A Nation Rising: Hawaiian Movements for Life, Land, and Sovereignty

A Nation Rising: Hawaiian Movements for Life, Land, and Sovereignty


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A Nation Rising chronicles the political struggles and grassroots initiatives collectively known as the Hawaiian sovereignty movement. Scholars, community organizers, journalists, and filmmakers contribute essays that explore Native Hawaiian resistance and resurgence from the 1970s to the early 2010s. Photographs and vignettes about particular activists further bring Hawaiian social movements to life. The stories and analyses of efforts to protect land and natural resources, resist community dispossession, and advance claims for sovereignty and self-determination reveal the diverse objectives and strategies, as well as the inevitable tensions, of the broad-tent sovereignty movement. The collection explores the Hawaiian political ethic of ea, which both includes and exceeds dominant notions of state-based sovereignty. A Nation Rising raises issues that resonate far beyond the Hawaiian archipelago, issues such as Indigenous cultural revitalization, environmental justice, and demilitarization.

Contributors. Noa Emmett Aluli, Ibrahim G. Aoudé, Kekuni Blaisdell, Joan Conrow, Noelani Goodyear-Ka'opua, Edward W. Greevy, Ulla Hasager, Pauahi Ho'okano, Micky Huihui, Ikaika Hussey, Manu Ka‘iama, Le‘a Malia Kanehe, J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Anne Keala Kelly, Jacqueline Lasky, Davianna Pomaika'i McGregor, Nalani Minton, Kalamaoka'aina Niheu, Katrina-Ann R. Kapa'anaokalaokeola Nakoa Oliveira, Jonathan Kamakawiwo'ole Osorio, Leon No'eau Peralto, Kekailoa Perry, Puhipau, Noenoe K. Silva, D. Kapua‘ala Sproat, Ty P. Kawika Tengan, Mehana Blaich Vaughan, Kuhio Vogeler, Erin Kahunawaika’ala Wright

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822356837
Publisher: Duke University Press Books
Publication date: 09/19/2014
Series: Narrating Native Histories Series
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Noelani Goodyear-Ka’ōpua is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. She is the author of The Seeds We Planted: Portraits of a Native Hawaiian Charter School.

Ikaika Hussey is the Founder and Publisher of the award-winning news magazine the Hawai‘i Independent. Ikaika has been a community organizer and advocate for Hawaiian independence for fifteen years.

Erin Kahunawaika’ala Wright is the Director of Native Hawaiian Student Services in the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

Edward W. Greevy is a freelance photographer whose career spans more than forty years.

Read an Excerpt

A Nation Rising

Hawaiian Movements for Life, Land, and Sovereignty

By Noelani Goodyear-Ka'opua, Ikaika Hussey, Erin Kahunawaika'ala Wright

Duke University Press

Copyright © 2014 Duke University Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8223-7655-2



Jacqueline Lasky

Da night was still, da moon was by da mountain. It was like a little cloudy over da moon but it's still there, it's shining brightly. Da night is still. When dat horn wen blow, people wen know already "It's time; they coming in."


When the people of Waiahole and Waikane heard the warning horn blowing from a treetop on the night of January 4, 1977, they knew that it signaled that the police were coming to enforce their evictions. Hundreds of supporters from all over the Hawaiian Islands were camped out to occupy and defend the valleys. The residents had fought their evictions in the courthouse, at the state capitol, in the media, in front of business and labor offices, at neighborhood and church meetings, and in alliance with other communities facing similar evictions during the turbulent decade. This night was the culmination of three years of struggle to stay in their rural homes and fend off the encroachment of suburban and tourism development.

A vehicular and human barricade was formed across one mile of the two-lane Kamehameha Highway on windward O'ahu. Island-wide supporters converged on the valleys, and traffic was effectively stopped for hours on the only road along the thirty-mile coastline. Only a handful of police officers arrived on the scene, and it was unclear if there was sufficient backup waiting to come in and enforce the eviction decrees. Members of the Waiahole-Waikane Community Association (WWCA) were canvassing the waiting cars, handing out information pamphlets and explaining the reasons for the roadblock with mostly sympathetic drivers and passengers. The police appeared uncertain of how to proceed. An officer threatened to arrest Bobby Fernandez, the president of WWCA, who describes the scene:

Dat's why I'm suppose to tell you, officer, dis is my attorney right here. I'm standing on private property. I didn't park any of dese cars, but, you know, I'm in charge of da people who did.

What you like me do, call da mayor?!

Yeah, dat's exactly what I want you to do!

The mayor of Honolulu was called. The governor of Hawai'i was called. Ultimately, the chief of the Honolulu Police Department gave his personal assurance that there would be no evictions that night and promised to notify WWCA in advance of any future actions. Thus ended the historic roadblock. A few days later the governor announced a deal with the large landowner, McCandless heir Elizabeth Loy Marks, in which the state would purchase six hundred acres of Waiahole Valley and issue long-term leases at fair and reasonable rents to all the valley's tenants. The antieviction struggle was a resounding success.

