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Wahi Pana Aloha ʻĀina: Storied Places of Resistance as Political Intervention

Keahialaka Waikaʻalulu Ioane
Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
Genealogy 2022, 6(1), 7;
Submission received: 28 June 2021 / Revised: 11 November 2021 / Accepted: 12 November 2021 / Published: 17 January 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Storying Indigenous (Life)Worlds)


Wahi pana aloha ʻāina, storied places of resistance, is a historical and political research device that perpetuates contemporary Hawaiian sovereignty history, and can serve as a political intervention between Kanaka (Hawaiian people) and the State of Hawaiʻi. Wahi pana aloha ʻāina are places where movements and resistance in the name of aloha ʻāina occur. Aloha ʻāina is a founding quintessential concept to a Hawaiian worldview and epistemology. The genealogy of aloha ʻāina traditions, equipped generations of Kanaka with environmental keenness through a deep love for and connection to the land. During the illegal overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi in the 1890s, aloha ʻāina became the political identity of Kanaka in the struggle for sovereignty of Hawaiʻi during the illegal encroachment by the United States. In the 1970’s during the Hawaiian renaissance (cultural re-awakening), leaders of the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana (the group who organized the first contemporary resistance by Kanaka against the U.S.) re-discovered and reclaimed aloha ʻāina to re-awaken the Hawaiian consciousness after decades of imposed American indoctrination. The Hawaiian renaissance led to a series of land movements that arose in opposition to America’s control of Hawaiian lands and became the basis for the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement, or, the current Hawaiian political movement for better self-determination and the return of Hawaiʻi’s sovereignty to Kanaka. This legacy of storied places of resistance has been effectively written over by colonial historiography and the State of Hawaii’s legacy of American expansionism. This has manifested into a legacy of prejudice in the State of Hawaiʻi judicial system that favors non-Kanaka entities, initiatives and agendas, while disapproving and discrediting Kanaka self-determination initiatives and sovereignty agendas. Due to this, there is no concern from the State of Hawaiʻi in remedying the political conflicts that arise between Kanaka and the State. I argue that the normalization of wahi pana aloha ʻāina, can assist Kanaka in overcoming the negative impact of the colonial footprint of the State of Hawaiʻi over Kanaka ancestral legacies and land histories, and be used to reclaim Kanaka land rights. In this paper, I lay out the research behind the theory of wahi pana aloha ʻāina, and how it functions as a research tool in the field of Kanaka land struggles, with a specific focus on historical colonial resistance. Second, I exemplify the use of wahi pana aloha ʻāina through telling the story of the wahi pana aloha ʻāina of my own moʻokūʻauhau (genealogy) in Keaukaha on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, and how my family and community maintain our moʻokūʻauhau and kuleana (rights/privilege/responsibility) through the practice of perpetuating wahi pana aloha ʻāina.

1. Introduction—Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu, a Globally Recognized Wahi Pana Aloha ʻĀina

On 14 July 2019, Kanaka (Hawaiian people) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 127) met at the base of Puʻuhuluhulu, a small hill across from Mauna Kea Access Road—the road that leads to Mauna Kea—the tallest mountain in Hawaiʻi, recognized by Kanaka as an ancestor and as highly sacred (Peralto 2014). Kanaka were there to take part in an, “ancestral ceremony to establish the site as a puʻuhonua (protected and safe place) (Beamer 2020, pp. 288–89) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 358). This would initiate the place as a Hawaiian occupation site, bestowing it with the name, Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu. Kanaka were preparing to occupy the land to prevent the construction of the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT). The TMT is an 18-story telescope, whose developers were able to by-pass state and national conservation laws to obtain permits of construction (Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu 2019). The following day, 15 July 2019, upon media reports that the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation (HDOT) had planned to shut down Mauna Kea Access Road, as a means to allow for the delivery of construction material, Kanaka chained themselves to a cattle guard that stretches across a section of the entry to Mauna Kea Access Road (Big Island Now 2019). The Kanaka who were chained were the last line of defense. Blocking the adjacent Route 200 Highway, locally known as Saddle Road, was a line of Kanaka kūpuna (elders) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 186) wrapped in warm gear and lined in chairs, surrounded by caregivers and allies, and creating a human blockade protecting those who were chained to the cattle guard.
These actions by Kanaka we’re driven by innate feelings of outrage and desperation, that manifested over a century of resistance from Kanaka, towards the State of Hawaiʻi and the United States of America (USA) in the generational battle for the return of Hawaiʻi’s sovereignty (Ioane 2021d). Through these actions, Kanaka were successful in gaining global recognition to halt construction (Beamer 2020) and the occupation quickly grew “upwards of 7000” by the first week (Ah Mook Sang 2020, p. 266). Leadership positions were filled by Hawaiian sovereignty, culture advocates, and community leaders. Volunteers came daily to give their kākoʻo (support) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 120) and kōkua (help) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 162) to the ʻohana (family) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 276) of kiaʻi (protectors) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 146) forming on the Mauna (the base of the mountain) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 242). Due to this massive support, Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu villagers or kiaʻi in the greater sense—fed, clothed, sheltered, and provided health care, and elementary-secondary education about Hawaiian ceremony, culture, history, and sovereignty, for both Kanaka and visitors from across the world daily, for free, for more than half a year (Ah Mook Sang 2020) (Beamer 2020). Kanaka had created a make-shift town at Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu that lasted for 8 months and ultimately prevented the construction of the TMT to date. By the end of its occupation, Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu would become one of the largest recognized social justice and environmental resistance globally (Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu 2019, accessed on 6 November 2021) (BBC News 2015, accessed on 6 November 2021). Keliʻi “Uncle Skippy” Ioane Jr., long-time Kanaka activist argues that the success of the Puʻuhuluhulu occupation to immediately halt construction is based both on its global recognition, as well as the genealogy of places of resistance within the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement, or the contemporary movement by Kanaka to regain their inherit sovereignty to Hawaiʻi. It is because of this genealogy which began during the Hawaiian Renaissance (Hawaiian culture re-awakening; 1970–1990), that initiating, organizing, and maintaining a successful occupation was second nature to Kanaka (Ioane 2019b). Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu is not a single event, but the pinnacle of a wave that had been slowly rising since the initiating of aloha ʻāina (traditions of loving the land) back into the Hawaiian consciousness by Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana (PKO), Kanaka’s first successful contemporary occupation (Osorio 2014) and place of resistance.
In my research, I describe places like Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu as wahi pana aloha ʻāina or storied places of resistance. Wahi pana aloha ʻāina in a general sense represents two epistemological concepts: the history of the illegal annexation of Hawaiʻi to the U.S., and Kanaka’s battle with generational colonialism throughout the 20th century. Therefore, wahi pana aloha ʻāina are the places of the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement.
Okazaki (1992) illustrates how Kanaka on the Big Island practiced Hawaiian culture and participated in Kanaka designed activism, as a means to combat continued American colonialism in Hawaiʻi during the 1990’s. McGregor (2007) compiled two decades of oral research and Hawaiian scholarship on Hawaiʻi’s most rural places, and how these places we’re able to combat 20th century colonialism to maintain Hawaiian culture, sometimes, well into the 21st century. Goodyear-Kaʻōpua et al. (2014) published the first ever comprehensive accounting of the modern Hawaiian sovereignty movement through the publication of 22 articles that describe various events and life-stories from the early 1970’s into 2010 that make up a significant portion of the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement.
Wahi pana aloha ʻāina builds off of the work of Okazaki (1992), McGregor (2007) and Goodyear-Kaʻōpua et al. (2014) in that it employs the use of wahi pana (place names/significant places) to account for both the traditions and politics of the Big Island Kanaka and the history of the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement in general, but specifically how it occurred across the Big Island. These wahi pana aloha ʻāina across Big Island were unofficially named the, “Big Island Resistance” by their kahu (caretakers’) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 1113). In contrast, however to Okazaki (1992), and McGregor (2007) Goodyear-Kaʻōpua et al. (2014) the research in the Big Island Resistance also uses Bagele’s (2012) life-story method of indigenous research (Bagele 2012) to account for the aloha ʻāina career of my father, Keliʻi “Uncle Skippy” Ioane Jr., and how his career was inspired by the Big Island Resistance.

2. Literature Review and Background

2.1. Wahi Pana, Aloha ʻĀina: What Are Storied Places of Resistance?

Wahi pana aloha ʻāina is not generally used in Hawaiian scholarship or in accounting for the political history of aloha ʻāina through the practice of place names. It is a term that has come to represent the Big Island Resistance, a series of place name stories that I use in framing the autobiography of my father’s career as a leader in the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement. My father’s name is Keliʻi “Skippy” Ioane Jr., or “Uncle Skippy”. Uncle Skippy has come known throughout the aloha ʻāina community and larger Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement for his participation in various land and social justice movements, including volunteering to be one of the first to be arrested at both Mauna Kea resistance in 2015 and 2019 (Ioane 2019a). Kauanui (2014) quotes André Perez who asserts that, “almost everyone knew Skippy and had his respect” (p. 320). Uncle Skippy also created a reputation in the movement as someone who does not allow the State nor the colonial narrative to infringe on his customary and civil rights to protect and live on Hawaiian land. With this same mentality, he settled King’s Landing Village in Keaukaha, Hilo, Hawaiʻi, and became the first Kanaka to be strategically successful in using Hawaiian occupation theory to settle Hawaiian Home Lands (Anthony 2020). During initial interviews with Uncle Skippy about the motivation for King’s Landing, the story of the Big Island Resistance became prevalent in his autobiography of his career as a Kanaka activist.
The Big Island Resistance is an unofficial self-named social-justice community made up of various puʻuhonua across the Big Island which stemmed directly from Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana, and focused on Kanaka land return efforts through Hawaiian occupation theory. As I continued to put together a proposal to conduct research on the Big Island Resistance, I began to see that the wahi pana (place names) of the Big Island Resistance retain a specific history of land movements pertaining to the contemporary Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement (post-1970). The motto which drove the Hawaiian Renaissance (1970–1990), the land movements inspired by it, and which later led to the current Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement, was the traditions of aloha ʻāina (loving the land). Therefore, I began to describe these places as wahi pana aloha ʻāina. Wahi pana aloha ʻāina in that sense, and for this research, became places of the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement and the places that retain aloha ʻāina history. While laying out my research I realize that, the Big Island Resistance would not only be the framework to gathering research on Uncle Skippy’s career, but would be used as well to study the phenomena of wahi pana aloha ʻāina. The places that reserve the history of Kanaka’s battle for our inherit rights to sovereignty over Hawaiʻi.

2.2. Literature Review: Studying Place and the Contemporary Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement

In I992, award-winning filmmaker Steven Okazaki produced Troubled Paradise, where he documented the life of Big Island kanaka communities in the early 1990’s. The production documents the resilience of the Big Island Kanaka in their ability to simultaneously perpetuate their traditions while combating a generation of colonialism from the past, and preventing further colonial destruction of their sacred places and traditional cultures by American urbanization. The film is divided into two parts. I: Love of the Land, and II: Pele’s Children. The first part presents the stories of Protect Kohanaiki ʻOhana, an ʻOhana (family/political/community organization) and the efforts by Kanaka of the Big Island’s western coast to prevent a pricy hotel development at Kohanaiki, a wahi pana (place name), traditionally used for cultural recreational and sustenance activities by Kanaka for generations (As told by O. Nauka in Okazaki (1992), 8:08–8:55. The production also represents images and stories of a general increase in interest in Hawaiian culture traditions throughout Hawaiʻi and the Big Island in the 1990’s.
The first section on love of the land, also presents the story of King’s Landing Village five years into its stance to resist the State’s version of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (to be describe in Section 4.1) to rehabilitate Kanaka through land acclamation. Section II: Pele’s Children, accounts for the story of the Pele Defense Fund and the global effort by Puna Kanaka and other Puna residents to save Wao Kele O Puna, the last low-lying rainforest in Hawaiʻi, and across the American continent, from geothermal development (Puhipau and Lander 1990). In this production, Okazaki centralizes the Hawaiian movement around culture and specifically the culture of Big Island Kanaka. For example, the story of Protect Kohanaiki ʻOhana is a moʻolelo (history) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 254) known very well to Kanaka on the Big Island’s West coast where Kohanaiki lies. In fact, the Big Island Resistance, recounts for one of the first known resistance of shoreline development in Hawaiʻi, at Kūkaʻilimoku point and village, which is on the Big Island’s west coast as well. Due to the fact that the Big Island is home to two of the world’s largest active volcanoes (Okazaki 1992), generations of lava flows have created a type of exotic topography of the Big Island geography that plays right into the idea of the worlds’ wealthy about places that are destined to be nothing more than, ‘playgrounds for the rich’ (Trask 1999). Therefore, shoreline and resort development and the actions needed to prevent them from desecrating sacred land are a part of West Big Island Kanaka culture of activism.
King’s Landing (which will be described in detail in Section 4.2) is on the opposite side of the Big Island as it runs exactly between the eastern coast of Hilo and the southern coast of Puna. The story of King’s Landing Village in Keaukaha, is a story specific to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) and their abuse of Hawaiian trust lands reserve for Kanaka rehabilitation in the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1921 (Hansen 1971; Halualani 2002; Bailey 2009; Waiʻalae 2010). Therefore, the resistance that the Keaukaha Kanaka find themselves in are centralized around issues and experiences with the Hawaiian Homes Commission. Similarly, another Big Island Resistance wahi pana aloha ʻāina, Hilo Airport, in Keaukaha (described in detail in Section 4.1) is centralized as well, around the abuse of Hawaiian Home trust lands by the State and DHHL. Wao Kele O Puna is a wahi pana aloha ʻāina of the Big Island Resistance as well, and was a movement that inspired my father so much that he asked ‘Anakē Pualani Kanakaʻole Kanahele (a 2019 Mauna Kea kupuna arrestee) his aunt and cultural advisor to the Wao Kele O Puna Resistance, to name me after the event. Naming children after significant historical events is one of the concepts of Kanaka oral traditions (Ioane 2021c). Similarly, when my daughter was born shortly after my father’s (Uncle Skippy) arrest for standing in protection of Mauna Kea in April of 2015, she was given a name to commemorate and mark that event in our genealogy.
In 2014, Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, Hussey and Wright published Nation Rising: Movements for Life, Land and Sovereignty which is the first comprehensive accounting of the movements that make up the contemporary Hawaiian sovereignty movement. Nation Rising is made up of a series of academic articles about some of the most significant resistances’ which lead to, and make up the current Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement. The book organizes the chapters by the categories of life, land, and sovereignty. The section on life pertains to moʻolelo (stories/histories) that represent various aspects of Hawaiian life like; the continued battle by Kanaka to both maintain Hawaiian lifestyles in contrast and opposition to the rise of western ideals of urbanization in Hawaiʻi (Kelly 2014; Lasky 2014; Conrow 2014), to the battle to re-instate ʻŌlelo (Hawaiian language) as an official language in Hawaiʻi (Oliveira 2014b) after its, “removal from schools in 1896 by the Republic of Hawaiʻi” (Beamer 2014, p. 15). The chapter on life in the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement also encompasses pioneering and revolutionary stories of the journey to re-instate Hawaiian focused education within the islands (State of Hawaiʻi) educational systems (McGregor and Aoudé 2014) to stories of various movements for the protection of sacred lands, and the ability of Kanaka to live a subsistence life on Hawaiian lands (Osorio 2014; Niheu 2014; McGregor and Aluli 2014; Sproat 2014; Hoʻokano 2014; Peralto 2014). The section on sovereignty details the history of the illegal overthrow as well as the various movements that begin to signify that Kanaka were beginning a movement towards retaining our sovereignty, and further the perpetuation of this movement in the 21st century (Vogeler 2014; Perry 2014; Blaisdell et al. 2014; Silva 2014; Kauanui 2014; Kanehe 2014). In her introductory synopsis of the book, one of its editors Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua notes that,
“A constellation of land struggles, peoples’ initiatives, and grassroots organizations gave rise to what has become known as the Hawaiian movement or the Hawaiian sovereignty movement. These Hawaiian movements for life, land, and sovereignty changed the face of contemporary Hawaiʻi. Through battles waged in courtrooms, on the streets, at the capitol building, in front of landowners’ and developers’ homes and offices on bombed out sacred lands, in classrooms and from tents on the beaches, Kanaka maoli pushed against the ongoing forces of U.S. occupation and settler colonialism that still works to eliminate or assimilate us. Such movements established recognition of and funding for Hawaiian language instructions in public schools. They got the largest military in the world to stop bombing and begin the cleanup of Kahoʻolawe Island. They preserved, even if sometimes temporarily, entire coastlines or sections of various islands from being turned into suburban and commercial hubs. Because of Hawaiian movements like those documented in this book, water in Hawaiʻi is protected as a public trust; Indigenous cultural practitioners can continue to access necessary natural resources and scared sites; white supremacy cannot go unchecked; and the unadjudicated claims of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s descendants to our national lands and sovereignty still remain intact” (p. 1). Goodyear-Kaʻōpua continues “this volume includes a range of issues, communities and individuals from across the archipelago. However, this book is not intended to be a comprehensive accounting of all the people, lands, and events that have composed the contemporary Hawaiian movement. There are many more stories to be told (p. 2).”
In 2007 Davianna McGregor a professor of Ethnic Studies at UH Mānoa published more than 2 decades of oral research on various places across Hawaiʻi that still maintain moʻolelo of the kuaʻāina (rural Kanaka/those who work the land) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 168). Specifically, she highlights the biographies of four wahi pana (place names) across Hawaiʻi that had a living kuaʻāina culture well into the later parts of the 20th century. These places are the island of Molokai, the rural town of Hana in eastern end of the island of Maui, the valley of Waipiʻo on the Big Island, as well as the rural town of Puna in Southeast Big Island. The ʻiʻini (desire) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 96) of McGregor to study the life of kuaʻāina came when she found herself stuck at a beach in Maui unable to take her college class across to Kahoʻolawe like she had planned, because she did not foresee an oncoming storm. Uncle Harry Mitchell, a kupa (native born) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 184) of Keʻanae-Wailuanui on Maui, known for his extensive knowledge about the land and Hawaiian customs, (Ioane 2021c) took them in, where he both sheltered and exposed them to the life of the kuaʻāina of rural east Maui. Through this experience, McGregor learned how place (the rural areas that kuaʻāina inhabit) not only allowed them to maintain Hawaiian culture and traditions, but allowed them to maintain a significant trait lost to most Kanaka in those times, the ability to maintain and perpetuate aloha ʻāina (traditions of loving the land so intimately you know every part of it) at their wahi pana (place names/sacred/genealogical places). In McGregor’s experience with kuaʻāina culture this was exemplified by her inability to understand the oncoming storm that prevented her class excursion to Kahoʻolawe, or as she asserts, “I was the typical single-minded urban Hawaiian academic, bent on getting where I wanted to go, but completely out of balance with the natural forces around me” (McGregor 2007 p. 1). Later, in the story, it is realized that, because of Uncle Harry’s ability to maintain aloha ʻāina through his connection to his wahi pana, he knew that the storm was about to hit, and had prepared for his kaiāulu (community) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 115) to host McGregor and her class.
Research on the Big Island Resistance combines and builds off of the theoretical concepts of Okazaki (1992), McGregor (2007) and Goodyear-Kaʻōpua et al. (2014). Whereas Okazaki highlights the culture that Big Island Kanaka are able to maintain through ongoing Western urbanization of the Big Island in the 1990’s, the Big Island Resistance recounts the history of the first attempts by Big Island Kanaka to practice sovereignty through land occupation. Whereas Okazaki’s filming was in present time, the Big Island Resistance is being retold 30–50 years later by remaining participants. The Big Island Resistance is more of a reflective piece, as opposed to “Troubled Paradise” where Big Island Kanaka discuss current issues to maintaining culture. The Big Island Resistance does however build off of “Troubled Paradise” in adding to the moʻolelo (story/history) of the Big Island Kanaka and our cultural, and political traits. The “Big Island Resistance” and “Nation Rising” are quite similar as well in that they both recount for the same genealogy. Kanaka’s genealogy of resistance against American domination of Hawaiian land, customs and culture. Whereas, “Nation Rising” encompass moʻolelo (stories) across the pae ʻāina (Hawaiian archipelago) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 298) the Big Island Resistance is history specific to Big Island Kanaka, and the ways we had to fight for our sovereignty at our wahi pana (place names/sacred places). “Nā Kuaʻāina” (McGregor 2007) unlike Okazaki (1992) and Goodyear-Kaʻōpua et al. (2014) specifically highlights the use of wahi pana in accounting for the moʻolelo of the kuaʻāina proving like, the Big Island Resistance, the significance of place to Hawaiian land movements and culture perpetuation.
The wahi pana in “Nā Kuaʻāina”, are places across Hawaiʻi (of which half are from the Big Island) that were minimally urbanized well into the 21st century. This highlights the stronger ability of rural places to maintain indigenous cultures for longer periods of time than urbanized places. The places of the Big Island Resistance also affected how and why Big Island Kanaka initiated land movements and resistance there. Furthermore, the story of the Big Island Resistance are specific to Uncle Skippy’s career and experience within the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement. Research on the Big Island Resistance employs the use of place names as well as, the life-story method of the indigenous interview process by Bagele (2012), to highlight an island-centric-epistemology to Kanaka resistance and Hawaiian sovereignty. The places my father highlights to account for the phenomena of the Big Island Resistance, represent significant examples of the generalized categories of Hawaiian land movements. Hawaiian land movements are categorized by the colonial-based institutions that are used to separate Kanaka from those lands. Within the moʻolelo (story/history) of the places of the Big Island Resistance, the basis for various land issues, that are experienced across the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement are revealed from; the misuse of trust lands by State trustees, the theft of family lands from the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, sold and used by the State, to the fight for Kanaka to prevent urbanized desecration of sacred and significant places.

2.3. Mele, Kūʻē Wahi Pana, and Aloha ʻĀina: Studying the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement through Resistive Music, Place Names and Traditions of Loving the Land

2.3.1. Mele Aloha ʻĀina

Ronald Williams Jr., in an article titled, “‘Ike Mōakaaka, Seeing a Path Forward: Historiography in Hawaiʻi,” highlights how, “historiography (the process of writing history) of Hawaiʻi based solely on English-language sources has led to the construction of a national narrative of Kanaka as ‘American-Hawaiian’ (Williams 2011). In highlighting the work of John Osorio (2006), Williams (2011) exemplifies how contemporary Kanaka are left in a sense of huikau (confusion) because the “national identity of Hawaiians as an almost fully literate, outspoken, and informed citizenry rightfully tied to their ʻāina (land) and its lāhui (nation) (p. 68)” was replaced by, “the production and proliferation of both a national and an international narrative, that would recast Native Hawaiians as a group incapable of self-rule” (p. 68). Williams Jr. furthers that the colonial narrative imposed on Kanaka’s national identity was supported by material that, “represent Native Hawaiians as a second-class citizen of an American territory” (p. 68). Williams Jr., then, calls for a need to focus more on resources that support the building of a Hawaiian national consciousness through rebuilding the fragmented pieces of our traditional narratives. Williams Jr.’s work reflects the need to combat western academic notions of what Kanaka are, and what the western built narrative and academy has taught us about ourselves, solely through their interpretations. For Kanaka, descending from an oral society, music has been a natural production and archival mental device for two millennia. This was a natural way that Kanaka combat the colonial narrative imposed on them by American indoctrination. Melodical documentation of aloha ʻāina are documented even prior to the overthrow, in oli (chants and prayers) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 285) about the consequences of not knowing the land intimately (Ioane 2020a) (Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation 2021) Later mele aloha ʻāina arose during the overthrow, and then again during the renaissance to account for the history and experience of Kanaka from the time of the overthrow (late 19th century) and into the Hawaiian renaissance (late 20th century). As western historiography erased our story to the world, Kanaka kept our true history imbedded in our mele (music/poems) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 245).

