Immigration Stirs Hawaiian Anger
WHEN HAWAII, in 1959, became the 50th State, few islanders thought they would regret the event. But now, 14 years later, a steadily growing number are contemplating the secession of Hawaii from the Union.
Many Hawaiians and kamaainas (persons born and raised in Hawaii), some students and scattering of political leaders today charge the federal government with failing to reconcile its strategic interests with the best interests of the U.S. Pacific community.
Residents foresee uncontrollable population growth due to the unharnessed in-migration of mainland Americans, particularly of military dependents. There is concern over projected land and housing shortages within the next decade.
Islanders also resent apparent economic exploitation and abuse by mainland businesses which exhaust resources with seemingly little regard for community needs.
Pro-secession sentiments first surfaced in June 1970, when the Hawaii Youth Congress of 160 delegates from 80 high schools, colleges and youth groups, passed the following resolution:
We, the Youth Congress family, see that secession from the United States of America will be a catalyst to the preservation of Hawaii's land, culture and people.
The Westernization, Americanization and colonization of Hawaii has left in its wake pollution, congesting, ugliness on our land; has inflicted economic slavery upon our people, and has disrupted our culture through the domination of American culture.
Statehood brought Hawaii Sizeable increases in funds for education, housing and transportation, but these benefits lately have been offset by a meteoric rise in environmental problems, militarism and in-migration by mainland Americans.
Uncontrolled growth in Hawaii has been accompanied by an apparent unconcern by federal officials in Washington. A Hawaiian living in the low-rent Palolo Valley district said last summer in a community meeting, "If we threaten to secede, Washington's response will be 'so What?'"
Military spending in Hawaii doubled from $373.1 million in 1960 to $765.5 million in 1972 and accounted for 58.9 per cent of all federal expenditures in Hawaii, according to recent Bank of Hawaii report.
This compares with $755 million in visitor spending, $203 million from the sale of sugar and a low $140 million from pineapple sales in 1972.
"Hawaii remains a strategic defense link for the United States and will continue to do so even though defense plant reductions and consolidations are taking place at many locations of the mainland," the report said.
THE entrenchment of the military in the islands has done little to improve the state's unique tropical environment. The Army conducts war games in the lush Pupukea hills, only five miles away from a residential subdivision. Island fire officials last summer blamed the military for the several bush fires in that area.
Since World War II, the Navy has bombed Kahoolawe island, located within 50 miles of Maui, for the purpose of training young pilots. In 1969, a defused bomb inadvertently fell into the backyard of Maui Mayor Elmer Cravalho, who since then has urged strongly that the military return Kahoolawe to Hawaii.
State leaders are now blaming expanding multinational companies for the recent downtrend of island sugar and pineapple sales in the national market.
"Hawaii is being sold down the river--not by legitimate foreign competition, but by runaway production engineered by Americans to the detriment of America," State Senate President David McClung said last October.
He charged Dole and Del Monte companies, who have invested heavily in Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines, with "creating their own competitive foreign monster."
RECENT bickering between shipping managers and longshoremen (both within mainland-owned firms like Seatrain and Hawaiian companies with large mainland interests) has resulted in several labor strikes that have crippled Hawaii.
The state, where more than 60 per cent of its goods and food is imported from the mainland, suffered 220 days of interrupted shipping since 1971 due to strikes in the West Coast.
The strikes and threats of strikes left a growing number of local businesses short of supplies and capital which has resulted in sales losses, temporary shutdowns, layoffs and high prices for consumers.
Letters by Hawaii's congressional delegation urging federal intervention in the strikes were almost wholly ignored in Washington. Even efforts by pro-Nixon Senator Hiram L. Fong failed to relieve the problem; Hawaii had to wait for management and labor to reach settlement by themselves.
The Honolulu Chamber of Commerce last year wrote President Nixon, "If the 800,000 residents of the District of Columbia were shut off from vital supplies, you might consider such a situation a 'grave emergency.' But nothing is being done for the 800,000 residents of Hawaii."
To deal with a concurrent population growth crisis, state leaders have appealed to Washington for a constitutional amendment to limit in-migration in Hawaii by mainland Americans.
Myron B. Thompson, a member of the governor's cabinet, said in an August speech that domestic immigration was the main reason for Hawaii's current public welfare and housing crisis.
"Hawaii does not have to allow itself to be passively raped by this uncontrollable growth," Thompson said.
He said that in November 1970, 30.6 per cent of Hawaii's welfare recipients had moved only shortly before from the mainland. By January 1973, the percentage jumped to 52.4, Thompson said.
ARGUMENTS for secession have been bolstered by Hawaiian groups which last year attacked the federal government for its illegal seizure of Hawaiian lands during the U.S.-incited revolution of 1893.
The congress of the Hawaiian People, a collective of several political action groups, charged that American revolutionaries, led by Yale graduates Sanford B. Dole and Lorrin A. Thurston, took lands without Hawaiilan consent.
The United States offered no compensation for the land following annexation in 1898, the Hawaiians claimed.
Alaskan natives, whose lands were also acquired illegally by Americans in 1867 (there was no native consent), recently received 40 millions acres of land and $950 million in compensation from Congress, indicating that a similar' compensation for Hawaiians is feasible.
Though the prospect of federal compensation has temporarily stalled talk of secession, residents are not abandoning the idea because prospect of legally limiting inmigration by out-of-staters and a reduction of the military in Hawaii appear slim.
Residents remember how Washington turned its back on them during the recent shipping crises and treated Hawaii more as a foreign country rather than a state of the Union. A fear persists among residents that Washington recognizes Hawaii only as a military base in a strategic Pacific location.
A Hawaiian businessman said last fall, "If we threaten to secede from the Union, restore the monarchy and then threaten to accept aid from Russia or China, it might be enough to get recognition of our problems."
Crimson staff Richard Sia, a resident of Hawaii, has spent the last three summers as a full-time reporter for The Honolulu Advertiser.