Re-examine post-statehood identity


POSTED: Friday, August 21, 2009

Early in 1970 there was an announcement on a radio station that invited anyone concerned about “;justice for the Hawaiian people”; to a meeting off-campus near University of Hawaii-Manoa. A handful of us showed up.

This was the beginning of a few native Hawaiians, locals and supporters questioning the direction statehood had taken these Hawaiian islands since the overthrow, imprisonment of our Queen Liliuokalani and the theft of our Hawaiian nation.

The Kalama Valley struggle was a wake-up call and encouraged a renaissance and appreciation of our culture after generations of being made to feel ashamed to be Hawaiian in our own homeland of more than 1,500 years.

Attendance at Merrie Monarch Festivals and canoe races statewide flourished as Hawaii's people of all ethnicities began to identify with, and more fully appreciate, Hawaiian cultural pursuits. The Kalama Valley struggle also questioned how much development in these islands is too much, and who are we building for? In Kalama Valley, farmers and a rural lifestyle were being destroyed for a subdivision that many local people, especially Hawaiians, could not afford.

That was in 1970. Yet we still haven't learned. Today the Ho'opili development by D.R. Horton-Schuler is proposing thousands of homes to be built on the Ewa Plain—rich agricultural food-producing land—14 percent of the remaining prime agricultural land left on Oahu.

It is suicide for our islands not to be agriculturall self-sufficient.

The islands have only so much “;carrying capacity”;—like a cup holds only so much water. Our Hawaiian value system of aloha aina, living in tune and in balance with the land for the sake of the present and future generations, is that same sustainability issue that there is much talk about these days. We kanaka maoli and other indigenous peoples have been practicing this forever. Overpopulation and overdevelopment will “;kill the goose that lays the golden egg”; (tourism), not to mention destroy our beautiful island home that many malihini (newcomers) have been lured by. These islands are the endangered species capital of the world.

Unfortunately, it also appears as though more and more a caste system of have and have-nots is evolving in Hawaii. Did you know there are more millionaires per capita residing here than in any other states in the Union? We pay the highest electricity rates in the country on three of our islands. Every time we fill up on gasoline (highest prices in the nation) we cringe. In spite of the economic downturn housing prices are still horrendous.

Let us be honest. The free enterprise system in these Islands has gone amok, especially since statehood. Hawaii's relationship with the Western world has had positive and negative consequences.

If adjustments are not made in relationship to the land, kanaka maoli justice, carrying capacity, and the growing disparity between the rich and the poor, the Aloha Spirit will be no more. That's not what we want. Wake up.

Moanike'ala Akaka of the Big Island served as a trustee for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs from 1984-1996.