Tag Archives: ʻUmi. ʻUmi Perkins

Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea: Restoration Day

July 31st is a Hawaiian national holiday – Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea. In this post I trace some of the historical background of this event, and report on its observance on Saturday, July 26th at Thomas Square, Honolulu. The date is also being observed at National Parks on Hawaiʻi Island.

Lord George Paulet arrived from Great Britain in the year 1843. Paulet investigated British Consul Charlton’s complaints, which were that British citizens were treated unfairly by the Kingdom, and that Kalanimoku (a previous kālaimoku) had given him land and Kauikeaouli later denied Charlton’s purported land ownership “rights” Paulet’s demands were that Charlton receive lands claimed, that British citizens were only to be judged by British law, and a $100,000 indemnity payment.

Paulet stated that “If my demands are not met, I will be obliged to take coercive steps to obtain [the] measures for my countrymen.” The Hawaiian Kingdom response was to cede the Kingdom to the British military under protest on February 25th, 1843. They wrote a protest and appeal to Queen Victoria. They also wrote to reps. who were on a diplomatic trip to England, and sent a representative to the British Consul in Mexico.

The August 8th, 1843 issue of Ka Nonanona newspaper read:

AUGATE 8, 1843. Pepa 6.

I ka la 26 o Iulai, ku mai la ka moku Manuwa Beritania, Dublin kona inoa. O Rear Adimarala. Thomas ke Alii. He alii oia maluna o na moku Manuwa Beritania a pau ma ka moana Pakifika nei.
I ka loaa ana ia ia ka palapala no Capt. Haku Geoge Paulet, ma ka moku Vitoria, a lohe pono oia, ua kau ka hae o Beritania ma keia pae aina, holo koke mai no ia e hoihoi mai ke aupuni ia Kamehameha III. Nani kona aloha mai i ke alii, ea! a me na kanaka no hoi.

Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III

Nani ka pomaikai o Kamehameha III, a me kona poe kanaka i keia wa, no ka mea, ua hemo ka popilikia, ua hoihoiia mai ka ea o ka aina. Ua pau ka noho pio ana malalo o ko Vitoria poe kanaka.
O Kamehameha III. oia ke alii nui o Hawaii nei i keia manawa. Ua kuuia ko Beritania hae ilalo i keia la, Iulai 31. 1843, a ua kau hou ia ko Hawaii nei hae. Nolaila, eia ka la o ka makahiki e hoomanao ia’e, me ka hauoli, ma keia hope aku.

My rough translation:


Rear Admiral Richard Thomas

On the 26th day of July, a British battleship anchored here, Dublin was its name. The captain (Alii) was Rear Admiral Thomas. He is the head [alii] of the British Pacific fleet.

Lord George Paulet

In the taking of the documents of Capt. Lord George Paulet of the ship Victoria, he listened fairly [to how Paulet] raised the flag of Britain in this archipelago, [and] decided quickly to return the government to Kamehameha III. Amazing is the love of the alii for [the] sovereignty [ea]! And the people also.


Splendid was the gratitude of Kamehameha III and his people at this time because the trouble [crisis, popilikia] was removed, and the sovereignty of the land was returned. Finished is the captive occupation under Victoria’s people.

Kamehameha III is the King [Ruling Chief, alii nui] at this time. The British flag is lowered [put down, kuuia] on this day, July 31st, and Hawaiʻi’s flag flies anew. Therefore, It is a day of the year to remember joyfully from this day forward.

It was at this time that Kauikeaouli made the statement that became the Kingdom’s and later the State’s motto: “Ua may ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono” [The sovereignty of the land is perpetuated in righteousness].  Seen in this context, it is obvious that his statement is about the return, or perpetuation, of sovereignty, and not merely a poetic statement about the “life of the land.” As I mentioned in my TED Talk, the motto of the State of Hawaiʻi is a sovereignty slogan for the Hawaiian Kingdom, which denies the existence of the State of Hawaiʻi.

Peter Young describes the feast that took place at Kaniakapupu in Nuʻuanu to celebrate the restoration of sovereignty:

271 hogs, 482 large calabashes of poi, 602 chickens, 3 whole oxen, 2 barrels salt pork, 2 barrels biscuit, 3,125 salt fish, 1,820 fresh fish, 12 barrels luau and cabbages, 4 barrels onions, 80 bunches bananas, 55 pineapples, 10 barrels potatoes, 55 ducks, 82 turkeys, 2,245 coconuts, 4,000 heads of taro, 180 squid, oranges, limes, grapes and various fruits. (source: Peter T. Young, Hoʻokuleana, LLC, 2014)

Poster for 2014 Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, honoring Terri Kekoʻolani Raymond and Peggy Haʻo Ross.

Poster for 2014 Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, honoring Terri Kekoʻolani Raymond and Peggy Haʻo Ross.

It wasn’t until 1987 that Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea began to be observed again. In 1988, at age 16, I attended a very early sovereignty rally with my mother, a professor of Hawaiian literature. The rally was organized by Dr. Kekuni Blaisdell, who is now considered the father of the sovereignty movement. Neither I nor my mother had considered the prospect of Hawaiian sovereignty, as Hawaiʻi was still at the tail end of a process of Americanization, with “local” people trying constantly to prove they were “American enough.” Yet here was a Hawaiian, very successful in the newly-Westernized Hawaiʻi, advocating the idea of not being American at all. It was a difficult idea to grasp, but within five years the notion that some model of sovereignty would be implemented was considered inevitable.

