The Native Hawai’ian Sovereignty Movement (by Dana Wang)


The Modern Native Hawai’ian movement through the context of statehood and Ka Ho’okolokolonui Kanaka Maoli, The People’s International Tribunal.


History-Social Science Content Standard: 11.11: Students analyze the major social problems and domestic policy issues in contemporary American society.

11.10: Students analyze the development of federal civil rights and voting rights.

Reading Standards for Literacy: 1. Determining the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text. 2. Cite specific textual evidence to support an analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole. 3. Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.


The Native Hawai’ian Movement is one that is not as studied as other race movements in the 1960’s, but this does not mean that it is not equally as important as other native liberation movements. Like other native movements going on at the time, the Native Hawai’ian movement is centered around sovereignty, self determination, self government and reparations for Native people (Kame’Eleihiwa). The goal of this project is to introduce high school students to just one or many native movements in the 1960’s, and understand how native movements are similar and differ from the other race movements going on during the 1960’s. I hope that students will walk away understanding how colonialism is something that continues to this day and that native people do exist and are still fighting for their rights.  

Through this lesson, students will be able to understand the history of Hawai’i from the context of the native people of Hawai’i and particularly how they felt about Hawai’ian statehood. Students will learn about the entire Hawai’ian Native movement that continues to this day, through learning about how this movement has continued into modern times and is still ongoing, and the many different groups still fighting for self determination. They will learn about this through the context of a tribunal put on by an indigenous group Ka Pāaukau. Ka Pāaukau is a coalition of 12 organisations committed to full exercise of sovereignty, self-determination and independence (Kame’Eleihiwa). They will also gain an understanding of who the native people of Hawai’i really are, and the events that lead to the current economic and social position that they occupy in society. Students will also gain a greater understanding of the economic reasons behind the statehood movement for Hawai’i, and the “Big Five” corporations that had a lot of political influence in pro-statehood movement for Hawai’i. This will be done through a combination of secondary sources and a primary source of a testimony by Senator Alice Kamokila Campbell’s in front of the Congressional hearing on Statehood in 1946, where she passionately argues against statehood for Hawai’i. Finally, students will learn about the importance of cultural revitalization, and how the Native Hawai’ian movement has also transitioned to keeping its cultural practices alive. Students will also be able to compare and contrast this particular native movement with other indigenous movements going on in the larger continental US.


Students will learn about the Native people of Hawai’i and their modern fight for self-determination.


  1. Who are the native people of Hawai’i?
  2. What/Who are the Big Five?
  3. Why would the native people oppose statehood?
  4. How does this particular native movement fit in with other native movements?
  5. How has this movement continued into present day?


Haole – (in Hawai’i) a person who is not a native Hawai’ian, especially a white person. ( Google Dictionary)

Kanaka Maoli-  indigenous peoples of Hawai’i

UN Working Group on Indigenous Peoples- UN Group that meets annually, goal is to review developments pertaining to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples and to give attention to the evolution of international standards concerning indigenous rights. ( Source Page)


While mainstream media paints a picture of Native Hawai’ians of being happy, playing the ukulele, and always welcoming with “aloha” culture, in reality Native Hawai’ians have been subjected to their land, culture, and way of life being taken away. This has resulted in Native Hawai’ians occupying the lowest level in society in terms of health, socially and economically. Native Hawai’ians historically have the worst health statistics out of all of the minority ethnic groups, lowest life expectancy, highest rates of infant mortality, comprise the majority of the homeless, low higher education rates, and more (Kame’Eleihiwa, L). Through the next couple of classes, the goal is for you to learn about the Native Hawaiian movement, and how it continues to this day.

The lesson is focused around two main events in the modern Hawai’ian sovereignty movement. The first is about Alice Kamokila Campbell’s testimony in front of a senate committee against statehood. This testimony is very important, as it is one of the few, public outcries against statehood that is recorded that is representative of how a large number of Native Hawai’ians felt about statehood. This testimony also gives great context into how Native Hawai’ians were entangled in the economic interests of the US. Alice Kamokila Campbell’s testimony is the main primary source used in this lesson. The second main event that is centered in this lesson is the Ka Ho’okolokolonui Kanaka Maoli, The People’s International Tribunal, Hawai’i held in 1993. This tribunal’s goals were to draw international attention to the dire situation of the Native American people, through a trial of sorts. They put the US on trial for it’s crimes against the Native Hawai’ian people. The charges against the US included interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign people and nation, annexation of a sovereign people and their nation and territory without their free and informed consent, illegal appropriation of the lands, waters, and natural resources of the Kanaka Maoli, economic colonization and dispossession of the Kanaka Maoli, and acts of genocide and ethnocide against the Kanaka Maoli including the replacement of Kanaka Maoli institutions with Western ones and the suppression of the Kanaka Maoli language (Merry,S.)


