Posted by: kuhiovogeler | February 17, 2010

Taking Stock

Yesterday, “Presidents’ Day”, in a solemn ceremony, 600 placards were placed at the base of the McKinley Statue, fronting McKinley High School. The McKinley Statue, dedicated by Sanford B. Dole on February 23, 1911, holds a false Treaty of Annexation. Each of the placards placed around base of the McKinley Statue had the words “No Treaty of Annexation,” facing outwards, and the name of one person who had signed the 1897 Anti-Annexation Petitions, facing the statue.

Six hundred names.

In the morning, as the Vice-Principal of McKinley High School saw the display being built around this monument, there was a moment when it appeared that security would be called. But this did not happen. Instead, people who drove-by or happened upon this display walked the rows of names looking for their ancestors who had signed the Anti-Annexation Petitions. Some, who later spoke of the event, began to tear-up, due to the artistic irony of the display: 600 placards explaining the truth for one day, encircling a statue that has been perpetuating a lie for ninety-nine years. Those who had signed the 1897 Anti-Annexation Petitions also seemed to walk among the rows of names yesterday.

With over 600 names, many submitted the night before the event, we could not fit them all on the plaques. In the future, more names will be added, as the display grows. Perhaps next year we will have all of the names from the Anti-Annexation Petitions of the Hui Aloha Aina, all 21,000 signatures, written on placards encircling the McKinley Statue, little headstones extending all the way to King Street.

When the event was over, the placards were piled into boxes. The sacredness, the magic of the moment, seemed to evaporate, as the McKinley Statue and the surrounding area returned to its usual status of as a tool of propaganda for high school students and others. When we took stock of the day, we realized that the next time such a display occurs, the placards should remain for longer, so that more people can experience the sacredness of the moment.

Earlier in the week, two emails similarly offered a unique moment of assessment. In one email a man had traced his ancestry to someone “born in Hawaii before that annexation date in 1898.” In the email he asked if he “would qualify as a Hawaiian subject?” He further clarified his email, by asking, “Which do you believe would be the date that would dictate who would be a Hawaiian subject? Prior to the January 1893 overthrow, or prior to 1898 annexation?”

My response explored the complexities of the question, but did not offer a firm answer. While the date of the first US occupation on 16 January 1893 seems to be the most accurate assessment for determining parentage (jus sanguinis), and thus citizenry today, more research is necessary to verify what precisely determines Hawaiian citizenry under international law. Willy Kauai’s dissertation on Hawaiian citizenship is needed, along with the work of many others, to answer these questions, to take stock of who counts, as we proceed forward.

The other email regarding assessment discussed the August demonstration where the 50th star was cut from the US flag and burned. The author of this email explained that, he and his wife participated in the event:

We freely allowed ourselves to be interviewed for TV. But we weren’t at all prepared for the flag cutting. I found it too graphic. I was actually pissed. Then when we kept turning up on TV saying we supported Hawaiian sovereignty and were there to show that non-Hawaiians supported the effort, there was no place to run and hide. We really got stung. I’ve had a number of negative comments, and am sure there are many who thought the same thing but kept their mouths shut.

The author of this email added that, when he saw Shelley Muneoka describe the events of the August demonstration on “The Hawaiian State of Mind” (Channel 53), he comprehended what had occurred in anew way:

When [Shelley] mentioned that the Hawaiian flag was cut into pieces and passed around during the annexation ceremony, I was glad to finally know that, and upset at the same time. If people organizing the program knew that at the time, they REALLY needed to make that the reason for cutting the flag. That would have done SO much to explain their actions. As it was, it was just a harsh, ugly act that the public was in no way prepared for, and that participants were also in no way prepared for.

This email assessing the shortcomings of last August also seemed to acknowledge the underlying importance of the event. The end of this email was conciliatory toward Shelley and the cutting of the US flag: “I certainly came to feel for the girl. A lovely, brave soul.”

Yesterday’s event was a good day. The display worked because those who participated, and those who had signed their names on the Anti-Annexation Petitions, were holding McKinley High School and the State of Hawai‘i accountable, if only for one day. The acknowledgement of accountability is what drew tears, as if people were realizing that “Finally, these names are demonstrating, to all who see them, what is wrong with this McKinley Statue, what is wrong with the State of Hawai‘i.” For some people, yesterday was the first that they had learned of this false Treaty of Annexation in the McKinley Statue’s bronze hand.

Yesterday there was a moment when we were informed that we all may be arrested. The school then granted us permission to continue with the display. The action yesterday worked well because the display was the message. We were all informed of the possible outcome. We all made a choice to participate. As the email regarding the August protest clarifies, informed consent is key to sustaining participation.

As we move forward, we need to continue to take stock of the actions and the propaganda of the State of Hawai‘i. We also need people actively taking stock of who counts as Hawaiian nationals. Perhaps some Hawaiians could participate in the US Census to learn the needed skills for registering our own citizenry. And finally, we need to take stock of our own progress, learning from our mistakes, moving forward with our eyes on the prize, looking toward the restored independence of our Hawaiian State.



  1. kuhio, mahalo for eloquent description of the event to honor our ancestors on american president’s day at the mckinley statue. while there were attempts to spin it as a mckinley statue thing, it actually was about us and our kupuna. they came first. our mahalo went out to them. secondarily we recognized the hewa in the statue. and we also encouraged the school vice president to invite his faculty to join us and learn something about our history, their outdated curriculum, and their kuleana to teach truth.

  2. Hi, Kuhio and Lynnette! Good action around the statue. Maybe it is time to reconsider the name of the school, replacing it with one of the heroes of 1897-98? I am pleased to report that on Feb. 11th I was able to present to a receptive and appreciative audience of 20 in Damariscotta, Maine, the fraudulent nature of the US claim to the nation of Hawai’i. I used quotes from the Dec. 18th 1898 Clevland speech to Congress and the 1993 Apology Bill, which would never have happened but for the huge gathering of 12,000 at Iolani Palace Jan 17th, 1993, and in which I was proud to participate. I also showed excerpts from ACT OF WAR and SCENES FROM THE CENTENNIAL videos by Na Maka o Ka Aina. These well conveyed the mood of the day more than mere words could have done. End the Empire! Jon Olsen

  3. […] Kūpuna Reveals the Annexation Lie Update 2: Kuhio has some good reflections on the event, comparing it to another event in August, with observations on what makes a successful action, and […]

  4. I will gladly pledge my allegiance to the restored Kingdom of Hawai’i and am grateful for the tireless work by those on the frontlines of protest and education to bringing freedom and independence to us all. Mahalo.

  5. 1890 census show that 50.1% of the residents were subjects of the Kingdom of which 15.6% were not kanaka maoli; while the rest were foreigners either under labor contract or European/American businessmen and missionaries, workers, and vagrants who jumped ship and visitors. The Kingdom has naturalization laws by which one could become a bona fide citizen.

    McKinley High School was formerly Honolulu High School before the name change; maybe it could be renamed with the original.

    The action at “McKinley” High School was inspirational for many people and I feel it was successful in what was accomplished.


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