(Dr. Paul Sherry, President to The Indigenous Hawaiian People)

After attending services at Kawaiahao Church, and processing to the grounds of Iolani Palace where thousands of people had gathered, the Apology to Na Kanaka Maoli was given by Dr. Paul Sherry, President, of the United Church of Christ on January 17, 1993. With tear-filled eyes and deep emotion his historic words were heard by the young and old, and many were touched with the hope of a new day. Latter in the day Dr. Sherry delivered the same Apology address, on the grounds of Kaumakapili Church under a large luau tent, Instead of sharing in the planned reception and meal after the Kaumakapili event, Dr. Paul Sherry, Dr. Kaleo Patterson, and Dr. Haaheo Guanson, returned to Iolani Palace to participate in a religious ceremony consecrating the newly constructed ahu – altar.  As the group of Hawaiian leaders gathered, the manuscript of the Apology was placed on the altar being blessed by Parly Kanakaole. The ahu – altar was made of stones – pohaku that were brought from all the islands to commemorate the day, and the hope of unity.  This date Janaury 17th, 1993 was the 100th Anniversary of the Overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy.

by Dr. Kaleo Patterson

January 17th, 2000

We are gathered in this place at the request of the 18th General Synod of the United Church of Christ, to recall with sorrow the unprovoked invasion of the Hawaiian nation on January 17, 1893, by forces of the United States.  We are gathered here so that, as President of the United Church of Christ, I can apologize for the support given that act by ancestors of ours in the church not known as the United Church of Christ.  We do so in order to begin a process of repentance, redress and reconciliation for wrongs done.  We are here to commit ourselves to work alongside our na Kanaka Maoli sisters and brothers-both those in the United Church of Christ and those beyond-in the hope that a  society of justice and mercy for them and for all people everywhere, may yet emerge.

We remember that in 1820 the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, now known as the United Church Board for World Ministries, sent missionaries to Hawaii to preach the good news of Jesus Christ.  These women and men, often at great personal sacrifice, witnessed to the Gospel in compelling ways.  Their lives of Christian commitment and generosity are an inspiration, and their contributions endure.  We thank God for them.

Some of these men and women, however, sometimes confused the ways of the West with the ways of the Christ.  Assumptions of cultural and racial superiority and alien economic understanding led some of them and those who followed them to discounts or undervalue the strengths of the mature society they encountered.  Therefore, the rich indigenous values of na Kanaka Maoli, their language, their spirituality, and their regard for the land, were denigrated.  The resulting social, political, and economic implications of these harmful attitudes contributed to the suffering of na Kanaka Maoli in that time and into the present.  Justice will be pursued and reconciliation achieved as, together, we recognized both the strengths and the weakness of those who preceded us, as we celebrate that which is good, and as we make right that which is wrong.

Through the years na Kanaka Maoli have experience virtually the total loss of their pae’aina (land base).  Their mechanism for sovereignty, their government, ahs been taken from them.  Many suffer from severe poverty, lack of education opportunity and decent health care, and their cultural heritage is under severe threat.  Justice and mercy demand rectification of these wrongs, so that we may be reconciled with each other and walk, together, toward a common future.

We recognize that, in collaboration with others from the United States and elsewhere, a number of descendants of the missionaries helped from the so-called “Provisional Government,” which conspired with armed forces of the United States in the invasion of 1893.  With the involvement and public support of members of the Hawaiian Evangelical Association (the predecessor body for the Hawaii Conference United Church of Christ, the Provisional Government appropriated all Crown and government lands for eventual forfeiture to the United States.  On January 17, 1893, Queen Lili’oukalani, temporarily and under “solemn protest,” yielded to the superior force of the United States “until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon face being presented to it, unto the action of its representatives and reinstate me…”

Queen Lili’oukalani rejected not only the legality of the overthrow but also its morality. She appealed direct to the American people.

Oh, honest Americans, as Christians hear me for my downtrodden people! Their form of government is as dear to them as yours is precious to you.  Quite as warmly as you love your country, so they love theirs…With all your goodly possessions, covering a territory so immense that there yet remain past unexplored, possessing island that, although near at hand, had to be neutral ground in time of war, do not cover the little vineyard of Naboth’s, so far from your shores, lest the punishment of Ahab fall upon you.  If not in your day, in that of your children, for “be not deceived God is not mocked.”  The children to whom our fathers told of the living God, and taught to call “Father, “and whom the sons now seek to despoil and destroy, are crying aloud to Him in their time of trouble; and He will keep His promise, and will listen to the voices of His Hawaiians children, lamenting for their homes.

Sadly, the Queens’ appeal was ignored.