Link to Census Data

Link to Dean Itsuji Saranillio’s Dissertation- secondary source used to give context to Hawai’ian history up to Senator Alice Kamokila Campbell’s Testimony

Link to transcript of Senator Alice Kamokila Campbell’s Testimony (primary source)

Link to Merry, article about the tribunal with additional context

Link to Kame’Eleihiwa, article about different pro-sovereignty groups for Native Hawaiians

Link to No’eau Warner, article about importance of cultural revitalization

Link to Day One Video

Link to Day Three Video

Link to Day Four Video


Day One:

  • Read Census Data about Native Hawai’ians
  • Watch Video (Video of Nation of Hawai’i, resistance group to occupation of Hawai’i). Wikipedia page linked in “Other Resources” for some background into who is the Nation of Hawai’i
  • Read Saranillio p. 83-88
  • Discuss the role of the Big Five, and their influence on the Native people.
  • Homework: Read Saranillio p.113-125, Saranillio p.138-148. Come to class the next day prepared with notes about the statehood movement. Be able to answer questions on how media and economic needs formed the pro-statehood movement

Day Two:

  • Have students take turns reading from Senator Alice Kamokila Campbell’s testimony. Stop before Q&A starts, p.11
  • Have students reflect on testimony: what was surprising? What stood out to students?
  • Homework: Read Saranillio p.159-176. Write a one page reflection about Senator Alice Kamokila Campbell’s, now with additional context from Saranillio.

Day Three:

  • Watch Video ( Introduction to Ka Ho’okolokolonui Kanaka Maoli, The People’s International Tribunal) Introduce video as “This is a tribunal held to draw international attention to the dire situation of the Native American people, through a trial of sorts. They put the US on trial for it’s crimes against the Native Hawai’ian people.”
  • Have students split off into small groups to read and discuss p.8-13 of Merry.
  • Homework: Read Kame’Eleihiwa in its entirety, and Merry p.1-8 for additional context. Bring in notes about each organization mentioned in the documents, and noteable descriptions of each.

Day Four:

  • Watch Video (Video about Kula Kaiapuni, Hawaiian Immersion School)
  • Break up into 6 Sections to read and create 1-3 slides to present to larger group about their sections:
    • Introduction (everyone reads) p. 68-69
    • History of Silencing: p. 70-74
    • Cultural Revitalization: Hawai’ian Immersion: p.74-75
    • Appropriation of Native Kuleana (Rights, Responsibility, and Authority) p. 75-78
    • The Ideology of Appropriation p. 78-84
    • The Problem with Nonnative Control p. 85-87
    • Appropriation through Legislation and Conclusion p. 88-89
    • Note: some sections are longer than others ( History of Silencing, The Ideology of Appropriation, so assign more people to those two sections and allow them to have more slides)
  • Come back together to reflect on what they have learned the past classes. Connect this native movement to other native movements going on, and larger civil rights movement. Discuss how important cultural revitalization is to a movement.
  • Homework: 1-2 page casual reflection of the past classes, their thoughts, feelings, etc. Emphasize connection of this movement to larger civil rights movement, particularly other native rights movements.


Secondary Source Citations

Merry, S. (1996). Legal Vernacularization and Ka Ho’okolokolonui Kanaka Maoli, The People’s International Tribunal, Hawai’i 1993. Political and Legal Anthropology Review, 19(1), 67-82. Retrieved from

Kame’Eleihiwa, L. (1993). The Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement: An Update from Honolulu (January-August 1993). The Journal of Pacific History, 28(3), 63-72. Retrieved from

Saranillio, Dean Itsuji. (2009).  Seeing Conquest: Colliding Histories and the Cultural Politics of Hawai’i Statehood. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Journal of Asian American Studies.

Sam L. No’eau Warner. (1999). “Kuleana”: The Right, Responsibility, and Authority of Indigenous Peoples to Speak and Make Decisions for Themselves in Language and Cultural Revitalization. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 30(1), 68-93. Retrieved from

Other Sources:

Wikipedia Page about Nation of Hawai’i