June 11 was Kamehameha Day.
Kamehameha’s greatest accomplishment 200 years ago was to unify all the Hawaiian islands under a single government. Â But now once again the Akaka bill in Congress threatens to rip us apart along racial lines.
The Kingdom founded by Kamehameha was multiracial in all aspects. Â John Young (Englishman) was so important to the founding of the Kingdom that his tomb is in Mauna Ala (the Royal Mausoleum). Â It is the only tomb built to resemble a heiau, and is guarded by a pair of pulo’ulo’u (sacred taboo sticks). Â His are the oldest bones in Mauna Ala. Â Yet the Akaka bill would deny John Young membership in the Akaka tribe.
The first sentence of Hawaii’s first Constitution (1840) — the kokokahi sentence — was written on advice of American missionary William Richards. Â In modern English it says: “God has made of one blood all races of people to dwell upon this Earth in unity and blessedness.”
The Akaka bill would do exactly the opposite of the one-blood concept. Â It rips us apart for no reason other than race, establishes a binary opposition of “us vs. them,” divides Hawaiian children from non-Hawaiian parents, spawns jealousies between members of the Akaka tribe and their cousins who are excluded. Â This is not aloha.
The Kingdom of Hawaii was founded by people of different races working together on the battlefield and in the government. Â That cooperation continued throughout the Kingdom’s history. Â Every person born in the Kingdom, regardless of race, was thereby a subject of the Kingdom with all the same rights as ethnic Hawaiians. Â Many Asian and Caucasian immigrants became naturalized with full rights. Â From 1850 to 1893, sometimes 1/4 to 1/3 of the Legislature were Caucasians appointed by the King to the House of Nobles or elected to the House of Representatives (and later elected to the Nobles after a Constitutional change).
Supporters of the Akaka bill say we opponents are holding it against them that Hawaiians were so welcoming and inclusive. Â But no. Â The point is that non-natives were full partners in the Kingdom and cannot now be discarded. Â There never would have been a unified Hawaii without British weapons and expertise. Â No written language or Christianity without the missionaries. Â No prosperity without massive investment of capital and managerial skill by American businessmen, plus sweat equity from Asian laborers. Â In 1893 only 40% of Hawaii’s people had even one drop of native blood.
There has never been a unified government for all the Hawaiian islands that included only ethnic Hawaiians, either among the leaders or among the people. Â The Akaka bill purports to “reorganize” what never existed.
Ministers presiding over weddings say: “What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” This year let’s say: What Kamehameha hath joined together, let not Akaka rip asunder. Â ‘A’ohe hope e ho’i mai ai. Â Imua.
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