A long century later, the 18th General Synod of the United Church of Christ, while celebrating the good fruit of the mission enterprise, recognizes also, far too late, the wrongs perpetrated upon na Kanaka Maoli.  Therefore, the General Synod has instructed me, its President, to begin a process of reconciliation, beginning with a formal apology to you, na Kanaka Maoli.

We acknowledge and confess our sins against you and your forebears, na Kanaka Maoli,.  We formally apologize to you for “our denomination’s historical complicities in the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy in 1893,” by unduly identifying the ways of the West with the ways of the Christ, and thereby, undervaluing the strengths of the mature society that was native Hawaii.  We commit ourselves to help right the wrongs inflicted upon you.  We promise respect for the religious traditions and practices, the spirituality and culture tat are distinctly yours.  We promise solidarity with you in common concern, action and support.  We will seek to be present and vulnerable with you and the Hawaii Conference of the United Church of Christ in the struggle for justice, peace and reconciliation.

Our General Synod resolution promises advocacy for state and national legislation in support of “grass root initiatives toward self-government.”  We commit ourselves this day to establish a task force to work in partnership with you and the Hawaii Conference as you seek self-determination and justice.  We make these promises in the hope that redress may be achieved.

May God’s Spirit guide and God’s Grace empower us in this new day of reconciliation.




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TOURISM IN HAWAI’I: Its Impact on Native Hawaiians And Its Challenge to the Churches: 1989 Hawai`i Declaration of the Hawai`i Ecumenical Coalition

Hawaiians have protested against the commercialization of their culture, and the portrayal of Hawaii as ‘the ultimate playground’ with flyers denouncing tourism-induced development, environmental degradation, poverty, and pollution. Hawaiians have made their views known in the media, by testifying at public hearings, demonstrating, and negotiating in the courts. Certain Hawaiian groups have delayed resort construction for years by using the courts to oppose government granted development permits. Some out-of-court settlements have been reached with developers. These agreements seek protection of indigenous sacred sites and burials; unimpeded access to the mauka (mountain) and makai (ocean) cultural and subsistence resources; establishment of community-based indigenous organizations and job training for local people; and support of Hawaiian cultural and environmental restoration programs. In 1989 the Hawai’i Ecumenical Coalition issued ‘The Hawai’i Declaration on Tourism.’ This declaration stressed that a state of emergency existed for Hawaiian people and for the fragile island environment. It emphasized that tourism did not benefit the poor and the native Hawaiians; that tourism was a new form of exploitation; and that it was not an indigenous practice. The proposed rectifying actions included: return of the lands held in fiduciary trust by the state to the Native Hawaiian people; an immediate ban on further resort development in rural communities; and assistance to foster a community-based economy as an alternative to tourism.  –Cultural Survival

The 1989 Hawai’i Declaration of the
Hawai’i Ecumenical Coalition on Tourism Conference
Its Impact on Native Hawaiians And Its Challenge to the Churches

Chairpersons: Dr. Kahu Kaleo Patterson
Dr. Haunani-Kay Trask

The Hawai’i Ecumenical Coalition on Tourism convened an historic conference on
“Tourism in Hawai’i: Its Impact on Native Hawaiians and Its Challenge to the
Churches.” Over 75 people participated in the conference from August 25-28, 1989 at St.
Stephen’s Diocesan Center on O’ahu. Nearly half of these were Native Hawaiians from
Kaua’i, O’ahu, Moloka’i, Lana’i, Maui and Hawai’i, who represented their church,
religious and native organizations. Other representatives of church and religious groups
in Hawai’i as well as national and international visitors constituted the rest. For the
purpose of this conference, Native Hawaiians were identified as those who trace their
ancestry prior to 1778 A.D. in Hawai’i.

The conference was initiated and organized by the Hawai’i Ecumenical Coalition
Tourism, the Hawai’i Council of Churches, American Friends Service Committee, and
the Hawaii Conference of the United Church of Christ in collaboration with the
Ecumenical Coalition for Third World Tourism (ECTWT) and the North American
Coordinating Center for Responsible Tourism (CRT). The fourteen international
participants include representatives from ECTWT, CRT, the Third World Tourism
Ecumenical European Net, the World Council of Churches (Program to Combat Racism),
the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., the Republic of the Marshall
Islands, the Republic of Belau, the Republic of Fiji, Japan, the Confederated Tribes of the
Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, and the Haida Nation of North America.

A program of exposure and fieldtrips to see the realities of tourism in Hawai’i was
organized for the international participants. At the conference itself, participants heard
competent research on tourism in Hawai’i, agonizing testimonies from many Native
Hawaiians who have been victimized by tourism as well as stories of successful native
efforts in self-sufficiency and self-determination. The participants divided into seven
groups whose discussions were reported back for plenary. Subsequent analysis and
careful deliberation led us to the following conclusions:

• Contrary to the claims of its promoters, tourism, the biggest industry in Hawai’i,
has not benefited the poor and the oppressed Native Hawaiian people. Tourism is
not an indigenous practice; nor has it been initiated by the Native Hawaiian
people. Rather, tourism promotion and development has been directed and
controlled by those who already control wealth and power, nationally and
internationally. Its primary purpose is to make money.

