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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Memorial to annexation foes proposed

By Vicki Viotti
Advertiser Staff Writer

A Hawaiian group has begun spreading the word about a proposal to build a series of memorial walls on several islands to honor ancestors who opposed the annexation of the Islands by the United States in 1898.

Kunani Nihipali, a member of the sovereignty group Ke Kia'i, the Native Hawaiian Advisory Council, envisions a set of panels inscribed with the names of the 40,000 people who signed a petition against annexation, with room for their descendants to add their own names.

The group has petitioned the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for a grant of almost $50,000 to underwrite the project, although Nihipali believes families would be willing to pay a fee to add descendants' names, raising additional money.

The petitions have been brought out for public viewing at various occasions, he said, but a memorial wall — like the one created for the Vietnam War, for example — would give Hawaiians a literal touchstone, a connection to that moment in history.

"There's a lot of memorials out there, but there's nothing to honor our kupuna," he said. "I've been thinking about those kupuna, what's going on with confusion over the Akaka bill (for federal recognition of Hawaiians). To me, we need to rally around something that gives us inspiration and to remember who signed this."

The initial designs suggest a memorial made up of a concentric-circle maze made of native plants, with the walls housed in the inner sanctum.

Cost concerns would require the panels to be produced with a synthetic rock substance that can be inscribed through a computer-assisted process, Nihipali said.

But the plan is to survey communities on several islands to gain public suggestions, he said.

"We've all got caught up in the modern world that left out a lot of our own history," Nihipali said. "This would muster up our Hawaiian people to remember their ancestors.

"Their names are still on those petitions, and we want to honor them for their bravery (in) being able to stand up in the face of the most powerful nation."

Reach Vicki Viotti at vviotti@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8053.