government for decades without rent, thus cheating native Hawaiians of income, according to Hawaiian activists.
Speakers after the march also called for Hawaiians to begin learning more about their native culture, language and religion.
Leo Anderson Akana, who portrayed the queen in a re-enactment of the overthrow, told the crowd she hoped the Hawaiian children would remember Sunday as the day ″when the remnant of a Hawaiian nation was reborn in the hearts of its people.″