Nearly two decades later, another historic blockade was staged in Waiahole Valley. In mid-1995, valley residents, farmers, and allies converged on the road leading to the Waiahole Ditch irrigation system at the gate privately owned by Amfac JMB (Waiahole Irrigation Company). For over seven decades, tens of millions of gallons of water each day had been diverted from the lush windward valleys to the dry leeward plains in service of the thirsty sugar plantations. With the closure of the last sugar plantation on O'ahu in the early 1990s, Waiahole taro farmers and allies sought to have the long-diverted waters returned to windward streams. This resulted in the decade-long Waiahole Ditch Combined Contested Case at the State Commission of Water Resource Management, with the Waiahole taro farmers as one of the primary petitioners (see chapter 9, this volume for further discussion of this case). In 1994 it was discovered that Amfac was dumping unused diverted water. A public outcry spurred by the taro farmers and allies forced the temporary return of the dumped water to the windward streams. However, Amfac was dissatisfied and threatened to reclaim the water. In resistance, the Waiahole-Waikane community and allies mobilized and staged the blockade, effectively dissuading Amfac from retaking the stream waters. Rather than a culmination, this was only the beginning of the Waiahole taro farmers' water struggle, which was rooted in the earlier antieviction struggle.

The farmers and activists themselves best describe this dynamic:

Like the original struggle against evictions, [the water struggle] was supported by a broad group of people all around the island and the islands in general. And one of the things that came out of the fight over water ... was an attempt to help people get back to growing taro. In general, there was a revived interest in growing taro.—Liko Hoe

Our first thought was we need more water for our taro. But as we got more into the issue, we began to realize that the issue was bigger than just water for our taro. The issue was if you want to revive taro planting, you need lots of water in the streams, and then stream life itself needs water to support stream life, particularly things like endemic [species].... Then at the same time, the water flowing to the ocean was important to the health of the estuary.... So it became a real broad issue that kind of encompassed all the issues of development, population growth, water conservation, reuse of sewage.... We were well aware [of these issues before], overdevelopment and that kind of thing, but we didn't put it together as a strategy to fight for water.—Calvin Hoe

Just being in the Waiahole-Waikane [antieviction] struggle and rooting ourselves in the community, it became natural to go with the kalo [taro] fight.... In this modern time, the struggle for the water became representative of that issue that resonates with people, like how the development issue in Waiahole was at one time.—Gwen Kim

Unlike the three intense drama-filled years of the antieviction struggle, the water struggle was a relatively low-key movement for nearly three decades. From their beginning in the early 1970s, the Waiahole farmers and their supporters continually expanded kalo (taro) cultivation, helped enact the 1978 Hawai'i State Constitution changes that protect traditional and customary Hawaiian rights such as taro farming (article 12, section 7) and created a water commission (article 11, section 7), engaged in lawsuits throughout the 1980s to enforce the new constitutional protections, actively contributed to writing the State Water Code in 1987 that defined Native Hawaiian rights to water in terms of customary practices reliant on free-flowing water, and were leaders in the formation of a statewide taro farming association in the early 1990s that focuses on restoring and expanding lo'i (taro fields). All of this laid the groundwork for the Waiahole taro farmers' success in the 2000 Hawai'i State Supreme Court landmark ruling (repeatedly reaffirmed), which returned significant amounts of long-diverted water to the windward side for taro growing, stream and estuary restoration, and other public trust interests.

Both the land and water struggles of Waiahole-Waikane are seminal in Hawai'i—with significant relevance beyond the islands—for several reasons. Both struggles were among the first, largest, and most sustained community-based movements to garner widespread public and political support and effectively challenge the islands' prevailing land and water oligarchy. In the antieviction struggle, diverse working-class people with little power or legal standing effectively shifted the issue from a singular private property dispute to broader matters of public land-use policies and disenfranchised citizenship rights. Drawing upon this success in the water struggle, multiethnic taro farmers rooted in Hawaiian tradition and culture effectively reinserted Native customary laws combined with America's public trust doctrine into Hawai'i's constitution and political practices. Finally, both of the struggles effectively mobilized a unique mix of multiethnic local, Native Hawaiian, and American identities and practices. Focusing on lessons learned from these seminal struggles, this chapter outlines the 1970s land struggle in Waiahole and Waikane valleys and provides an overview of the subsequent 1990s water struggle in Waiahole, thus demonstrating the possibilities for—and practices of—local and Native control and use of land and water resources.


