Other Views

By Ikaika Hussey

Saturday, August 21, 1999

These islands
are ‘main land’

SOVEREIGNTY is seen by many as a minority interest, a subject of foreboding, a moot point. However, sovereignty affects us all, and embodies many of the values that we hold dear. Sovereignty is a true alternative to our current system, which is deeply flawed.

Young minds are vacating Hawaii to find economic success elsewhere. Unneeded freeways have been built in opposition to the non-violent protests of kanaka maoli. An entire island has been devoted to target practice.

Development runs rampant, our economy is hopelessly tied to sinking anchors overseas, and the current leadership, well, it doesn't lead.

Meanwhile indigenous rights are being slaughtered, land is being stolen and used poorly, small businesses are failing at the hand of K-marts and Costcos, tourism is controlled by despots and people gasp for reprieve.

That reprieve exists. And it is, in the true definition of the word, a revolution. It swings us back to our own "local" and kanaka maoli values.

The powerful elite seek to devalue Hawaii. Glossy brochures show us off as a vacation home that calls out, somehow, for fulfillment in the form of businessmen and sunscreen-dripping families.

The language of the state government and the mainstream media depict us as "lacking" many things -- the sophistication of the west, the trendiness of Starbucks, the expertise of American universities.

We are told that there is a mainland, in relation to which we are a disposable satellite. Our own cultures and languages -- first Hawaiian and then pidgin -- are treated as second class to the mighty American English tongue.

And our beautiful, sacred environment is abused by people who come to Hawaii and never pretend to care about us or our home.

Instead of encouraging self-producing "mainland" businesses to roost here for a few seasons and leave with our wealth, we should be exerting our energy on improving the lives of our own people.

Government, whether sovereign Hawaiian or American, should fund native initiatives, helping local businesses and encouraging alternatives to this destructive global economy.

We must take care of ourselves. Only then, when we are strong within ourselves, should we entertain the notion of finding our salvation in outsiders. We need to malama our own ohana first.

From a sovereign point of view, true independence for a people means independence throughout all layers of society. Communities must control their resources in a sustaining way.

FAMILIES need to be strong and filled with aloha. Individuals need to be intelligent, well educated, resilient and resourceful.

As we see in the communities that live in a truly sovereign manner -- Pu'uohona O Waimanalo, the ohana of Hakipuu and the Pai ohana -- sovereignty is not just about politics and the overthrow of 1893. It is about taking control of your destiny, and living for yourself and your family community.

A better future for Hawaii begins when we start to think of this land as the main land and ourselves as the governors of this sacred place -- our island, our community, our family.

The kanaka maoli and the rest of the local community have the same values to uphold and the same forces to guard against, which are those who would take our unique Hawaii away through "concretization," "Baywatchization" and the diminution of our local cultures.

Many of the important milestones of the sovereignty movement were agreeable to the larger local community -- anti-development in Waiahole, Waikane and Kalama Valley; the end of the bombing of Kahoolawe.

Encoded within these values is a new, yet old, description of the requirements of being able to live here. These values that say that it is not OK anymore to get rich in America, move to Hawaii, buy a house at Leahi (Diamond Head) and have a vacation.

You have to be committed to this community and this land, and participate positively. No free rides here. This place isn't big enough for that.

There are many dimensions to this value switch. It includes community-based economic development, sustainable development, cross-cultural dialogue (rather than strict walls of silence between ethnic communities), ecological protection, social justice, human rights, equality of opportunity, and Hawaii-centered education. The change to an independent government for Hawaii as a whole is the political dimension of this change.

Ikaika Hussey is a delegate to
the Native Hawaiian Convention

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