Kaleponi Kupuna on Hawai’i statehood

March 11, 2009
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From top left: Kaulana Chang, Ka’iwi Pang, Cheryann Henderson, Likeke Clowes, Andy Ah Po, Ku’uipo Paulo, Joel Jacinto, Margaret Sanborn.

On March 7th 2009, at Banning’s Landing at the Port of Los Angeles in Wilmington, CA, there was a panel discussion on topic of Hawai’i statehood.

Between 10:30 and 12:30 Puni Patrick with the assistance from Visual Communications, documented video interviews with many of the participants. While the interviews were going on in the upstairs conference room, videos pertaining to Hawai’i statehood were playing in the downstairs meeting hall. At about 1:30, the panel discussion began with Joel Jacinto moderating.

We began first with a kule presented by kumu hula Kaulana Chang, and Joel began by asking each panelist what they remember about 1959. Views were fairly consistent, most remembering the celebration or stories that their parents told them. There were stories of celebrations and excitement, as well as stories of parents who did not vote, and one emotionally charged story of a mother telling her son not to talk about something they knew nothing about– referring to the overthrow and annexation.

Many of the kupuna knew little about the conditions of the overthrow as they were growing up, as this was not something that was taught in schools.

As the discussion continued, Joel kept the conversation lively by asking many of the kupuna about how they felt about statehood now. Anger, frustration, loss, these were all sentiments that surfaced over time, as each participant learned about how the overthrow and annexation occurred, as well as about how statehood occurred.

The idea that in 1959, independence was a option and no one had known that, frustrates the issue, and while the panel disagreed over the future of statehood, all agreed that Hawaiians were not better off because of it.

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