Hawai'i & Our Story
We acknowledge the indigenous Kanaka (Hawaiian) people of this land as the host culture and the significance their complex history has on their lives today. Most importantly, for visitors and transplants of all backgrounds including relatives of Turtle Island, it is critical to remember we are guests in their home and to behave accordingly.
As a small grassroots group with no major tribal affiliated presence, funding, or reservation for diverse First Nations to gather in Hawaii, the Oahu Intertribal Council (OIC) 501(c)(3) is supported by descendants of founding members and essential friends of the council. OIC continues to foster connections and support community needs through shared cultural values of respect, reciprocity, and relationship.
Hawaii & Our Story:
Tribal Nations, a Country, a Kingdom, & Connection
According to some ancient Hawaiian and tribal oral histories, languages, and family traditions, relationships between Native Americans and indigenous Hawaiians stretch beyond time immemorial and continue to thrive to this day.
American Indian veterans have served with distinction in every major conflict of American military history over the last 200 years. In fact, Native American veterans have held the highest record of military service at five times the national average. This is likely due in part to the cultural significance placed on warriors in American Indian society across various tribal affiliations. Other reasons many Native Americans may have served in the American military throughout history include various European countries in conflict over land in tribal areas, dire conditions on reservations, and pride.
The Illegal Overthrow, "Annexation", & American Military Occupation
There is no tribal affiliation or reservation in Hawaii and Kanaka 'Oiwi do not generally consider themselves Native Americans. In fact there are many examples of Hawaiian families, local musicians, and activists identifying as Hawaiian rather than- or more so than American. This is due in part to the illegal overthrow of 1893 when a group of American businessmen instated themselves as the Provisional Government backed by the U.S. military.
The reigning monarch Queen Lili'uokalani conditionally surrendered to avoid bloodshed of her people believing America would honor previous treaties and restore her to power. However, she was imprisoned and military occupation of Hawaii began in 1898. Since that time, countless indigenous relatives from Turtle Island have been stationed throughout Hawaii with some portion of American Indian soldiers starting families here.
By 1993, U.S. Congress officially passed the Apology Resolution to apologize for their role in actively and illegally overthrowing the Hawaiian Kingdom while acknowledging the highly organized, self-sufficient, subsistent social system based on communal land tenure with a sophisticated language, culture, and religion of the Hawaiian monarchy and its people.
Homesick Natives Start a Powwow in Hawai'i
With no tribal affiliated reservation in Hawaii, many Native Americans in Hawaii are transient with the majority of American Indians arriving as students at University or soldiers in the military. Alternatively, many local Hawaiian families may also be Native American by birth but not familiar with tribal relations or traditions. This often leads to a desire for cultural and community connections between the two.
For example, in 1971 a Native American woman stationed in Hawaii posted an ad in the local newspaper seeking other Native Americans in the islands. She was far from her reservation home and longed to connect with other First Nations in the community. A Hawaiian woman whose Native American father served in the military and had passed away when she was three years old responded to the ad.
By 1974 the pair grew into a group who regularly met at the park and held their first ever Honolulu Intertribal Powwow at Ala Moana beach park with drummers, round dancing and a picnic potluck. The powwow has since evolved over the last 45+ years with hundreds of participants, drummers, dancers, and vendors from Turtle Island, Hawaii and Canada.
The Powwow was supported through generous donations from local organizations, community members and through Hawaii Council of American Indian Nations (HCAIN). This group was formed to provide alcohol / drug counseling, cultural education and job training to the local Native community. In addition, by the early 80's the American Indian Powwow Association (AIPA) was formed to organize, support and fund all future powwows. Both organizations have since gone through several transitions, as the original elders have passed on and the broader Native American military and student populations are generally transient to Hawaii.
At present, the Honolulu Intertribal Powwow and cultural educational outreach is supported through the local efforts of founding member descendants and friends of the council who generously share their skills. OIC continues to foster connections and support community needs through shared cultural values of respect, reciprocity, and relationship.