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By Louis Hao

Monday, June 12, 2000

Treaties attest to
Hawaii’s status as a nation

THE February Supreme Court ruling declaring Office of Hawaiian Affairs voting practices unconstitutional, is clouded with other adverse claims. One is that OHA beneficiaries do not have a "treaty" with the United States, nor do they enjoy recognition.

But five treaties or convention do exist between the United States and Hawaii, although they are conveniently overlooked.

Bullet The first convention was concluded Dec. 23, 1826 and in its Article I affirmed that peace and friendship subsisted between the United States and their majesties the Queen Regent and Kauikeaouli, king of the Sandwich Islands, and their subjects and people, are hereby confirmed and declared to be perpetual.

Bullet A second treaty was ratified on Aug. 19, 1850 and confirmed in its Article I, that there shall be perpetual peace and amity between the United States and the king of the Hawaiian Islands, his heirs and his successors.

Bullet In a third case, a postal convention was concluded between the United States of America and the Hawaiian Kingdom and was approved by causing the seal of the United States to be affixed thereto by President U.S. Grant on May 5, 1870.

Bullet A fourth treaty was the Treaty of Reciprocity signed by King Kalakaua on June 17, 1876. Its Article I said, "For and in consideration of rights and privileges granted by his majesty the King of the Hawaiian Islands in the next succeeding article of this convention, and as an equivalent therefor, the United States of America hereby agree to admit all the articles named in the following schedule, the same being the growth and manufacture or produce of the Hawaiian Islands, into all the ports of the United States, free of duty."

Bullet A fifth instrument or supplementary convention was enacted by means of a proclamation, to note that both parties had ratified an extension of the 1876 Treaty of Reciprocity on Nov. 9, 1887.

This review explains that Hawaii and its people do have treaties with the United States over many years and indicate they are perpetual, particularly the postal convention of 1870, which is still operational until the present.

These treaties respect Hawaii as an equal among nations and its dominion and domain or jurisdiction over the lands and waters of Hawaii.

Also these treaties or conventions can be viewed from the perspective of the 1993 Public Law (P.L. 103-150) or the Apology Bill and its intent to mean we do have necessary treaties, not as a dependent sovereign nation but rather an equal with the United States and expect that recognition. Further, we do not feel the 15th Amendment should apply in the Rice vs. Cayetano case. Hawaii's treaties have been called perpetual and can be recognized as such.

It is conceivable that the president can call for recognition of Hawaii's treaties as a beginning to address the Rice case and its threat to OHA practices.

For a first time the high court has applied a "reverse discrimination" approach in the Rice case favoring the colonizers of Hawaii.

And there now may be a need for a sixth treaty to permit the closure of the 1893 "act of war" landing of armed U.S. Marines in Honolulu and who still remain today without any settlement.

Louis Hao is the trustee representing
Maui in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

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