Its almost 2 AM and I made a Facebook post about the Kanaka Maoli who came to help protect the waters (Native Hawaiian's). This was very important to me as I recall the relationships that our people have made with them over the years, we've supported them for their independence from the US, which was reaffirmed by former President Clinton signing an apology to the Kanaka Maoli's for the unlawful overthrow of the lawful Hawaiian Kingdom in the by the United States military and its agents. The apology was toothless, but it acknowledged the truth they were illegally overthrown by force and if you have colonized a people and their lands, the only right thing is to relinquish your control over it. I know it bothers people that we all do not chose to be Americans, but I believe the quote above, attributed to Sitting Bull, is very relevant within the context of the colonization to eradicate our culture and our connections to the land. And you are in the lands of the Hunkpapa.
When I went to Hawai'i, I was not aware of the Akaka Bill hearings starting up in Honolulu until my friends, whom I was visiting on Kaua'i asked me if I was there for the hearings. I said I wasn't aware of a hearing on the Bill, which was almost a carbon copy of the Indian Reorganization Act. If passed, the bill would have submitted them to the authority and jurisdiction of the United States. Creating a roadblock to their independence. They called for a friends on their island to come and share their stories with me. We met at a bed and breakfast by the beach, built and owned by Michael and Sondra Grace, who were evicted from their home, previously, which was torn down (news report at 25:00).
The people who came told me of their history and their stories of resistance, it is no different than ours and they seek to do it in a Pono (good) way, as do the Hunkpapa's at Standing Rock, who put the call out for support in protecting the waters. There was one man who came, Henry Smith, he told me his brother was on a waiting list of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL) for a very long time to move onto his lot where DHHL constructed his home, which was of sub-quality. He fought them for several years to repair his home, but lost and was going to be evicted. When the police came to evict him, he poured gasoline throughout his house and sat down in a chair in his home before he lit a match. It was powerful and tragic event at the same time. What has never left me is that while he was speaking, he collapsed. An ambulance took him to the hospital where he died from massive heart failure. As the medics were placing Henry on the stretcher, I went and placed my hands on his arm and told him I would make sure others would know his story. I shared it with the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs after a Kanaka said he would yield me his time to speak. After speaking against the Bill and sharing Henry's story, the committee turned of my microphone and walked out on me as I was still speaking.
I've shared what I remember with many people over the years, but it is important that I share it today with everyone because the next thing I want to share is what has been on my mind for a few days now, and somehow, with the Kanaka Maoli being there now - I felt everyone who needs to be there is there now, and I need to share the following with you.
Most people know that I have worked with the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee over the years. And some may remember when I did the spiritual fast at the White House in 2009. It was there sitting across from the White House holding my pipe bag that I thought about all the years we have been coming to DC to raise awareness or push for legislation, and what had we accomplished in securing our independence as a sovereign nation, upholding the terms of those treaties, or reconciling the manipulation of their laws that resulted in further loss of lands and resources. I prayed and thought on those things during that time. And before the end of the fast that it seemed to come to me that a Grand Council of the Indigenous Nations in the Western Hemisphere needs to take place. It needs to happen with traditional Chiefs, Headmen, Clan Mothers, and spiritual leaders of the people to bring us of one mind.
I saw how our Native pride resurged in the Seventies through actions by young Natives led by traditionals, and I saw how the movement became fractured by the efforts of the FBI, federal government and corporations, with many of our people dead or in jail for standing up. Their sacrifices did awakened the spirit of our ancestors within us, and we began to stand against a system that has yet to deal honorably with us.
It is always a fight when it comes to returning stolen lands or money, as in the Cobell Settlement. Now it is seems they are intent on compromising our sovereignty with every lawsuit, settlement or Acts of Congress, and even the states are pushing harder, in some cases. Those battles has us all over the country, including the UN, throughs the International Indian Treaty Council, on all types of issues, from mascots to traditional spirituality in the prisons, to water rights. Some people tried to weaken us by telling us what is more important, but what I have always know is that they are all important. They are all inter-connected, but today, we all know what is at the forefront, that is why you are there. And it looks like you will be there for a long time if DAPL is permitted to proceed.
You have the time and the people now, I simply ask everyone to consider if it is time to establish a coordinated plan to secure our sovereignty as a nation and not a semi-dependent nation? Shouldn't we be the ones to regulate the waters and other resources from our nation without asking for permission?
How we do this is through the support of the traditional leadership and a shared vision renewed through your defense of the waters. It wouldn't happen overnight since it took generations to bring us where we are now in a concerted effort, take time to conceive of what our world would look like if we were truly sovereign, along with understanding what it really implies on an international level. I worked with a group called the League of Indigenous Sovereign Nations with the idea of being many nations, but one people in how we rose to support one another across the hemisphere.
That is the thought I want to share with everyone. It is yours, do with it as you will. And should some people want to come together and discuss it to take it back to their communities, do so with one mind. The sacred fires have been lit and prayers have been made for what you are all doing. Yakoke!
"Lets put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children" Sitting Bull