2.3.2. The Big Island Conspiracy: Unrepentant but Reflective

The Big Island Conspiracy is a Kanaka revolutionary music band founded by my father, Keliʻi “Uncle Skippy” Ioane Jr. The Big Island Conspiracy produced resistive music with a raw and street-like sense reflecting their perception of surviving under western colonial domination since 1893. My life concepts of the history of aloha ʻāina and the battle to reclaim Hawaiian identity and sovereignty from the grips of westernization, comes from growing up with my father’s lyrics. (See Shapiro 2004) for another in-depth analyzation of Big Island Conspiracy lyrics in the context of American colonialism and its intrusion on Hawaiian independence.
While Williams (2011), highlights the importance of Hawaiian literature and resources to rebuild a Hawaiian national consciousness more similar to our forebears, the work of the Big Island Resistance uses mele ea (songs about sovereignty) and mele kūʻē (resistive music) as a means to exemplify the important history that is sometimes imbedded in some of our local music culture. In order to exemplify this, I use excerpts of my father’s lyrics as a framework to summarize the genealogy of aloha ʻāina as it transitioned throughout Hawaiʻi’s sovereignty history. I do this as a means to exemplify what aloha ʻāina means in the context of wahi pana aloha ʻāina in comparison to the nuanced dynamics of aloha ʻāina and wahi pana history and traditions. I also use the framework of moʻokūʻauhau (genealogy/succession) and wahi pana (place name practices) to summarize the transitioning of aloha ʻāina from the time of the overthrow to today.

2.4. Wahi Pana: Kanaka Places That Are Intelligent and Retain Memory

McGregor (2007) in her research on the biographies of remaining kuaʻāina, (kanaka living rural lifestyles), amongst the onslaught of American expansionism at the turn of the 20th century, highlights that, “the land and nature, like members of the ʻohana or extended family, were loved” (p. 5). The place names they were given reflected their particular character and nature and contained traditional knowledge accumulated by Hawaiian ancestors in utilizing the natural resources of these areas, providing kuaʻāina with information they need to understand and adapt to the qualities and character of the land in which they live, such as soil conditions, local flora or fauna, and seasonal fluctuations” (p. 5). For Kanaka in a physical sense, wahi pana represents sacred places that hold the taboos and restrictions of the land understood through generations of Kanaka society. Secondly, wahi pana was reserved for places that held significant life resources, most times places of sacred gods and deities (manifestation of the earth’s properties) (Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation 2021) Thirdly, wahi pana represented significant places where historical events took place so that Kanaka could remember all the aspects of our moʻokūʻauhau (genealogy) (Kai Malino o Ehu 1912; Laweliilii Opio 1880).
As a means to contribute to the larger archive of Hawaiian intelligence history, Silva (2017) compiled the biographies of Joseph Poepoe, and Joseph Kanepuʻu, two advent 19th century Hawaiian language-newspaper publishers. In her analysis, Silva highlights the contemporary works of Andrade (2008), Oliveira (2014a), and Louis (2017) and exemplifies how Hawaiian geography and genealogy to the land is at the founding concept of Hawaiian intelligence. Silva (2017) quotes Andrade (2008) who notes, “like traveling in a time machine, a study of places and their names can be one of the best methods available for looking at our world through the eyes of the ancestors” (As quoted by Andrade in Silva (2017), p. 85). Oliveira (2014a) analyzes Kanaka geography through the various physiological frameworks that contribute to a full understanding of Hawaiian geography. Olivera terms this the different, ‘sense abilities’ in which, “Kanaka developed keen intellectual perceptions informed by our interactions with our environment and our kupuna” (ancestors) (As quoted by Oliveira (2014a) in Silva (2017), p. 86). Kanaka cartographer Renee Pualani Louis highlights the importance of place names through Hawaiian performance cartographies (Hawaiian performances; chant, poem, song, and dances that act like maps to Hawaiian land and history). Silva (2017) quotes Louis who asserts, “Hawaiian place names are more than just identification tags for the features and/or phenomena of the physical world. They are also powerful cognitive mechanisms that unfold the richness of the Hawaiian cultural landscape, revealing as much about Hawaiian perceptions of the metaphysical world [their beliefs about their gods., their interactions with nature, and their cultural practice] as they do about the places and times to which they refer” (As quoted by Louis in Silva (2017), p. 87).
Due to the significance wahi pana held in retaining the memory and knowledge of the land, over time, wahi pana, came to represent more than just places that remind Kanaka of their history and identity, but spiritually and mentally came to represent the heartbeat and essence of the land, as McGregor (2007) argues in quoting Kanahele (1991), “the concept of wahi pana merges importance of place with that of the spiritual” and that, “the earth’s spiritual essence was focused through the wahi pana” (as told by Kanahele (1991) in McGregor (2007), p. 6). Silva (2017) asserts this same notion as well by looking at wahi pana as representing a natural beat of the land, both melodically and physically through the word pana, which means beat, like a heartbeat, or the beat of a song (Pukui and Elbert (1986), p. 313). Louis (2017) describes, “wahi pana, over time became localized emblematic that revealed Kanaka connectivity with and knowledge about the world, and that, “whether descriptive or commemorative, wahi pana are situating devices that statistically anchor and locate narrated events, rendering the island scape intelligible” (as told by Basso (1996), pp. 40–47 in Louis (2004, p. 142). Emphasizing in a general sense how Kanaka saw the land as ʻohana (family) as a living being, intelligible and capable of retaining memory.
In contemporary times, wahi pana, or place names, globally have become a means for Indigenous to reclaim their histories and continue to strip through the imposed layers of colonial appropriation covering up sometimes millennial-old-knowledge about how to live in their familial places. Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua highlights the idea of wahi pana as colonial resistance by asserting that, ea (sovereignty) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 36) is, “based on the experiences of people on the land, on relationships forged through the process of remembering and caring for wahi pana, storied places” (as cited by Goodyear-Kaʻōpua (2016), p. 10 in de Silva and Hunter (2019), p. 4). Fujikane (2021) further highlights how actively remembering wahi pana allows us to continue to re-map abundance across Hawaiʻi after almost a century of American expansionism and capital endeavors over Kanaka land rights and history. Renuka De Silva furthers that, “these storied places are where ancestral knowledge is illuminated for the future preservation of ʻāina and the health and well-being of the Kanaka” (de Silva and Hunter 2019, p. 4).
When a place becomes revered by society as a wahi pana, its stories are then always remembered and passed down in time. We take our children to these places, we care for these places, we write songs, poems, and in these times, we do research on the lands our ancestors revered and considered significant. In this way, we continue to stay connected to our special places over time, and in return this manifest into perpetuating the life of the land and in return the land perpetuating us as a lāhui (race/people) (Ioane 2019b). Wahi pana aloha ʻāina in particular serves to remember Kanaka’s history to, and on the land, that is reflected in the contemporary and political genealogy of aloha ʻāina. Therefore, I employ the traditional concepts of wahi pana, but focus specifically on the political genealogy of aloha ʻāina that can be revealed and documented through the use of wahi pana (place name) practices.

2.5. Aloha ʻĀina: Traditionally Loving the Land as a Uniquely Kanaka Political Identity

Aloha ʻāina is a traditional founding concept to wahi pana, and to Kanaka’s worldview of ecological intimacy and awareness. According to Pukui and Elbert (1986), aloha ʻāina means to have love for the land, and to have love for one’s land meaning patriotism (p. 21). They also define it as, “a very old concept, to judge from the many sayings (perhaps thousands) illustrating deep love for the land (Pukui et al. 1974, pp. 68–69, As told in Pukui and Elbert 1986). For example, ka aina aloha, the loving land, is a poetic device commonly used in traditional mele (song/poems) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 244), oli (chants) and excerpts from nūpepa (Hawaiian language newspaper) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 273) referencing Kanaka’s affection for their home lands, emphasized at times by those away or soon to leave the homeland ( accessed on 6 November 2021). Kameʻeleihiwa (1992) describes aloha ʻāina as a modern concept that, “stems from the traditional model established in the time of Wākea” (p. 25). The genealogy of Wākea describes the familial relationship between Kanaka and ʻāina where the kuleana (responsibility) of Kanaka is to love and tend to ʻāina (elder sibling) and in return the ʻāina will take care of Kanaka (younger sibling) (Kameʻeleihiwa 1992). Silva (2017) points out that, “Aloha ʻāina is a complex concept that includes recognizing that we are an integral part of the ʻāina and the ʻāina is an integral part of us” (Silva 2017, p. 4). Like Kameʻeleihiwa (1992), Silva (2017) asserts that, “aloha ʻāina is a central ideology for our ancestors” (Silva 2017, p. 4), and points as well to Kanaka genealogy and customs that teach us the traditions of Wākea. For example, Silva notes that part of aloha ʻāina is a, “generated belief in our ancestors’ cosmogonies, which include moʻolelo, moʻokūʻauhau, (genealogies), mele koʻihonua (genealogical chants) (Silva 2017, p. 4). In these examples, Silva points to storytelling traditions (moʻolelo, moʻokūʻauhau, mele koʻihonua) that teach us the traditions of aloha ʻāina.
These traditions teach us how and why our ancestors practiced aloha ʻāina, and how it manifested throughout Kanaka generations as a means for Kanaka to maintain balance with ʻāina. McGregor (2007) in her research on places across the pae ʻāina (Hawaiian archipelago) that maintain kuaʻāina (rural) lifestyles (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 115) points to the work of Pukui (1961), the first contemporary study to use place names to document oral Hawaiian history across the pae ʻāina. In highlighting Pukui’s research on aloha ʻāina across the known wahi pana of Hawaiʻi in the 1960’s, McGregor (2007) points the moʻolelo of Sarah Wahinekaʻapuni Naoo, a kuaʻāina of Molokai whose moʻolelo exemplifies how the traditions of aloha ʻāina were maintained in Molokai and in the larger context of kuaʻāina culture
“Sarah Wahinekaʻapuni Naoo was native to Honouliwai. She exemplified the intimacy that Hawaiians maintained with the land. At Pukaula beach, Sarah knew where the different varieties of limu, such as līpaʻakai, limu kohu, līpoa, and manuwea, flourished their use, and how to clean and prepare them properly. She knew the types of fish, shellfish, and crabs that gathered in the different sections of the beach, their habits and niches, and when and how best to catch them”. And further that, “Sarah was also familiar with the life cycle of freshwater oʻopu which lived in the Honouliwai stream. According to Sarah, they ran in season during September. They came down from the upland when there was plenty of water, but when the water was white they wouldn’t come”.
Through this example we can see how aloha ʻāina, which stems from the traditions of Wākea, that teach Kanaka that ʻāina is our family, manifest into the characteristics of Kanaka to maintain an undoubtedly intimate relationship with ʻāina. This includes knowing the genealogies of ʻāina which then teach Kanaka about the geography of the land and how to behave, survive, and be in harmony with ʻāina. Silva (2017) highlights the work of Kikiloi (2010) that exemplifies how wahi pana (place names) perpetuate aloha ʻāina traditions.
“Hawaiian well-being is tied first and foremost to a strong sense of cultural identity that links people to their homeland. At the core of this profound connection is the deep and enduring sentiment of aloha ʻāina, or love for the land…The ʻāina sustains our identity, continuity, and well-being as a people…Place names are important cultural signatures etched onto Hawaiian landscapes and are embedded with traditional histories and stories that document how ancestors felt about a particular area, its features, or phenomena. They help to transform once-empty geographic spaces into cultural places enriched with meaning and significance…The concepts of aloha ʻāina is one of great antiquity that originates from the ancient traditions concerning the genealogy and formation of the Hawaiian Archipelago.
(As quoted by Kikiloi 2010 in Silva 2017, p. 4)
Silva further notes that, “aloha ʻāina is an important political concept” (Silva 2017, p. 4), and exemplifies how that manifest into Kanaka traditions of kuleana (rights/responsibility) to mālama ʻāina (care for the land). In contemporary times, this kuleana to mālama ʻāina has manifested into the various actions by Kanaka to protect their kuleana, mainly from continued colonial encroachment. As Silva argues,
“because we are not in charge of our own lands today, we are forced to struggle politically on many fronts: we must defend our ʻāina from further encroachment; try to win back ʻāina lost in the past; regain and protect our fresh and ocean waters; stop the desecration of places like Mauna a Wākea (Mauna Kea); and protect our ancestral remains. Working for the independence of Hawaiʻi from US control is one way this has been expressed in recent years” (pp. 4–5).
The research into wahi pana aloha ʻāina indicate these same traditions of aloha ʻāina emphasized by and Silva (2017) and Kikiloi (2010) by specifically looking at the contemporary places of resistance that retain these traditions of kuleana and mālama ʻāina.
In the reign of King Kalākaua and his sister Queen Liliʻuokalani, the last two reigning monarchs of Hawaiʻi, the narrative of aloha ʻāina metamorphs from the quintessential Hawaiian worldview connecting Kanaka to the land and our genealogies, to also represent Kanaka’s unique political identity. When Kanaka ancestors had to group together to save our sovereignty, they turned to our ancestral founding and politically labeled themselves as, “ka poʻe i aloha i ka ʻāina” (Silva 1998, p. 47), the people who love the land. This was in both contradiction to western ideals of life, and opposition to the American forces conspiring to overthrow the sovereign Hawaiian Kingdom.
McGregor (2007) and Silva (2017) both maintain, in their research, that aloha ʻāina and wahi pana are synonymous in maintaining an authentic and indigenous Kanaka worldview and lifestyle, especially in the context of its need to compete with western ideals of life in Hawaiʻi. In traditional epistemologies of wahi pana our foundational life-concept of aloha ʻāina helps us to remember where our wahi pana are, so that we can continue our kuleana to mālama ʻāina, (responsibility to environmentalism) specifically, to our most sacred and significant places. In my research, I employ wahi pana in a contemporary sense, as a means for my generation and the ones moving forward to remember Kanaka’s unique political identity and generational fight for sovereignty through our genealogy of protecting our connection to the land.
To fully understand what aloha ʻāina means in its entirety, a historical summation of its transition in meaning and use over the past century is necessary. A full analysis of this history could take up a dissertation and more. Therefore, for the purpose of this manuscript, I summarize the genealogy of aloha ʻāina and how it led to the grounds of Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu through 5 places of resistance that represent the generations of the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement from 1890–2014 (roughly). Secondly, I use a selection of Uncle Skippy’s lyrics that represent the history of each of these places of resistance and how I learned about them, and the history they retain through my upbringing around my father’s music. Each section begins with a lyrical verse as its premise, which is then followed by the history that supports the story explained in the verse. Each section on the transition of aloha ʻāina concludes with a philosophical description of the lyrical premise, as explained in an interview with Uncle Skippy about the selected verses.

2.6. The Genealogy of Aloha ʻĀina

2.6.1. ʻIolani Palace: Aloha ʻĀina from Inherit Traditions to Global Politics

“You say democracy from heaven sent. Ripping off native is the way to repent. Nuha (angry) attitude is simply because, too many lies from too many laws. Newlands Resolution cover up the intrusion. Righteousness does not require we imitate the liar. We couldn’t touch it!”.
ʻIolani Palace represents to Kanaka aloha ʻāina the home of our sovereignty (Ioane 2021d). ʻIolani palace was built by the Hawaiian Kingdom in the 1880’s in Honolulu, Waikīkī, Oʻahu (Iolani Palace 2021. Available online: accessed on 6 November 2021), and was home to the entire direct Kamehameha line for five administrations before King Kalākaua commissioned its demolition in 1871 for the construction of a modern palace (Iolani Palace 2021. Available online: accessed on 6 November 2021). The ʻIolani Palace represents not only the genealogy of Hawaiian royalty, but of Hawaiian independence as well. ʻIolani Palace was the capitol of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi and in 1893 it was overthrown in a coup’ de’tat by American conspirators (Liliʻuokalani [1898] 1990). Due to these actions, aloha ʻāina became the unique international political identity of Kanaka in the fight to protect Hawaiʻi’s sovereignty from foreign intrusion. In this section, I will briefly summarize the history of the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, and how that lead to the birth of aloha ʻāina as the international political identity of Kanaka.
The story of Hawaiian independence begins on 28 November 1843 when Hawaiʻi was recognized by the United States, Great Britain and France through the signing of the Anglo-Franco proclamation (Kanaeokana 2021, Available online: accessed on 6 November 2021) to be a, “sovereign and independent state” (Beamer 2014, p. 15). Yet, only fifty years later, beginning in the late 1880’s, foreign influence began to gain control of the Hawaiian government through manipulation, eventually leading to the illegal annexation of Hawaiʻi to the United States in 1898. At the first signs of conspiracy, Kanaka fought back within their communities by creating political civic clubs where they rallied and lobbied for the return of the government back into the hands of the Hawaiian monarchy. In 1887, in the reign of King Kalākaua, Hui Kālaiʻāina was established in opposition to the Bayonet Constitution. The Bayonet Constitution was forced on the King by threat of death, and became the initial document to begin decreasing the power of the monarchy to the government (Silva 1998). Hui Kālaiʻāina not only rallied against the Bayonet Constitution in the community but actively worked to restore sovereignty to the monarchy. Silva furthers that Hui Kālaiʻāina, “became the main political organization of the Hawaiian community during the 1890’s”, (As told by McGregor and Alegado (1979), p. 108 in Silva (1998), p. 45). Kalākaua passed and his sister ascended the throne in 1891, and was pressured by Kanaka as well, for a new constitution. When she did attempt to void the Bayonet Constitution, the cabinet she inherited from her brothers’ administration used that as one of three reasons to try her for treason in her own palace in a court made-up of themselves (Liliʻuokalani [1898] 1990, pp. 262–89). On 17 January 1893 Queen Liliʻuokalani was then forcibly removed from her throne in a coup d’état.’ The perpetrators announced that they were the Provisional Government (PG’s)and now the current acting government of the islands (Liliʻuokalani [1898] 1990). The PG’s attempted to submit a treaty of annexation to U.S. Senate however it was denied by then standing U.S president, Grover Cleveland (Sai 2008). This was due to evidence by an investigative report (The Blount Report) (Liliʻuokalani [1898] 1990) initiated by the President, and which found that, “the provisional government owes its existence to an armed invasion by the United States”, and further, “by an act of war committed with the participation of a diplomatic representative of the United States and without authority of Congress, the Government of a feeble but friendly and confiding people has been overthrown” (United States Congress House of Representatives 1894 [Blount Report]: pp. 445–58 as told in Silva 1998, p. 51).
During the time between the initiation of the Bayonet Constitution and the second attempts at annexation by the PG’s in 1893, two new Kanaka political organizations were formed. Hui Hawaiʻi Aloha ʻĀina and Hui Hawaiʻi Aloha o Nā Wāhine or the Hawaiian Patriotic League (Silva 1998 p. 47 (Ka ʻAhahui Hawaiʻi Aloha ʻĀina—Hawaiian Patriotic League 2021,, accessed on 6 November 2021). During this time, the term, ka poʻe aloha ʻāina appeared in newspapers across Hawaiʻi and the United States describing the Kanaka Maoli (indigenous) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 240) political party, the anti-annexation party, those, “who wanted to retain their own government”, as, ka poʻe i aloha i ka ʻāina (poʻe aloha ʻāina), or “the people who love the land” (Silva 1998, p. 47). Hui Kalaiʻāina, Hui Hawaiʻi Aloha ʻĀina and Hui Hawaiʻi Aloha o Nā Wāhine along with the Queen stalled the second attempt by the PG’s to submit a treaty of annexation through submitting protest to United States Congress (Silva 1998). This documented protest is known as the, Kūʻē Petitions, and represent the signatures of both Kanaka and non-Kanaka in opposition to annexation. These petitions were successful in stalling the second attempt by the PG’s at annexation because they effectively prevented the 2/3 majority vote needed for Congress approval (Silva 1998). Doing research on the annexation Silva had come across the story of the petitions and began searching them out, she found them at the National Archives in Washington. The petitions were publicly displayed in 1997 and for the first time, contemporary Kanaka saw concrete evidence that the United States of America covered up our ancestor’s opposition to the annexation (Silva 2014).
When the Provisional Government and pro-annexationist could not gain access to takeover Hawaiʻi through legal means, with the assistance of General Stevens (United States Minister to the Hawaiian Kingdom) they manipulated a violation of Hawaiʻi’s neutrality (the act of one nation being neutral within conflict of war) in the midst of the Spanish-American war (1898). Through this means, the PG’s was able to obtain Congressional backing to initiate a military occupation for Hawaiʻi’s protection, but with the greater goal of dominating Hawaiian lands for strategic military purposes (Sai 2008). President William McKinley then signed the Newlands Resolution, a U.S. domesticated resolution which falsely made Hawaiʻi a territory of the United States (Sai 2008). According to Silva (1998) this was, “an act that was illegal by both U.S. constitutional and international law” (p. 65). Beamer (2014) further argues, “to this day, it remains unclear how the United States annexed a foreign country through a domestic joint resolution, since a domestic resolution in not a treaty, and its jurisdiction is within the nation-state. The legality of this action therefore continues to be debated by academics, Hawaiian organizations and legal experts” (p. 195). Although the Spanish-American war was quickly over in 1898, the Provisional Government turned Republic of Hawaiʻi maintained its administrative authority with support from their congressional allies, and in time normalized the idea of Hawaiʻi’s willing and legal annexation to the U.S. (Goodyear-Kaʻōpua et al. 2014). The Hawaiian Patriotic League never stopped fighting for sovereignty well into the 20th century, and eventually put their endeavors towards protecting Kanaka rights in an American territory (Silva 1998). After the illegal annexation of Hawaiʻi to the U.S., the Provisional Government (1893–1898) becomes The Republic of Hawaii (1898–1900), and then the Territory of Hawaiʻi (1900–1959) (Liliʻuokalani [1898] 1990) until the subsequent illegal passing of the Statehood bill in 1959, officiating the State of Hawaiʻi. Or as Beamer (2014) argues, “This occupation began in 1893 and was solidified by the establishment of the Territory of Hawaii in 1900. The statehood vote in 1959 concealed the occupation under the guise of democracy. The vote—after sixty-six years of U.S. military presence and the drastic change in the islands demography due to U.S. immigration—was predetermined” (p. 197). Hawaiʻi is the only instance in world history where an illegal military occupation masked itself in history for nearly seventy years, to instantly roll over to the submission of an independent nation state to another. Within this seventy-year span, the United States imposed itself within the Hawaiian life system (Trask 1999).
By Statehood Kanaka had suffered immensely at the hands of U.S. assimilative policies. We were displaced, marginalized and subjugated, experienced near cultural genocide, and became the target of American oppression (Kameʻeleihiwa 1992) (Trask 1999). During the era of the Hawaiian Patriotic League, aloha ʻāina morphs for the first time from a classification of traditional Kanaka worldview (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 21) to represent Kanaka’s bureaucratic and diplomatic ontology. When Kanaka ancestors needed to unite to save our nation, they politically labeled themselves, ka poʻe i aloha i ka ʻāina, as a means to represent themselves as the rightful heirs to Hawaiʻi’s sovereignty. As well as to represent their opposition to the foreign intrusion ripping apart the historical, cultural and political ontologies of Hawaiʻi.
ʻIolani Palace is the quintessential representation of this history because the palace represented the place that needed to be controlled to maintain Hawaiian sovereignty. Further, the palace was re-built from the royal palace of the Kamehameha monarchy (1840–1879) and thus housed the genealogy of Hawaiʻi royalty and sovereignty. From 1888–1895, Robert W. Wilcox, a member of the Hawaiʻi legislature and an early Kanaka activist, led multiple resistances at the ʻIolani Palace. Twice in the late 1880’s against the Bayonet Constitution, and in 1895 as the famous Wilcox Rebellion to re-store Queen Liliʻuokalani to her throne (Nakanaela et al. 1999). Later in 1993 ʻIolani palace also became the site of the first-largest pae ʻāina (Hawaiian archipelago) unified march and ʻOnipaʻa (steadfast) (Pukui and Elbert 1986 p. 289) commemoration ceremony of the centennial of the illegal overthrow in 1893. Kameʻeleihiwa (1993) accounts for this event in, The Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement: An Update from Honolulu (January-August 1993) in The Journal of Pacific History (vol. 28, No. 3, 1993, pp. 63–72) which even further highlights ʻIolani Palace as a wahi pana aloha ʻāina for the history, lessons, and consciousness re-awakening that occurred at the ʻOnipaʻa Commemoration at ʻIolani Palace. This event would begin a yearly march every January 17th to commemorate the continued illegal occupation of Hawaiʻi by the United States of America Therefore, ʻIolani palace is a wahi pana aloha ʻāina because its history holds the entirety of the international historical facts to Hawaiʻi’s independence. Further, it represents the genesis of Kanaka resistance to the United States of America.
The lyrics above are from a song title, “In Fla Grante Delicto”. It was composed by Uncle Skippy in the mid-1980’s in reflection of the Hawaiian renaissance, and the re-awakening of the Hawaiian consciousness in the midst of realizing that, for generations, America has exercised colonial expansionism under the façade of ‘whiteouss-ness.’ You say democracy from heaven sent. Ripping off native is the way to repent. Uncle Skippy describes whiteouss-ness as “white people coming to Hawaiʻi with the belief that they were chosen by God to deliver Christianity and later American democracy to heathens, and that Western ideals of life was the superior form above all others” (Ioane 2021c). Those who conspired the coup’ against the Hawaiian crown descend from American missionaries who were sent to Hawaiʻi to convert heathen savages to Christians from the early 19th century (Trask 1983). “Nuha attitude is simply because, too many lies from too many laws; Newlands Resolution cover up the intrusion” (Ioane 1999b). This line represents the nuha (anger) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 273) that Kanaka exemplify when they realize that the loss of Hawaiian sovereignty is a result of illegal legal-manipulation. “Righteousness does not require we imitate the liar, we couldn’t touch it!” (Ioane 1999b). This line represents the realization for Kanaka that for generations we have mimicked Western ideals of life at the hands of mental colonialism. In denying western ideals of life moving forward, we can regain our Kanaka souls inherited to us by our ancestors (Ioane 2021c). As Kanaka begin to come to grips with the reality of our historical trauma, and in the midst of a cultural renaissance throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Kanaka begin a fully-fledged path to rediscovering our traditional and national identities, and how to fight for our inherit rights as Kanaka but, in America’s Hawaiʻi (Ioane 2021c). These experiences are connected to ʻIolani Palace because ʻIolani Palace is the place that holds the entirety of the history of the illegal anenxation of Hawaiʻi to the U.S., and this same history inspired the song “In Fla Gante Delicto”, which in turn describes the history connected to the story of ʻIolani Palace.