American businessman Lincoln Loy McCandless came to own hundreds of acres—the majority of privately owned land—in the Waiahole and Waikane valleys following the 1893 American overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom. While his attempts to purchase the valleys from the Native government prior to the overthrow were unsuccessful, he and his family's participation in the illegal coup d'état and subsequent regime allowed for McCandless's land and water acquisitions in Waiahole, Waikane, and throughout the islands in the following decades. Not only was Lincoln McCandless among the top ten landowners in Hawai'i at the time, but he was also one of the most powerful water barons in the islands due to his family's artesian well digging operations and his construction of the Waiahole Ditch.

The Waiahole Ditch, completed in 1917, siphoned tens of millions of gallons of water each day from the mountain springs and streams of the east side to the dry 'Ewa plains of central O'ahu's expansive sugar plantations. Native Hawaiian farmers and the growing multiethnic local communities of the windward valleys were deprived of the fresh waters they relied upon for growing taro and other subsistence and commercial crops. In the early 1920s, at least one windward farmer who relied on stream water that was diverted by McCandless's ditch petitioned the U.S. territorial government for redress: "I woke up this morning and had no water in my lo'i [taro patch]. How am I supposed to feed my children?!" This taking of water—without permission or compensation—hastened the debilitating transformations that began in the nineteenth century when the majority of Hawaiians began losing their lands and livelihoods. Moreover, this pattern of land acquisition and water diversion was evident throughout the Hawaiian Islands: in pursuit of personal profit, American businessmen associated with the haole (foreigner; white Euro-American) sugar plantation elite usurped land and water from Native Hawaiians and local communities.

As a result, Hawaiian traditional and customary practices and the islands' ecosystem were negatively altered. The Native system centered on the ahupua'a, a land division (often comprising a watershed with a valley topography) that encompasses mountainous forests, upland and lowland fields, and an ocean fishery. The collective use of water was integral to the functioning of this system, wherein mountain streams flowed through taro patches, watered other crops, and continued down to the near-shore fishponds. The ahupua'a's resources were primarily produced and consumed within the extended family networks of 'ohana, and shared with the ruling chiefs. As the staple crop of Native Hawaiians, taro also has spiritual significance as Hawaiians' elder sibling: the taro plant was the first offspring of the mating gods who created the Hawaiian Islands and Hawaiian people. Taro cultivation thus involves practices of sustenance, sustainability, and spirituality. The taking of water by McCandless and his contemporaries not only severely limited kalo cultivation and its corresponding communal and familial function, but also contributed to the diminishment of Hawaiians' integrative social economy within the collective resource management system and the degradation of plant and animal life reliant on free-flowing water.

Nevertheless, Hawaiians and their multiethnic neighbors in rural communities like Waiahole and Waikane persevered on the land. In addition to cattle ranching and goat grazing by Euro-Americans in the two valleys, an influx of Asian laborers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries brought Asian farmers to the valleys and the growth of diversified crops such as rice, sweet potatoes, bananas, and so forth. Despite these changes and the substantial decrease in available water, Waiahole and Waikane were among the most active taro cultivation areas of the islands throughout the twentieth century. Asians also farmed taro, and it was common for Chinese, Okinawan, and Hawaiian farmers to share their skills and labor. This reflected a continuity of Native ways of life combined with introduced multiethnic lifeways, which was further evidenced in extensive intermarriages. In addition to the full-time commercial farmers, most of the valley residents also farmed and fished for subsistence use and commercial exchange. As was common practice in Hawaiian 'ohana, and similarly in Asian kin relations, some family members worked in urban employment and there was a general sharing of cash and crops (or catch) among them. Significantly, these shared social and economic experiences cut across ethnic and cultural differences in Waiahole-Waikane.

While some Hawaiians still retained ownership of their ancestral lands, the majority of valley residents lived on and farmed lands leased from McCandless at rates that were well below market value. McCandless engaged in exchange relations akin to America's post–Civil War Southern sharecropping system: he would pay cash advances, provide equipment, or process farm produce in exchange for a portion of the goods produced by his tenants in lieu of full rent payments. These practices continued after Lincoln McCandless's death in 1940 when his daughter and primary heir, Elizabeth Marks, became the landlord.

However, following the 1959 Statehood Act Hawai'i was in the midst of an "economic takeoff" within a prevailing political "development" consensus of the islands' new power elite, and Marks sought to cash in on Waiahole-Waikane. Many observers ironically joked that the state bird was the construction crane, with mainland Americans flocking to fill newly built hotels, houses, and military bases. Marks partnered with prolific local developer Joe Pao to develop the rural valleys with suburban housing. They met fierce opposition from the residents of Waiahole-Waikane and their allies.

