Act of War Documentary Response

Native Hawaiians shown protesting U.S. occupation in the film “Act of War” the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Act of War: The Overthrow of the Hawaiian Nation

“Act of War” begins with a passionate introduction that shows native Hawaiian Protesters being arrested for resisting the overthrow of their sovereign government and refusing to culturally assimilate into the hegemonic and oppressive western culture that is forced upon them.

This documentary was created in 1993, and the year of production was significant because it was the centennial anniversary of the United States illegal overthrow of the Nation of Hawaii. Viewing “Act of War” ought to be a requirement for everyone who comes to visit or live in Hawaii and especially for Hawaii Pacific University students to graduate.

For me, the most important aspect of this documentary is that it gives an uninformed or previously misled audience a new lens to view history “through Hawaiian eyes” with unique native Hawaiian perspectives on the overthrow of their nation, as well as the current dynamic of Hawaii as an illegitimately appropriated State.

As an American citizen who served in the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor, I was particularly surprised to learn the inconvenient truths that are presented in this documentary. The facts that are brought to light evoke a sense of embarrassment and remorse for the actions of the United States of America against the Nation of Hawaii. While many nations had also participated in colonialism and imperialism during that timeframe, it doesn’t make the current situation anymore acceptable. We, as the United States of America, continue to unabashedly ignore this travesty and pretend that there is no recourse to address this perpetual injustice. Although President Bill Clinton did write a formal letter of apology to the Nation of Hawaii, no other major action has been taken to rectify the United States’ transgression.

“Act of War” left me with many juxtaposed feelings in the end. I have a profound respect for the Hawaiian people and their unending struggle to wrestle their sovereign nation back from the control and occupation of the United States. I feel very humbled to live here as an American, a descendant of a culture of oppression locally, and still be treated with respect and dignity by native Hawaiians. Ultimately, I feel lucky. I’m lucky to live in this beautiful island paradise that is rich, culture, history, perseverance, and aloha.

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