The circumstances by which Hawaii was annexed by the U.S. are so sketchy that Congress felt obliged to issue an apology in 1993.
It all started 100 years earlier when a group of mostly American businessmen led a paramilitary coup to overthrow Queen Liliʻuokalani. They were passively supported by U.S. Marines who were deployed “to protect American lives and property.”
The coup resulted in a new Hawaiian government under the presidency of Sanford Dole, whose cousin would soon start the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, which became Dole Foods.
Although then-U.S. president Grover Cleveland criticised the events in Hawaii, which he had not authorised, his successor, William McKinley, had no problem annexing Hawaii in 1898.
With a history like this, it is not surprising that a Hawaiian sovereignty movement remains committed to reclaiming rights and land for native Hawaiians. While several contenders claim rights to the crown, Dayne Gonsalves of The Polynesian Kingdom of Atooi has taken the movement to regain his peoples’ rights and land in Hawaii to a whole new level.
Business Insider spent more than a week in Hawaii with Gonsalves, also known as Ali’i Nui Aleka Aipoalani. He guided us through his kingdom on two island, explained what his plans were, and how he plans to fight Washington.
Native Hawaiians have watched their land divided up and sold off for over 100 years, but it wasn't supposed to be that way.
King Kamehameha III divided Hawaii among the monarchy's lesser kings, chiefs, and commoners in the mid-19th century to make sure his people would always have a home in case of invasion.
King Kamehameha's worst fears were decades later when a coup led by foreign businessmen and supported by the U.S. overthrew his descendant, Queen Liliuokalani, in January 1893.
Sanford Dole, who'd pushed for the overthrow, was put in charge of a provisional government, and Liliuokalani was imprisoned. In 1898, Hawaii was annexed by the U.S.
Like most Hawaiians, Dayne Gonsalves believes his homelands were taken illegally. He wants to restore Crown Lands to the monarchy under one king: himself.
Dayne says he is the great-great-great-grandson of King Kamehameha III and as the new Ali'i Nui, or King, of The Polynesian Kingdom of Atooi, he's devoting his life to reclaiming the land and resources of his people.
To fund travel and diplomacy among islands throughout the South Pacific, Dayne relies on donations from supporters including more than 40,000 Atooi Kingdom citizens worldwide.
That money also helps buy UN-recognised drivers licence and, soon, passport software and supplies. Atooi Federal Marshal Samson Kama says: 'Local law enforcement is targeting us with traffic stops and arrests for false credentials. This goes against the UN mandate that allows us Native Rights through international law.'
The Kingdom encompasses an array of Pacific islands, but its capitol might be considered Kauai. This is where Dayne grew up and is raising his family in the largely native community of Waimea.
Waimea is 'Ground Zero' in the fight against the largest agribusinesses in the world, which test and develop herbicides and pesticides in the area.
And provide a traditional healing clinic to all islanders, including the hundreds of homeless who live here in Oahu's massive homeless camp.
The King would also place buffer zones around native schools (like this one) within 500 feet of experimental pesticide fields and genetically modified crops, where undisclosed chemicals are sprayed.
Waimea schools have twice been evacuated following pesticide applications at adjoining fields. Many believe the sickness among staff and students during these times are from the chemicals, though follow-up studies point a finger at the local stinkweed plant.
Many of the world's largest agricultural giants moved to Kauai in the 1990s. Since then, locals have been demanding to know what chemicals are sprayed on their land, but they are still fighting through the courts for answers.
It's a constant battle and it doesn't stop there. When Business Insider was in Kauai, Dayne brought us to a sacred spot that had been bulldozed by local transportation crews.
Plowing under sacred sites is just one instance of ongoing land conflicts here on Hawaii between natives and local government.
Even at Iolani Palace, the last family home of the Hawaiian Royal Family, Dayne's mission isn't received with much warmth.
The native guide took issue with the Kingdom's new currency. Since there are many Hawaiian Sovereignty groups claiming rights to the throne, conflict among native Hawaiians is common.
Even here, where the Queen was placed under house arrest, Dayne is told he can't be video interviewed. He shows the guard his badge.
Dayne knows he has a long fight ahead of him. Native Hawaiians have the third highest cancer rate in the country, extremely high rates of diabetes and incidents of infectious diseases -- but there is hope.
Though the Atooi Nation is a recognised sovereign nation at the UN, it is not listed as a Non-Self-Governing Territory, which is the UN category for countries that should be decolonized. That list includes, among others, American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
After a 30 year fight, French Polynesia recently made the UN's Non-Self-Governing Territory list. Atooi wants to obtain the same status.
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