2.6.2. Generation II—Kahoʻolawe: The Hawaiian Renaissance and Re-Birth of Aloha ʻĀina

“Close your eyes and visualize, kēia ʻāina, he wahi pana loaʻa ʻole (this land has become a place of nothingness), all them lies. You see perfect may not be so good you see, if you is a monkey up in a captured tree. Put the for-sale sign on the tree, oppressions got a hold of dignity. I’m so sorry playmate I cannot play today, Tūtū Wahine (Grandmother) ʻIolani Palace got taken away, my village we calling in sick today.
In ancient times, Kahoʻolawe Island was called Kanaloa (manifestation of ocean depths) (Ioane 2020a) and Kohemalamalama (foundation of the earth) (Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana 2021). Oral histories contend to its once sacred and significant population. According to Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana (PKO), permanent caretakers of the island, “it was a place where kahuna (priest) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 114) and navigators were trained and played an important role in the early Pacific migration” (Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana 2021). This reserves Kahoʻolawe as a wahi pana for its connection to the earth’s foundations, and the practices of Kanaloa (Ioane 2020a) (Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana 2021). These properties of sacredness endowed on Kahoʻolawe would lead to the first nationally-recognized resurgence by Kanaka against the imposition of the United States, forever immortalizing Kahoʻolawe as the wahi pana aloha ʻāina that launched the contemporary Hawaiian sovereignty movement.
In 1969, only a decade after the passing of Statehood, congressional research would reveal, “gaps in the Congressional record” (Vogeler 2014, p. 254) publicly exposing for the first time that the U.S. had seized Hawaiʻi in a manner that warranted a government and history cover-up. By then, Kanaka were grappling to hold onto what little parts of Hawaiʻi we had left amidst the rise of American expansionism in the islands. This was also parallel to the rise of civil rights among cultures of color on the American continent. These feelings of resistance and pursuits of justice trickled down into Hawaiʻi’s rural and working-class communities (Goodyear-Kaʻōpua et al. 2014). Simultaneously, in the 1970s, Hawaiʻi was entering what Jacqueline Lasky called a “post-statehood developmental frenzy” (Lasky 2014, p. 50). These developmental endeavors of the State of Hawaiʻi and foreign investors would come at the hands of even further displacement of Kanaka, and others living Hawaiian lifestyles in remaining rural lands across the pae ʻāina (Hawaiian archipelago) (Lasky 2014). Osorio (2014), in his description of the land histories leading to the Kahoʻolawe movement, highlights the stories of how a series of land evictions would lead to a focus on mass re-awakening amongst rural, working-class and Kanaka communities research endeavors to re-learn the truth about Hawaiʻi’s history. Through this, generations of illegal land grabs and injustices faced by Kanaka at the price of American greed and expansionism was revealed. Or as quoted by Kalani Ohelo of Kokua Kalama Committee (one of the first non-profits to fight against rural urbanization) in Trask (1987), “the history about the overthrow, the old haole oligarchy, the Republican party, the plantations, the origins of the Democratic Party, the 442nd…Reading and research led them to an understanding that these corporations—Kaiser-Aetna, the Bishop Estate—(some of the first institutions to participate in the removal of rural Kanaka for urbanization)—were going to make profits at the expense of people being in dire poverty” (As quoted by Kalani Ohelo in Trask (1987), p.139). Nearly a decade of this type of resurgence amongst Hawaiʻi’s multi-ethnic working class would feed the motivation for the protection of Kahoʻolawe. The movement at Kahoʻolawe would then resurface the genealogy of aloha ʻāina as a bases to a uniquely Kanaka-national-consciousness and political identity.
The U.S. Navy confiscated the island of Kahoʻolawe for the use of live training in the midst of World War II (Puhipau and Lander 1992) (Osorio 2014). As support to protect Kahoʻolawe grew, the group Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana (PKO) was formed. The idea for PKO was inspired by the multi-ethnic land struggles occurring simultaneously at that same time across Hawaiʻi, or as Osorio (2014) describes, “these land movements provided some critical precedents for the Kahoʻolawe struggle. One was the example of radical Hawaiian leadership. Another was a renewal of a traditional perception of land. A third was a strategy of opposition that was to become a key element in the Hawaiian re-occupation of Kahoʻolawe” (p. 150). PKO took their strategies of land resistance from the previous decades of multi-ethnic land struggles, while also emphasizing the function of ʻOhana (Kanaka family unit), (Pukui and Handy 1972), implicating traditional Hawaiian organizing systems within their occupation agenda (De Leon 2020a; Ioane 2019b). Ioane (2019b) and De Leon (2020b) describes, within these land struggles, the strategy of forming community non-profit organizations to deal with the State and its affiliates became an essential and necessary tool in the protection of Hawaiian land and rights (De Leon 2020b) (Ioane 2019b). Goodyear-Kaʻōpua et al. (2014) piece together the significant stories of these non-profit organizations that led various land movements across Hawaiʻi, from as early as the mid 1970’s, into the 21st century. With these strategies PKO facilitated various secret occupations onto Kahoʻolawe island admits live training (Puhipau and Lander 1992). The goal was to send a message to the Navy, the State and to the larger U.S. government that Kanaka were willing to protect Kahoʻolawe at any means. The larger plan was to force the Navy and the State into serious conversations with Kanaka about how to remedy their concerns (Ioane 2019b). PKO would later come to inspire a generation of non-profit organizing, and the use of Hawaiian re-occupation strategy in the protection of Hawaiian land. These actions would build the basis of the larger Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement and the current fight by Kanaka for the return of Hawaiʻi’s sovereignty (Ioane 2019b). PKO was the entity that launched and sustained the contemporary Hawaiian movement, and similar to the actions of the Black Panthers on the American continent, PKO began spreading the message of the movement and its core-concepts; aloha ʻāina (love the land) (Pukui and Elbert 1986) mālama ʻāina (take care of the land) and (Pukui and Elbert 1986, pp. 11, 232) hoʻoulu lāhui (repopulate the race) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 368) across the pae ʻāina (Ioane 2019b) (Puhipau and Lander 1992).
As a means to describe the physical, political and spiritual meaning in occupying Kahoʻolawe, one of aloha ʻāina’s most revered leaders, George Helm, was the first person to re-coin aloha ʻāina as the birth of the 20th century Hawaiian consciousness and political identity (Osorio 2014). PKO continued to spread the message of aloha ʻāina across Hawaiʻi throughout the remainder of the 20th century in every means from: public displays, talks, presentations and radio and TV promotions (Puhipau and Lander 1992). PKO described aloha ʻāina to be a traditional Hawaiian concept used during the overthrow to represent those who were against the overtaking of the government by American forces (Goodyear-Kaʻōpua et al. 2014). PKO continued their work heavily throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and became almost like a parent organization for the aloha ʻāina land movements, (Ioane 2021d) during the remainder of the Hawaiian renaissance the same way the NAACP became for African-American civil rights on the continent (Ioane 2021d). As (Osorio 2014) describes it, “as the Hawaiian sovereignty movement grew from the 1980’s onward, it drew leadership and inspiration form the ʻOhana” (p. 150). For Kanaka however, PKO was the guidance to the ʻOhana concepts of (re) occupation. Re-occupation is a ʻOhana focused strategy to protecting Hawaiian land rights by belligerently occupying the land in the same manner that State and the larger U.S. government does, but guided through the values of the Hawaiian ʻOhana (Pukui and Handy 1972) (Ioane 2019b). Or as Ioane (2021b) argues in an interview with and De Leon (2021) and Ross (2021) in their reflections of the lessons of PKO and the Big Island Resistance, “when I touch the land, I’m awake! and that’s all you gotta know, is that land. Then, the man going come to you. You can protest all that, but that’s why I tell you…occupy (Ioane 2021b).
The coining of aloha ʻāina through the Kahoʻolawe movement was the first instance where Kanaka began reimagining the political strategies of our ancestors as a means to institute a purely Kanaka movement and agenda. According to Brenda Lee, Kahoʻolawe needed to be returned so that Kanaka could, “fulfill their religious need to show love for the land” (Clark 1978c, pg. 4). Aloha ʻāina today, has essentially become the primordial reason for the continuation of the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement and the struggle for Kanaka to regain sovereignty over our land and livelihoods. Aloha ʻāina, initially set the stage for the continued basis for Hawaiian movements to continue on after the victory over Kahoʻolawe (De Leon 2021). In 1980, through their efforts PKO signed a Consent Decree between themselves, the State and the Navy for stewardship rights over the island. (Osorio 2014; De Leon 2021). On 18 March 1981, “the entire island was listed on the National Register for Historical Places and designated the Kahoʻolawe Archaeological District” (Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana 2021). In regards to wahi pana aloha ʻāina as a political research theory, Kahoʻolawe is the quintessential wahi pana aloha ʻāina because as the history has laid out, Kahoʻolawe is the wahi pana that brought back aloha ʻāina. Contemporary Hawaiian scholarship contends that, although the rise against American capitalism and extreme expansionism on Hawaiian lands and livelihoods began a multi-ethnic endeavor of Hawaiʻi’s working-class, the movement to protect Kahoʻolawe specifically launched the contemporary Hawaiian sovereignty movement and is recognized as so today (Osorio 2014) (Goodyear-Kaʻōpua et al. 2014).
The lyrics above are from a song title, “12 Penny”, and was composed in the late 1990’s, in the midst of the shift between the movements focus on land occupation to sovereignty (to be explained Section 2.6). It is used here to represent the history of Kahoʻolawe because Kahoʻolawe was the place that resurfaced the truth about Hawaiʻiʻs sovereignty, and from here ideas, and perception about how to gain Hawaiian sovereignty in a sufficient manner would begin to compete with each other. In realizing this, Uncle Skippy composed this song. The first line reminds Kanaka to be cognizant, and not to engage in American colonialism in our path towards the reclamation of our land and sovereignty. “Close your eyes and visualize, kēia ʻāina, he wahi pana loaʻa ʻole (this land has become a place of nothingness), all them lies” (Ioane 1990) This line calls to Kanaka to re-think the legacy of American democracy in Hawaiʻi. If you close your eyes, and visualize what American democracy (façade for predatory expansionism) has done, it has attempted to turn our lands into places of nothingness. “You see cause perfect might not be so good you see, if you is a monkey up in a captured tree” (Ioane 1990). Is a line that represents the concept of being affected by mental American colonialism. It reminds Kanaka not to forget that the federal nor the state government have the historical morale to treat our sovereignty with any value, and to be conscious of that on our path towards the restoration of our sovereignty because our liberation is invalid, and cannot not exist properly under the jurisdiction of our captor”. But what I cannot find is the ʻāina used to live inside me” (Ioane 1990). A revolutionary notion that came out during the Hawaiian renaissance was that Americas’ grip on Hawaiian self-determination relied heavily on the alienation of Kanaka from ʻāina. Therefore, this line reminds Kanaka that ʻāina is inside of us, it is a part of our genealogy. Mental colonization cannot separate us from ʻāina, unless we continue to allow it to. “I’m so sorry playmate I cannot play today, Tūtū wahine ʻIolani Palace got taken away my village we calling in sick today!” (Ioane 1990). The last line reflects the generalized narrative and perception that rang strong through Kanaka homes and communities at the rise of the Hawaiian renaissance in late 1970’s. That, Kanaka’s grandmother (represented as ʻIolani palace) had been taken, and Kanaka were then, on a path towards ancestral healing. We were no longer participating in the playing field of chasing the American dream (Ioane 2021c). This song represents Kahoʻolawe because, Kahoʻolawe was the place that inspired the rise in Hawaiian consciousness, which in same is the larger meaning of the song, “12 Penny.”

2.6.3. Generation III—Hoʻoulu Lāhui: The Genesis of the Big Island Resistance

“1990’s police eviction, Governor says it’s an American thang. Missionary laughing even after he pass away, him hear Kanaka in the courtroom sing (what him singing?) Auwe, Auwe! (how dreadful!) “Good gracious this righteous jive, bill of rights and the big five. We paying the bills, they got the jive. Them got democracies, we got survive!”.
In the midst of the Kahoʻolawe movement, the leaders of PKO organized a large meeting called Hoʻoulu Lāhui (to increase the nation), a concept that George Helm was working on before he disappeared off the shores of Kahoʻolawe (Osorio 2014). Hoʻoulu Lāhui, was a cultural meeting where members of PKO discussed the concept of strengthening the lāhui (Kanaka race) by bringing concepts such as: aloha ʻāina (mentality to love the land), mālama ʻāina (physically caring for the land), and hoʻoulu lāhui (increase the race on all levels), back into Kanaka communities through the implementation of place based ʻOhana units like that of PKO across the pae ʻāina. As Uncle Earl DeLeon of the ʻOnipaʻa Kākou Kona Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana remembers, “We were tasked in our Hoʻoulu Lāhui meeting in 1977 in Molokai to go home to our mokupuni (island) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 252), and find our moʻokūʻauhau (genealogy) and occupy and stand for our land rights as Kanaka. This is how aloha ʻāina continued to live on after the Kahoʻolawe consent decree” (De Leon 2020b). Whether branching off of PKO’s concepts of ʻOhana, or a natural cascading effect encouraged by its actions, sub-communities across Hawaiʻi began popping up and resisting the encroachment of the State of Hawaiʻi onto Hawaiian lands. The central concept was to find either ancestral or sacred lands on your island and strategize a way to occupy the land. The larger goal was to get Kanaka to create social-justice sub communities across the pae ʻāina that operated like PKO with the functioning systems of the ʻOhana, as a means to occupy and retain stewardship access to the land as was the result of the Kahoʻolawe consent decree (De Leon 2020b).
These occupied places became, as the world witnesses at Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhlu, puʻuhonua (safe-havens) for Kanaka lifestyles to thrive away from the domination of western colonialism embedded in the State of Hawaiʻi governing systems (Ioane 2020c). This is how the Big Island Resistance was born. Within the various puʻuhonua and ʻOhana across Hawaiʻi, the different types of Hawaiian land issues arise. Within the story of the Big Island Resistance alone there are four different examples of Hawaiian land issues among the six places highlighted. The six places of the Big Island Resistance are; Kūkaʻilimoku Village in Kona: ʻOnipaʻa Kākou Kona Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana (Critchlow 1978; Clark 1978d; De Leon 2020b), ʻUpolu Coast Guard Station, ʻUpolu, Kohala: ʻOhana Kahoʻopiʻi (Thompson 1993; Dayton 1998; Kahoʻopiʻi 2021). Hilo Airport: various ʻOhana from Hawaiʻi and Oʻahu, (Reynolds 1978; Clark 1978a), King’s Landing Village: Mālama Ka ʻĀina, Hana Ka ʻĀina Association in Keaukaha (Cachola et al. 1987), Uncle Able Lui’s village: Kawaʻa, Kaʻū (Lauer 2011a, 2011b), and Wao Kele O Puna: Pele Defense Fund (McGregor and Aluli 2014; Bishop 1989; Manuel 1990; Thompson 1990; Engle and Altonn 1991) ʻOnipaʻa Kākou Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana, fought to save Kūkaʻilimoku, a long time puʻuhonua of the Kanaka of Kona by the development of a million-dollar illegally permitted neighborhood on the shoreline and in the ocean (De Leon 2020b). The battle at Kūkaʻilimoku village represent wahi pana aloha ʻāina that fought against the State’s favor of luxury resort development over public and Kanaka shoreline access rights. Movements like Kūkaʻilimoku would lead to implementations into the State’s constitution that catered to traditional shoreline access and gathering rights for Kanaka (to be explained the next section) (Ioane 2019b; De Leon 2020b; Goodyear-Kaʻōpua et al. 2014). The resistance at ʻUpolu, Kohala and Kawaʻa, Kaʻū was the battle by the ʻOhana Kahoʻopiʻi (ʻUpolu, Kohala), and ʻOhana Lui (Kawaʻa, Kaʻū) to fight for their family lands inherited to them by Royal Patents under the Hawaiian Kingdom (which could be leased to heirs forever, but never sold, but returned to the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi). This legal fact was ignored by the State, and the land after the overthrow, and was never returned to the heirs to lease, but were either lost in shifty land deals or treated as public land or used for State collateral (Kahoʻopiʻi 2021). King’s Landing village and Mālama Ka ʻĀina, Hana Ka ʻĀina Association and the resistance at Hilo Airport in Keaukaha was a resistance by Hawaiian Home Land beneficiaries (which will be described in detail in Section 4) against the colonial grips of the State on lands for Hawaiian rehabilitation. The resistance at Wao Kele O Puna is most similar to Mauna Kea, in that although they were movements that occurred on the Big Island, they were issues that plagued and brought together kākoʻo (support) from across Hawaiʻi and the larger American continent as well. The moʻolelo of Wao Kele O Puna is the story by Puna residents and Pele (manifestation of the island volcanic systems) descendants to save Wao Kele O Puna Forest Reserve (nationally reserved for conservation) from the desecration of geothermal wells approved of by the State in disregard to the harm it caused Puna residents and the Wao Kele O Puna. Wao Kele O Puna is the last low-lying rainforest in Hawaiʻi and across the American continent (McGregor and Aluli 2014), and recognized as one of the domains of Pele (goddess of the volcano) by her Pele descendants and followers (Ioane 2020a).
Of the wahi pana mentioned in the Big Island Resistance, King’s Landing Village was successful in gaining access to their ʻāina in Keaukaha. Hilo Airport protestors were successful in getting the State to pay is back rent of $600k+ for its 20+year use of the Hilo Airport land (Stone 1978b), and the Pele Defense Fund prevented any geothermal development in Wao Kele O Puna for a 10-year period in 1991, (McGregor and Aluli 2014; Loos 1991), which has prevented geothermal development in the forest till today. Sadly, for the rest of the wahi pana in this rendition of Big Island Resistance, and majority of these land-return efforts across the pae ʻāina, the domination imposed on Kanaka livelihoods by the State of Hawaiʻi, prevented the return of and protection of those lands by Kanaka. In the majority of these cases, the State was almost always successful in pushing the narrative that Kanaka claims were invalid. This false and negative narrative imposed on Kanaka land-return efforts, overtime, gained support by the general public leading to majority of these movements being gaslighted by the State in the name of public use (Niheu 2014; Ioane 2021d). The ʻOhana and puʻuhonua across Hawaiʻi were labeled publicly as illegal trespassers and squatters (De Leon 2020b; Critchlow 1978, p. 1). The narrative imposed on Kanaka at these times was that our plight for land rights was just a guise for us to be, “lazy Hawaiians”, a norm of the colonial narrative. Kanaka who held signs on the side of the road to bring awareness to their rights to live freely on Hawaiian beaches, or in off-grid rural areas, on ancestral or sacred lands as kahu (caregiver), were told to be participating members of society, and to “Get a job!” (Niheu 2014, p. 173). The state created a narrative of Kanaka as deliberate unwilling participants of society, garnishing a generalized public support against Kanaka specialized rights, even labeling it as prejudice and racist (Pino 2020; Kauanui 2014). The ʻOhana and puʻuhonua of the Big Island Resistance are the wahi pana, which sprung my interest in wahi pana aloha ʻāina. They represent the culture of the Big Island Kanaka, and our unique history to land protection and colonial resistance.
The lyrics above are from a song title, “Samuela Texas”. It was composed in 1995, in the midst of a rise in Kanaka arrest for trespassing, related to Hawaiian land movements. In a general sense, the lyrics represent a realization by the ʻOhana of how severe the grips of American colonialism extended after the illegal annexation. What was now apparent was that the State was a prophecy of the colonial legacy. 1990’s police eviction, Governor says it’s an American thang. The negative narrative imposed on Kanaka land return efforts by the State was part of the larger scheme of American colonialism disguised as American democracy. Therefore, the denial of specific Hawaiian rights, was effectively supported by Hawaiʻi citizens who supported the notion of Hawaiʻi as an American State. Missionaries laughing even after he passes away., him hear Kanaka in the courtroom sing (what him singing?) Auwe! Although being heard in court was the ultimate goal for Kanaka the State was strategic about not allowing Kanaka land issues to reach judiciary levels where the State would have to answer for its illegal participation in Kanaka displacement. Beginning at this time, the State began the strategy of forcibly evicting Kanaka off the land they were occupying and fighting to steward, then dropping the charges as soon as they could. Auwe, Auwe (how dreadful)!!! Good gracious this righteous jive, bill of right and the big 5—5 American families that controlled Hawaiʻi’s wealth after the overthrow. Kanaka realize that the righteousness of American democracy was a façade of American manipulation. We paying the bills, they got the jive. Them got democracy, we got survive. Democracy in Hawaiʻi doesn’t apply to Kanaka only survival does. What looks like democracy to the rest of the world, reflects in Kanaka lives as a generational legacy of struggling to survive in our homeland. These are the realities that Kanaka become aware of in the midst of our land-occupation efforts. These realities will shift Kanaka into our next phase of aloha ʻāina (Ioane 2020b). The song ‘Samuela Texas,’ represents the Hoʻoulu Lāhui era because the song represents the State of Hawaiʻi as a manifestation of the overthrow, which is a significant realization that Kanaka come too, during the Hoʻoulu Lāhui Era.
The inability of the ʻOhana at large to return Kanaka to the land through re-occupation is, according to Uncle Skippy, a phenomenon that shifted the ʻOhana and aloha ʻāina from a cultural renaissance focused on land re-occupation, to a revolution for the return of Hawaiʻi’s sovereignty (Ioane 2020b). The grips of the State’s negative narrative on Kanaka land rights overtime created a judiciary pattern that in time devalued the significance of Hawaiian issues to the State and the world at large. This pattern entails: the initiation by Kanaka to occupy land they found in their moʻokūʻauhau (genealogy) to be rightfully theirs or to all Kanaka. The perception of the State that Kanaka are illegal trespassers on those lands. Kanaka get arrested, and when Kanaka are able to tip the public perception and narrative about the situation, the State drops the charge, then sells the land or turns it to public use (Ioane 2021a). When Kanaka appeal, the pattern happens all over again. From here, Kanaka begin to focus on an actual means to gain sovereignty and political power in Hawaiʻi.