• As such, tourism is a new form of exploitation. As a consequence, the Native
Hawaiian people suffer the most; their culture has been increasingly threatened,
their beaches and even their sacred sites have been taken over or intruded upon in
order to build tourist resorts and related developments.

• Furthermore, tourism brings and expands the evil of an economy which
perpetuates the poverty of Native Hawaiian people and which leads to sexual and
domestic violence and substance abuse among the Native Hawaiian people. In
addition, sexism and racism are closely interlinked with tourism. In short,
tourism, as it exists today, is detrimental to the life, well-being and spiritual health
of native Hawaiian people. If not checked and transformed, it will bring grave
harm, not only to the Native Hawaiian people, but also to all people living in

The plight of Native Hawaiian people is but one example of the destructive impact that
tourism is having on indigenous people in communities around the world. All is not well
in “paradise.” Indeed,


The churches have a moral obligation and responsibility to raise awareness in its
congregations and in the State of Hawai’i about tourism’s negative impacts and
consequences on native Hawaiians. The churches are called upon to “wrestle against the
principalities and powers” which exploit people.

Furthermore, the churches must examine their history of involvement in Hawai’i’s past,
and recognize their role in the loss of Native Hawaiian control over their land and destiny
and in the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. Such a recognition should lead to
concrete actions on the part of the churches to rectify the wrongs which have been done.

Given these harsh and continuing realities, we, the participants of the conference, call
upon the churches and religious institutions of Hawai’i, in consultation with Native
Hawaiians, to initiate a process of reconciliation and reparations, as follows:

• Acknowledge the anger expressed by Native Hawaiian people for the past actions
of the missionaries, their descendants, and the churches and institutions they

• Recognize that this anger is an expression of the suffering of the Native Hawaiian
people; and

• Publicly apologize to the Native Hawaiians within their own congregations and
the larger Native Hawaiian community for the churches’ involvement and
participation in the destruction and erosion of Hawaiian culture, religious
practices, land base, and the overthrow of Queen Lili’uokalani and the Hawaiian

I. Priority Rectifying Actions
We call upon the churches and religious institutions of Hawai’i to redress these injustices
by advocating the following:
A. The return of public and private trust lands to the control of the Native Hawaiian
An immediate ban on all resort and related developments in those areas designated as
sanctuaries by Native

B. Hawaiians, and in rural Hawaiian communities such as, Leeward and Windward
Kaua’i, Leeward and Winward O’ahu, Moloka’i, Lana’i, East Maui and the districts of
North Kohala, South Kona, and Ka’u on Hawai’i; and

C. Technical, financial and other support from the State of Hawai’i to Native Hawaiian
projects which encourage economic self-sufficiency.

Furthermore, we call upon the churches and religious institutions of Hawai’i to support
the political claims of Native Hawaiians to establish a sovereign entity, separate from the
existing State and Federal governments, in order that they may achieve selfdetermination.


We call upon the churches and religious institutions of Hawai’i to take a stand for social
justice and engage in political actions, as follows:

A. Make public an inventory of the holdings and use of all churches lands;
B. Return those church lands which justly belong to the Native Hawaiian people;
C. Reexamine the church lands and divest church funds currently being used for tourism purposes which negatively impact Native Hawaiians;
D. Refuse to participate in the public blessing of those projects which adversely impact Native Hawaiians or the environment;
E. Support worker demands for higher wages, a full time work week with benefits, and better working conditions in the tourist industry;
F. Hold the tourist industry and government accountable for the social problems associated with tourism: increased crime, racism, sexual and domestic violence and disruption, substance abuse, housing costs, and land taxes; and
G. Support policies to reverse current trends of tourist industry growth. The human and natural resources cannot withstand the near doubling of total annual tourists to Hawai’i from its current 6.5 to 11 million over the next two decades, projected by the Hawai’i Visitor’s Bureau.

