I first became interested in the Hawaiian sovereignty movement over a decade ago, and out of that interest I first developed the germ of an idea for a story. The result is KANAKA BLUES. 

Believe it or not, there are really two Hawaii’s. One is the “tourist” ideal, consisting of white beaches, resort hotels and golf courses, luaus, and hula dancers.  The other is the “real” Hawaii–the native peoples living in near poverty because the tourism industry has created prices for food, shelter, and land that they can’t afford. How did this come to be?

On January 17, 1893, Hawaii’s Queen Lili’uokalani temporarily surrendered her sovereignty, not to the provisional government, but “to the superior force of the United States of America...”  Although she expressly intended her surrender to be temporary, the monarchy has never been restored.

While we, in the United States, celebrate the anniversary of the overthrow of English rule, for many native Hawaiians, the anniversary of the Hawaiian monarchy’s overthrow provides no basis to celebrate.  Rather, these Hawaiians believe themselves to be living in a “stolen kingdom” and believe that now is the time to reclaim what was wrongfully taken. 

Is this nothing more than chauvinistic saber-rattling from disgruntled natives, or is there something more to what they claim?  The words of our own President, Grover Cleveland, are instructive.  In December of 1893, he told a joint session of Congress: “Hawaii is ours.  As I look back upon the first steps in this miserable business, and as I contemplate the means used to complete the outrage, I am ashamed of the whole affair.”

One hundred years later, President Clinton signed Public Law 103-150 into effect.  Known to native Hawaiians as The Apology Bill, it said, in part:  “The Congress...apologizes to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the people of the United States for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii on January 17, 1893, with the participation of agents and citizens of the United States, and the deprivation of the rights of Native Hawaiians to self-determination.”

So maybe the native Hawaiians have a point.  Maybe it would do us well to hear them out. Or, better yet, to add our voice to theirs.    
KANAKA BLUES, I sincerely hope, does just that.

Mike Farris
Author of KANAKA BLUES (Savant 2010)