2.6.4. Generation IV: Kaiapuni ‘Ā Hōʻamana—Hawaiian Focused Schools as Places of Resistance against the Colonial-Based, Public Institution

Lie down our body to sleep, hale (house) warm cause ʻāina (land/mother) still love us. Papa (manifestation of mother earth) remains under our feet. Fairy tales that you learn in school. Misinformation from the public education. Good ʻol Kanaka now do as you told, he’s colonized down to his soul.”
Aloha ʻāina and Kanaka as a lāhui (race) shift our focus after these failed land occupation attempts, to enforce Hawaiian education in the State of Hawaii educational systems as a means to combat generations of curricular colonialism on Kanaka mentality. A significant event that took place in the middle of the rise of Kanaka resistance throughout the renaissance (1970–1990) was the 1978 Hawaiʻi Constitutional Convention. Although this convention was State driven as a means to make changes to the Hawaiʻi State Constitution that would reflect the liberal political history of the islands and to represent the voice of the people ( accessed on 6 November 2021), Kanaka participated to make sure that the State representatives were aware of the drastic changes that were long overdue in Kanaka communities. Of great significance to Kanaka was the Native Hawaiian Legislative Package with “forty sections that gave constitutional status and recognition to Native Hawaiian Rights including the establishment of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), the adoption of ʻŌlelo (Hawaiian language) as an official state language, protection of natural resources as part of the public trust, and amended the Constitution’s preamble to better reflect the custom and culture of the islands” (As quoted by Trask p. 310 in Van Dyke (2007)).
These events in the decade the followed would pave the path for the implication of Hawaiian immersion and culture-focused charter schools. By mid-1990 (in some cases) a Kanaka keiki could attend school in ʻŌlelo (Hawaiian language) form pre-K-12th grade (Ioane 2020b). Towards the end of this decade there also arose a resistance at the University of Hawaiʻi to give Hawaiian culture and education its own respected discipline, as opposed to how it originally stood, as an interdisciplinary Liberal Studies program (Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge 2021). The Hawaiian Studies Department was officially established in 1985 at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, with the University of Maui and Hilo to follow shortly after (Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge 2021). Although Hawaiian immersion (kaiapuni) schools were approved by the State Department of Education (DOE), they were also subject to curricular approval by the D.O.E., which in Kanaka’s experience, will only perpetuate false notions about Hawaiian epistemologies. Therefore, Kanaka continued to strengthen our self-determination to control our own intellectual narratives through the implementation of Hawaiian-culture focused charter schools (hōʻamana) across Hawaiʻi (Ioane 2020b). Hawaiian focus educational institutions implement a curriculum that is based off of Hawaiian knowledge, but adapted to the lifestyles of Hawaiʻis keiki (Kanaka or not) to contemporary Hawaiʻi. Of most importance to Kanaka and to the survival of our continued battle for sovereignty and better-self-determination is the ability of the charter schools system to institute a Hawaiian and holistic worldview (basis of aloha ʻāina) into the mindset of both Kanaka and non-Kanaka keiki across Hawaiʻi (Ioane 2020b). Hawaiian focused educational systems include Hawaiian history and customs, interwoven with a well-rounded complimentary balanced curriculum of the language-arts, world-history, and the physical and social sciences. This depends on the institution, funding and the staff they are able to maintain. Kanaka were able to gain a very significant grip in our further endeavors towards self-determination through the normalization of Hawaiian education in the later decades of the 20th century (See Goodyear-Kaʻōpua 2013).
Hawaiian focused educational institutions are wahi pana aloha ʻāina because, they resist the colonial narrative which imposes that Hawaiian education and the Kanaka worldview is primitive and essentially useless in modern times. The determination by Kanaka to control our intellectual narratives is a significant factor to the success of Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu. By the time of the Mauna Kea resistance of 2019, Kanaka knowledge systems were no longer competing for educational clout. Kanaka had significantly strengthened our educational institutions and had built a firm foundation in ancestral, political, cultural, spiritual and intellectual identities. This is how Puʻuhuluhulu University) (a unique primary-secondary school at Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu) was able to be actualized. Puʻuhuluhulu University organizer, Keʻalaanuhea Ah Mook Sang states “education is not confined within the walls of Western academia” (Ah Mook Sang 2020, p. 266).
The lyrics above come from the song Samuela Texas as well. The song generally describes the process of colonialism. It talks about predatory capitalism through illegal land acquisition, and the use of public education to maintain colonial domination. Lie down our body to sleep. Hale (house) warm cause ʻāina (land/mother) still love us. This line is a testament to Kanaka that, our house (our vessels/mind) is not completely incapable of decolonization because our real and familial connection to ʻāina still remains. Papa (manifestation of mother earth) remains under our feet. This line reminds Kanaka that, our kuleana (responsibility) to Papa still remains because, ʻāina still remains. Fairy tales that you learn in school. Misinformation from the public education. Good ʻol Kanaka now do as your told, colonized down his soul.” This line follows the line about Kanaka continuing to be connected to the land because according to Uncle Skippy the public institutions in Hawaiʻi and specifically the public education system are culprits in disconnecting our minds from ʻāina, our mother-earth, and that Kanaka are still at risk to mentally disconnected from the land if we continue to follow colonial based education and worldviews. This is why not only continuing to feed our following generations into our Kanaka based schools are pertinent, but the continued support of our Hawaiian based schools, physically, spiritually and financially is pertinent as well, to strengthening our continued journey back to ʻāina as a lāhui (Ioane 2021d). For example, implementing a Hawaiian worldview through public based education whether for a Kanaka or non-Kanaka keiki, feeds into a generation who are mentally able to balance protection of the land equally with the advancement of society. According to Uncle Skippy, “it’s an attempt to build a generation who are able to think more like they did during the time of the Kingdom, you know in the Kingdom never only have Kanaka, but Kanaka was still the boss, everybody follow Kanaka way…aloha ʻāina way…cause, you know, that’s the way of the Kingdom…is the way of the land” (Ioane 2020b). The song ‘Samuela Texas,’ represents the history of Kanaka’s fight for sovereignty education because Hawaiian Charter schools represent one of Kanaka’s first successful revolutions to dent the grips that Ameircan colonial education has on Kanaka self-determination.

2.6.5. Generation V: The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Host the D.O.I. Testimony for U.S. Federal-Recognition

“Roman empires grumble at dusk, Kanaka hoʻihoʻika pō. (return to our night genesis) Priests and politicians sing their song, Hāʻawi lilo (give up), let it all go. You in a better country they swear then before, but the blood boil underneath, ua lawa the stone (stone of the land is enough) we on ¨Tūtū’s (grandma) bones, ʻāina under neath our feet”.
At the end of Section 2.6.3 describe how the ʻOhana shifts from land-occupation efforts, to organizing a path towards regaining Hawaiian sovereignty. According to Uncle Skippy and contemporary Hawaiian scholarship, this seems to occur roughly around the late 1980’s (Trask 1987; Kameʻeleihiwa 1993; Goodyear-Kaʻōpua et al. 2014). Rather than puʻuhonua (safe-havens to initiate land occupations) (Ioane 2019b) focused on specific community, family and land claims, ʻOhana sovereignty units were being established across Hawaiʻi. Formed in the interest of all Kanaka. These sovereignty ʻOhana operated like pseudo-government in the way that the PG’s did (Provisional Government who overthrew the crown, described in Section 2.6.1) (Ioane 2021d; Kameʻeleihiwa 1992). They dedicated most of their time to researching National and international independence, and various systems and definitions of self-determination, and how to implement systems for Kanaka self-determination into the State’s larger operating system (Ioane 2019b). The result of continued Hawaiian enforced education would manifest in multiple public displays of Hawaiian nationalism and grassroot organizing that focused on Hawaiian sovereignty and independence throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s (Goodyear-Kaʻōpua et al. 2014; Puhipau and Lander 1993; Kameʻeleihiwa 1993). From the early 1990’s Kanaka engaged in international policy at the Hague: International Court of Arbitration to bring to light the assistance greatly needed by the international court system to assist Kanaka in their fights against the United States for the return of our independence (Ioane 2021c). Although the International Court has also agreed that the overthrow occurred illegally, nothing has come from this assertion (Sai 2018; Puhipau and Lander 1999).
The two standing definitions of Hawaiian sovereignty are: Independence/Nation to Nation, and Federal-recognition/Nation within a Nation (Ioane 2021d). Beamer (2020) describes Federal recognition as inherent sovereignty and independence as national sovereignty. He furthers that, “much of the last 30 years of the Hawaiian movement has been branded by these seemingly competing strategies to achieve Hawaiian liberation, dignity, health and the reclamation of lands” (p. 283). Kameʻeleihiwa (1993) gives one of the earliest descriptions of these opposing ideas of Hawaiian sovereignty when she recounts the 1993 ʻOnipaʻa Commemoration of the centennial of the overthrow, and describes the different stance, of the some of the various ʻOhana (non-profit/political organization) working towards sovereignty at that time.
“Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi (Mililani Trask) has proposed a ‘Nation within a Nation,’ relationship with America, based on the historical example of many Native American nations within the United States”.
(p. 67)
“Ka Pāaukau (Kekuni Blaisdell) which proposes the complete return of the four million acres of Hawaiʻi as the appropriate land base for the new Hawaiian nation”.
(p. 67)
ʻOhana Council. (Bumpy Kanahele) Whose focus is, “the reclamation of Trust Lands in their area” (Waimanalo, Oʻahu).
(p. 67)
Kameʻeleihiwa contends that in 1993, “the fourth entity which professes interest in sovereignty”, (p. 68) is the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which is a state agency. She furthers that in the 1993 Hawaii State Legislature, the State worked with OHA to undermine House Bill 1053 of Ka Lāhui which proposed that Hawaiʻiʻs trust lands should be under their jurisdiction for the better protection of Kanaka (Kameʻeleihiwa 1993). The State’s, Senate Bill 1028, “was supposed to have been introduced by OHA, but interestingly enough the OHA trustees had never voted publicly to do so, and many of them had never seen the legislation before it was submitted” (p. 69). S.B. 1028 called for a,“ ‘Sovereignty Advisory Commission that supposedly would bring all Hawaiians together and call a convention to draft a constitution for the sovereign nation” (p. 69). Despite overwhelming Kanaka objection to S.B. 1028 the legislature still favored it over Ka Lāhui’s bill (H.B. 1053). Since that time, the State has continued to create a narrative that maintains their authority over perceptions, definitions and avenues towards Hawaiian sovereignty. Kauanui (2014) describes the history of the legislative circus of the past two decades, between the federal and State government, in their attempt to undercut, “the restoration of the Hawaiian nation under international law” (p. 312). Her article in “Nation Rising”, tells the story of Senate Bill 1520—the First Nations Government Bill—or, the State governments’ attempt to give Kanaka sovereignty through a, “First Nation-to-state relationship” (p. 312), and which was signed into law by Neil Abercrombie in 2011 (Kauanui 2014). The former’s predecessor the, Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act or the Akaka Bill, is the federal Government’s attempt to give Kanaka sovereignty through a nation-to-nation relationship from as early as 2000. Neither of these versions of Hawaiian sovereignty give space nor credence to the only version of Hawaiian Independence that a majority of Kanaka aloha ʻāina activists push for, and are entitled too; the reinstatement of the Hawaiian Nation (Ioane 2021c). Kauanui (2014) analyzes the history and politics that played out for decades as Kanaka tried to oppose continued colonialism of their national identity and independence. Since, 2000 as Uncle Skippy puts it; “they just keep going in legislative circles…introducing bills, pushing it down our throat…we deny…but they no care…but still doesn’t make ‘um pass Congress…then they change ‘um…add amendments…change the name…try ‘um again (Ioane 2021c). According to Kauanui (2014)
“On 17 December 2012, an amended version of the infamous Akaka Bill (S. 675) was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Passed by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on 13 September, the bill was radically revised from the sixty-page version introduced 30 March 2011, to fifteen pages. It now reflects passage of the First Nation Government Bill signed into Hawaiʻi state law on 6 July 2011, as Act 195. As the 113th Congress opens, Democrats control the Senate, but Republicans control the House—and the House Committee on Natural Resources (to date) has yet to pass the bill and move it further”.
(p. 326)
In 2014, the Department of Interior [D.O.I.] (U.S. department that manages relationships between sovereign indigenous nations and the settler [U.S] state) set up testimonies across Hawaiian Homelands (Hawaiian trust lands turned Hawaiian homesteads described in detail in the following section) to record testimony to five questions regarding the position of the establishment of a government-to-government relationship with Kanaka (Hawaiian Kingdom Blog 2014). According to Uncle Skippy, “that’s the problem right there; the relationship is Nation to Nation, we never relinquish our national rights to Hawai‘i internationally, we are, our own Nation! But America will never accept that, they say we can be our own governing entity…but still under the control of their nation, that’s bullshit cause they manipulated that control and the world knows that already! (Ioane 2021c). On Hawaiʻi Island, D.O.I. came to Kona, Waimea and Keaukaha (Hawaii Tribune-Herald 2014). On 2 July 2014 Kawānanakoa Gym in Keaukaha was filled to the brim and overflowing almost into the parking lot with Hawaiian Homeland beneficiaries, Kanaka in general (not all kanaka are beneficiaries but should be), and their allies. Everyone there was either testifying for, or against federal-recognition of Hawaiʻi by the United States, or coming to witness or document this phenomenon. D.O.I. gave testifiers 2 min to answer five questions. To my recollection, in Keaukaha, a majority of testifiers avoided answering the questions directly and for 2 min gave various examples as to why Kanaka want nothing more than the reinstatement of the Hawaiian Nation. According to NBC News (2014), “residents delivered passionate accounts of Hawaiian history, U.S. militarism, cultural and environmental degradation, land disputes, and a steady stream of ‘no’s” to the five questions asked by the Department of Interior”. The D.O.I.’s five questions were:
  • Should the Secretary propose an administrative rule that would facilitate the reestablishment of a government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian community?
  • Should the Secretary assist the Native Hawaiian community in reorganizing its government, with which the United States could reestablish a government-to-government relationship?
  • If so, what process should be established for drafting and ratifying a reorganized Native Hawaiian government’s constitution or other governing document?
  • Should the Secretary instead rely on the reorganization of a Native Hawaiian government through a process established by the Native Hawaiian community and facilitated by the State of Hawaii, to the extent such a process is consistent with Federal law?
  • If so, what conditions should the Secretary establish as prerequisites to Federal acknowledgment of a government-to-government relationship with the reorganized Native Hawaiian government? ( accessed on 6 November 2021).
Various testimonies generally rang, “We are Hawaiian! We are Not Native American! We want our Independence (Big Island News Now 2014). Uncle Skippy testified in Keaukaha and gave a passionate and philosophical testimony about the contradiction of Hawaiian sovereignty under state and federal government jurisdiction due to the history of corruption imposed on Hawaiian sovereignty by those two entities.
“I wanna thank you guys for coming…cause we’ve never been able to talk to you people…because the office of Hawaiian despair (alluding to Office of Hawaiian Affairs), Civic Clubs, (a community engagement system created by Kūhiō during Hawaiian Homes implementations, and which only promotes federal-recognition today) hold all their meetings on the moku honu (the American continent), this the first time the Hawaiian community has met somebody! We never meet nobody! so that shows to me that the Democratic party in Hawaiʻi is some corrupt some’bitches! … And while you here, if you want to investigate something…investigate the Department of Hawaiian Homes. Them some corrupt democrats if I ever seen ‘um! I tell you, on Hawaiian Home Lands where you at now, there is more non-natives than natives. You understand? And so that the democratic party has efficiently held us down to compliant rapees’ and yall’ represent the raper. So as far as those questions, No, No, No, No, No,… i going go three more…No, No, NO!
Uncle Skippy’s notions to preclude questions about federal-recognition to DHHL, is a pseudonym to the contradictions of decades of federal and state bureaucracies to dictate Hawaiian sovereignty. According to Kauanui (2014) Kanaka who support federal-recognition are concerned over the protection of Kanaka rights based on legislations like Rice vs. Cayetano where the federal government ruled that the State did not have jurisdiction to restrict specific Hawaiian voting rights. This eliminated the ability for kanaka-only votes to elect Office Hawaiian Affairs trustees since 2000 (Kauanui 2014) (Ioane 2021c). According to Kauanui,
“U.S. jurisdiction over Kanaka Maoli is illegal and unjust. Therefore, to have a native Hawaiian governing entity formed by U.S. legislation and contained by U.S. jurisdiction is structurally limiting. Given that the Hawaiian Kingdom sovereignty was not lost via conquest, cession, or adjudication, those rights to independent statehood are still in place under international law. Unilateral political force prohibited the ability to be self-determining, but at no time did that amount to a legal termination of sovereignty”.
(p. 320)
Kauanui was summarizing the perceptions of national independence proponents, and specifically highlighting the philosophies of Hui Pū, a group put together by Uncle Skippy, “with the purpose of defeating the Akaka bill” (p. 320). The Hawaiian Home Lands’ gymnasiums across the pae ʻāina, that housed D.O.I. testimonies in 2014 are wahi pana aloha ʻāina because they represent the perpetuation of aloha ʻāina from the renaissance. Specifically, the way that aloha ʻāina has manifested into the United States entering into conversations with Kanaka geared towards Hawaiian sovereignty. As Uncle Skippy alluded to, in his testimony, “we never meet nobody!” The fact that neither the federal nor the State government were successful in their decades’ long attempts at their version of Hawaiian sovereignty to the point where they were finally forced to entertain Kanaka’s opinion, is a testament to the persistence of aloha ʻāina thus far. Secondly, the history of the 2014 D.O.I. testimonies retains the history that contends that the United States will still not fully admit to its participation in the violation of Hawaiian rights by completely disregarding National Independence as a reality for Kanaka. The Hawaiʻi State government, and U.S. government at large, continue to disregard their responsibility to assist Kanaka in the re-establishment of our Nation, when enough evidence is globally known that the U.S. is obligated to do so.
The lyrics above are from a song that Uncle Skippy is still composing. This verse attempts to summarize Uncle Skippy’s perception of where aloha ʻāina and the movement currently stand as we battle the U.S. forcing federal-recognition on our independence, and our continued refusal of it. A testament to our genealogy of resistance. Roman empires grumble at dusk. Roman empires, is a representation of entities that colonize, and this line represents that aloha ʻāina is grumbling the façade of America’s legacy as our great saviors of civilization. Kanaka hoʻihoʻi ka pō—return to the night (genesis). Kanaka believe that our genealogy descends from the night, before the universe made light and man came to be, the universe made the gods, our sacred ancestors, in the night (Liliuokalani [1897] 1997). This line represents the ability of Kanaka today to shed a very significant part of colonization from our souls. Light is represented with colonization. Dark is represented with the Kanaka soul. Kanaka are shedding the light from our soul, and returning back to the night, to our indigenous and national identities Priest & politicians sing their song, Haʻawi lilo (give up). This line represents the history of colonial perpetrators. In Hawaiʻi, we went from priests (refers to the loss of Kanaka spirituality at the hands of Christian missionaries in the early 19th century) to politicians (those who control the State) controlling our resources and livelihoods. Let it all go. You in a better country they swear, then before, represents the colonial narrative that the U.S. is Kanaka’s great savior of civilization and democracy. The narrative has manifested today, in how the U.S. contends that, federal-recognition is the only type of sovereignty that Kanaka can experience. The notion by both the state and the federal government to continue to ignore the truth about Hawaiian national independence is a representation that the colonial narrative still taints their perceptions. They still don’t see why Kanaka will fight forever for national independence, they are still convinced that America is the greatest county in the world and that Hawaiʻi could not be in any better situation than to be an American state. But the blood boil underneath, ua lawa the stone (stone of the land is enough) represents the renaissance era, when we learned about our true identity and nationalism. Ua lawa the stone, represents a line from the most famous mele aloha ʻāina, Kaulana Nā Pua by Ellen K. Wright Prendergast (Nordyke and Noyes 1993) composed shortly after the illegal overthrow and in a general interpretation, accounts for Kanaka’s experience with the illegal overthrow. The original line, ua lawa mākou i ka pōhaku (we are fulfilled with the stone of the land), represents a rebuttal at the time of the original composition, towards the pro-annexation narratives that claimed that without annexation to the U.S. Kanaka will be stuck eating stones as a metaphor for demeaning Kanaka way of life as primitive. Ua lawa mākou i ka pōhaku pertains to the colonial narrative that our connection to the stone (land) is the same connection to our independence, and therefore, the stone is not only enough, but it’s specifically what we want as opposed to U.S. annexation. Cause we on Tūtūʻs (grandma/mother earth) bones, ʻāina underneath our feet represents where the Kanaka narrative stands today. We know our history to our National Independence, it lies within our genealogical history to the land we stand on. The land we continue to fight for (Ioane 2021d). The song ‘Roman Empires,’ represents the D.O.I. meetings because the meetings represent the realization for Kanaka that the State’s perception of a nation-to-nation relationship (with the assistance of DHHL) is just an extension of their legacy to continue controlling Hawaiian independence, continuing the traditions of roman empires.