We call upon the churches and religious institutions of Hawai’i to utilize and distribute educational materials and programs for both clergy and congregations in order to reevaluate misconceptions and dependency on tourism. These materials should:
A. Focus on Native Hawaiian culture;
B. Detail the negative effects of tourism on Native Hawaiian land and water rights, economy, and social life-style;
C. Promote native Hawaiian self-sufficiency, sanctuaries, and sovereignty; and
D. Present a truthful view of Hawaiian history including the involvement of the church and the U.S. government in the loss of Native Hawaiian land and power, and the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy.
We call upon the churches and religious institutions of Hawai’i to be reminded that in God’s house are “many mansions,” and that “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”

We call upon the churches and religious institutions of Hawai’i to acknowledge and respect Native Hawaiian rights to:

A. Practice and participate in traditional ceremonies and rituals with the same protection offered all religions;
B. Determine access to and protection of sacred sites and burial grounds, and public lands for ceremonial purposes; and
C. Utilize and access religious symbols for traditional ceremonies and rituals.
We further call upon the churches to live in harmony with God’s creation of land, water, and air; and to integrate the Native Hawaiian culture into their religious services. Finally we call upon the churches to work towards the reestablishment of one day each week for rest and sanctuary in order to strengthen family relations.

We call upon the churches and religious institutions of Hawai’i to:

A. Provide spiritual support and a nurturing environment to the Native Hawaiian people;
B. Provide monetary support, expertise, use of facilities, land, and building sites for Hawaiian people;
C. Provide congregational support at Native Hawaiian public demonstrations;
D. Designate one service and offering each year to address the adverse effects of tourism on Native Hawaiian people; and
E. Recognize and support by staffing and funding, the Hawai’i Ecumenical Coalition on Tourism.

We call upon the global religious community to take actions as follows:
A. Recognize the negative impacts and consequences of tourism on Native Hawaiians and other indigenous people of the world;
B. Support the actions of the churches and religious groups of Hawai’i in consultation with Native Hawaiians to initiate a process of reconciliation and reparations;
C. Contribute funds and support and the Hawai’i Ecumenical Coalition on Tourism to act upon the 1989 Hawai’i Declaration;
D. Together with the Hawaii Ecumenical Coalition on Tourism, invite the Ecumenical Coalition on Third World Tourism to consider holding the “People’s Forum on Tourism” in Hawai’i in 1993; and
E. Work with their own governments and businesses to stop further investments in the tourist industry in Hawai’i which have negative impacts and consequences on Native Hawaiians.

Its Impact on Native Hawaiians And Its Challenge to the Churches

Ecumenical Coalition for Third World Tourism
Center for Responsible Tourism
Hawai’i Council of Churches,
American Friends Service Committee
Hawaii Conference of the United Church of Christ

World Council of Churches (Program to Combat Racism)
National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.
Catholic Diocese of Honolulu
St. Andrew’s Cathedral
Buddhist Study Center
Church of the Crossroads
United Methodist Church, Hawai’i District
Harris United Methodist Church
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Pacific-Southwest Region
Abelard Foundation
Zentrum für Entwicklungsbezogene Bildung
Evangelische Missionswerk
Pohaku Fund, the Tides Foundation

Dr. Kaleo Patterson
Environmental Compliance
HART (Honolulu Authority Rapid Transportation)
T. 808 768-6176 C. 808 330-3769

He Alii no ka aina he kauwa ke kanaka
The land is chief, the human is servant

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Responsible Tourism: A Hawaiian Point of View

