McKinley statue controversy brewing

Published On: Sep 10 2013 04:59:32 PM HST   Updated On: Sep 10 2013 06:16:46 PM HST
McKinley Statue

 A century-old bronze statue of President William McKinley is making waves in some circles in the native Hawaiian community.

"What you have depicted on that scroll in his right hand, is not correct," said Keanu Sai, a lecturer at Windward Community College.

 McKinley is holding a treaty of annexation. But Sai says that's historically inaccurate.

Others call the the statue inappropriate, and a fraud.

Sai, who has a PhD. in political science, points to two failed attempts to pass a treaty of annexation.


"When it failed, the United States unilaterally enacted a law  that says we got Hawaii that’s not a treaty , yet the document he is holding is a treaty it should be a resolution of annexation, The two are very, very different," said Sai.


McKinley school principal Ron Okamura got the lesson when he took over a few years ago.

A group of Hawaiians advised him of plans of an annual protest on Presidents Day.

Okamura respects their point of view, as long as in return, they respect school property.


"I am OK with it as long as they don't desecrate the statue or do any damage to our property," said Okamura.


A U.S. history major, he has no problem sharing both sides of the story.

"As a historian you got to let kids know this took place, right or wrong. This is history you cannot change, it you cannot erase it," Okamura said.

Okamura hopes he never comes in one morning to find McKinley missing that right hand.

He believes cooler heads will prevail.

Sai points to the efforts around another statue--that of the Queen when some took exception of dates of her reign.

The state foundation paid for a plaque clarifying that point of history.

As for what to do about McKinley?

"Some are probably pushing to break that arm off because thats not a treaty. Others saying just change it to a joint resolution, some are saying change the school's name," said Sai.

The principal says it’s not up to him.

The issue would need to pass muster with the school board, superintendent and foundation, as well as the McKinley's alumni and students and staff .

The school was previously known as Hawaii High. McKinley was one of about a half dozen schools named for U.S. presidents.


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