2.6.6. Aloha ʻĀina Hoʻopulapula: Department of Hawaiian Homelands—A Place for Hawaiian Rehabilitation or Hawaiian Genocide?

“Me, i’m from the House of ʻĀina, we will resist with the strength of the elders gone, while holding onto the promise of children to come, and greet each morning Kanaka sons and daughters, I really think you outtaʻ get off yaʻ duffʻs and holler…RESIST!”.
This next session will briefly summarize the history of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL/the Department) and how it became a State-benefitted institution, set up as a façade for Hawaiian rehabilitation through land allotment. The purpose of this sections is to lay historical context to the discussion section where the wahi pana aloha ʻāina of my moʻokūʻauhau (genealogy) in Keaukaha, HI are discussed.
The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands descends from the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA) of 1921 which was the result of a Hawaiian rehabilitation bill that was negatively altered by U.S. congressional compromises, to benefit the growth of American sugar interest in Hawaiʻi (Kauanui 2008). In February of 1919 Hawaiʻi Territorial Senator, Rev. John H. Wise introduced the, Hawaiian Rehabilitation Bill in Territorial Senate (Territory of Hawaiʻi). The purpose of the rehabilitation bill was to uplift a diminishing Hawaiian race at the turn of the 20th century by placing Kanaka back on the land. The following year with assistance by ʻAhahui Puʻuhonua o Nā Hawaiʻi (APH) and the Hawaiian Civic Club, both John H. Wise and Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole (US. delegate to Congress and would-be heir to the throne) presented ‘Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 2′ to the House Committee on Territories in Washington D.C. as a means to amend the current land laws in Hawaiʻi to make public lands available for general allotment by Hawaiians as a means for their land-rehabilitation-program (McGregor 1990; Kauanui 2008). According to Kauanui (2008), “Wise and Kalananaole’s push for Native rehabilitation and entitlement to lands entailed a dual argument—legal and moral claims—for American social obligation to long-suffering Hawaiians” (p. 71). The lands that they proposed be used for this program were crown lands (The Hawaiian crown’s private land) that were seized by the U.S. government after the illegal annexation, but still under lease by major sugar plantations from the administration of King Kalākaua, but were soon to expire (McGregor 1990; Kauanui 2008). Kalanianaʻole and Wise contended that, on top of the reparations owed to Kanaka by the U.S. government for the unlawful overtaking of the Hawaiian Kingdom, that the lands released by Kalākaua are crown lands, and under the Hawaiian Kingdom and international law are not subject to governmental seizure even in a ‘legal’ annexation (Kauanui 2008).
Then a series of congressional debates began to create an appropriate amendment to the land laws of Hawaiʻi, to benefit the agendas of both competing interest; Hawaiian rehabilitation and sugar elite control of Hawaiʻi land and agriculture (Kauanui 2008). For two years the Rehabilitation Bill went through a grueling legislative process where it battled against republican supporters of Hawaiʻi’s sugar barons who wanted to reserve their current leases and the best 5% of crown lands for the sugar plantations since it was then, the, epicenter of Hawaiʻi’s economy. It would be irresponsible for the Territory (Territory of Hawaiʻi) to risk competition in agriculture for Kanaka rehabilitation needs over the greater good of the Territory (Kauanui 2008). Republican supporters of Hawaiʻi’s sugar economy ripped apart the Rehabilitation bill and forced implementations that would extremely limit the program and make it difficult for Kanaka at large to settle the lands within the program. Essentially, the goal of the republican sugar industry backers was to prevent Kanaka agriculture from superseding that of the Territory (Kauanui 2008).
The strong dichotomies of the competing interest at each side of the land law debate would alter the resolutions a handful of times until the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act was passed in 1921 which strayed dramatically away from the native rehabilitative initiatives of the 1919 Hawaiian Rehabilitation bill. For example: the focus of the rehabilitation bill was to open up general leasing of public lands, to benefit a land-return program for Kanaka through the implementation of Hawaiian homesteading where Kanaka could engage in rehabilitation through revitalizing their connection and livelihoods with the land. The Hawaiian Homes Commission Act ended up being a highly restrictive State system that limited Hawaiian rehabilitation at the expense of State and public use of Hawaiian crown lands. As Uncle Skippy argues, “after sugar interest ruined the chief’s rehabilitation bill, Hawaiian homes became a state focused program created to assimilate Kanaka into participating with the State in their new world order” (Ioane 2021e). Further, it also became a means for the settler State to continue to manipulate its illegal authority over Hawaiian land and resources, and essentially to use the Hawaiian Homes land base at its own discretion by creating barriers for Kanaka to settle the land (Ioane 2021e). Kauanui (2008) who gives one of the first comprehensive accounting of the congressional debates which led to HHCA and the racialized politics imposed on Kanaka following its implementation, and she argues,
“at the time of its passage, the HHCA had no statement of purpose. Even though it was initially meant to promote native welfare by providing homesteads and financial aid, the rehabilitation section was ultimately relegated to a minor role in an omnibus bill that secured congressional approval to restructure Hawaiʻi’s land laws. The businesses elite’s successful push for provisions to be added to the HHCA neutralized the potential of the act to empower Hawaiians. These provisions guaranteed the continuation of public land leasing for sugar and ranching interest who won out.
(p. 165)
Bailey (2009) in his dissertation, ʻĀina Hoʻopulapula: A Contested Legacy: Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole’s Hawaiian Homes Commission Act during the Territorial Years 1921–1959, covers the same historical context that led to HHCA as Kauanui (2008), but furthers his research into the implementation of the first homesteads, and the continued misuse of the program by the State. Bailey Jr. argues, “Since the HHCA only defined the parameters of the Program, it left the method for rehabilitation unclear and, in fact, the very definition of ‘rehabilitation’ undefined. The HHCA also did not stipulate or provide any sort of structure for the inner workings of the Program” (p. 133). Bailey shares the story of a letter written to Hawaiʻi Governor W.R. Farrington by R.M. Duncan a Hawaiian Homes Commissioner where he, “expressed his frustration with the lack of a clear direction within the Program and what he viewed as wasteful and shortsighted spending practices” (Bailey 2009, p. 133). Proving early on, that the program as it was finally accepted into legislation was never intended to rehabilitate Kanaka, but rather to create a façade that America had compensated Kanaka somehow for the loss of land. However, continued mismanagement and misuse of the program would later prove that beyond a false program for rehabilitation, HHCA would also become a means for the State to maintain their legacy of American expansionism, and colonial domination over Hawaiian lands, through the guise of Hawaiian rehabilitation.
HHCA was originally approved for a trial period of five years. Within that trial period 2 agriculture homesteads in Molokai and one residential homestead in Keaukaha were established. Before HHCA could be fully implemented, the territorial legislature (later the Hawaii State legislature), “also approved a new condition that severely limited the Commissions’ ability to settle Hawaiian home lands and opened the door for massive mismanagement and corruption. Section 204 of the HHCA was amended by adding two new conditions. The first, allowed the Commissioner of Public Lands to withdraw any lands with a five-year notice, and that any lands not being used by the program be returned to the Commissioner of Public Lands for public use (Bailey 2009, p. 158) Second, the new clause to section 204 limited Hawaiian settlement by stating that, “the commission shall not lease, use, nor dispose of more than twenty thousand acres of the area of Hawaiian home lands, for settlement by native Hawaiians, in any calendar five-year period” (Bailey 2009, p. 159). These two new clauses to section 204 would allow for non-beneficiaries, including state, foreign and private investors to get their hands on lands and leases for public, government, and capital use from as soon as it was implemented, and whose leases still stand today (Ioane 2021c). This would allow for those entities to benefit and settle Hawaiian homes at a higher rate than that of the intended beneficiaries (Waiʻalae 2010). This clause would manifest into what Bailey (2009) argues to be the contested legacy of the commission. What this means is that, the physical experience of Kanaka with HHCA is in complete contradiction to the rehabilitation initiatives the commission is charged with. According to the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act,
  • The Hawaiian must be helped upon the land to insure his rehabilitation.
  • Alienation of such land, not only in the immediate future but also for many years to come, must be made impossible.
  • Accessible water in adequate amounts must be provided for all tracts.
  • The Hawaiian must be financially aided until his farming operations are well under way. (Bailey 2009, p. 109).
The manifestation of this contested legacy is easily recognized today by the non-beneficiary to beneficiary ratio of land settlement across Hawaiian Homes trust lands. For example, within Hilo’s industrial district alone, a significant portion of the town’s founding institutions continue to lease Hawaiian Homes Lands from their inception. Including businesses like; Hilo Transfer Station, Hawaii Electric Light Company engineering office, Honsador Lumber, U-Haul, Prince Kūhiō Mall, Walmart, Home Depot, Safeway, Ross, Hilo Airport, including a total of 56 general leases in the Waiakea district in the 2020 Hawaiian Homes annual report (Department of Hawaiian Home Lands 2020; Ioane 2021d; Kaleiwahea 2021b; Lee 2021). Contemporary research on Hawaiian Homelands program has recorded mis-management from as early as 1970. (Hansen 1971; Halualani 2002; Bailey 2009; Waiʻalae 2010). Further, beneficiary narrative argues that, almost since its inception, the HHCA, has not focused its interest on the beneficiaries it is charged with servicing (Ioane 2021e, Kaleiwahea 2021b, Lee 2021).
After the passing of the Statehood bill, illegally, but officiating Hawaiʻi as the 50th State of Hawaiʻi in 1959, the HHCA fell under the new State of Hawaiʻi jurisdiction and was relabeled the, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL). The initiation of DHHL in the 85th Congress of Hawaiʻi in 1958 put an end to the clause which allowed access of unused Hawaiian Home land to the Commissioner of Public Lands, and also required the revenue from remaining leases be put into the Department’s larger fund. According to Bailey 2009), “At that time, it was estimated that these revenues would contribute, annually, at least an additional $80,000 towards the Program. For thirty-three years, commissioners of the Hawaiian Homes Program continually fought against lack of funding as the primary cause of their inability to place Native Hawaiians on home lands, and yet it seemed clear that this obstacle was a manufactured one” (p. 163). After the initiation of DHHL in 1958–1959, the ‘Commission’, now the ‘Department’ would still use their control over the Hawaiian Home land base to engage in unscrupulous and money driven antics with State and private entities against the opposition of beneficiaries. As Bailey (2009) exemplifies,
“Continually, lands were removed or applicants were denied access to lands that were instead utilized for territorial and then State projects. Lands were removed for sewer treatment facilities to serve areas outside of the homesteads. Lands were removed to accommodate the expansion of Hilo airport. Lands were removed for roads, water lines, and other infrastructure, most of which did not serve the homestead lands. When residents complained the Commission would say that the lands exchanged were being used to generate revenue, but when asked, the beneficiaries were never given an accounting of revenues generated for those, “exchanged” lands.
(p. 168)
The Department towards the latter part of the 20th century became even more corrupt as commissioners engaged in such unscrupulous behaviors as burning down homes of beneficiaries who took a stance against them (Ioane 2021d, 2021e), in addition to accepting beneficiary claims to settle lands with no infrastructure, only to evict thus beneficiaries once beneficiary had made the land livable, to provide for personal Commissioner use (Bailey 2009, p. 170).
By 1980, complaints by beneficiaries and Kanaka in general were frequent enough that the 1983 Federal-State Task Force on The Hawaiian Homes Commission Act was launched as a means to report findings and recommendations on the program to both the United States Secretary of the Interior and the Governor of Hawaiʻi. (Cachola et al. 1987). The federal task force of 1983 found DHHL to be extremely mismanaged, and listed various suggestions for it to be able to function more appropriately in returning Kanaka to the land (Cachola et al. 1987). However, not much change has come about since the publishing of the federal-task force. As Bailey (2009) highlights,
“The function of the HHC was to place Native Hawaiians on the land in an effort to rehabilitate those who were struggling. Clearly, there had developed over the course of the Program during the territorial period, a shift in focus away from the intended beneficiaries and towards other agendas and needs. The Hawaiian home lands were viewed not as a resource for the sole use of rehabilitating Native Hawaiians, but as a source of revenue, for the state, a source of lands for public projects, and as a means to facilitate personal agendas”.
(p. 170)
The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, regardless of the legacy of trauma reported by its beneficiaries is a wahi pana aloha ʻāina. It is a place that reminds Kanaka that the battle to reclaim aloha ʻāina is still pertinent because the one institution set up to reconnect us to ʻāina is still actively trying to detach us from it. In the 21st century we need to re-think the way we’ve been trying to deal with DHHL. Uncle Skippy’s notion is that in analyzing the contested legacy of the Hawaiian Home Lands program, it is doing exactly what it was set up in Congress, to do and that in order to de-colonize the Hawaiian Homes Act, it needs to be dissolved and re-established as the Rehabilitation bill.
The lyrics above are from a song titled, ‘Willy Bright,’ and was composed and named in commemoration of Uncle Skippy’s biggest mentor. The song reminds Kanaka not to forget that the reason that the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands exists, was an attempt by our aliʻi to return Kanaka to ʻāina. Wise and Kalanianaʻole descend from aliʻi (royalty) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 20) (Kauanui 2008, pp. 71–73), and according to Hawaiian traditions, aliʻi are charged with the care of Kanaka-their younger siblings, and further Kanaka’s connection to ʻāina, our mother (Kameʻeleihiwa 1992). Me, i’m from the House of ʻĀina. This line begs Kanaka to remember our ontological foundations as children of the land here in Hawaiʻi. We will resist with the strength of the elders gone. Represents a message to Kanaka to look back to the way our ancestor’s fought for us to stay connected to our ʻāina. While holding onto the promise of children to come, and that if we do not relive and keep up with our traditions to ʻāina, then our younger generation will experience even further alienation from ʻāina and our aloha ʻāina traditions. And greet each morning Kanaka sons and daughters, I really think you outhaʻ get off yaʻ duffʻs and holler…Resist! Is a constant reminder to Kanaka that the fight for the return of our rights and land is a daily battle. The song commemorates Willy Bright because he taught Uncle Skippy to open his eyes up to the ‘hypocrisy of democracy,’ and taught him how to manipulate American colonialism to live your own self-determination as a Kanaka fighting to survive in our own homelands. Therefore, in this song Uncle Skippy reminds Kanaka to get up every day and resist! Resist American indoctrination, and oppression, and the continued attempt by the settler State to move us out. This song is representative of the Hawaiian Home Lands experience because as Uncle Skippy argues, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, at its core, is designed to further alienate Kanaka from ʻāina. Therefore, his message to the lāhui in this song is not to abide by the guidelines of a program designed to rip you out of your mother’s arms. Remember the story of Kalanianaʻole and Wise and their fight to bring us all back home. Wake up every day and resist the Hawaiian Home Lands colonial system (Ioane 2021d) (See Figure 1).
In conclusion of this section, the driving thesis of the theory of wahi pana aloha ʻāina contends that this entire history of aloha ʻāina genealogy from the illegal overthrow to the fight against federal recognition can be exemplified through various wahi pana aloha ʻāina across Hawaiʻi. Our places of resistance hold historical untapped evidence to the single driving premise of the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement today. Which is the evidence in our genealogy that proves Kanaka’s inherit kuleana (rights/responsibility) (Pukui and Elbert 1986) to Hawaiian land and sovereignty. The manifestations of this land resistance legacy was exemplified at Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu in various forms. For example, traditionally labeling the occupation site as a puʻuhonua (place of refuge) was a strategy of the Hawaiian land movements that spread across Hawaiʻi after PKO’s Hoʻoulu Lāhui. These places (movements) were naturally labeled as puʻuhonua for the freedom it gave Kanaka to participate in native relations and to liberate themselves through the protection of their lands. Further, the non-violent-Kanaka-strategy of Kapu Aloha that was prevalent across the Mauna Kea movement was a manifestation of the stereotype of radicalism imposed on earlier land movements. Due to the trauma imposed on Kanaka in the daily struggle for basic rights, and the complete inconsideration of the State, the intensity of emotions displayed by Kanaka at these movements became a perfect tool for the State narrative to label Kanaka land movements as radical and even violent at times. Generations of this anti-Kanaka agenda supported the instant perception by the State and other Hawaii residents to automatically invalidate Kanaka movements if and when Kanaka get emotional. Therefore, as Mauna Kea was intensifying the leaders of the movement implemented Kapu Aloha, the traditional Hawaiian concept of the sacredness of Aloha; to treat everyone with mutual respect in confrontation (Ioane 2021d).
The following section will detail the research methodology and methods used to conduct research on the Big Island Resistance. Further, the ways in which I use those methods to account for the moʻolelo of two wahi pana aloha ʻāina, that pioneered the path towards Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu and the idea of protecting sacred and reserved places by occupying those places until the State seriously engages in conversations focused on remedying Kanaka concerns.

3. Methods: Huikaʻi ʻŌlelo—Talking all over the Place, and Perpetuating Kanaka Storytelling Traditions

“Do you think the wind could ever remember, all the names of the people who have blown in the past. With the touch of old age and intimate wisdom, she whispers no brother chocolate, your culture will be the last.
In the late summer of 2020, the University of Hawaiʻi Internal Review Board (UH IRB) classified the Big Island Resistance project at ‘exempt’ of needing further IRB approval. In 2019, UH internal review had given automatic exemptions to oral history projects, with specific regard to community-led-oral-history projects. This was a testament to the previous efforts by Kanaka to implement educational sovereignty in Hawaiʻi’s educational systems. The University board (usually known to stifle Hawaiian knowledge) was accepting that they had no further necessity to approve my right to conduct research in my own community, essentially because interviewees themselves were requesting the project with the understanding that Uncle Skippy was advising the project for relational accountability (Bagele 2012, p. 345).
Although the target population were the elders of the aloha ʻāina communities I grew up in, interviewing them would be rewarding, but also could be disappointing if I was not adequately prepared (Bagele 2012). I had to figure out how the elders of my community told stories, and why they told stories that way. The stories they told were unfiltered and all over the place, it took them 3–5 substories to tell one complete story. The stories were embedded with lessons one could not recognize until the very end; they were subliminal, and not straight to the point so that you would be learning additional information along the way. Following the indigenous research and social science guidelines of participatory action research (Creswell 2007), I worked closely with my father (Uncle Skippy) to frame the appropriate interview questions that would sufficiently create a successful storytelling session with the aloha ʻāina pioneers of his time. Further, I employed Bagele’s (2012) life-story method (p. 208) of the indigenous interview process. Bagele (2012) describes life-story method as a method that, “invokes relational ways of knowing to enable the use of an interview guide that brings to the discussion ways in which people are connected with one another and the environment” (p. 208). Life-story method was a fitting concept because the story of the Big Island Resistance had come about by attempting to record Uncle Skippy’s life in Hawaiʻiʻs sovereignty movement. The pioneers of the Hawaiian Sovereignty movement lived through a double-generation trauma. For one, they were the generation to discover the facts about Hawaiʻiʻs illegal relationship with the U.S., and they also lived through the trials and tribulations of that movement, from its inception to this day. Because of this, they are very leery about whom they give the mana (power/spirit) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 235) of their moʻolelo (story/history to,) lest it get into the wrong hands. Uncle Skippy’s name alone, not only gave credence to this project, but made the interviewees eager and willing (some for the first time) to tell their stories.
The interview questions were open-ended and followed a Kanaka storytelling method called huikaʻi ʻōlelo. Huikaʻi ʻōlelo is a method that involves mixing little stories together to make larger ones that build up to the moral of the story. Where I grew up this was termed, “talking all over the place”, a term lost in the colonial narrative describing it as the lingo of senile individuals whose conversations have no purpose or storyline (Ioane 2019b). According to Uncle Skippy the larger goal of Hawaiian storytelling and methods like huikaʻi ʻōlelo, is to keep the moral of the story hidden from those who are not worthy of the value of the story. Knowing this, my father helped me to set up interview questions that would make the huikaʻi ʻōlelo successful. This included; childhood experiences of Hawaiian culture, of American indoctrination, of coming to an understanding of social and political justice, and of course the who, what, when, where and why of the resistance they pursued at their respective places.
The interviews were set up in four sections;
  • Personal biography, and childhood understandings of Hawaiian knowledge, culture and sovereignty.
  • How they became involved in the Hawaiian movement/When they became aware of social justice.
  • The way in which the interviewees met Uncle Skippy.
  • How the interviewees arrived at their places of resistance.
I ask interviewees to introduce themselves as well as an extension of their family, where they grew up, and what they remember about Hawaiian history and knowledge in their upbringing. From there, interviewees usually start their huikai ʻōlelo and begin jumping from one story to another. When interviewees felt they had told their stories, the second set of questions about the interviewees participation in the Hawaiian renaissance, and the Kanaka re-awakening; when they came to an understanding of social-justice, and how they found themselves at the places they occupied were asked.
To generate questions about participants overall experience in the sovereignty movement, I completed journal articles and research through the University of Hawaiʻi’s online research engine to locate academic articles as well as media reports of the contemporary Hawaiian sovereignty movement. This theme most times automatically flowed into the next section of the interview about the interviewees relationships with Uncle Skippy which is where most of the knowledge about Hawaiian movements on the Big Island surfaced, because interviewees were feeding off of each-others’ stories about how and why they had met each other, and other pioneer Kanaka in the movement who had either passed or were hard to contact. These questions were mostly generated by a previously held interview with Uncle Skippy pertaining to each participant. Some of these questions were also guided by storytelling about Uncle Skippy’s album Big Island Conspiracy, and his overall musical career because a majority of Uncle Skippy’s music about Hawaiian sovereignty, self-determination, and American colonialism was inspired by the various movements he participated in.
The last theme focused on allowing the interviewees to tell the story about what had occurred at their wahi pana aloha ʻāina (their storied place of resistance). Through this process the means by which Kanaka on the Big Island found themselves occupying land was revealed. The questions about the various movements of the Big Island Resistance were generated both using Uncle Skippy’s experience and with archival research. All the places of resistance had articles related to them, in the local newspapers. Therefore, I gathered details about the chronological events of each resistance as a means to generate questions. The questions were asked by myself and guided by Uncle Skippy when questions needed to be restructured to find knowledge more appropriate in fulfilling the targeted themes.
The need for Kanaka to remember the functions of our storytelling traditions is as Uncle Skippy’s lyrics above applies. So that the wind will always remember the name and the story of our people, and so that Kanaka’s narrative can begin to overpower the colonial domination of American culture. Conducting research in this means by using archival and media accounts to engage participants in storytelling is interesting because in the case of the Big Island Resistance it alluded to new hypothesis about Hawaiian resistance and land histories due to the contradiction between the media’s narrative of the event in real time, and the participants reflecting back on it decades later. For example, like previously unknown events and possible initiations and foundations of anti-Kanaka State driven tactics. In order to conduct research on the highly significant but rarely known history of the Big Island Resistance, I employed the methodological use of wahi pana (place name functions), and aloha ʻāina (traditions and politics of deep love for the land), through the research gathering methods of huikaʻi ʻōlelo (interview) and mele ea (songs about sovereignty) to conduct research on wahi pana aloha ʻāina, and those that make up the Big Island Resistance.
The lyrics above were composed in the early 1990’s. The chorus is inspired by and follows the lyrics and melody to Bob Dylan’s, “The Wind Cries Mary” (1967). During these times, Uncle Skippy and the rest of the aloha ʻāina community had unconsciously been wandering [as opposed to wondering] and going through a lot of deep spiritual searching as the lyrics represents; Do you think that the wind could ever remember all the names of the people who have blown in the past? According to Uncle Skippy, this line begs Kanaka to realize that a part of reliving our ancestral identities is dependent on our ability to re-communicate with the environment, with each other and with the stories of our history in its entirety. With the touch of old age and intimate wisdom, she whispers no brother chocolate, your culture will be the last. Is a constant reminder to our lāhui (our race) that if we do not continue to take care of our environment and traditions, our history will be carried away by the winds of change and time (Ioane 2021d).
In the following section, I will account for the moʻolelo wahi pana aloha ʻāina of my own moʻokūʻauhau, and how our ʻOhana use moʻokūʻauhau and wahi pana aloha ʻāina to attest to our rights to practice mālama ʻāina and aloha ʻāina within our wahi pana. This is the moʻolelo (story) of Hilo Airport, and King’s Landing Village, wahi pana aloha ʻāina of my birth land in Keaukaha, Hilo, Hawaiʻi.

