The Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Ka Wai Ola newspaper had the following article in its Kēkēmapa (December) 2014 edition.
The continuity of the Hawaiian Kingdom as an independent and sovereign state became the official position of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs during its 55th annual convention on Moku o Keawe (Hawai‘i Island) Oct. 26-Nov. 2.
Adopted on a vote of 126-92, Resolution 14-28 was one of nearly 50 resolutions adopted by the grassroots organization, whose foundation was laid in 1918 by Prince Jonah Kuhiō Kalaniana‘ole.
“These sort of acknowledgments, I think, really are good,” said Soulee Stroud, the association’s outgoing pelekikena (president), in a post convention interview.
The idea that the Hawaiian Kingdom continues to exist has been gaining followers throughout the Hawaiian community as modern scholarship and education shed more light on the illegal overthrow, so-called “annexation” of Hawai‘i via joint resolution of Congress, and a statehood ballot that, according to modern scholars of international law, failed to conform to the letter of international law.
Support for the resolution was immediately buoyed by a letter of congratulations from the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, for “taking the courageous step to publicly announce its position that the Kingdom of Hawai‘i continues to exist,” a position the Royal Order of Kamehameha I proclaimed in 1995.
The AHCC, an officially nonpartisan organization known historically for conservative leanings, has seen a shift in recent years with the adoption of a number of progressive resolutions, including a resolution supporting marriage equality in 2013.
Among the resolutions passed at this year’s convention, held at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, were:
- 14-18 – Strongly supporting the establishment of statewide, regulated medical marijuana dispensaries
- 14-19 – Strongly urging the state to fully implement and fund the Justice Reinvestment Initiative before planning for prison expansion
- 14-35 – Urging all Hawaiian civic club members, OHA and the larger Hawai‘i community “to honor and respect the strong political stance of our kupuna who signed their names” on the petition opposing annexation of Hawai‘i to the U.S. in 1897.
Among the most debated resolutions adopted was 14-34, urging creation of a task force, including civic club members, to be appointed by the governor and Legislature, to study the relocation of the Spirit of Lili‘uokalani statue of Queen Lili‘uokalani, from its location between ‘Iolani Palace and the state Capitol.
The idea of moving the statue – interchanging its location with the Eternal Flame memorial on Beretania Street, was debated at the state Legislature in February as Senate Bill 2505 as part of a plan to turn the walkway behind the Capitol into Memorial Mall. The bill also called for a working group to create a monument to former Hawaiian rulers to be placed with the statue. The majority of written testimony, including that of the AHCC, was strongly opposed and the bill was deferred. A companion House Bill did not advance.
In their biennial election of officers, delegates chose first vice president Annelle Amaral as their pelekikena.
Amaral, of the Waikīkī Hawaiian Civic Club, was elected by majority vote in a three-person race with Leimomi Khan, president of Kalihi- Pālama HCC and a past president of the AHCC, and Skippy Ioane, president of Hui Pū Laka HCC.
“Braddah Skippy” Ioane, whose nomination, like Khan’s, was made on the convention floor, energized the delegation with a populist speech calling for change delivered in pidgin.
“I tell you guys straight up. Us as a people, we no more respect,” said Ioane. “We gotta adjust da vehicle, because da Model T … cannot compete on da freeway. You know what I mean? You going get ticketed for impeding progress.”
Hailama Farden, of Kuini Pi‘olani HCC, was elected first vice president; Daniel Naho‘opi‘i, of Maunalua Hawaiian Civic Club, and president of AHCC’s O‘ahu Council, was elected second vice president; and Paul Richards, Hawaiian Civic Club of Waimānalo, was elected treasurer.
Meanwhile, the late H.K. Bruss Keppeler, a longtime member and past AHCC president, slack key master Rev. Dennis Kamakahi and master Hawaiian feather work artist Aunty Paulette Kahalepuna were among those lovingly remembered during a tearful Hali‘a Aloha ceremony as ‘ohana and fellow club members brought offerings of oli and lei that were draped upon an ‘ōhi‘a lehua tree.
Activities during the week included trips to sacred sites, like Mauna Kea, the piko of the firstborn island of Wäkea and Papa according to Hawaiian cosmology, and Ahu a ‘Umi Heiau, the shrine of the island’s 16th-century ruler ‘Umi a Liloa.
Stroud, whose membership spans more than two decades, says he’ll remain involved in the AHCC as immediate past president and anticipates being involved in the nation-building process, possibly as a delegate to a Hawaiian convention in 2015.
A longtime supporter of the civic clubs, OHA was a sponsor of AHCC’s 55th annual convention. In the days leading up to the November general election, the convention also served as the site of a debate of OHA trustee candidates. Hosted by AHCC in partnership with OHA, the debate was streamed live on oha.org.
Mary Alice Ka‘iulani Milham is a freelance kanaka writer. A former newspaper reporter and columnist from California’s Central Coast, she lives in Mākaha, O‘ahu.