I was going to write a sweet little story about how beautiful sunflower crops have begun to replace the now defunct sugar cane fields. But in doing just a little research, the truer story is actually brutal, far-reaching, deep, complicated, and intensely political. And I don’t feel it is my story to tell, but I’ll try.
The short, ugly story is: American businessmen wanted the Hawaiian lands to grow their crops. In 1893 American businessmen took the land in a coup d’etat using the US military without the approval of the US government. American businessmen still have their land and water rights. Hawaiians were stripped of just about everything. Sound familiar? President Bill Clinton apologized to the Hawaiian people, but more than words, they want their sovereignty. This effort, no surprise, has been protracted and controversial.
But sovereignty aside, Kaniela Ing, Democrative state representative for Maui who chairs the office of Hawaiian affairs, is resolute in his view on the sugar lands, as quoted in The Guardian: “This is an opportunity for these historically greedy missionary families who created the sugar industry to … give back what is owed to the people of Maui. This is not too complicated. When you take something from someone the moral thing to do is to give it back.”
No surprise, I’m rooting for the Hawaiians and the land.