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Social Philosophy Today

Volume 36, 2020

Home: Sanctuary, Shelter, and Justice

Rodney C. Roberts
Pages 89-103

Rectificatory Justice and the Kānaka Maoli of Hawai‘i

The term “Native Hawaiian” is often used to refer to the indigenous people of the Hawaiian islands; however, the term is itself non-Hawaiian, as is its pronunciation. The Kānaka Maoli, the “true or real persons,” are the indigenous people of Ka Pae ‘Āina O Hawai‘i (the Hawaiian archipelago). After living for centuries in these islands as a sovereign people, with a relationship to the land that is both familial and reciprocal, the last Hawaiian government was overthrown in 1893 with the help of military personnel from the United States of America. Five years after the overthrow the USA annexed the islands, in spite of clear and overwhelming opposition by the Kānaka Maoli. In 1959 the majority of non-Hawaiian residents of Hawai‘i voted in the affirmative for statehood. The aim of this article is to show that the overthrow of the sovereign Hawaiian nation, the annexation of Hawai‘i by the USA, and the incorporation of these islands into the USA as its fiftieth state, are both illegal and unjust. Moreover, justice requires the restoration of a sovereign Hawaiian nation.

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