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Hale Pai
Pacific American-News Journal

Kepakemapa (September) 1996 Volume 2 Issue 9

 A HISTORIC VOTE: The Native Hawaiian Vote

by Lulani McKenzie, Executive Director, Hawaiian Sovereignty Elections Council

HONOLULU, HAWAI'I ---In the afternoon of January 17, 1893, conspirators calling themselves the Committee for Public Safety, mostly Americans, sneaked back to the back steps of this building, Ali'i O Lani Hale, the government building for the Hawaiian Nation, intentionally avoiding the general Hawaiian public. There, an American lawyer and recent resident of Hawai'i, proclaimed the abolition of the Hawaiian Monarchy, and declared that he and a handful of others were now the legitimate government of Hawai'i, the "provisional government", to exist for the explicit purpose of annexing Hawai'i to the United States.

The United States Minister and naval representatives had the day before invaded the sovereign Hawaiian nation and positioned themselves across the street from this building. The U.S. Minister thereupon extended diplomatic recognition to the Provisional Government, in violation of treaties between the United States of America and Hawai'i and of international law.

The protest of Hawai'i's Queen Lili'uokalani, and of the Hawaiian nation, went unheeded. That "provisional government" transformed itself into the Republic of Hawai'i and subsequently ceded Hawai'i into the willing hands of the United States of America.

One hundred years later, in January 1993, thousands of Hawai'i's people observed the centennial year of this overthrow. In that year, the Hawai'i State legislature passed Act 359 which formed the Hawaiian Sovereignty Advisory Commission seeking counsel from the Native Hawaiian people on a process to address this historical injustice and to begin the formation or reformation of government of their own choosing. The United States Congress, by joint resolution acknowledged the January 17 1893 overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai'i and offered an apology to Native Hawaiians. (Public Law 103-150)

The Hawaiian Sovereignty Advisory Commission went throughout these Hawaiian islands, seeking the advise and consensus of the Native Hawaiians on a process toward the formation of a governmental form adequate to begin addressing this historic injury of over a century. That commission concluded that the Native Hawaiian people had called for the election of delegates from throughout the islands to gather at a convention to propose a form of Hawaiian governance. To begin such a process, the advisory commission was granted autonomy from the State and changed to an elections council to confirm the will of the Native Hawaiians to elect delegates to a convention.

It is with honor that I now announce the results of the Native Hawaiian Vote to the question: "Shall the Hawaiian people elect delegates to propose a Native Hawaiian government?"

Approximately 33,000 ballots were returned to the post office by voters.

Of those 33,000 ballots returned, 30,423 were eligible to be counted.

Those returned ballots unable to be counted were due primarily to voters not signing the affirmation statement on the return envelope.

Of the 30,423 eligible to be counted:

26.72% of voters or 8,129 votes 'a'ole or no

73.28% of voters or 22,294 voted 'ae or yes

This is a victory for Hawaiians. 73.28% of those who voted want to move forward and elect delegates to a convention.

Today, 103 years, 7 months, and 24 days after the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, we are at the Dawn of a New Age. It is time for our people to stand together, join hands, and put our differences aside.

As we move toward the year 2000, Hawaiians have the opportunity to make significant changes. This is our time in history. The path to rebuilding a sovereign Hawaiian Nation is before us; the opportunity to uplift our people and improve all of their lives appears clearer.

The Hawaiian Sovereignty Elections Council has completed its primary mandate to hold a fair, free and democratic vote on this question. We will prepare a final report and recommendations to the State legislature's 1997 session, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and the Hawaiian people.

The current legislation under which the Hawaiian Sovereignty Elections Council exists has called for the Council's demise in December 1996. Individuals on the Council and members of the staff have created an independent, not for profit, non-governmental entity known as Ha Hawai'i. We anticipate that this organization will now assist in giving direction toward the raising of resources and the eventual election of delegates to a convention.

We humbly and proudly ask all Hawaiians, especially those who have not supported this process, to join with us on this journey of Hawaiian awakening.

Thank you for attending this afternoon's press conference.

Hawaiian Sovereignty Elections Council

P.O. Box 3290, Honolulu, HI 96801-3290

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Copyright 1996 Hale Pai Pacific American-News Journal
Last modified: February 28, 1998

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