4. Nā Wahi Pana Aloha ʻĀina O Keaukaha: Places of Resistance in Keaukaha

Both wahi pana aloha ʻāina analyzed in this article are located in the ʻāina of Keaukaha. Keaukaha is a shoreline community that sits along the south-eastern stretch of the Hilo-Puna coastline on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi about two miles out of the town of Hilo (Veincent 2016). The first ever Hawaiian Home Lands residential lots were settled in Hilo on 1 acre lots in Waiākea and Keaukaha in the fall of 1924. Due to the fact that the Keaukaha and Waiākea homesteads were established towards the end of the year, after the establishment of the first two agriculture homesteads on Molokai (Bailey 2009), the only infrastructure that the Department was able to provide to the Hilo homesteaders was the roads to access their lots. According to Bailey, a descendant of Keaukaha homesteader’s, in the Hawaiian Homes Commission annual report of 1925, the report details that the commission was impressed by the growth of the Keaukaha settlement with what little assistance they had received from the commission (Bailey 2009). Halena Kapuni-Reynolds, American Studies doctoral candidate and fourth generation Keaukaha homesteader further mentioned in a community talk-story session that there were newspaper accounts of the new homesteaders being fed up with the Department’s slowness. Therefore, as soon as they were awarded their lots they packed up all their belongings, and moved them to their non-landscaped lots, making temporary structures until they could build their permanent homes (Kapuni-Reynolds 2020). Veincent (2016) argues that the resilience exemplified by the people of Keaukaha is tied to the biography and geography of the land: that being a unique Hawaiian homeland community situated on the shoreline fashioned the people of Keaukaha with a unique sense and spirit of resilience. He termed it the Mauli Keaukaha, the genealogical essence of Keaukaha. (Veincent 2016). Representing Keaukaha as a place that has always held firm to the spirit of resilience.

4.1. 1978. Hilo Airport Protest: Genesis of Department of Hawaiian Home Land Resistance

“Good ol’ Kanaka now do as you told, he’s colonized down to his soul. Questions not why he’s fighting the war, the pledge allegiance said you better than you been before. Come back home all the bullets missed, da Blala’s (brothers) ua hala (passed) on the waiting list. How can you see peoples you been blind, y’all been set up way before your time.! Canʻt find freedom with a looking glass, ʻĀina always been underneath your…..ask me no questions, I tell you no lies!”.
Hilo Airport is located on the, “eastern shore of Hawaiʻi Island (Big Island)” ( accessed 10 November 2021), and services the major eastern island districts of Hilo, Puna, Kaʻū and the Hamakua coast ( accessed 10 November 2021). It is one of the two major airports on the island, and one of the five major airports across the State of Hawaiʻi ( accessed 10 November 2021). According to Hawaii Aviation: An Archive of historic photos and facts, Hilo Airport was constructed with a single landing strip in 1925 on Hawaii Territory public lands ( accessed 10 November 2021). The aviation’s archive of Hilo airport history further notes that, “Governor’s Executive Order No. 186, dated 2 April 1925 set aside 100 acres of land in Keaukaha, Waiakea, South Hilo for an aviation landing field” ( accessed 10 November 2021). Hilo Airport has a long history of improvements dating from 1925 through the 1950’s. The Territory of Hawaiʻi seeing the necessity for an additional airport on the island of Hawaiʻi seized upon the idea of the Keaukaha lands as a, “desirable location to establish a second or alternate airport in the Territory capable of accommodating large aircrafts” ( accessed 10 November 2021). The aviation archive further notes that, “when Congress voted for Statehood for Hawaii in 1959, General Lyman Field (a name given during the militaries WWII use of the airstrip) became a part of the State Airport System of the State of Hawaii, Department of Transportation (HDOT), and was administered by the Airports Division ( accessed 10 November 2021). Construction was later approved in 1963 for the reconstruction of the airport’s, ‘Runway 8–26′ at a cost of $2,191,760 ( accessed 10 November 2021). Fifteen years later this runway reconstruction would become the source of controversy between the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and its beneficiaries because to be on Hawaiian Home lands without compensation to its beneficiaries, it was discovered in the midst of the Hawaiian renaissance, and the overall conscious re-awakening that Hawaiian Homes was just another product of the State to perpetuate American enforced colonialism on Kanaka life and land-rights (Ioane 2021e). The resistance at Hilo Airport is a scarcely known but highly significant event. It is the founding moment to the public protest by Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries against their trustee, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (Ioane 2019b).
The 1978, protest of Hilo Airport was a large contributing factor leading to the 1983 federal-task force on the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) (Ioane 2021d). According to Akaka et al. (2018) “the state improperly transferred Hawaiian Home Lands to build the new runway” (p. 36). She furthers that, “they kicked Hawaiians off of Ewaliko Ave (on Keaukaha homestead), for the expansion of the Hilo Airport, then split the Hawaiian community between Panaʻewa and Keaukaha. There was no compensation to lessees or even to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands itself” (pp. 36–37). What Akaka et al. (2018) means is that, the State Department of Transportation, for the fifteen years since it received the lease over Hawaiian Home lands to extend the runway ( accessed 16 November 2021), had not paid retribution to the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, or to the beneficiaries who were removed in order to extend the runway. According to Brenda Lee, initial organizer of the Hilo Airport demonstration, three of the State’s airports (Hilo, Molokai, Waimea-Kohala airports) are built on Hawaiian Home Lands, and based on her own research she learned that in 1978, the department was not being compensated properly by HDOT for use of the State’s airport lands. Lee began a research journey into the Department, after her family (a beneficiary family) was discriminated against at the Airport. Consequently, at the same time, the State of Hawaiʻi put a moratorium on the program’s land-base, which only affected beneficiaries, as the moratorium prevented any new homestead settlement. When beneficiaries requested a meeting in Panaʻewa to ask then Governor Ariyoshi to release the moratorium, he refused. Later, it became known that in Keaukaha, specifically, the State was behind $633,333.00 back rent to the Department for the land that was used for the airport extension (Clark 1978a, 5 September 1978, p. 1). This was money that is supposed to go either into the Department’s larger fund for beneficiary settlement, or to active beneficiary associations for the rehabilitation of their communities as mandated in the original legislation (Bailey 2009). When this became apparent, protesting DHHL to bring awareness to beneficiary suffrage became much more actualized (Lee 2021) (see Figure 2).
The organized and staged protest at Hilo Airport on 4 July 1978 and then again on 5 September 1978 was motivated by what was occurring on Kahoʻolawe, and other civil, and ethnic cultural movements happening across the continent at that time (Ioane 2021d) (Akaka et al. 2018). The main purpose for the staged demonstration at Hilo Airport was to send a message to the State of Hawaiʻi, its affiliates, and the general public that Kanaka, and all their civil rights had been violated by the State since the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, and in 1978, Kanaka were fed up! (Lee 2021). Lee explains that the organizing for the first protest on 4 July 1978 was small, and the idea was to, “just go for it! and see if people come” (Lee 2021). Lee and associates spread the message of a plan to slow down traffic at the Hilo airport on ‘Independence Day,’—an American imposed holiday—through a single flyer and a few radio spots. What happened was more than Lee could imagine. On July 4, 1978, Kanaka (about 75 cars) (Stone 1978a) strategically drove through the Hilo airport drive-through drop-off and pick up location deliberately slowly, as means to draw attention to their signage which read; “We are the landlords’’ (Akaka et al. 2018, p. 38) “Pay your rent!” (As told by Stone (1978a) in ‘Hawaiians halt traffic in Hilo Airport Protest’). The protest lasted about an hour (Clark 1978b) and beneficiaries were able to hand out informational fliers and gain much needed public and media attention (Lee 2021). No flights were canceled, only re-routed (Clark 1978b).
Based on the attention given the protest, Lee publicly announced another protest, scheduled for Labor Day, 5 September 1978. The plan was to storm the airstrip and shut down production for 24 h, to make demands to the State pertaining to many issues affecting Kanaka. The department by this time had seriously pursued the matter of the back rent in court, with reparations soon to be given to beneficiaries in Keaukaha and to the Department’s larger fund. Due to the success of the first demonstration, the organizing group wanted to refocus their issues. They wanted to focus on three central issues; (1) the increasing mis-management of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate, (2) (Trust of Princess Bernice Pauahi left to benefit the Hawaiian people) the high number of Kanaka in Hawaiʻi prisons, and (3) the ongoing issue with the protection of Kahoʻolawe (Kaleiwahea 2021b) (Clark 1978c, p. 4). The Labor-day protest mobilized quickly because of the success of the initial protest. Organizers however had intensified their plans. They were no longer planning to slow down traffic at the expense of no more than traffic tickets. They wanted the State and the world to see them and hear their struggles. Now, they were prepared to storm the airstrip runway, property the government obviously recognizes as federally restricted land, with penalties of $1000 fines and up to a year in prison for the charge of, “entering a restricted area” (Hawaii-Tribune Herald 09/0578, p. 3). At this point, the State realized the strength of Kanaka to both organize as well as to grab the attention of the media (Ioane 2021d). Therefore, both the State and DHHL began reaching out to organizers for mediation. In the meantime, the villainizing of Kanaka by the state, specifically Governor George Ariyoshi intensified. Through the media he created a narrative that Kanaka were inconveniencing visitors and other State residents with their misunderstood claims. According to the Honolulu-Star Bulletin, he threatened Kanaka who participated with the issuing of the National guard, stating that he was, “determined to keep the airport open and use whatever reasonable force to keep the runway clear” (2 September 1978, p. 15). Consequently, this had come after initial organizer Brenda Lee had already requested the Ariyoshi administration to administer the use of the National guard to protect the lives of everyone, amidst the growing popularity of the protest (Lee 2021). The State planned 2–3 failed attempts to stall the protest. They were able to de-escalate it from a 24-h take-over to a temporary storm onto the airstrip. According to Kanaka who attended the public mediation meetings and published Kanaka positions in the newspaper, the calls for protest continued because both the State and DHHL were not being transparent with beneficiaries pertaining to certain rumors about the use of Hawaiian land, as well as their lack of a guarantee that beneficiary concerns would be seriously addressed moving forward (Lee 2021; Kalima 2021; Ioane 2021d; Reynolds 1978). This is a pattern that has manifested and intensified today. The State or its affiliates have absolutely no desire, nor any pressing need to take Kanaka land claims seriously Therefore, they usually treat Kanaka resistance as an insignificant factor in their way to dominate Hawaiʻi (Ioane 2021d).
Marie Kaleiwahea contended that the decision to intensify the protest to a much larger stage was instant. “We figured that was the way to start, to try and see if we could get attention, so we tried with the terminal, it slowed down traffic yes, and brought some exposure, but not to a certain degree, not enough”. “Only those who were picking up people saw. But, it didn’t have the kind of impact that really needed to bring the issues out. So, the next step, we had to go to a higher level. Already we was striving on a higher consciousness. It had to be, where we had to have exposure everywhere, so that’s why it went to the runway” (Kaleiwahea 2021b). From here, she begins to describe the airport resistance as a rise in consciousness, one, in alliance to what was currently occurring on Kahoʻolawe. She adds, “And yea, that was our three purposes; Hawaiian Homes, Kahoʻolawe, and the high prison rate (an issue promoted by her husband and co-hilo-airport-demonstrator Calvin Kaleiwahea) (Kaleiwahea 2021a) but really what we was trying to do was re-awaken that consciousness of our connection to god, through the land”. Uncle Skippy adds to this notion by stating, “Kahoʻolawe so popular, everyone wanted for try have one Kahoʻolawe, to state their purpose. With the planning and then implementing of the airport protest, we (those who participated, some who couldn’t make it to Kahoʻolawe) was experiencing for the first time, what it’s like to have the land move you (Ioane 2021e).
However, the most interesting and problematic contradiction between the public and media’s narrative, and that of Kanaka participant’s stories (which for some has only now been recorded in this project) of what occurred that day, is reflected in the different perceptions of how and why the shoving incident occurred (see Figure 3).
Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported that on the morning of 5 September 1978, “some 250 people from Big Island, Oahu, Kauai and Molokai” gathered at Kawānanakoa Hall in the middle of Keaukaha Homestead” (Reynolds 1978, p. 1). They began preparing each other for the walk to the airstrip. Kanaka were giving talks and explaining to others the details of the situation, dancing hula, teaching oli (traditional chant) and doing pule (traditional prayer) (Kaleiwahea 2021b; Ross 2021) Marcia Reynolds of the, Hawaiʻi-Tribune-Herald reported that the group left the Hall around 11:00 walking down towards Baker St. in Keaukaha homestead (Reynolds 1978, p. 1). When the crowd approached the fence, they found that barbed wire barriers had been put in place to prevent access. About 200 marched to the gate, but only about 40 proceeded onto the airstrip. The media reports that 51 people were arrested, including nine media reporters (Clark 1978a, 5 September 1978, p. 1). Another article by Marcia Reynolds of the Hawaii-Tribune Herald describes,
“Helicopter buzzed over and big island officers warned demonstrators that they could be subjected to $1k fine. and 1 year in prison if they violated airport rules and regulations and entered the airport runway. Demonstrators marched another 100 yards before encountering guardsmen and a bob-wired fenced that was placed there earlier in the morning. About 50 guardsmen with billy clubs prevented demonstrators from going any further. Police and national guards vehicles formed a semi-circle around guardsmen. The protestors holding their line tearful and emotional. One lady laid on the ground, one guardsman seen throwing his club down and walking away from the crowd. 20 min. later Peggy Haʻo Ross of the ʻOhana o Hawaii of Oʻahu shouted, “don’t be foolish and emotional these men are only doing their jobs”. and said that the president of the United States and United Nations have already been made aware that Hawaiian rights are being violated. and then told the crowd to be arrested as a group and not go off one by one (Arrest end airport demonstration 6 September 1978) (See Figure 4).
The media and the public’s description of the runway demonstration are not only different than Kanaka participants but severely undercuts the true meaning of the event. According to interviewee Marie Kaleiwahea in her remembering of the media’s portrayal of the event. “They totally undermined the spiritual mana and re-awakening that this movement was for us Big Island kanaka” (Kaleiwahea 2021b). The next section is a synopsis of the interview of Liliʻu Ross, Hilo Airport runway participant, and daughter of Peggy Haʻo Ross, a kahuna (priest, or descended from line of healers, and spiritual experts) (Ioane 2021c) and highly respected aloha ʻāina and sovereignty leader. Accompanying Liliʻu (LR) in her interview was Uncle Skippy (US)and Earl De Leon (ED) a representative of ʻŌnipaʻa Kākou Kona Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana and Kūkaʻilimoku Village. This is an excerpt from the interview about what Liliʻu terms the, “chronological event of what happened” at the entry to the runway (Ross 2021).
In following Uncle Skippy’s guidelines to an appropriate Huikaʻi ʻōlelo (Kanaka interview process), the interviews mostly took place in pidgin. Pidgin is a Hawaiian-Creole language created by the multi-ethnic plantation workers of Hawaiʻi’s Sugar economy of the 19th century. Throughout the plantation work camps, various cultures from; Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Portuguese, German, Spanish, Korean, and others, mingled together. Within English as a second-language for most, they created a language combing all their languages to better communicate with each other (Ioane 2021c). Today, the pidgin language is a general spoken language among Hawaiʻi residents, and is recognized as an official language of the State of Hawaiʻi.
people climbing on the gate and shaking it, but there was no way it was coming down, with those big huge bolts from the middle to the side attached to the telephone poles. So, my mom (aunty Peggy) stood on the fence and she said stop pushing the fence. Everybody in the front put your hands on the gate. Everyone behind put your hands on the person in front of you. So, we created this web of everybody touching each other, and it went silent. She started to oli, and there was a light that hit on both sides. And I think they thought we had tools to bring it down, but the chains fell right off of the fence.
I think they when rig the gate for us.
The police who started running, when they got to the gate. They were in tears. They started crying. And the national guard that was out in the field. They stood up (the ones that were hidden; snippers I guess) stood up with their guns aimed at us, as if they were informed that we were going to come with…? but we came in white and showing we were coming in peace. And this huge barbed wire that stretched the whole length of that entry. It was huge, for like war kine. We were all barefoot.
But…at that point, everybody saw what happened, that there was just this light and then a bamb, boom, it fell. Everybody ran in. Police officer’s started to cry. The guys in the front, Earl, Joe Kanehailua. Started moving very slowly.
okay…but, chronological order: the guys follow through, everybody’s crying.
(in agreement) Yea…yea.
The guys with the gun (referring to first wave of National guardsmen to approach them at the gate) they put their guns down. They’ll all talking, their whipping their eyes. They run over to the barbed wire fence, they step on it, and they guide us over. They even put down their jackets over the barbed wire fence to help us come over. And they waited for the kupuna!! And the kupuna wanted to come too…she was like aunty aunty! Take me I wanna come too. They got her, told her to put on something, kept her away from the crowd and they waited for her and walked across.
Okay so we know that this was premeditated because they had 2 flows of national guard already ready to go…the first flow was our native Hawaiian people. But we just stood there and talk to them. We said listen: we know you’re with the national guard, we know that you’re servicing what you feel is right, but we are on our trust lands, and were doing this for your children’s future and those yet unborn. We cannot fight each other here on this tarmac like this.
Well that touch the hearts of the national guardsmen. They were going to be the best national guardsmen they can be. But that talk about family, unity. It got to them. It got to one of those men. And he took off his helmet threw it on the ground (you guys remember this) …
Yea, he started crying.
And he went to his vehicle, and whatever it was that he picked up maybe it was his baton, and he started cracking his truck, hitting his truck!!, banging it, taking off his helmet, and hitting it. He was so hurt!! How dare they!? How dare they place us up against our own Hawaiian people!!! That was time to hoʻoponopono (make amends). Cause now we talking to our people. So we got together and we said our prayer. Each one had an opportunity to say something, and they each spoke their heart, that they were no longer going to do this and they were going to remove themselves from the tarmac.
Marie Kaleiwahea in a separate interview contended that,
When we walked in, had all the national guard, we were sharing our manaʻo with them, expressing why we were there. It wasn’t self-motivated for ourselves, it was for everybody for them and their children, so we was educating them as well cause they was all local boys. But we was educating them on a level where they weren’t aware of, cause we were going into a higher consciousness spiritually. And when you up there, everything going flow (Kaleiwahea 2021b).
so then the second flow of national guard was all foreigners. They look like Filipino’s. That discussion was a little different. They were going to push and shove, there was no doubt about that. They were going to try and do something with us. But we told them. Some were saying, braddah what’s happening to your people in the Philippines is happening to us right here! And you know whose doing that in the Philippines…? Is the very people you’re trying to protect here on this very tarmac! Things started to change. They got very angry. The braddahs’ had to come in and start moving things around telling them eh slow down knock it off. Until finally their captain came and said this is enough. And then my mom notices too, that it was time to stop. It was enough to make a statement. We are not afraid. We’re not afraid to stand here and tell you this is ours (Ross 2021).
The contradictions between the publicly documented perception of what happened on 4 September 1978 on the Hilo Airport runway with that of the actual participants is significant. This contested history is important to highlight because, it is an initial real-life experience of the State beginning to control the narrative of Hawaiian sovereignty to the larger public through the control of the media (Ioane 2021d). When the media failed to note that the initial set of National guardsmen were not only Kanaka, but some local to the area, they hid the story of the State’s tactic to pin Kanaka who work for State agencies against Kanaka fighting against the State’s control. Trask (1987) noted that one of the first people to highlight this was, Lori Hayashi, a non-Kanaka and anti-war (World War II) activist who was arrested and greatly assisted in the Kalama Valley struggles (first multi-ethnic land struggle in Hawaii against urbanization in the early-mid1970’s, and which motivated Kahoʻolawe). Trask (1987) notes, “Hayashi also put her finger on an issue that would plague the Movement for years to come: the use of Hawaiians against other Hawaiians. She commented about the Hawaiians bulldozer driver: “I felt so sick! Those damn Estate bastards, sending out Hawaiian to do their dirty work” (p. 135). This manifestation became so intense that in the Mauna Kea struggles of 2019, the State used a Hawaiian language speaking Sheriff to address front line protestors, specifically in ʻŌlelo (our mother tongue) to vacate from blocking the road or be subject to arrest by the State. She had to address, not only Elders who fought for her ability to be educated in ʻŌlelo, but those who raised her (Ioane 2021d). exemplifying generations of post-traumatic-stress disorder experienced by Kanaka at the hands of the State’s genocidal control tactics. Secondly, the neglect of the public narrative to note the distress that Kanaka National Guard experienced, undermines the mental distress of American colonialism that Kanaka continued to face in 1978. Lastly, media reports don’t mention the pule (prayer circle) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 353) that was initiated by Aunty Peggy as a hōʻailona (representation/sign) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 11) that the demonstration was sufficient and complete. Both Marie Kaleiwahea and Liliʻu Ross note that the Kanaka National Guardsmen most affected by the experience joined the prayer circle. This is important to note because it was a testament to the strong connection that Kanaka hold to each other. For some of those Kanaka National guardsmen, that was the first time that they had heard of the issues between Hawaiians and the State, and for some reason they were affected more by their people’s cry than they were to their jobs and their indoctrination as U.S. soldiers. According to Marie Kaleiwahea, it was the spirit of the land that affected them, “it hit those boys and they never even know ‘um” (Kaleiwahea 2021b). The lack of the public narrative to note this, is a strategy to undermine the undying reality of the connection that Kanaka have to the land in Hawaiʻi. According to Uncle Skippy, “this connection is more than just spiritual, its genealogical. Those boys, had no idea that would happen to them that day. What was that, 80 years into the illegal occupation? 80 years of mental colonization didn’t matter. Their ancestral memories came out. They cried for our people, for our land” (Ioane 2021e) (see Figure 5).
The demonstrators of the first protest were cited with parking tickets but, following the practices of the ʻOhana, they were determined to have their case taken to trial because, “the offenses are considered violations of the State Department of Transportation rules and regulations. Due to the fact that defendants can face up to 1 year in prison and $1k in fines, they are entitled to a hearing” (“Hawaii Tribune-Herald”, 24 September 1979, p. 8). However, none of the defendants could get their cases to trial. The demonstrators of the second protest (airstrip entry) were arrested for trespassing and, ‘entering a restricted area’ (Hawaii-Tribune Herald, 2 February 1979, p. 4). In less than 2 hearings, Hilo Circuit Court Judge Ernest Kubota dropped all charges against 53 demonstrators from the runway demonstration, as a ‘technicality’ against the charges of violating State Department of Transportation rules and regulations” (Hawaii-Tribune Herald, 2 February 1979, p.4). Hilo-Tribune Herald reported that, “Dr. Emmett Aluli asked the court if he could withdraw from the motion to dismiss. He said if the court intended to dismiss the case on a technicality and not address the Hawaiian issues then he’d rather go forward with trial” (Hawaii-Tribune Herald, 2 February 1979, p. 4). Dr Aluli furthered, “Hawaiians have been losing their land base for 200 years now, things have not been getting better for the Hawaiian people”. (As quoted by Emmett Aluli in Hawaii-Tribune Herald 2 February 1979, p. 4). Judge Kubota replied that, “no one doubts the sincerity of the Hawaiian people, but that what was on trial was if a trespass occurred based on Department of Transportation rules and regulations” (Hawaii-Tribune Herald, 2 February 1979, p. 4). Kubota furthered that, “if the issue is with DHHL than the demonstrators should take up a civil case with the department”. This argument is an example of a Hawaii State judge’s participation in the judiciary charade to devalue factual Hawaiian rights through the manipulation of a bureaucratic hierarchy to maintain appropriate American democracy. Kubota’s consideration for Kanaka to take up their issue with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is a strategy implemented through generations of colonial domination in the Hawaiʻi governing system, to essentially tire Kanaka out of the bureaucratic process (Ioane 2021d). For example, the case between Kanaka and DHHL ultimately, undergo the same bureaucratic standards that in the end, are still designed to maintain American domination of Hawaiʻi through the States control of Kanaka rights and land. Therefore, judiciary experiences like that of the 1978 Hilo Airport protestor’s would begin a chronic judiciary cycle of ping-pong between the State and DHHL, with Kanaka rights issues. Where both entities work together to create judiciary barriers that prevent the further exposure of the historical context to Hawaiian land rights, and further, the former entities full participation and manipulation of the violation of thus’ rights (Ioane 2021c). The State had been founded and heavily relied on the narrative that the annexation was not only legal but agreed upon. Therefore, their ethics to take Hawaiian issues seriously is bare to none, because in seriously addressing Hawaiian rights, the State automatically contradicts and undoes their authoritative basis to control those rights.
At Hilo airport the narrative of the State as the democratic savior of Hawaiʻi clashed with Kanaka’s real experience. It was Kanaka who took action to bring awareness to the Department’s legacy of misuse. The State had the chance to remedy the contested legacy it imposed on Kanaka then, but rather, continued to maintain the colonial-front by perpetuating the narrative of democratic-savior well into the 21st century. Had the issue of entering a restricted area made it to court, and host of legal and historical evidence possibly actualized much earlier pertaining to State’s purposeful misuse of the Hawaiian Home Lands trust base, then would their force of control over specialized Hawaiian land have the same stronghold that it enjoys today? (Ioane 2021d). The experience of Kanaka at Puʻuhuluhulu is in direct correlation to this premise. In the case of Mauna Kea, both foreign and private investors were able to manipulate state and federal law in a span of less than 10 years, to be allowed to construct an 18-story telescope on extremely sacred land reserved for conservation ( accessed 10 November 2021) Further, the State (Governor Ige) worked directly with Department of Hawaiian Home Lands head commissioner William Aila to gain unencumbered access to Hawaiian Home lands property (Mauna Kea Access Road) to access the construction site. Aside from the TMT and Mauna Kea Access Road, from 1978 until today the Department of Hawaiian Homelands has only intensified its misuse of the land-base (Waiʻalae 2010; Ioane 2021d). According to Uncle Skippy, the Department has done more in its entire existence for the State of Hawaiʻi, and outside interest, than it has for Kanaka. Further, it has contributed more to the alienation of Kanaka from the land both physically and mentally than it has assisted in the return of Kanaka to ʻāina for rehabilitation, which is the very basis for its existence (Ioane 2021d).
Hilo Airport resistance is a wahi pana aloha ʻāina, because of its significant history as the founding movement to a legacy of resistance by Department of Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries. The Hilo Airport resistance demonstrates the strategy of selective location, pinpointing strategic areas in which to hold protests. It was a perfect coincidence that the Airport (a national entity, used by multinational patrons) was purposely built on Hawaiian Home Lands because that reality helped to highlight the validity of beneficiary claims. The Department and the State were forced to pay heed to some of Kanaka’s demands, since what had become publicly known, was also legally correct. However, according to Uncle Skippy, in a larger sense the $633,000 was a distraction for beneficiaries as DHHL continued to allow the State and its affiliates unencumbered use of the land-base. The Hilo Airport trials, teach us valuable lessons about how the States narrative operates today, and how their strategies are formed and set up to create lasting restrictions on Kanaka rights and land movements. In this even more intensified capital frenzy of DHHL, it’s necessary to begin normalizing the story of Hilo Airport so that the evidence its history reveals can begin to aid beneficiaries in their on-going legal battles with the Department.
The lyrics above are from the song title, ‘Samuela Texas.’ It’s used to represent the Hilo Airport protest as well because Hilo Airport was a genesis to the realization that the State of Hawaiʻi is the manifestation of the Provisional Government, and that any part of the public institution is a perpetuation of American colonialism in Hawaiʻi. Good ol’ Kanaka now do as you told, he’s colonized down to his soul. Represents a very lengthy and complicated history of mental colonization imposed on Kanaka’s mindset by assimilative policies of the public institution. Questions not why he’s fighting the war, the pledge allegiance said you better than you been before. Come back home all the bullets missed. Da Blala’s (brothers) ua hala (passed) on the waiting list. Is a line that represents the irony of Kanaka feeling that they need to fight America’s wars to gain moral righteousness, when indeed the real battle is here at home. When Uncle Skippy had survived his tour in the U.S. Military during the Vietnam War, he had survived the bullets of war, only to come home and realized that there’s still a battle a head, dodging the bullet of surviving the Hawaiian Homes waiting list. The battle of actualizing Kūhīo and Wise’s goal of Kanaka rehabilitation through land return, rather than being just another DHHL waiting list statistic. How can you see people’s you been blind, Y’all been set up way before your time! This line is specific to the time it was composed. It is an example of Uncle Skippy’s surprise and confusion (at that time) that, fifty years into the Hawaiian Home Lands experience, Kanaka have received basically nothing, and still (in a collective sense) couldn’t actualize that the program was a colonial tool for the Amerian assimilation of Kanaka. Canʻt find freedom with a looking glass, ʻĀina always been underneath your … ask me no questions, I tell you no lies. Therefore, in that sense, what this concluding line affirms to the lāhui is that, you cannot attain Hawaiian freedom (ʻāina) with tools design for American colonialism (looking glass; representation of colonial expansionism, and in extension the State and DHHL). That, freedom for Kanaka, cannot be attained by American ideals of life. Our freedom is with ʻāina, and that if you return to ʻāina, there will be no more manipulation of your ancestral sense of being. The battle at Hilo Airport, was one of the first notions of this because it was the first time since its inception in 1921 that beneficiaries united across the islands to begin resisting DHHL’s assistance in the alienation of Kanaka from ʻāina through the mismanagement of the program. Uncle Skippy’s notion to reject American ideals of life is reflected in his settlement at King’s Landing Village. That is his stand for aloha ʻāina, in letting DHHL know that he will not allow them to dictate his relationship with ʻāina (Ioane 2021d).

