The Hawaiian sovereignty movement is picking up steam. Dismissed as dreamers just a few years ago, the pro-sovereignty movement now has the support of a majority of Hawaiians, says a report in the Chicago Tribune.

“It is our land, they’ve stolen it, and they’re not about to return their stolen goods. That’s what the struggle is all about,” says Kakune Blaisdell, professor of medicine at the University of Hawaii Medical School and a leading independence advocate.

Many of the island’s pro-sovereignty groups launched a civil disobedience campaign earlier this year, fanning out along beaches and Honolulu’s airport to urge startled tourists to go home. Some residents are refusing to pay for water. Others wear “Kingdom of Hawaii” license plates. The largest pro-sovereignty group, Ka Lahui, or Hawaiian Nation, has set up a shadow government.

The issue gained national attention last year when Governor John Waihee, a Native Hawaiian, ordered the American flag lowered and the state flag flown over Iolani Palace to mark the 100th anniversary of the bloody U.S.-backed overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani that ended thousands of years of Hawaiian self-rule.

More than one million Native Hawaiians populated the islands when Capt. James Cook landed in 1778. Now full-blooded Native Hawaiians total only 10,000. About 200,000 of the state’s 1.2 million residents claim some Hawaiian ancestry.