Francis Anthony Boyle
Professor of International Law
University of Illinois College of Law
"The legal cause for the restoration of the kingdom is air-tight"
The Nation of Hawaiʻi is the oldest Hawaiian independence organization. It is headed by Dennis Pu‘uhonua "Bumpy" Kanahele, who is the group's spokesperson and Head of State. Compared to other independence organizations which lean to the restoration of the monarchy, it advocates a republican government.
In 1989 the group occupied the area surrounding the Makapuʻu lighthouse on Oʻahu. In 1993 its members occupied Kaupo Beach, near Makapuʻu. Kanahele was a primary leader of the occupation, as well as the leader of the group overall. Dennis Pu‘uhonua Kanahele is a descendant of Kamehameha I, eleven generations removed, and is both the spokesperson for the organization and the "Head of State" of the Nation of Hawaiʻi. The group ceased its occupation in exchange for the return of ceded lands in the adjacent community of Waimānalo, where they established a village, cultural center, and puʻuhonua (place of refuge).
Dennis "Bumpy" Pu‘uhonua Kanahele spearheaded the founding of Pu‘uhonua o Waimānalo, a Hawaiian cultural village and traditional lo‘i kalo (taro paddy) agricultural restoration project in Waimānalo, Hawai‘i. Pu‘uhonua is a Hawaiian word meaning "sanctuary" or "place of refuge".
The Nation of Hawai‘i group, which administers the village, regards itself as a sovereign government under international law, acting as a successor state to the independent Kingdom of Hawai‘i and therefore not subject to United States rule. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Kanahele became known for militant activism on behalf of Hawaiian sovereignty, publicly resisting U.S. federal and state laws.
In 1993—the 100th anniversary of the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i, and the year in which the U.S. passed a joint resolution of Congress apologizing for that action—Kanahele led 300 people in an occupation of Makapu‘u beach.
After 15 months, Gov. John D. Waihee III proposed a deal: If Kanahele and his group would leave Makapuʻu beach peacefully, the state would give them a 45-acre (18 hectare) parcel above Waimānalo in the foothills of the Ko‘olau Mountains. Kanahele's group signed a renewable 55-year lease at a cost of $3,000 a year, and in June 1994, Pu‘uhonua o Waimānalo came into being.
In 1998, Kanahele was sentenced to four months in prison for interfering with U.S. marshals seeking to arrest a federal Hawaiian fugitive.
In 2005, Kanehele has spoken out against the proposed Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (S.147, known as the Akaka Bill) currently pending in the Senate, and has called upon Native Hawaiians to establish their own bank.
In 2006, Kanehele solicited over 53,000 votes in his bid for a seat in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. As of 2007, Kanehele had transitioned to a less confrontational activism.
Pu'uhonua o Waimānalo had begun to live up to its name as a place of refuge for over 80 residents, regulated in part by an elected council of women boasting its first generation of children raised fluent in Hawaiian having entered the collegiate level.
Kanahele features in the 2015 film Aloha.
NATION OF HAWAI'I
“He was always committed to not just the idea of Hawaiian nationalism, he was committed to actually governing.”
John D. Waihee III
Former Governor of Hawaii
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
- apologizes to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the people of the United States for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii on January 17, 1893... and the deprivation of the rights of Native Hawaiians to self-determination;
- expresses its commitment to acknowledge the ramifications of the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, in order to provide a proper foundation for reconciliation between the United States and the Native Hawaiian people; and
- urges the President of the United States to also acknowledge the ramifications of the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii and to support reconciliation efforts between the United States and the Native Hawaiian people.
"...the logical consequences of this resolution would be independence."
- Senator Slade Gorton (R-Washington), US Senate Congressional Record
Wednesday, October 27, 1993, 103rd Cong. 1st Sess.