4.2. The Re-Occupation of Keaukaha Hawaiian Home Lands Tract II

“He come from the House of ʻĀina, Let the Blalas’ in. Ka puka wehe kona mama’s house.(door opens to his mother’s house) She wonder where he’s been. Said he been to the house of a foreign design. Damn near lost his kanaka mind, he said he know now that, justice is blind! We Da Evidence, We Not Da Crime!.
King’s Landing Village is located along the Keaukaha shoreline. Keaukaha Homestead is a residential Hawaiian Homestead that resides in the beginning half of the Keaukaha shoreline, and King’s Landing Village resides on the latter southern side of the coast conjoining the Puna coastline (Ioane 2020a). King’s Landing is unlike most residential homesteading. It is modeled after the Hawaiian village concepts of the ʻOhana (Cachola et al. 1987). King’s Landing occupation is inspiring because it was settled by the Hawaiian beneficiary and not the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL). King’s Landing Village is made up of 13 bays. The name ‘King’s Landing’ comes from the story of Ke Kānāwai Māmalahoe—The law of the splintered paddle (Cachola et al. 1987) (Kamakau 1992). The history of one of the first laws enacted by Kamehamhea I Paiʻea and which was adopted (Kauanoe 2014) by the settler State of Hawaiʻi in the State constitution. Kamehameha enacted this law because of an experience in his earlier years were a local fisherman spared his life. Having gratitude for his life and kingship, he realized that he had a responsibility as a leader to enact laws that protect the rights of the innocent people as they travel along the roads of his kingdom (Cachola et al. 1987; University of Hawaii at Mānoa William Richardson School of Law 2021; Kamakau 1992). Therefore, he enacted Ke Kānāwai Māmalahoe after he became the first king to unite all the Hawaiian-islands under a single rule at the turn of the 19th century (Kamakau 1992). When Uncle Skippy first settled King’s Landing, he remembers stories that, the last kupa (native born) of those lands, Mary Kaʻawe Kua contended that the 13 bays that make up King’s Landing was called Mawaena (meaning middle or in the middle) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 375) because it was a land that made up the bridge over two districts; Hilo to the east and Puna to the south Ioane (2019b). The history of Kānāwai Māmalahoe reserves King’s Landing as a traditional wahi pana because of its connection to one of Hawaiʻi’s first ever enacted laws as a united constitutional monarchy under Kamehameha I. The contemporary history of King’s Landing also reserves it to be a significant place to Hawaiʻi history because it is the evidence of the first successful re-occupation of Hawaiian Home Lands by Kanaka through the use of the re-occupation strategies utilized by the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana.
Uncle Skippy took his experience and knowledge gained throughout the various ʻOhana units of the Big Island Resistance coupled with his own childhood experiences with DHHL and Keaukaha (Uncle Skippy grew up in Keaukaha with his grandparents who were part of the first wave of homesteaders to settle Keaukaha), and settled his family in King’s Landing in 1981. Uncle Skippy was the second Kanaka to settle King’s Landing Village after William “Bill” Pakani. Pakani was given oral permission to settle his lands in Waiokawa Bay in King’s Landing through the last descendants of the ʻOhana Kaʻawe, a family whom had settled hose lands for generations. When the Department could not force Pakani out, they burned down his home. When later he sued them, the Department did not appear in court. He then re-built his home right before Uncle Skippy found himself settling (Ioane 2021d).
The news of occupying land in Keaukaha was heard across the aloha ʻāina communities, and inspired other Hawaiian beneficiaries to settle the lands at King’s Landing. Some had never been called up from the waiting list in over 10 years, others had been called, but lost their lot because of their inability to meet the department’s stringent requirements. By 1985, there was a thriving Kanaka community of Hawaiian Home land beneficiaries in King’s Landing. However, because the land was settled by beneficiaries and didn’t follow the normal procedures necessary to gain department approved settlement, the department began procedures to evict the villagers. Their reasoning: the beneficiaries were there illegally because they had settled without the permission of the department, as well as being settled on unapproved lands (Ioane 2021d). The villagers refused to leave. The beneficiaries held a strong claim to the land. There was overwhelming evidence of the ongoing mismanagement of the Hawaiian Home Lands program: the Department had just gone through a federal audit that charged them to hear out alternative development models (ADM’s) in an attempt to begin reducing the overwhelming waiting list. Every member of the King’s Landing village was on the Hawaiian Home waiting list, and furthermore the lands that settled were on Hawaiian Home trust lands. Therefore, the community of King’s Landing had every right to be on the land. Due to the timing of the 1983 federal-audit on DHHL, and the appropriate location, the villagers were successful in creating a scenario where the Department had been put into a situation to negotiate with beneficiaries to legally stay their occupation at King’s Landing. However, because this was not a situation that was created by, supported by, or part of how DHHL ran the program, the Departments participation was going to be bare to none—as it has been since the founding of the village (Cachola et al. 1987).
The Department’s response to the beneficiaries’ rightful proven claims of legal settlement was to give the village as a whole, not to individual families, a right-of-entry (ROE) over the 1300 acres that make up Keaukaha Tract II, the Hawaiian Home land base that King’s Landing Village resides on. The ROE is interesting because, it gives MAHAA, King’s Landing’s community Association, a single lease over all the lots, allowed the village to exist thus far in a traditional village manner, where village life, and community deliberation with the Department was monitored by the village board. However, the ROE is nothing more than a 30-day revocable notice for every member. What this means is that, at the Departments discretion they can evict villagers at any time with nothing more than a 30-day notice. The ROE is also not transferable like other Hawaiian Home leases where any person of 25% blood quantum can inherit the settled Hawaiian Homeland property of a qualified 50% Hawaiian beneficiary. Currently King’s Landing Village members cannot securely pass their settled lots down to their successors (Ioane 2021d).
To receive the ROE, King’s Landing Villagers created Mālama Ka ʻĀina, Hana Ka ʻĀina Association, a 501c) (3), non-profit to be the democratically elected, self-governing entity that represented the interest of the beneficiaries residing at King’s Landing (Ioane 2020a). In addition, the association was required to present to DHHL a community management plan which outlined the current and future land management at King’s Landing. Members of PKO financially supported the village in its creation of an official management plan (community management plans almost mimic agricultural surveys where all aspects of the land are examined). The group Palapala Ink, consisting of UH Mānoa master’s students pursuing a degree in Urban Regional Planning completed the village’s management plan for the completion of their master’s thesis. The management plan titled Subsistence Homesteads: A Community Management Plan for Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Keaukaha Tract II Malama Ka ʻĀina, Hana Ka ʻĀina Association (Cachola et al. 1987) is an all-encompassing report of King’s Landing including; traditional and, cultural history of the lands, including settlement patterns; self-governing documents, house construction plans, geographic and topographic mapping of the lands. With the completion of the management plan, the village was able to attest to the economic setbacks, and inefficiency of DHHL to settle beneficiaries, and so the beneficiaries needed to settle the lands themselves, the Department wasn’t doing anything, nor did they seem to care (Cachola et al. 1987; Ioane 2020a) In the King’s Landing Community Management Plan, MAHAA implemented the Kanaka-Code to serve as the ADM, Alternative Developmental Model of the 1983 U.S. Federal Task-Force findings of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands investigation. The hope was that, because the department was charged by the federal government to consider alternative models to settlement, they would acknowledge the Kanaka-code and give villagers actual homestead leases rather than the ROE (Ioane 2021d). In addition, if the Kanaka-Code was accepted as an ADM, then other beneficiaries who agree to live in an off-the-grid subsistence lifestyle, rather than keep waiting on the list could use this process to begin their own rehabilitation process.
Although King’s Landing villagers have controlled their own self-determination in settling Hawaiian Home Lands in disregard of DHHL, they experienced another form of alienation from the Department. The village in a greater sense over the past three decades has essentially been abandoned by the Department, who only paid heed to the village in extreme cases. When we interviewed two generations of King’s Landing Villager’s the history of this struggle was exemplified, manifested through the generations. The three longest living villagers were initially interviewed: my father Keliʻi “Uncle Skippy”, Ioane Jr. (founder), his brother Wayson Ioane (Ioane 2020d) (current MAHAA president) and Herman Costa (2020), a board member, former president and 30-year resident. Living in King’s Landing has most definitely healed their spirit and fed their souls through the accessibility, and connection to the land. However, life in King’s Landing village is far from relaxed, or at ease. The founding members explain the liberation it felt to settle King’s Landing, but are not shy in explaining the struggle to survive in the village over the past thirty plus years. For example, all three beneficiaries feel that the single greatest sense of relief and liberation to living in the village is the strength to focus more on living off the land rather than having to keep up with the economic demand of an urbanized lifestyle, is the single greatest sense of relief and liberation to living in the village. However, maintaining a community uniquely different than other communities on Hawaiian Homestead lands is near impossible to keep in balance without assistance by the authoritative entity. King’s Landing is located off-grid and essentially in the middle of the bushes, therefore, it is perceived as, and judged by the surrounding communities as a homeless village full of squatters and addicts. This narrative was created, because of the ability of those types of people to slip their way into the deep-bush area where King’s Landing exists. Villagers are then stuck with the responsibility to sort those people out and request assistance in their removal. This task is not easily done. Sometimes illegal squatters and addicts stay in the village for years before MAHAA can get assistance from DHHL and the local police to get them out (Ioane 2020a). This weakens the communities self-governing rights as beneficiaries and takes away any sense of relief from villagers as they constantly worry about the safety of their families (see Figure 6 and Figure 7).
This reality was confirmed in our second interview with the first generation of children who had been raised in the village, and who now occupy significant positions on the village’s governing board. The new generation took leadership roles, some holding secondary College degrees, and hopeful that now in the 21st century DHHL would supply additional support. Yet what they have learned so far is that the Department continues to be grossly mismanaged with absolutely no accountability, and is difficult to communicate with, as there is no process or road map in which beneficiaries can access help or any form of assistance from the Department (Ioane 2020a). For example, as executive board members were having issues with both defiant village members as well as illegal trespassers, executive board members received limited to no communication from the Department and continue to wait for support in their removal. The executive board sent multiple communications to which they received only one crafted response, similar to what all beneficiaries have accustomed to hearing from DHHL to simply “hold on for now” (Ioane 2020a). This is even more intensified by mismanagement within the commission itself.
Now, the King’s Landing administration began to look for support from the only other subsistence Hawaiian homesteading community like King’s Landing, which is Kahikinui in Maui. Kahikinui has received Kuleana lease awards. This was attained through the referencing of the settlement plans for King’s Landing Village. Kahikinui Homestead Association utilized MAHAA’s management plan, as a means to be allowed to settle their Maui lands, which were similar in topography to King’s Landing. They then received Kuleana Homestead 99-year leases for their community members, which has been ongoing for the past ten years. Kuleana Subsistence Homestead Leases are a newer homesteading product within the Department. These leases are awarded to lands which are economically difficult, to bring infrastructure to. The beneficiaries must agree to accept unimproved lands. Currently, the Department is working with the MAHAA community in King’s Landing to negotiate Kuleana leases for their situation as well. This new relationship with Kahikinui has already been able to help make further strides towards genuine leases and successorship than in the previous administration (Ioane 2020a), or in working directly with the Department itself.
In comparing Uncle Skippy’s (US) Interview in Okazaki (1992) to his interview on King’s Landing for the Big Island Resistance can see the dramatic shift in village life from the 1990’s to 2020. Here is an excerpt from his interview in Okazaki 1992.
basically, I think you looking at Hawaiian juice right here, we got squeezed out of life, out there from the American induced system. To be an American you had to have left someplace that you had a bad life to seek a better life. The opposite happened to us, you know, we was here first, and then we got squeezed out. Those Hawaiians out there who are humbly waiting in line for permission from the American bureaucracy are dying out there, and that’s why they actually mad with us cause we refuse to die humbly and wait for permission from someone whose dumber than us, whose more ignorant than us, and represents a fallacy of democracy. And all we end up with is the hypocrisy of democracy, you know. As aboriginal, indigenous, the First Nation here, you know we shouldn’t have to succumb by force, you know we been forced into this way and if you can do well or better by cheating the system it should be our decision, we should not be policed by Uncle Sam (Okazaki 1992, 16:09–17:25).
Skippy Ioane is the unofficial leader and philosopher of the Kings landing community.
I just feel like people of color of have been set up.
A lot of our troubles had come when the Christian faith came.
For me to accept back into me my Hawaiian god, I can see the ocean is a god, the rock is a god, and I’m a child of god, that’s why Hawaiians is keiki o ka ʻāina (children of the land), and ʻāina is earth and the trees are my brothers, and when I came back to this village, it just all fell…in sync and I’ve been happy ever since. See in this village we feel that you have to feel yourself, as the Hawaiian in your spirit, and when you come strong, just like you doing push-ups, you doing spiritual push-ups you feel yourself adapting to this sort of life. Spiritually, I’ve come back. In the things that is Hawaiian and you been kept out the door, you should break the lock and go home (Okazaki 1992, 20:07–21:20).
The future of King’s Landing remains a question mark. Skippy and the other villagers still live with the threat of being forcibly evicted and having their homes bulldozed which has been the faith of other similar settlements (Okazaki 1992, 21:00–21:40).
In his most recent interview for Big Island Resistance on 23 February 2021, Uncle Skippy gives a synopsis of the greater purpose of settling King’s Landing as a much larger phenomena of what he terms, “cutting the chain on the brain”. Which is not only a synonym for decolonizing your mentality, but in a larger sense, represents a basis of that notion, through the philosophy of detaching from the idea of urbanized civilization.
He describes how he was able to attain this detachment through the basis of an off-grid lifestyle represented through the way a Kanaka can create and maintain healthy water and waste systems, eliminating the dependance on State urban planning systems. Or as Uncle Skippy describes, “your water catchment and your outhouse”. Here is a synopsis of his interview (US) with myself (KI) and our videographer Lanihuli Kanahele (LK).
Let’s talk about the difference between the requirements it takes to get a house on a residential Hawaiian Homes lot, and what it takes to settle on the lands in King’s Landing, specific to Kanaka code.
When you get one government issue house with permit, you gotta get septic tank, and someone gotta come suck um out so much. Cause they mix the shishi (urine) and the doodoo (feces). This one (referring to his outhouse) we going do ecology you separate the piss (urine) and they shit (feces). And the piss go to fertilizer (fertilizer) the shit go…. I don’t know…to heaven.
The point of the toilet, to get one house, you gotta be able to flush, and the only way you can flush is you gotta have water, that’s the game right there. That’s a big part of the game, you gotta flush your toilet, then boom they get five fingers on you (shows hands in a grip). Like us we no flush toilet, so they no more us. But if you gotta flush toilet the man got you. So before your house get pau (finish), you gotta go ask board of water supply (State of Hawaiʻi Board of Water Supply) if you can hook up to them, if they tell you no, you no can build house. Cause you have to flush your shit. So this is part of the ʻoki (cut), yea the chain on the brain. All you talking about is shit, not flying to mars. This is not something like that, this is shit.
The purpose of the outhouse, is to show the bamboozlement, (to be conned) we been bullshitted and betrayed, and if you get away why your keeper no like you have good luck. The department is our keeper, fucka (a term similar to, ‘that sucker’), supposed to keep me in good everything, it doesn’t!
When we see this and we try talk to the department and say, you guys have to implement strategies to help the kanaka be able to build without having to pay for Board of water supply to bring water, pay plumber for put in the toilet for you flush the toilet, cause if you no flush your toilet, no can get electricity and they not going let you build house.
So the point of the outhouse, is to grab your own shit, your taking your crap away from them. They come into your house in your private moment and make you pay for your own shit.
We get water tank, and when you live water tank you become aware of the rain. When you no catch your own water, you forget your conversation with the goddess and the great god Kane (manifestation of fresh and earth water).
DHHL is insufficient in their duty to initiate process like this so that the Hawaiian can make himself think how to get away from this captured kingdom (state of Hawaiʻi and the U.S.) (Ioane 2021a).
The larger lesson of Uncle Skippy’s interview is a very ruralized experience of detaching ones-self from State regulation and domination. Uncle Skippy is essentially comparing a rural and off the grid lifestyle as an initial step to begin the process of detaching ourselves from the State of Hawaiʻi and the larger United States government who Uncle Skippy labels as, “our capturers”. He showcases this by alluding to water and waste treatment systems in rural living styles as a fundamental means by which he was able to begin his path towards decolonizing his ontology from American standards of living with and maintaining land. Half a century into the revitalization of the Hawaiian movement, leaders like Uncle Skippy have come to recognize any State organization as a system to keep Kanaka a way from ʻāina and any part of connecting to it. The mentality that urbanized lifestyles are more suitable than rural ones was essentially the notion that launched the initial multi-ethnic land movements across Hawaiʻi that inspired the Hawaiian sovereignty movement. It has always been a competition between Kanaka’s need to live intimately with ʻāina, and the State’s notion to control ʻāina for capitol through the indoctrinated notion that rural lifestyles are primitive, unhealthy and unsafe. In the 21st century Kanaka have also come to realize that the idea of considering Kanaka lifestyles as primitive was an even greater means to keep Kanaka idle, in a sense of unbalance through identity confusion, divisiveness and a system that keeps Kanaka struggling to survive and get back to physical, mental, and spiritual balance. Which for Kanaka is genealogically found within their ability to practice their traditions of caring for and connecting with the land, though aloha ʻāina and mālama ʻāina. By indoctrinating Kanaka into an urbanized and American influenced standard of living, the State or the American system at large is able to disconnect a vital necessity which fosters aloha ʻāina for Kanaka, and that comes in the ability to practice sustainability as the essential means for survival. As Kanaka were kept from our aloha ʻāina lifestyles, we became indoctrinated and assimilated into an American way of life to the point where we could see no other means of living than to abide by American moral conducts, which had nothing to do with our connection to each other, and our connection to ʻāina. Uncle Skippy notes this is because when Kanaka is connected and one with ʻāina, we become solid, unified and whole. This is something that the larger U.S. system cannot afford if they are to continue dominating Hawaiʻi for their own gain. According to Uncle Skippy this system of Kanaka and ʻāina detachment was put in place way before the initiation of Hawaiian homes which is why Hawaiian homes just became another tool to the U.S. indoctrinated system to dominate Hawaiian lives and land. Therefore, when Uncle Skippy came to this realization, he saw a rural lifestyle in King’s Landing as an initial step of his process to begin detaching himself from American indoctrination and assimilation. In a summarization of Uncle Skippy’s notion, a, Kanaka cannot legally build one house without the States regulatory building codes. Which of course is necessary for safety in larger urban communities. However, in regards to Hawaiian Homelands and the need for Kanaka to rehabilitate through connection to ʻāina, a code-required-structure was not a requirement, but over time became the perfect means for the State and DHHL to control Kanaka lifestyles and means of aloha ʻāina (Ioane 2021a).
In comparing both of Uncle Skippy’s interviews almost thirty years a part, we can see how life in King’s Landing has changed, but retains the same purpose of detachment from federal bureaucracies. What is also apparent is how politics and State and Department mismanagement has manifested, in multiple forms over the year, and that this has changed the way the village can continue to maintain their ʻOhana. In 1992 Uncle Skippy was eager and excited about the potential and future of King’s Landing, and he admits many times over that those initial families will always hold the quintessential idea of what King’s Landing meant in his idea of Hawaiian rehabilitation through land acclamation. Although King’s Landing Villagers were liberated in their actions of swiftly getting their families on the ʻāina, over the decades King’s Landing has been embattled with the destructive process of American urbanization in Hawaiʻi, and the further neglect by DHHL to implement Hawaiian rehabilitation in the Keaukaha community. What I mean by this is, not only was the Department negligent in their federal duties to assist King’s Landing villagers who in some instances proved to be some of their beneficiaries in need of the most rehabilitation. DHHL was also negligent to both King’s Landing villagers and the larger Hawaiian Homes beneficiary community by not validating King’s Landing Village for their ability to essentially be the first to actualize one of the suggestions of the 1983 federal-task force on Hawaiian Homes. That being the ADM’s; alternative development model to settlement. Which MAHAA implemented through their Kanaka-Code. Therefore, King’s Landing should have been treated by the Department as a valuable tool for alternative ways to rehabilitate beneficiaries through the re-connection with ʻāina, and thus given the validation and protection of thus’ status. Instead, DHHL’s neglect of King’s Landing has put more weight on residents to maintain their village because they have no protection, nor consideration from the Department or the federal government. Which is why illegal trespassers see no inconsideration to complicate villager’s lives, and are thus able to do so for years with no consequences. Uncle Skippy describes how the initial families were desperate for some type of liberated living, and were willing to work with each other to achieve it as a whole for the village. However, over subsequent generations, and even further lack of support or assistance from the Department, village politics, outside influence, and the increase of American indoctrination across Hawaiʻi at large, would affect the functioning of the ʻOhana in King’s Landing. Families became more nuclear and individually driven.
My father realized he had to get us out, so we would be able to help fix the village later. We moved out in 2003. Our family returned between 2015–2016, almost twenty years later, to reclaim our family land, and have now successfully re-managed the village to a status of balance and stability it has not seen in a very long time (Ioane 2021a). Now that our family has returned to King’s Landing, and we are currently in the process of completing our family structure, Uncle Skippy’s outlook on the village has kept true to its purpose of detachment but has advanced with the times. Whereas in 1992 the goal was to just get to the land. In 2020, we need to figure out how to maintain control over our connection to our lands. In reflecting between the start of the village to where it stands now, we can see that politics and lifestyles may have altered the way rehabilitation feels in rural living, but the larger goal of life in King’s Landing still remains the same. The detachment from State and Federal bureaucracies. That is still the basis the holds the village together, as did the protection of Mauna Kea between pro-independence and pro-federal-recognition Kanaka. Due to the fact that the beneficiaries who settle in King’s Landing are determined to detach ourselves from the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, we as a village and homestead association, remain steadfast.
As the mismanagement within the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands intensifies with the rising price of land and housing in Hawaiʻi, it is pertinent that we begin telling the history of King’s Landing Village. Not only does King’s Landing represent evidence of the ability of Hawaiian Home Land beneficiaries to better control their self-determination without the Department. On a larger scale, it also represents the better self-determination that Kanaka overall can control by detaching themselves from the settler State of Hawaiʻi and its blueprint for Hawaiian lives (Ioane 2021a).
King’s Landing is a wahi pana aloha ʻāina because it is the first successful re-occupation of Hawaiian Home lands. The uniquely Kanaka framework of village functioning reserves this village as a significant place to aloha ʻāina histories. It is the only Hawaiian village on the Big Island on Hawaiian lands where Kanaka are able to self-govern themselves based on community elected bylaws. The villager’s community management plan is a basic how-to-guide for re-occupying Hawaiian lands. In 40 years, King’s Landing villagers continues to show their presence, and is something they have to fight for daily. King’s Landing continues to be a wahi pana aloha ʻāina because it continues to live for aloha ʻāina even in the face of continued neglect by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (Ioane 2021a).
The lyrics above come from the song, ‘Willy Bright,’ one of the Big Island Conspiracies most well-known songs. It is the song that reverberated the famous lyrics across the lāhui crying, “We Da Evidence, We Not Da Crime!” Representing that, Kanaka are the evidence that a crime (the illegal overthrow) occurred. We’re not the crime itself like the colonial imagery imposes on us as a means to perpetuate the narrative that maintains their control over Hawaiian lands and self-determination. He come from the house of ʻāina, let the Blalaʻs in. ʻĀina (the land) is Kanaka’s appropriate home. The term Blala is a pidgin word meaning ʻbrotherhood.’ It unconsciously begs Kanaka to strengthen the brotherhood and to return back to their rightful place as protectors of our ʻOhana, and strengthen our families and homes. Ka puka wehe kōnā māmāʻs house. She wonders where he’s been. This line also represents ʻāina as Kanaka’s mother (māmā). When Kanaka has finally returned to his/her rightful home, the land naturally inquires where Kanaka went, what happened to their generational connection? Said he been to the house of a foreign design where he dammed near lost his Kanaka mind. Is a self-explanatory line that represents American indoctrination, as a foreign mindset that nearly drove Kanaka insane. He said he know now that, justice is blind! Uncle Skippy said this means that, when he had finally come to a realization of how generations of American indoctrination had unconsciously pulled him away from his home, and his mother (ʻāina) like most Kanaka, he was remorseful. He begged for her forgiveness, he learned to never abandon her again because the justice he had thought he was searching for (American civilization and democracy) was never there in the first place, it was always at home with her. Upon this realization, he reverberated to the lāhui: We Da Evidence! We Not Da Crime! and his ability to re-occupy King’s Landing is his biggest testament to this (Ioane 2021d) (see Figure 8).

