This essay examines the politics of the controversial proposal for US federal recognition for Native Hawaiians. It explores a range of historical and legal issues that shed light on the multiple claims that constitute the complex terrain of Hawaiian sovereignty politics. The article provides a historical overview of the events that impact the current situation and then discusses a particular set of contemporary conditions that serve as key elements in catalyzing widespread support for federal recognition—namely, the implications of the recent US Supreme Court ruling in Rice v Cayetano and subsequent legal challenges to Native Hawaiian programs and funding by the US government. It also highlights difficulties with the promise of federal recognition as a solution to "the Hawaiian problem" by looking at lessons from Indian Country, Native Alaska, and the Pacific—especially the US unincorporated territories. Finally, the essay explores the independence movement as an alternative to domestic dependent nationhood.
Native Hawaiians, sovereignty, United States, federal recognition, indigenous politics, land, self-governance
Hawaiian poetry developed in the nurturing embrace of oral tradition for nearly two thousand years before American missionaries introduced writing in the 1820 s. Once literacy was established, Native Hawaiians enthusiastically set out to use the new technology to record their oral traditions in writing. During this period they also experimented with and developed new forms of mele, such as hula ku'i. After the Hawaiian language was banned and the government overthrown in the late nineteenth century, there was a period where Hawaiian poetry was carried forward into the twentieth century by entertainers—singers, dancers, and musicians—who kept the performance aspect of Hawaiian poetry alive. The art of Hawaiian poetry was transformed in the latter half of the twentieth century, when haku mele (poets) began to write primarily in English and Hawai'i Creole English while still maintaining Hawaiian themes and utilizing traditional metaphors. Since then, contemporary Hawaiian poetry in these languages has thrived alongside Hawaiian-language compositions, which are still perpetuated, mostly through the practice of hula. Today, Hawaiian poetry can be best described by using the metaphor of a haku lei, where different strands of language and influence are woven together to create something beautiful and unique, an enduring and perpetual symbol of Hawaiian cultural tradition—a lei ho'oheno no nā kau a kau, a lei to be cherished for all seasons.
Hawaiian poetry, form, performance, Hawaiian literature
Although studies have shown that Tongan migrants maintain strong linkages with Tongans in Tonga as well as with their kin in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States, the Tongan concept of vā, social space, has not been used to understand Tongan transnational relations. For Tongans, vā is organized through one's genealogy and kinship ties. The concept of space is central to our understanding of transnationality because global practices involve the movement and flows of people and things within space and across spatial boundaries while people maintain sociospatial connections with one another. Tongans generally view reciprocal exchanges, whether within Tonga or transnational, as tauhi vā: taking care of sociospatial ties with kin and kin-like members. In this article, I explore the concept of vā and the practice of tauhi vā primarily through my research among Tongans in Maui, Hawai'i, as well as my experience with Tongans in Seattle, Washington. I argue that vā and tauhi vā provide us with new spatial concepts for framing our understanding of Tongan transnationality.
Social space, vā, transnationalism, tauhi vā, Tongan Americans, genealogy, fonua