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Kanaka maoli, Native Hawaiians not the same

A writer (Letters, July 26) stated, "Native Hawaiians are similar to Native Americans . . . an indigenous or aboriginal group. They existed prior to introduction of the European culture to Hawaii."

An aboriginal people calling themselves kanaka maoli existed in Hawaii prior to European influence. These aboriginal people and non-native people vested their individual sovereignty in the Kingdom of Hawaii, becoming Hawaii nationals. Those kanaka maoli/Hawaii nationals could be referred to as Native Hawaiians.

The term Native Hawaiians didn't exist until the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1921, which defined Native Hawaiians as those people having 50 percent or more of the aboriginal blood of those residing in Hawaii before 1778.

The term Native Hawaiian is a legal fiction coined by the U.S. Congress for the purpose of creating a race-based group of people that are wards of the U.S. government. By implying that Native Hawaiians are the only people with rights to the Hawaii Kingdom Government and lands, Congress is pretending that Hawaii nationals, both native and non-native, never existed.

Unlike American Indians, Hawaii nationals had a de jure government internationally recognized by numerous nations. Those lands that weren't alienated by fee simple landownership (i.e., crown and government lands) were stolen by the provisional/republic/territory/federal/state governments.

The terms native Hawaiian and Native Hawaiian when spoken sound identical, but they mean vastly different things. Those of the aboriginal Hawaiian blood who don't desire to become wards of the federal government should properly identify themselves as kanaka maoli, not as a big-N Native Hawaiians.

Dan Taylor


POSTED: August 4, 2009 - Maui News

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