IMI PONO PROJECTS/STATEHOOD HAWAII
In 2009, at the close of the 50th commemoration of Hawai’is statehood year, Statehood Hawaii, an independent research initiative folded into ‘Imi Pono Projects, a name bestowed upon by inspirational teacher and respected indigenous health and justice advocate, Kekuni Blaisdell.
‘Imi Pono, is a Hawaiian term that means to move towards justice, and Imi Pono Projects has organized around this concept by pursuing Hawaiian national rights through social discourse.
In October of 2009, Imi Pono organized a conference: “Ike: Historical Transformations: Reading Hawai’i's Past to Probe its Future.” which included three panels:
- Recovering Memories of our Political Past while Probing towards our Future
- Hawaiian Political Activism: 1887 to the Present and Beyond
- International Routes: De-Occupation, Decolonization and the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Issues
This year, in 2011, Imi Pono Projects is helping to coordinate Moana Nui 2011, with Pua Mohala I Ka Po and the International Forum on Globalization. Moana Nui: The Pacific Peoples and their Economies is a three-day summit beginning on November 9th in Honolulu, Hawaii. Organized by a partnership of scholars, community and environmental and social-justice activists as well as Hawaiian and Pacific Islander and other indigenous cultural practitioners, Moana Nui is intended to provide a voice and possible direction for the economies of Pacific Islands in the era of powerful transnational corporations, global industrial expansion and global climate change.
This conference will issue a challenge to Pacific Island nations and other indigenous communities to look for cooperative ways to strengthen subsistence and to protect cultural properties and natural resources. The timing of this conference is intended to confront the next meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Honolulu, and hopes to call public attention to the critical importance of maintaining sound and productive local economies in the Pacific Islands both for their own sake and food security in the world. Invited speakers will include economists, farm and fishery practitioners, advocates for food and water sovereignty, specialists in media, health, public education, environmental studies, trade and law.
Other work includes SaveRapanui.org in cooperation with Santi Hitorangi and a weekly “Imi Pono Projects” show on ‘Olelo, on Oceanic Cable.
Statehood Hawaii grew out of research contracted by the The University of Hawai’i, Academy of Creative Media, which in 2004 began production of a Statehood documentary that was released in as “State of Aloha,” (2009). The confrontation that occurred in front of ‘Iolani Palace on Statehood Day in April 2006, when Senator Slom organized a march onto the palace grounds, suggested that the Hawai’i statehood story was still controversial.
The use of ‘Iolani Palace as a locale to celebrate American statehood was provocational and intended to incite controversy. ‘Iolani Palace, as a historical site, represents the Hawaiian Kingdom and was also used to imprison Queen Lili’uokalani after the coup in 1893. In 1898, ‘Iolani Palace was also the location where the United States under President McKinley, surreptitiously annexed the illegitimate Republic of Hawai’i through Joint Resolution, led by governor Sanford Dole, one of the men responsible for organizing the coup d’etat.
It is clear that controversy over Hawai’i and statehood is very much alive, and while the confrontation that occurred in April 2006, is not the totality of the argument by any means, it is an integral part to our understanding of not only Hawai’i and U.S. history, but to events that continue to shape our world today.
While the objective is to present various perspectives of Hawai’i and statehood, and to explore the process and conditions that led to the 50th state, one thing that is very clear is that this controversy will not be resolved by polarizing the state against sovereignty politics. The systemic conditions of the world in the years after WWII were grappling with conditions of economic reconstruction, colonialism and anti-communism. This condition was manifest throughout the world, and the context for statehood is a result of that. Having said that, the future of Hawai’i is in the hands of those who have the will to shape it, and I hope that the research, interviews and documents contained within will offer some unique insight and perspective into our island’s history.
Unpublished “Restoring the Loss.” Mick Taussig, “Body in Shock,” seminar, NYU Performing Studies Program (Nov. 1993).