Responsible Tourism
A Hawaiian Point of View

by Kahu Kaleo Patterson

  • The Kanaka maoli (“Native Hawaiian”) experience of tourism has been paradoxical in that, although it has introduced the world to the compelling values of our traditional culture – such as the “aloha spirit” –  it has also prostituted our culture as a tool for marketing and entertainment.  Although it has the potential of creating jobs and contributing to our economies, it has also been the root source of several social, cultural and economic problems. And, although it creates opportunities for cultural sharing, it most often takes from our communities and gives little back.
  • As the indigenous people of Hawai‘i, we have always welcomed visitors in the spirit of ho‘okipa (“hospitality”) and we have substantially adopted Western ways.  Yet, we are increasingly adversely affected by the massive scale and intrusive character of tourism in our islands, and we have recently begun rediscovering and reaffirming our traditional ways.  We assert a prior claim to these islands and their resources, and we are now reasserting our fundamental responsibility for aloha ‘aina (“love for the environment”).
  • We recognize the right of all people to leisure and the freedom of travel for recreation in its fullest sense.  We welcome those who respect our dignity and who are willing to adapt to our ways of living, thinking and relating.  Our right to reshape and continue traditional lifestyles and to maintain our privacy is, however, of greater importance.
  • We observe that many tourists are not satisfied with their personal experience of our islands.  Many are motivated by an alternative vision of travel based on the ideals implicit in spiritual journey, pilgrimage, personal renewal, life discovery and learning.  Crass commercialism, massive over-development and institutionalized racism limit their ability to connect with the “paradise” promised by tourism advertising.  They yearn for precisely the kind of personal experience that kanaka maoli are most capable of facilitating.
  • An authentic tourism is, therefore, one in which kanaka maoli participate not as objects, but as active subjects.  Not as dependents on tourism as the driver of our economies, but as shapers of the culture, the ‘aina, and the spirit of ho’okipa on which tourism depends for its success.
  • Despite the oppression which has stunted our development and limited our power to control our own lives and environment, we are discovering anew our inherent power based both on our inalienable rights and on the potential for significant support for our struggle from tourists themselves.
  • Therefore, any decision to further develop tourism has to be weighed carefully with its possible outcomes, both positive and negative, as well as the opportunity costs of developing other economic sectors, which are often more crucial for our subsistence.  Moreover, we assert the right of consensual participation in all decisions relating to tourism development which are likely to affect our life in any way.  The interests of our indigenous people are primary in such decision-making.
  • We demand ethical business practices from the tourism industry.  In relating to kanaka maoli as hosts, we expect the industry and its clients to abide and be governed by laws and regulations of our islands and not to abuse their relative advantage provided by superior economic power.
  • Moreover, images used in advertising and promotion material should be fair and honest representations of kanaka maoli reality. Our material poverty is not “exotic,” certainly not to us. Tourist should be encouraged to expand their recreational and entertainment experience to include education about the places and peoples of our islands which they visit.  Our women, children, cultural sites and artifacts should not be turned into tourist attractions and subject to exploitation in any form.  In order to provide tourists with an enjoyable time, our people have to work much harder, often under dehumanizing conditions.  We appreciate tourist sensitivity towards those of us who serve in hotels, restaurants, shops and related ventures.
  • Finally, rapid tourism development in recent decades has meant that a substantial investment in upgrading our infrastructure, such as airports, roads, and utilities, has crowded our urgently needed investment in our ecostructure, such as reef, forest and community life.  For these reasons and for the foreseeable future, kanaka maoli concerns for culture and the ‘aina must take precedence in determining the allocation of available investment funds.

© Copyright Rev. Kaleo Patterson 2011

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Tourism’s Negative Impact on Native Hawaiians

Tourism’s Negative Impact on Native Hawaiians

By Rev. Kaleo Patterson

Rev. Patterson is both a member of the Hawaii Ecumenical Coalition on Tourism and the Board of Directors of the North America Coordinating Centre of Responsible Tourism.  This is an abridged version of a presentation made by Rev. Patterson to a March 1992 international tourism fair in Berlin.

The most pressing human rights issues in Hawaii today are those that are integrally connected to the impact of tourism on Native Hawaiians.

I am pastor of a small rural church on the island of Kauai.  I am very close to those who work in the tourism industry, in particular the Hawaiians who struggle day in and day out with the unescapable reality of a dominant and greed driven industry.  I have counseled the prostitute, the desk clerk, the made and the bartender.  I have been involved in hundreds of reburials of ancient Hawaiian grave sites because of a new resort development or existing resort renovations.  I have witnessed the desecration of our sacred places, cried over the senseless pollution of our reefs and rivers.  I have held picket signs in protest, given testimony at public hearings, even chased an obstinate tourist into the sanctuary of a local restaurant in an attempt to vent my anger in confrontation.  I have seen the oppression and exploitation of an out of control global industry that has no understanding of limits or concern for the host people of a land.

Most of all, I know and feel the suffering in the Hawaiian communities because I live in one.  My parish is not isolated from the ravaging impact of tourism.  As you drive into our community, you will see the flower and lie stands, roadside gift shops and fast food stops that are all very meagre but hopeful attempts to gain economic prosperity.  Also, I am a Native Hawaiian.  My brothers have worked in the restaurants, have been lifeguards at the beach; my sisters have danced the hula and one has worked for the developer of a major resort.  For the last three years, I have been involved with the Hawaii Ecumenical Coalition on Tourism advocating responsible tourism in Hawaii.  IT is with this background that I am able to say with some certainty that the majority of Hawaiians long for a better way of life, one that is filled with the simple respect and dignity that today’s tourism industry can never come close to offering.

Minimal Economic Benefit for Hawaiians
Most Hawaiians will bear witness that tourism, as a foreigner dominated enterprise, is the plague which an already oppressed people must endure with very few other economic options or alternatives in life.  Many end up choosing the lesser options even if it means unemployment or criminal activity.  It is no accident that Hawaiians are the poorest of all people in Hawaii, capturing the highest percentage of unemployment and welfare recipients.  It is also not an accident that as a population group Native Hawaiians dominate the prison populations.

