To many Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians, the notion of re-establishing a Hawaiian nation might seem preposterous and even unpatriotic. However preposterous, it has captured a lot of media attention and has now become an attention-grabbing public policy issue. The question of Hawaiian nationhood has been bantered about for over a hundred twenty years and the issue seems to be approaching the fish or cut bait stage. And so, reserving my personal judgment, I thought it useful to ramp down from the lofty academic rhetoric and get to the real how-does-this-work questions.
My intention here is as a facilitator of the hard questions that need to be asked such as:
Would it be an ethnic-Hawaiian based nation? If yes, what happens to non-Hawaiians for whom Hawai‘i is the only home they’ve ever known? Does one have to give up U.S. citizenship, or is dual citizenship a choice?
What happens to state and county government functions in Hawai‘i (police, fire, roads, parks, etc.)?
Are non-Hawaiians invited to participate in the deliberations about a Hawaiian nation?
Would Hawaiians remain eligible for earned state and federal programs such as social security and state retirement pensions? Benefit programs like food stamps, student financial aid?
What happens to federal government functions in Hawai’i (airport, parks, highways, etc.)?
What happens to businesses and their assets now organized under U.S. law?
What happens to U.S. military bases in Hawai‘i?
What would happen to lands owned by non-Hawaiians?
Would the Hawaiian entity have a police force? Judicial system? Army?
Would Hawai‘i have its own currency?
Can Hawaiians not living in Hawai’i be citizens?
To which entities would Hawaiian citizens pay taxes (Hawai‘i, state, federal, county)?
Where would the revenues to support the Hawaiian government come from?