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Hawaiian Sovereignty Propaganda Forums, 2014

On December 11, 2013 an article was published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, written by a group of Hawaiian independence activists, explaining their viewpoint and announcing that throughout 2014 there will be a series of monthly public forums about Hawaiian sovereignty.

The authors, most of whom have a long history of independence activism and would become panelists in the 2014 forums, included University of Hawaii Professor Jonathan Osorio, attorney and radio broadcaster Hayden Burgess (alias Poka Laenui) and his wife Puanani Burgess, Leon Siu, Tony Castanha, Pilipo Souza, Kuhio Vogeler, and others.

The activists used deceptive advertising, portraying their forums as open and honest discussions when in fact the first two of them in January and February were tightly scripted propaganda circuses. Only the activists were allowed to speak, telling falsehoods about Hawaii's history as though they are true, and allowing no rebuttal. He mea ma'a mau ia [same old same old] -- this is how the independence activists always behave].

The spokesman for the group was Michael Kioni Dudley, a Caucasian retired school teacher with a self-adopted and misspelled middle name who co-authored a book in 1990 with Keoni K. Agard entitled "Hawaiian Nation: A Call for Hawaiian Sovereignty." Dudley is typical of liberal social-justice activist Caucasians from the mainland who come to Hawaii, immerse themselves in Hawaiian culture, learn a distorted narrative of Hawaiian history portraying the natives as poor downtrodden victims of American imperialism, and quickly become aggressive supporters of Hawaiian independence. Before coming to Hawaii he lived as a Catholic monk for 17 years in Southern California while teaching at a Catholic school. In Hawaii he has been active for many years serving the typical liberal political agenda: supporting environmental stewardship, sustainable agriculture, and preservation of farmland; while opposing genetically modified crops and development of housing subdivisions. He ran for Governor on the Green Party ticket, and has been a member of his neighborhood board and chairman of its committee devoted to [ethnic] Hawaiian Affairs.

The basic dishonesty of advertising an event as open to all views but then conducting it as one-sided propaganda was amplified by the dishonorable behavior of spokesman Kioni Dudley. He advertised the first forum as being sponsored by the neighborhood board of which he is a member, when in fact the board never agreed to sponsor it. Here's the flyer advertising the first forum:

In a highly unusual action, the neighborhood board held a special meeting at the Kapolei civic center at the same time as the first forum was being televised live from the Kapolei High School cafeteria. The board reprimanded Dudley for falsely publicizing his forum as being sponsored by the board. They did not merely remove him from his committee chairmanship because of his abuse of their trust -- they completely abolished his committee! The official minutes of the neighborhood board special meeting make fascinating reading:

Having lost any appearance of board sponsorship, the second forum, in February, was held in a small studio at the headquarters building of 'Olelo Community Media in Mapunapuna, where such panel discussions are produced and televised under terms of the cable television company's license which requires it to provide facilities, equipment, and air time free of charge for community events. Although publicity said the public was invited to attend and to join the discussion, not many people could fit into the studio, and of course any unscripted discussions happened only after the 90-minute live broadcast had finished. Here's the flyer for the February forum:

A webpage for the series of forums has been created by the independence activists, entitled "The Sovereignty Conversation: Looking Back, Looking Ahead in Hawai'i" The webpage is beautifully designed, and will be providing videos of each of the forums, a collection of suggested activities for families to engage in at home, and a discussion board where people can post comments about various topics. However, anyone who wants to post any comments must first register for the bulletin board, and then must log in on each occasion. It's unclear whether the moderator will be filtering who is allowed to register and perhaps also censoring the individual comments. Perhaps there will be interesting things to read there! "The Sovereignty Conversation" webpage is at

The announced topic of the February forum was "A fresh look at Hawaiian history from Kamehameha to 1900."

Professor Jonathan Osorio described the leadership styles of Kamehameha The Great, Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III, and Queen Lili'uokalani, characterizing them as defenders of Hawaiian nationhood. But Osorio failed to note the fact that Europeans and Americans were full partners whose work was essential in building and defending the Kingdom. Osorio also failed to note that Lili'uokalani's incompetent and chaotic leadership were major contributors to her overthrow, and that she conspired in violent actions by her agent Robert Wilcox in 1889 and 1895.

Kioni Dudley showed maps while describing how Hawaii fell victim to the U.S. expansionist "Westward Ho" dream of God-given Manifest Destiny. Dudley gave the usual narrative about how there was a conspiracy at the highest levels of the U.S. government under several Presidents to take over Hawaii. But of course there are many ways to interpret what was said and done. For example John McAllister Schofield had visited Hawaii in 1872 to study whether Pearl Harbor would be suitable for a naval base. Dudley portrayed this as some sort of a spy mission; but of course it was normal due diligence prior to the U.S. making major concessions on sugar tariffs to the Kingdom a few years later in a treaty signed with King Kalakaua.

Hayden Burgess (Poka Laenui) covered Hawaii's history between 1894 and 1900. Burgess argued that the revolutionary Provisional Government, the Republic of Hawaii, the annexation of 1898, and Organic Act of 1900 were all examples of de facto authority by the United States but not de jure sovereignty which remained with the illegally overthrown Kingdom. He complained that the U.S. peacekeepers had done the overthrowing of the Queen. But actually the local militia did the job and the U.S. peacekeepers did not take over any buildings, did not patrol the streets, did not give any food or ammunition to the revolutionaries. Burgess referred to the U.S. apology resolution of 1993 as a confession by the U.S. that it had illegally overthrown the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893. However, the apology resolution is filled with historical falsehoods, and never had a committee hearing where those falsehoods could have been exposed. Burgess is completely wrong when he said that the Republic had only de facto authority and was nothing more than a placeholder until the Queen could be restored. During the last half of 1894 emperors, kings, queens, and presidents of at least 19 nations on 4 continents personally signed letters in 11 languages formally recognizing the Republic as the de jure government. This is how new permanent governments get recognized de jure following a revolution -- when the heads of state of other sovereign nations personally acknowledge their sovereignty. Burgess complained that the Treaty of Annexation was illegal because it was not passed by a 2/3 vote of the Senators who were present. But the fact remains that it is a matter of U.S. law, for the U.S. alone to decide, by what method a treaty can be ratified; and a precedent for using joint resolution had been established 50 years previously in the annexation of Texas. Burgess complained that subjects of the Hawaiian Kingdom never gave their permission to become citizens of the Republic of Hawaii and then of the United States. But when nations merge or break apart citizens are hardly ever asked to vote about it; and in any case individual citizens or groups of citizens cannot declare themselves to be outside a change of citizenship which their government has ratified on behalf of everyone.

Of course no rebuttal was allowed during the carefully scripted live propaganda broadcast. Nevertheless, I wrote a webpage outlining the main points made by each panelist and providing my own rebuttals to them, accompanied by numerous citations to webpages which provide more detailed rebuttals. Please visit