Tourism is wholly concerned with self-preservation as an industry and not with the well-being of the community.  In March of 1991, during the dramatic decline of visitors to Hawaii due to the Gulf War, the Hawaii State Legislature readily allocated as an emergency measure 6 million dollars to be used by the Hawaii Visitors Bureau for television commercials on the mainland USA.  During the same period, hundred of hotel employees were laid off in one of the largest layoffs in recent years.  The striking thing is that no emergency measures to assist the unemployed were introduced or even considered.

While the few local elites and transnational corporations are the primary beneficiaries of a dominant tourism industry, Native Hawaiians continue to be the poorest, sickest and least educated of all people in Hawaii.  When one looks at the social and economic indicators of well-being, the conclusion is clear.  Tourism has not benefited the host Native Hawaiian people and it probably never will.  To understand this, one must understand that Hawaii today is at the mercy of transnational interests.  Foreign investment related to tourism went from 70.8 million dollars in 1981 to over a billion and a half in 1986.  The increase is enough to make anyone’s head spin and confirms the vulnerability of Hawaii and Hawaii’s people.  Japanese investment in leading the pack has plunked down over 3 billion dollars for hotels alone in a time period of eighteen years ending 1989.  The Australians are far behind the second place with 117 million.  Today, almost every major hotel is owned by foreign investors and almost every hotel on the drawing board is being funded by foreign investment.  The rapid and phenomenal increase of foreign investment is the clearest indication that any consideration of the short and long term negative impact of tourism is of no consequence to those involved in the industry.

It was greedy business interests that caused the illegal overthrow of the Hawaii Nation in1893 and this became the capstone of oppression for a people who welcomed the foreigner.  A hundred years later, the greed continues and Native Hawaiians remain victims of an exploitation whose guise is an industry called tourism.  A basic human right is the ability of a people to be self-governing, self-determining and self-sufficient.  This right was taken away from Hawaiians when the nation was overthrown.  Tourism in many respects perpetuates the oppression.

In its current form, tourism has evolved to a point where it is of minimal economic consequence to Hawaiians.  In fact, given the very nature in which tourism is involved in cultural invasion and environmental exploitation, the Hawaiian – by culture, values and tradition – cannot support or sustain tourism unless it is made to be more respectful of people and land.  Tourism does not provide a viable economic alternative to Hawaiians in its present structure and nature.  This is a difficult situation because tourism as a dominant industry stifles economic diversification and weakens existing agricultural and technological development.  Tourism in Hawaii makes it too costly and impractical to engage in economic diversification.  Statistics show a correlation between the increase in tourism and a dramatic decrease in previously primary industries such as agriculture and federal spending.  Visitor expenditures in 1980 made up 24% of the Gross State Product.  In 1988, this figure had increased to 43%.

Hotel rooms have increased dramatically and the projections are even more astonishing:

  • 1985 – 65,000 rooms
  • 1990 – 76,500 rooms
  • 2010 – 132,000 rooms

When considering the strain on community infrastructure and negative impact upon the environment, the projected visitor figures for the future are mind boggling:

  • 1989 – 5.75 million/year
  • 2010 – 11.50 million/year

In the 1991 State Functional Plan published by the State Department of Business and Economic Development and the Office of Tourism, the following statement is telling: “The visitor industry is viewed as the primary growth engine for the foreseeable future…. Other industries such as diversified agriculture, aquaculture and other technology oriented industries may grow, but barring major reversals in the fortunes of the visitor industry, no significant challenges are anticipated….

Hawaii, it seems, is headed toward a non-diversified economic future that will be totally dependent upon al already insecure and over-developed visitor industry.  Tourism therefore, will continue to be a major obstacle in the movement of Hawaiians towards self-governance and self-determination.  More poverty and the continuation of the negative impact upon Native Hawaiians will be the inevitable outcome of the future of tourism in Hawaii.
Cultural Invasion
The second major impact of tourism on Native Hawaiians must be understood as an invasion of all that is sacred to a people.

today your words are empty
sucking dry the brown dust
left by earth and sky
patches politely parched
with no water flowing
from the mountaintop
scars burn on my soft skin
you’ve cut a piece of me away
leaving my bandaged heart
to endure the pain
of your trying me to yourself.
                                Dr. Konai Helu-Thaman

Dr. Konai Helu-Thaman, a Tongan university instructor, was one of several speakers addressing the negative impact of tourism on indigenous peoples at Interpretation International’s Third global congress held in Honolulu in November 1991.  In expressing the grief tourism has caused indigenous people in the Pacific, she stated:

“Tourism continues to be the major contributor to a process of cultural invasion… Such an invasion has left its marks on most island environments… (and those marks can symbolize) the erosion and ultimate death of indigenous island cultures and their value systems.”

