Mana‘o of The Most Reverend Stephen Randolph Sykes, E.O.M.C., D.D.
Orthodox Bishop of Hawai‘i of the Inclusive Orthodox Church
And President of The Interfaith Alliance Hawai‘i
Given at Kawaiaha‘o Church, Honolulu
On the 20th Anniversary of
Ho‘okuikahi – Reconciliation
At the invitation of the Pacific Justice and Reconciliation Center
January 17, 2013
Aloha mai kakou,
It is with both thanksgiving and expectation that we take time today to recall the apologies of the United States of America for its support of the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom and of the United Church of Christ for the role its missionaries played in the harm done to the Hawaiian people. It is fitting that this remembrance is occurring in one of the original missionary churches – the great stone church – as Kamehameha III called it.
Many who have entered this sanctuary have asked God for justice. They have prayed for a pono and righteous response to the genocide of Hawaiian people and culture that began shortly after Vancouver brought guns and disease to these islands. This is not to forget that Hawaii nei was not without its rituals of human sacrifice, of burning back kapu, and similar practices that the Europeans and Americans who followed found barbaric. Nor can we forget that these same Europeans and Americans themselves made fortunes by the trading of slaves from Africa and destruction throughout South America. No one was perfect then and no one is today.
So justice and the bringing about of reconciliation are moral imperatives that fall to us. To you and to me. While it is not a Christian concept to speak of reincarnation, the Polynesian and Marquesas navigators who populated these islands considered themselves to be time travelers. It is a concept worth considering. It is why a child was not named until it was understood by the kupuna who that child was. We must therefore ask ourselves, “What is our responsibility today for what our forefathers and foremothers did?” What “karma,” if you will, do we need to clean and reconcile within ourselves and across these islands?
I suggest that it is long past due for the sovereignty of the Hawaiian Nation to be restored. The United States must reconcile justly and righteously with the Hawaiian people. Given how these islands have been militarized and used in ways that have not been pono – for a number of generations – it is a huge task. The United States does not abide by succession, even with states that have become so by treaty. So the entry of Hawai‘i into the Union in 1959 is not reversible.
But the United States must permit the Hawaiian People to restore its Nation in a manner that suits the Hawaiian People. That is a lot for one haole boy, originally from California, to say. This is especially so when we recall as well the genocide of the Native Americans and Eskimo nations and peoples, and recognize those sores have yet to heal. Unfortunately, these are not facts that people today like to remember or for which they want to take responsibility. Many of those growing up today continue to believe propaganda rather than the facts of global history, of United States history, and the history and practices of our country’s many indigenous people.
So, it falls to us. We are the ones who must serve as the bridge for ensuring that understanding of the past is not forgotten. At the same time we must do all within our individual power, as my late colleague George Kanahele said, to “Ku kanaka,” to stand tall. We must share our stories so that memory does not fail. We must do all within our power to urge our mutual government to rectify the wrongs of our ancestors, many of which continue to this day. By our own example in each and everything we do, this must be done in a non-violent and compassionate way. It is not an easy path for any of us but the only one that will ultimately result in the bringing of peace to these Islands and across the Earth.
 Mahalo nui loa to Palani Vaughn of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i, who explained that the introduction of the kapu was the result of a later Polynesian migration led by Pa‘ao that, among other things, included human sacrifice. It was not a custom of the original Marquesas immigrants to Hawai‘i. Further the mele aloha of Leon Siu spoke to the Hawaiians worshiping the One God, who was called ‘Io, until the arrival of Pa‘ao. Theirs provide a perspective of Hawai‘i from pre-contact days, before the Europeans arrived.