Thursday, November 20, 2008


SERVING TWO MASTERS: The blogs and press are all trying to make heads or tails of what many claim is a scam of native Hawaiians trying to reclaim lands stolen from them and then resold despite purportedly “irrevocable” Royal Patents granted in the mid-19th century.

Mahealani Ventura-Oliver of the Hawaiiloa Foundation has been giving seminars and presenting compelling evidence that people who can trace their genealogy to those to whom the patents were granted may be able to reclaim the lands and those that still own them do not have to pay taxes, mortgage payments and other debts.

You can read up on a lot of it in everything from two articles lacking exposition in Honolulu paper to Ian Lind’s three link-filled but inconclusive blog entries to the racist treatment in the right wing Hawaii Free Press.

But what none report is whether, upon examination, the chain of events from those days to this comprise a valid legal case.

We haven’t the time or inclination to determine if there is a valid claim but the real question is one that is at the rhetorical core whre the winding road of the erosion of Hawaiian rights and theft of Hawaiian lands is concerned:

Even if they are perfectly valid claims, do we really expect justice in an American court?

We all know of the successful attempt to show that annexation of Hawai`i never legally took place. That and other dubious transactions by the US government should, by all rights, result in the return of lands and rights to a sovereign native kanaka maoli body politic

And we all know the results of almost 25 years of these and other efforts backed by seemingly proper precedence - the American so called “justice” system refuses to acknowledge the cases much less rule favorably on them..

Maybe in the 80’s if you were kanaka maoli it might have been a good gamble to put your life and possessions at risk in an attempt seek justice from American courts. But even then it seemed like a long shot to those who saw the way the government treated the valid claims of the native communities on the mainland.

The genocide of native Americans is well documented and continues today. Though treaties were signed and land rights designated, the supra-judicial theft of both lands and rights- many times validating actions taken at the same point of a gun that stole the Hawaiian kingdom- has prevailed in the realms of American jurisprudence.

Just this week a program on PBS’ “Independent Lens” series detailed the plight of the residents of the Swinomish Reservation in northwest Washington State. Despite the fact that they own a portion of land called March Point the fact that an oil refinery sits there – a plant that has polluted and killed-off their traditional fishing grounds and so their subsistance lifestyles- has made reclaiming the land impossible.

It’s an all too familiar and common story- though they have a apparently legitimate claim to the land, no court will apparently ever rule in their favor

What is obvious is that even if Ventura-Oliver’s claims are valid it takes a bit of schizophrenia on the part of kanaka to think that the very American system that is denying them the actualization of their inherent sovereignty is a good place to seek redress of their grievances.

Those who own property, have mortgages, credit card debt and owe taxes have by their actions already bought into the American government’s occupation of the islands. They have helped give legitimacy to the illegal occupation by allowing the greed and individualism of westerners to take hold over their own lives.

In doing so they make apparent that on some level they believe in the corrupt American system so it would make sense that they would naively go to American courts to enforce the law.

But at the same time they’ve got to know that they are asking for the recognition of their sovereign rights flies in the face of the corporate control of the American government and it’s courts.

Whether this woman and her aides are actually stealing from gullible people is something that requires we examine her motives just as with the “Perfect Title” case in the ‘90’s and early ‘00’s. And that’s something we’ll leave for others closer to the situation to determine

But participation in both requires a duality in thought on the part of the alleged victims- the belief that the very entity they believe stole what is rightfully theirs is the right entity to petition to voluntarily restore those rights.

Next time it might be wise to ask the Swinomish people how that’s going for them.

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