The Antieviction Struggle

At the beginning of 1974 there were several hundred residents in the two valleys, making up about a hundred families, most of whom were at least second-or third-generation families on the land. For many Hawaiian families, their genealogy in the place extended much further back. Almost half the residents were Hawaiian, 20 percent Japanese, 17 percent Filipino, 12 percent haole, and the remaining residents were of other ethnicities. Among the residents, there were Hawaiian kuleana landowners, tenants who worked in the city and varyingly participated in subsistence farming, tenants who lived and farmed commercially in the valleys, and tenants who lived elsewhere and farmed commercially in the valleys. Almost everyone in this multiethnic and economically diverse community referred to themselves as country folks or as living a country life, and this was a sufficient basis for community identification (among many other identifications).

This concept of country lifestyle—"keeping the country country"—served as a rallying point for the residents of Waiahole-Waikane and was incorporated into their four-point platform that proved salient for the rest of the island people:

1. Long-term leases at fair and reasonable rents.

2. Expand agriculture.

3. Preserve the integrity of the community and its lifestyle.

4. Provide for community involvement in regional planning.


Excerpted from A Nation Rising by Noelani Goodyear-Ka'opua, Ikaika Hussey, Erin Kahunawaika'ala Wright. Copyright © 2014 Duke University Press. Excerpted by permission of Duke University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

About the Series xiii

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction / Noelani Goodyear-Ka’opua 1

Part I. Life

Portrait. Marie Beltran and Annie Pau: Resistance to Empire, Erasure, and Selling Out / Anne Keala Kelly 36

1. Waiahole-Waikane / Jacqueline Lasky 48

2. "Our History, Our Way!": Ethnic Studies for Hawai'i's People / Davianna Pomaika?i McGregor and Abrahim Aoudé 66

3. E Ola Mau ka ?Olelo Hawai?i: The Hawaiian Language Revitalization Movement / Katrina-Ann R. Kapa?anaokalaokeloa Nakoa Oliveira 78

4. 4. Kaua?i: Resisting Pressures to Change / Joan Conrow 86

5. Ku i ka Pono: The Movement Continues / Manu Ka?iama 98

Portrait. Sam Kaha?i Ka?ai / Ty P. Kawika Tengan 115

Part II. Land

(Self-)Portrait. Puhipau: The Ice Man Looks Back at the Sand Island Eviction / Puhipau 126

6. Hawaiian Souls: The Movement to Stop the U.S. Military Bombing of Kaho?olawe / Jonathan Kamakawiwo?ole Osorio 137

7. Pu?uhonua: Sanctuary and Struggle at Makua / Kalamaoka?aina Niheu 161

8. Wao Kele O Puna and the Pele Defense Fund / Davianna Pomaika?i McGregor and Noa Emmett Aluli 180

9. A Question of Wai: Seeking Justice through Law for Hawai?i's Streams and Communities / D. Kapua?ala Sproat 199

10. Aia i Hea ka a Kane? (Where Indeed Is the Water of Kane?): Examining the East Maui Water Battle / Pauahi Ho?okanao 220

Portrait. Mauna a Wakea: Hanau ka Mauna, the Piko of Our Ea / Leon No?eau Peralto 232

Part III. Sovereignty

Portrait. Puanani Rogers / Micky Huihui 246

11. Outside Shangri La: Colonization and the U.S. Occupation of Hawai?i / Kuhio Vogeler 252

12. Make?e Pono Lahui Hawai?i: A Student Liberation Moment / Kekailoa Perry 267

13. Ka Ho?okolokolonui Kanaka Maoli, 1993: The Peoples' International Tribunal, Hawai?i / Kekuni Blaisdell, Nalani Minton, and Ulla Hasager 283

14. Ke Ku?e Kupa?a Loa Nei K/Makou (We Most Solemnly Protest): A Memoir of 1998 / Noenoe K. Silva 303

15. Resisting the Akaka Bill / J. Kehaulani Kauanu 312

16. Ku?e Mana Mahele: The Hawaiian Movement to Resist Biocolonialism / Le'a Malia Kanehe 354

Bibliography 363

Contributors 379

General Index 383

Index of Personal Names

What People are Saying About This

Taiaiake Alfred (Kahnawà:ke Mohawk)

"These are the voices of the beating heart of Kanaka Maoli resistance to the usurpation of Hawaiian land and nationhood. Strong words by good minds, the book is at once an honest reflection on the Hawaiian struggle and a motivating call to action to protect the land and waters and heritage. It is history, it is culture, it is wisdom, it is art, and it is an invaluable contribution to the literature of Indigenous resurgence."

Taiaiake Alfred (Kahnawa:ke Mohawk)

"These are the voices of the beating heart of Kanaka Maoli resistance to the usurpation of Hawaiian land and nationhood. Strong words by good minds, the book is at once an honest reflection on the Hawaiian struggle and a motivating call to action to protect the land and waters and heritage. It is history, it is culture, it is wisdom, it is art, and it is an invaluable contribution to the literature of Indigenous resurgence."

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