An examination of the marketing and promotion of Hawaii in the world markets will reveal the obvious packaging of an “aloha for Sale” approach that has been referred to as “hula” marketing.  Hula marketing is the marketing of a people and culture for the express purpose of exploitative economic benefit.  In hula marketing, the Hawaiian culture is romanticized to appeal to the exotic fantasies of world travelers.  The popular images such as smiling flower adorned girls and hula dancers, or exotic moonlit feasts with natives serving hand and foot, are typical.  This kind of marketing and promotion perpetuates racist and sexist stereotypes that are culturally inappropriate and demeaning.

When the primary means of promotion is dependent upon a culture and people, and the perception that “all is well in paradise” is put forward while in fact “all is not well”, then the issue becomes one of cultural prostitution.  It becomes the selling of an artificial cultural image that has complete disregard for the truth, at the expense and pain of Native Hawaiians who are struggling to survive.  From printed brochure to life in the fast lane, tourism promotes the development and practice of an entertainment and visitor oriented culture.  The follow-through with marketing and promotion is part and parcel of the “plastic tikis, Kodak hula, and concrete waterfalls”.

That the visitor industry would be so blatant in promoting Hawaii via cultural images and ideas, and not support to any greater degree the perpetuation of authentic and living Hawaiian culture and language in the local comminutes, is another expression of cultural prostitution.  An example on the local political scene is the unchastised governmental support of the Hawaii Visitors Bureau to the tune of several millions of dollars every year.  Compare this with the lack of direct funding to support programming to perpetuate the culture or the recovery of the language of Native Hawaiians and one can only conclude that tourism is a one way street.

Tourism development in Hawaii most often takes place at the expense of a people’s cultural and historical symbols and land based resources.  Tourism development has played a major role in the destruction of ancient Hawaiian burial grounds, significant archaeological historic sites and sacred places.  Almost every major resort development has been built on some culturally significant site.  Community opposition is usually based in these cultural issues.  The usually insensitive approach and manner of development leaves the local community to conclude that there is no respect or concern for the culture and identity of Hawaiian people.

Last year on the island of Kauai at a development site called Keonaloa, a well known ancient Hawaiian burial ground was excavated to make way for a condominium resort project.  Of the total 22 acres of burial grounds, community opposition led to mitigation that resulted in the setting aside of a one acre parcel to be used to relocate all excavated burials.  The one acre parcel has been incorporated into the planned resort and will be used as a marketing feature of the development.  Recently, when hundred of bones were returned to Kauai from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., they were interned at this one acre site in the middle of the resort development.

On Maui, at a place called Honokahua, a developer’s excavations unearthed over 1100 intact burial bundles, while local community groups protested in anger.  It was only after mass demonstrations and strong community support that the developer was stopped and asked to discontinue the project.

What more blatant evidence of cultural invasion than the desecration and destruction of the very sacred burial places of a people?

Last year, for the first time, a statewide Burials Council was formed to facilitate the many questions and concerns of ancient burials.  The impact of tourism development upon these sites is a primary concern.

Other cultural and historic sites, hundred in number, have been bulldozed to make way for hotel and golf course development.  Many others have been turned into tourist attractions and are desecrated in their use and misuse.  These include heiau or ancient temples, house sites, fishing shrines, ceremonial platforms and agricultural sites.
Destruction of the Land Base and Environment
The third major impact of tourism on Native Hawaiians must be understood in the context of environmental exploitation.  The character of indigenous Pacific cultures in relationship to the land is one based on a high level of environmental awareness and ecological conservatism.  The relationship of people to land, and people to sea, is spiritual and religious.  Land is the base around which a culture evolves.  When tourism takes away the land, takes away access to the fishing grounds or the right to gather food or medicine, the Hawaiian loses a primary means of livelihood, and more important, meaning in life.

On the island of Hawaii, a massive geothermal development project is doing just that.  The development underway envisions a questionable plan to supply the enormous amounts of energy required for projected resort developments.  The plan also hopes to test a new underwater cable that will go from the island of Hawaii to Oahu.  The environmental risks are many.  Not only is there a threat to the rainforest and the ocean, but toxic fumes threaten the community’s health.  Community members have already reported health problems from the toxic fumes.  This project has met with fierce opposition by community groups such as the Pele Defense fund and the Rainforest Action Group.  In a related issue a couple of years ago, the proposed private site owned by the Campbell estate was rendered useless when lava flowed from an eruption of the volcano, Kilauea.  To remedy the situation, the State government released 25,000 acres of Hawaiian Homelands to be used in exchange with other private lands.  The 25,000 acres of Hawaiian Homelands consists of one of the ??? to make way for the exploratory drilling that needs to take place.  In the cultural arena, Hawaiians on the volcano took the developer to the Supreme Court claiming that the drilling desecrates the religious significance of the volcano and the goddess Pele.  The suit was thrown out of court, on the basis that the Hawaiian religion was not “site” specific and the volcano did not qualify as a specific site.

