HAWAI‘I LOA KU LIKE KA KOU
Members of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I perform a ho'okupu ceremony at the Queen Lili'uokalani statue as part of the 110th anniversary of the Hawaiian overthrow.
Richard Ambo - The Honolulu Advertiser
By Mike Gordon and Vicki Viotti
Advertiser Staff Writers
Prayers and solemn chants yesterday opened a weeklong observance of the 110th anniversary of the overthrow of the Native Hawaiian government, one that calls attention to the assertion that the Hawaiian nation still exists in the realm of international law.
The organizers of the "Living Nation" observance, which continues today with Day 2 of the 110-hour vigil at the corner of King and Mililani streets, hope that the events will enlighten people about what happened before annexation of Hawai'i by the United States.
"If there's one thing we want, it's to get everyone on the same page," said organizer Lynette Cruz. "Let our history and our kupuna point the way."
Cruz and colleague Mel Kalahiki are among the long-standing sovereignty activists who believe the correct strategy for Hawaiian nationhood is through invoking international laws that may have been abridged when the United States took over Hawai'i without treaties or conquest.
They acknowledge the dominance of the initiatives seeking federal recognition through the U.S. Congress but believe that route represents a diversion from the need to correct a basic wrong.
"Our point of view is that you still got to fix it," Cruz said.
Yesterday's opening ceremony behind 'Iolani Palace drew 25 participants.
But organizers of the observance — which also will include rallies and two marches — hope to attract 45,000 people by Friday evening when they are planning a torch-light march to the palace.
"We are all here, some in spirit, and we stand together united for the restoration of our country," said filmmaker Meleanna Meyer after lei and a ho'okupu offering were made. "I am grateful to be here to share this moment with you."
Meyer and the rest of the group, most of whom were from the Royal Order of Kamehameha, formed a circle around the statue and prayed.
"It was a prayer calling our ancestors for guidance and for strength and wisdom," Meyer said. "They are the things we need, not only for this week, but for the challenges ahead to unite."
In January 1893, business leaders joined U.S. government representatives to overthrow Lili'uokalani. Five years later, the United States declared it had annexed Hawai'i.
Ever since the 100th anniversary of the overthrow in 1993, Hawaiians have experienced a growing awareness of their history and that event. But in the 10 years since, unity has eluded them, said Kai'opua Fyfe, who offered prayers yesterday.
"This anniversary is particularly important," he said after the ceremony. "We're trying to check where we are. It appears that in the last 10 years, many of the activists have realized they have to work together."
Cruz said that in the past 10 years sovereignty efforts have solidified along separate tracks, in pursuit of nation-within-a-nation recognition and of backing from the World Court on the international front.
Keanu Sai is one activist who has followed the international-law path, two years ago presenting the case against annexation at The Hague and more recently forging a legal team to approach the United Nations.
"If Hawai'i exists, then where's the evidence that it was extinguished?" Sai asked. "We don't have to prove we're a kingdom; the United States has to prove it took it over."
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Article URL: http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2003/Jan/12/ln/ln22a.html
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