AlohaQuest Event / Chat Story / Archive Give Guestbook / Subscribe Contact / About Us Press Room
Ma Hope Ho'i Ma Mua

Speech to ‘Aha Hawai‘i ‘Oiwi

John Waihe'e

length - 6:23

Twenty years after annexation, the tides of change were sweeping through these islands. The Hawaiian people were being decimated. They were being lost and alienated from their lands. And a lonely voice spoke out in the United States congress and said "This must not be so!"

He made a case for the people of his day and, as a result the Hawaiian Home Lands Commission was established. See, we take that bit of history a little too lightly, we say it too often. What it really meant was that one person stood up at a time when America had not yet gotten mature enough to admit its wrongs, stood for justice for his people.

The Hawaiian Homes Commission did more than return lands to the people of Hawai‘i. It was the first apology bill. It laid the foundation for our self-governance because it forced the United States to admit its wrong and recognize the trust responsibility that it had to the Hawaiian people.

The 1990's, Kaho‘olawe got transferred back to Hawai‘i. We commemorated the overthrow. Except this time, instead of the Hawaiian flag going down, it went up.

And we formed the idea of a constitutional convention. The idea that it wasn't enough to talk about the broad concepts of self governance, that somebody needed to get down and deal with the hard specifics. Somebody actually had to work on it, not just move toward it.

And that is your job. This is your moment. I'm not here to suggest an agenda for you. Frankly, I don't envy your work. But I admire your courage for undertaking the task. So, while avoiding an agenda, I will offer, though, a few insights from my own experience.

First of all, expect opposition. The media calls attention to the fact that so few participated in your election. The question of legitimacy. But they forget that in 1978, in a special election held for Con-con delegates, very few people showed up to vote. And they had millions and millions of dollars to promote and to run that election. And nobody disputes the legitimacy of the results of their labor.

And if that wasn't bad enough, people like Bumpy and Hayden and the rest of them were running around saying "More, more, more." Let me let you in on a secret. They were very important because they kept moving the limits of possibility, moving the limits of possibility.

They kept making, they made it possible for me and Norma Wong and the rest of us to do things that we never dreamt of in 1986, when we ended our term in 1994. And I want to publicly acknowledge them for their contribution. Opposition from within.

Even opposition from without serves its purpose. Were it not for Thurston Twigg-Smith, who would have written what many people were thinking anyway? He clarified the issue.

You see, the enemy is not opposition. The enemy is indifference. Welcome a conversation!

But yet during this very period, great opportunity also exists. If the Supreme Court were to decide in our favor, it would firmly establish forever the legitimacy of our quest for sovereignty.

This is the moment. It can no longer be avoided. Fortunately, our own base is strong. The Hawaiian community has never been more united than it is on this issue. Why talk about our differences, instead of the fist of strength that is being created when it comes to taking away our rights.

Aloha and thank you very much.
Ma Hope Ho'i Ma Mua