Opinion 11/30/99

Hawaii deserves to rule its own destiny as a sovereign nation

ByJulie Sulunga

In 1893, the U.S. Marines landed on the island of Oahu in Hawaii armed with weapons ranging from machine guns to cannons and enough ammunition to destroy a small village. Their purpose doing so was to overthrow the Hawaiian monarchy and people and annex them to the United States as a territory.

This may sound like another story of capture, but it does not end with the takeover. It is a story that carries on to the present day. The reason is that six years ago in 1993 at the centennial reunion of their overthrown government, the Hawaiian people chose to fight back, to not stand by and be oppressed anymore. Their fight is to gain sovereignty from the United States, to become their own nation.

Hawaiian Sovereignty is best described by Hawaiian activist Poka Laenui. He describes it as being deep and wide like the Pacific Ocean. It is deep in the many generations and time it has been brewing. It is wide in the many people it covers living all the over the world.

It is something that has been part of my life for the last six years. Having many friends who chose to drop out of school to live on a beach to protest the injustice their ancestors had experienced and to fight for better land, I have been affected by it greatly. I have also been at the demonstrations holding signs for the Senate and Hawaiian government to pass more laws that would give Hawaiians more rights to their land and to their natural resources.

And Hawaiians have made leeway. In 1993, President Clinton drew up a Joint Resolution with the Senate to declare a public apology to the Hawaiians admitting to the illegal actions taken to gain the Hawaiian Kingdom (Senate Joint Resolution 19)

The Hawaiian people have a sad history that never seems to end. Today in their own home state, they are considered to be the lowest ethnic group as far as health and education are considered. They are landless and poor in a tropical paradise that has become a playground for the rich and a mecca for tourism. Thousands of people flock to Hawaii yearly to enjoy the tropical climates and the laid-back lifestyle. This, however, has taken its toll on the island, as the natural resources and water supplies are rapidly diminishing.

The Sovereignty movement is also a big deal for me. Growing up part Hawaiian in Hawaii, I always dreamed of the day when I could come to mainland and educate people about the "aloha spirit" and rich Polynesian culture I come from. I now have the desire to use the education that I have gained at Utah State to benefit the people and land from which I come from. The best way for me and many others to perpetuate our culture is to regain our own government so we can solely dictate everything that goes on.

One day I want to be able to walk my children down the beaches of a sovereign Hawaii. Maybe it is just a dream but, it is one worth fighting for.


--Julie Sulunga is a communication student and contributor to the Hard News Cafe


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