5. Conclusion—Hāʻina ʻia mai nā ʻōiwi ʻo ke Kingdom: Perpetuating Indigenous Land Histories

Haʻina ‘ia mai nā ʻōiwi o ke Kingdom. You’ve been brainwashed, into brain farts of Mama ʻĀinaʻs wisdom. She’s speaking in a language with a prehistoric date. Dig down deep. Remember. Communicate.
Like the research has shown, wahi pana aloha ʻāina, exemplify the traditional function of place names, but through the lens of Kanaka contemporary struggles to reclaim our inherent sovereignty. Uncle Skippy throughout this interview process constantly references the need to evolve. Although we are upset about the forced mental colonization of our nationality, it has been done. There is nothing we can do about the past, but use its lessons to better the future. The traditional functions of wahi pana, served its purpose at a time when aloha ʻāina represented a concept of ecological awareness when Kanaka survival and society depended on environmentalism. Now that aloha ʻāina is recognized on a global scale, wahi pana—which is a traditional concept of Kanaka geography—can now be used in the 21st century as a social-political research tool. This is what the function of wahi pana aloha ʻāina is: a research and archival tool, for the normalization of places across Hawaiʻi, that hold the historical and political evidence of Kanaka’s legal right to Hawaiʻi’s sovereignty. This is how wahi pana aloha ʻāina works as political intervention by reclaiming Kanaka’s narrative of the land, so that it can begin to remedy the impositions of false history and false facts that the settler State of Hawaiʻi has imposed on our story, and that has been used to validate the larger U.S. government’s right to illegally control our lives and natural inherited resources and national sovereignty.
Aloha ʻāina is a concept, worldview, history and legacy specific to Kanaka and Hawaiʻi. Yet, wahi pana aloha ʻāina is easily transferable amongst global indigenous cultures. As the research has shown aloha ʻāina represents a legacy of Indigenous survival in the face of generational colonialism and culture genocide. This is not an experience specific to Kanaka. In Kanaka traditions it’s highlighted by the fight to maintain aloha ʻāina, but in other indigenous cultures it’s represented specifically through the legacy of survival that perpetuated their people through generations of colonialism to the people they are today. Where ever those stories of resistance took place, immortalize those places so that the history of the land can be remembered and relied on. Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu was successful in garnishing global support because it was occurring simultaneously with the resistance at Standing Rock, where the legacies of those indigenous to the lands of America clashed yet again in a lengthy battle between the legacies that colonized America (Brady 2018). While, Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu was occurring, the Maori of Aotearoa (New Zealand) witnessed one of their most globally recognized resistance at Ihūmatao (Patterson 2020). Even in Hawaiʻi, Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu led to two other massive resistance, one in Waimānalo for the protection of ʻiwi kūpuna (ancestral grave sites at Hūnānānīho (University of Hawaiʻi West Oʻahu 2021), and in Kahuku against the proposed development of industrialized windmills within visual distance to a K-12 institution (Jones 2019). In a general sense, the goal of wahi pana aloha ʻāina, or is to normalize storied places of resistance so that it can begin to alter the narrative of Indigenous struggles. This is significant as a means to remedy the legacy of trauma imposed on indigenous cultures at the hands of colonial globalization, but specifically to begin normalizing Indigenous stories of the land that represent a more environmentally sound planet as opposed to the industrialized one we have now.
Wahi pana aloha ʻāina, and the larger use of place name functions serves to reserve our political and land histories. Wahi pana aloha ʻāina can act as an archive and a guide to historical facts and political history. It teaches our people the chronological order of Hawaiian land movements, their premise and foundation, their purpose and function, their stories of strategies used, lessons learned, and further how the results contributed or did not contribute, to further land movements and the growth of Hawaiian self-determination. Although this land history has led to Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu, it is a history only pertinent to the generation that was involved in it. The younger generation of Kanaka, those who are about to take over the lamakū (torch) (Pukui and Elbert 1986, p 192) of the movement towards Hawaiian sovereignty are unaware of this land history that is connected to the genealogy they are about to carry. This is where the normalization of wahi pana aloha ʻāina comes in. The goal to normalizing wahi pana aloha ʻāina is to begin searching out the living members of known wahi pana aloha ʻāina (like was the goal of the Big Island Resistance project) and find a means to both archive and immortalize those histories. In regards to the Big Island Resistance, the stories are being collected into a documentary. The larger goal is that the premier of the Big Island Resistance documentary will open up the platform for other ʻOhana to come forward and share the moʻolelo (genealogy/history) of their places of resistance and puʻuhonua (safe-haven) for aloha ʻāina.
The lyrics above are from a song title, ‘Whole World,’ were written in 1999, right before the release of Big Island Conspiracy (1999), but was not published until a latter single album by Uncle Skippy (in 2017 titled, “Puʻumaile Social Agenda”). It is the last verse to a song about the history of colonial resistance by Kanaka, and which has manifested to the grandness of, Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu. I use it here to represent the conclusion of this article because it represents Uncle Skippy’s concluding thoughts at the end of this interview. Haʻina ‘ia mai nā ʻōiwi o ke Kingdom—here we are, indigenous of the kingdom, at the end of this story. This line represents the end of this tale, a tale specifically for Kanaka, the indigenous to the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. You’ve been brainwashed, into brain farts of Mama ʻĀinaʻs wisdom. This line means, we’ve been brainwashed into barely understanding who we are, and represents the traumatic past of our ancestors, which has manifested into the Kanaka we are today. Through our entire genealogy of aloha ʻāina one thing is apparent: our motivation for sovereignty is linked to our kuleana (responsibility) to aloha ʻāina (to care for and be one with our ʻāina). She’s speaking in a language with a prehistoric date. Dig down deep. Remember. Communicate. In conclusion, Uncle Skippy and this article reminds Kanaka that, the battle for sovereignty will always be tied to our battle to protect our ʻāina, our home, our mother, she who feeds us. Our people can survive, and will thrive as long as we stay connected to our ʻāina. Alienation from ʻāina has turned us into the survivors we are today, and the battle to return home to ʻāina has strengthen and kept us together. As long as we maintain the ability to connect, and communicate with our ʻāina, Kanaka and aloha ʻāina can continue persevere (Ioane 2021d).


This research received no external funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Ethical review and approval were waived for this study, due to a qualification of ‘exempt research’ by the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa Internal Review Board for community oral history projects.

Informed Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study.

Data Availability Statement

Not applicable.


Keliʻi “Uncle Skippy” Ioane Jr. The families of the Big Island Resistance who contributed to this article; ʻOhana De Leon, ʻOhana Lee, ʻOhana Kaleiwahea, ʻOhana Ross and the ʻOhana ʻO Hawaiʻi, ʻOhana Costa, ʻOhana Laimana, ʻĀinaaloha and Carol Ioane.

Conflicts of Interest

The author declares no conflict of interest.


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Figure 1. is a poster created by the MAHAA Beneficiary Association (to be explain in details in Section 4.2. It was drafted by MAHAA’s founding member Keliʻi “Uncle Skippy” Ioane Jr. MAHAA youth attached these to their vehicles on 4 July 2021 and drove through the Hilo Airport as both a means to commemorate the 40-year anniversary of the Hilo airport protest (to be explained in Section 4.1), as well as to participate in a State wide demonstration at all airports across Hawaiʻi, to bring awareness to the issues that Kanaka and their allies, felt were not being addressed by the State, from Hawaiian land rights to increased globalization of the islands, and which were further clouded by mismanagement during the covid pandemic. According to demonstration organizer Daniel Anthony of Mana Ai, “The drive-by gave us the opportunity to come together, but be apart, and bring awareness to our issues” (Anthony 2021).
Figure 1. is a poster created by the MAHAA Beneficiary Association (to be explain in details in Section 4.2. It was drafted by MAHAA’s founding member Keliʻi “Uncle Skippy” Ioane Jr. MAHAA youth attached these to their vehicles on 4 July 2021 and drove through the Hilo Airport as both a means to commemorate the 40-year anniversary of the Hilo airport protest (to be explained in Section 4.1), as well as to participate in a State wide demonstration at all airports across Hawaiʻi, to bring awareness to the issues that Kanaka and their allies, felt were not being addressed by the State, from Hawaiian land rights to increased globalization of the islands, and which were further clouded by mismanagement during the covid pandemic. According to demonstration organizer Daniel Anthony of Mana Ai, “The drive-by gave us the opportunity to come together, but be apart, and bring awareness to our issues” (Anthony 2021).
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Figure 2. Honolulu Star Bulletin, 5 July 1978. p. 1, c. 2.
Figure 2. Honolulu Star Bulletin, 5 July 1978. p. 1, c. 2.
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Figure 3. To the left, Kanaka gather at Kawānanakoa Hall and prepare to march towards Hilo airport airstrip by having speeches, and doing traditional pule and oli (prayer). To the right, Earl De Leon of ʻOnipaʻa Kākou Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana and Kahu Peggy Haʻo Ross of ʻOhana o Hawaiʻi are in front of the procession headed down Baker Ave. In Keaukaha homestead towards the back Hilo Airport gate which is adjacent to Ewaliko, the last street in the homestead. Exposing nearby residents to noise and air traffic pollution daily.
Figure 3. To the left, Kanaka gather at Kawānanakoa Hall and prepare to march towards Hilo airport airstrip by having speeches, and doing traditional pule and oli (prayer). To the right, Earl De Leon of ʻOnipaʻa Kākou Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana and Kahu Peggy Haʻo Ross of ʻOhana o Hawaiʻi are in front of the procession headed down Baker Ave. In Keaukaha homestead towards the back Hilo Airport gate which is adjacent to Ewaliko, the last street in the homestead. Exposing nearby residents to noise and air traffic pollution daily.
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Figure 4. The Honolulu Advertiser. 5 September 1978. p. 1 c. 2. Describes how Kanaka found themselves in a shoving match with United States National Guard on the airstrip of Hilo Airport on 5 September 1978.
Figure 4. The Honolulu Advertiser. 5 September 1978. p. 1 c. 2. Describes how Kanaka found themselves in a shoving match with United States National Guard on the airstrip of Hilo Airport on 5 September 1978.
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Figure 5. To the right. Kanaka in the shoving match with the second wave of National guardsmen in the middle of the tarmac. To the left, Kanaka, including the Kanaka national guardsmen, hold hands in a prayer circle led by Kahu Peggy Haʻo Ross. Photo by Fred Ross of ʻOhana O Hawaiʻi provided by Ross (2021).
Figure 5. To the right. Kanaka in the shoving match with the second wave of National guardsmen in the middle of the tarmac. To the left, Kanaka, including the Kanaka national guardsmen, hold hands in a prayer circle led by Kahu Peggy Haʻo Ross. Photo by Fred Ross of ʻOhana O Hawaiʻi provided by Ross (2021).
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Figure 6. In November of 2020, MAHAA youth prepare screen printing at their villages’ annual Makahiki (recognition of the winter season) celebration. The screen is the logo of their village. Community gatherings like these assist MAHAA in implementing rehabilitation for their villagers through community and culture outreach, ʻOhana networking, and community pride. It also helps board members to see who is willing to strengthen the ʻOhana unit of the village, and who is using King’s Landing to squat and participate in illegal behavior. Those not focus on the rehabilitation process of settling Hawaiian Home Lands, usually do not come to the community events. Photo by Lanihuliokauahaʻao Kanahele of ʻAʻa Media Production.
Figure 6. In November of 2020, MAHAA youth prepare screen printing at their villages’ annual Makahiki (recognition of the winter season) celebration. The screen is the logo of their village. Community gatherings like these assist MAHAA in implementing rehabilitation for their villagers through community and culture outreach, ʻOhana networking, and community pride. It also helps board members to see who is willing to strengthen the ʻOhana unit of the village, and who is using King’s Landing to squat and participate in illegal behavior. Those not focus on the rehabilitation process of settling Hawaiian Home Lands, usually do not come to the community events. Photo by Lanihuliokauahaʻao Kanahele of ʻAʻa Media Production.
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Figure 7. Lanihuliokauahaʻao Kanahele the videographer of the Big Island Resistance project post this photo on the Instagram page of her company: ʻAʻa Media Production. It is a photo of Prince Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole (one of the originators of the rehabilitation bill) in the prison yard, after his arrested for assisting the Kanaka revolt to restore Queen Liliʻuokalani to her throne in the late 1890’s. MAHAA member’s use this photo as their association logo to represent the irony that although Kūhiō started Hawaiian Home Lands for Kanaka rehabilitation, the program today to Kanaka feels more like a prison.
Figure 7. Lanihuliokauahaʻao Kanahele the videographer of the Big Island Resistance project post this photo on the Instagram page of her company: ʻAʻa Media Production. It is a photo of Prince Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole (one of the originators of the rehabilitation bill) in the prison yard, after his arrested for assisting the Kanaka revolt to restore Queen Liliʻuokalani to her throne in the late 1890’s. MAHAA member’s use this photo as their association logo to represent the irony that although Kūhiō started Hawaiian Home Lands for Kanaka rehabilitation, the program today to Kanaka feels more like a prison.
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Figure 8. Keahialaka Ioane, Haʻawina Ioane Wise, and Nawai Laimana, were all raised in King’s Landing Village. They display posters from a presentation they gave the village members about the history and purpose of King’s Landing Village and Mālama Ka ʻĀina, Hana Ka ʻĀina Association during their 2020 Makahiki celebration.
Figure 8. Keahialaka Ioane, Haʻawina Ioane Wise, and Nawai Laimana, were all raised in King’s Landing Village. They display posters from a presentation they gave the village members about the history and purpose of King’s Landing Village and Mālama Ka ʻĀina, Hana Ka ʻĀina Association during their 2020 Makahiki celebration.
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Ioane, K.W. Wahi Pana Aloha ʻĀina: Storied Places of Resistance as Political Intervention. Genealogy 2022, 6, 7.

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Ioane KW. Wahi Pana Aloha ʻĀina: Storied Places of Resistance as Political Intervention. Genealogy. 2022; 6(1):7.

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Ioane, Keahialaka Waikaʻalulu. 2022. "Wahi Pana Aloha ʻĀina: Storied Places of Resistance as Political Intervention" Genealogy 6, no. 1: 7.

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