By; T. Jeffersonian
Last Friday, March 26, 2021, Hawaii celebrated Prince Kuhio Day. Many people living here in Hawaii do not know the famous Hawaiian royal’s significance. Prince Kuhio, also known as the Citizen Prince, was born on March 26, 1871 on Kauai’s south shore. Before the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and annexation, Prince Kuhio and his brothers travelled. He was a pioneer surfer in California and was the first surfer in United Kingdom in the 1880s. After the overthrown and annexation, Prince Kuhio travelled briefly in exile as a visiting royal. During these travels, he eventually made his way to South Africa where he either enlisted in the British Army or served an observer with the British during the Second Boer War. Returning to Hawaii, as a Republican, he was Hawaii’s first delegate to the United States Congress. He created the Hawaii state county system which we still use today.
Prince Kuhio won ten elections as Hawaii’s non-voting territorial representative serving until his death. He was known for spearheading the Hawaii’s Women Suffrage Movement in 1918 and the passage of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act in 1921, which provided land for Native Hawaiians. Even without a vote in the United States Congress, Prince Kuhio was able to influence the voting members of the United States Congress to adopt the law and to pass the law. Hawaiians daily celebrate Prince Kuhio’s legacy by surfing, living on Hawaiian Homes, or visiting any of the state’s national parks.
Continuing to embrace Prince Kuhio’s legacy presents Hawaiians with numerous economic and social opportunities moving forward for the remainder of this century. The United States still has three Pacific territories – Guam, the Commonwealth of the Marianas, and American Samoa. Although these three territories have their own non-voting Congressional representatives, as their fellow island Americans, Hawaii could and should lend support to our fellow Pacific islanders to ensure their voices and needs are taken seriously in Congress. Hawaii is the logistical midpoint between the mainland and each of these three territories.
Following the pandemic, when we rebuild and diversify the Hawaii economy, we must take into consideration the extra throughput needed to support the three territories and the Compact of Free Association members – the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Palau. All island locations including Hawaii will deal with climate changes, catastrophic weather, and sea level rise. As Hawaii builds itself to withstand these changes, we must share what we do and learn with other islands. It is very probable that Hawaii will be the initial place of refuge for our fellow islanders when their lands go permanently underwater. We must be ready for that eventuality, if not devise a way not to have to leave.
Prince Kuhio spent time in Africa, a continent whose population by the end of this century will grow to rival Asia’s population in size. All 50 of the American states will be needed to serve as the breadbasket and energy generator for a free world. As we build our state economy to self-sustain our islands following the pandemic, increasing our agricultural yields will be important not just to feed Hawaii in the event of tragic isolation from the mainland, but to feed the world as populations increase. Finally, Prince Kuhio, was a Republican. Despite his being a born into privilege and wealth as royal, Prince Kuhio embraced equality and inclusion. In embracing his legacy, Hawaiians must see through colorless eyes and must protect the rights and freedoms of all people, not allowing any to be cancelled and for all to be heard.