Crowded beaches and commercial tour boating does much to threaten shoreline or coastal fishing through noise or chemical pollution.  The state has begun to identify beach parks and nearshore areas that are exceeding capacity use because of significant resident and visitor numbers.  User conflicts between residents and visitors are becoming a problem and are expected to escalate as tourism and ocean recreation industries continue to grow.

There have been occasions when Hawaiian families and communities who have lived for generations in a valley or along a river are forced to leave because of a proposed golf course or hotel.  Recently this happened to families in Hana, Maui, a farming community in Maunawili and Waianae on Oahu.  It has been a common pattern that displaced Hawaiians on every island have found their way to remote beaches only to be forcibly evicted after a few years.  The Hawaiians are truly a people forcibly removed from the land generation after generation.  In the community that I am from, this past summer over nineteen families were evicted to restore a beach park for visitor and community use.

More and more, tourism is taking away land from the Hawaiian who is tied to the land by culture, tradition and lifestyle.  As Hawaiians struggle to regain a foothold on the land, tourism remains a major obstacle.

There is a growing frustration.  This expresses itself in the very visible opposition to resort of related development and the increasing amount of land being openly occupied by indignant Hawaiians.  Almost every large resort development in the last ten years has been opposed by Hawaiian groups or organizations.  Land is the big issue.  Hawaiians have lost too much and they are fighting back.  Dr. George Kanahele of the Waiaha Foundation, an organization that does tourism related consultant work, gave this report of Hawaiian frustration at a tourism conference in November 1992:

“If one day a molotov cocktail is thrown into the lobby of a resort hotel, none of us should be surprised to learn that it was thrown by a native Hawaiian.”

When it comes to land base issues, tourism has been cold to the Hawaiian movement for self-governance and nationhood.  Today in Hawaii, we are seeing unprecedented political support for the rights of Native Hawaiians to self-governance.  This past summer, over forty major Hawaiian organizations formed a united coalition to being the serious work of restoring the Hawaiian nation.  It is an action that is being supported by the federal government through a grant of 1.2 million dollars over the next three years.  In political circles, state and congressional politicians are busy drafting legislation to address the rights of Native Hawaiians to self-governance and self-determination.  Recently, a Civil Rights Commission reported titled “Broken Promises” loudly underscored the political injustices that have plagued the history of Hawaiians and called upon the United States to make right those wrongs.
The emerging awareness of the impact of tourism on Native Hawaiians captured local and international attention when, in August 1989, an international conference on tourism sponsored by local, national and international church groups and organizations took place in Hawaii.  That conference looked at the negative impact of tourism on Native Hawaiians.  The results were published in what came to be called the Hawaiian Declaration of 1989 following is an excerpt from the preamble which serves to outline basic human rights issue in Hawaii.

    “Contrary to the claims of its promoters, tourism, the biggest industry in Hawaii, has not benefited the poor and the oppressed Native Hawaiian people.  Tourism is not an indigenous practice; nor has it been initiated by the Native Hawaiian people.  Rather, tourism promotion and development has been directed and controlled by those who already control wealth and power, nationally and internationally.  Its primary purpose is to make money.

    As such, tourism is a new form of exploitation.  As a consequence, the Native Hawaiian people suffer the most; their culture has been increasingly threatened, their beaches and even their sacred sites have been taken over or intruded upon in order to build tourist resorts and related developments.

    Furthermore, tourism brings and expands the evil of an economy which perpetuates the poverty of Native Hawaiian people and which leads to sexual and domestic violence and substance abuse among the Native Hawaiian people.  In addition, sexism and racism are closely interlinked with tourism. In short, tourism, as it exists today, is detrimental to the life, well-being and spiritual health of native Hawaiian people.  If not checked and transformed, it will bring grave harm, not only to the Native Hawaiian people, but also to all people living in Hawaii.

    The plight of Native Hawaiian people is but one example of the destructive impact that tourism is having on indigenous people in communities around the world.  All is not well in “paradise.”

    Indeed a state of emergency exists in regard to the survival, the well-being and the status of the Native Hawaiian on the one hand and the near extinction of the precious and fragile environment on the other.”

© Copyright Rev. Kaleo Patterson 2011

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Hello world!

This blog page will try to combine all writings of Dr. Kahu Kaleo Patterson on peace and nonviolence, alternative views and perspectives on tourism and its impacts on Native Peoples, including peace and nonviolence education such as on Indigenous Peacemaking and the Native Hawaiian practice and philosophy of Ho’oponopono, environmental racism, Hawaiian sovereignty, Indigenous rights, Indigenous theology, etc.  This page will also include other work, writings that Dr. Patterson has been involved in producing with others.

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