Last year, the movement began to become nostalgic of itself, recognizing that its early leaders seemed to be reaching the end of their lives. Two men, Blaisdell and activist extraordinaire Soli Niheu were the honorees. This year, two women, Terri Kekoʻolani Raymond and Peggy Haʻo Ross were honored. Kekoʻolani spoke of others who were instrumental in the early movement, and Haʻo Ross was represented by her daughter Liliʻuokalani Ross, who gave an overview of her life and activism.

Music and commentary by Skippy Ioane, Imaikalani Kalāhele (who is a kind of Hawaiian beat poet), Liko Martin (with Laulani Teale) and others was consistent in its themes of Hawaiian steadfastness and solidarity to the concept of pono. It was preaching to the choir of course, but KITV news covered the event, spreading its reach.

2013 poster recognized Kekuni Blaisdell and Soli Niheu

2013 poster recognized Kekuni Blaisdell and Soli Niheu

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This is a short piece on Kanaʻiolowalu that I was asked by students to write. Iʻve begun updating and expanding it (I had a restrictive word limit) for a more knowledgable audience – the original was much more neutral.

Former Governor John Waiheʻe III and commissioner Naʻalehu Anthony came to Kamehameha last month to encourage students to sign up for Kanaʻiolowalu if they turn 18 years old by February, 2014. This process has its opponents, but what’s confusing about this is that the opposing view undermines all of the assumptions upon which Kanaʻiolowalu is based. So what are these underlying issues? And what is Kanaʻiolowalu really about?

First: the name. Naʻi means to conquer, but Olowalu, while it may refer to “a sound similar to that of waves lapping up on the shore that is lined with pebbles; that rustling sound of the movement of the water through the many pebbles,” it also refers to a well-known site on Maui where a famous massacre took place (the FAQ section of the organization’s website does not mention this). The massacre, in which Captain Metcalf slaughtered about 50 innocent Hawaiians outside Lahaina, was known as “the spilled brains” (Kamakau, 1992). For this reason, the choice of the name Kanaʻiolowalu is very strange indeed.

Second: the process. Kanaʻiolowalu, a project of the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, is just the latest version of a roll leading to a constitutional convention (remember Hā Hawaiʻi?), such as those taken of Native American tribal nations during the organization of tribes into federally-recognized nations. When the Cherokee leaders initiated their roll process, by the way, they were aware they were committing treason.

A page of the Cherokee roll – many non-Cherokee signed, while some Cherokee abstained.

Simply put, the process would create an electorate that would vote for delegates to a constitutional convention for a “Hawaiian nation.” The unknown factor at this point is whether this Hawaiian nation would be federally recognized, independent, or merely recognized by the State of Hawaiʻi.

Kanaʻiolowalu was created by Act 195 of the Hawaiʻi State Legislature, which provides that “the Native Hawaiian people are hereby recognized as the only indigenous, aboriginal, maoli people of Hawai‘i.” This is only recognition by the State of Hawaiʻi, not Federal recognition. According to some, State recognition can be used as a basis for later Federal recognition. By amending State law, after a year and $10 million of OHA money, Kanaʻiolowalu was able to fold the names from the Kau Inoa drive into their list, pushing the total names from about 13,000 to 107,000. A few have opted off the list, since Kau Inoa had an ostensibly different purpose from Kanaʻiolowalu. Reopening the list added another 10,000, bringing the total close to 120,000.

The development of a fully-sovereign, independent government through this process is highly unlikely, if not impossible. If for no other reason, it is nearly impossible simply because the process itself recognizes American jurisdiction over Hawaiʻi. It all comes down to the question of annexation – this is the primary assumption about which there is disagreement. If annexation in 1898 was illegal, as many Hawaiians claim it was, then the State of Hawaiʻi cannot facilitate a process of “sovereignty,” since its very existence is the problem that blocks sovereignty. [See my debate with Civil Beat journalist Ian Lind for more details]. This may sound extreme to some, but the 1993 Federal Apology Resolution stated that “the indigenous Hawaiian people never directly relinquished their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people or over their national lands to the United States.” On the other hand, if annexation was legal, then there is no basis for independence except through international law – not State or Federal law.

There are no models for a “State-within-a-state,” so it is difficult to imagine what this government would look like. Federal recognition will not come through the Akaka Bill – not because Akaka resigned from the US Senate, but because Senator Inouye is not there to shepherd the bill along. There is some talk of Federal recognition being achieved directly through the executive branch. This process has been used by some Native American tribes (perhaps the majority), but there seems to be a hiatus on this method. Part of the problem here is that of defining Hawaiians as a people within a Native American framework. Senator Inouye said once at an Akaka Bill hearing, completely out of any historical context, that “it is interesting to note that when Captain Cook arrived in Hawaiʻi, he called the Hawaiians ʻIndians.'”

Another issue that needs to be resolved is whether non-participation in Kanaʻiolowalu permanently disqualifies those who opt out and all their descendants, as was the case for Cherokee. Whether one believes in the process or not, it is hard to deny that, if successful, the governing entity it creates will have access to resources. Scholarships, loans and lands are potentially at stake, whether the governing entity is “legitimately” created or not. We were then confronted with the “warning” from OHA, as Trisha Kehaulani Watson pointed out in December, a public notice of theirs stated:

Native Hawaiians who choose not to be included on the official roll risk waiving their right, and the right of their children and descendents to be legally and politically acknowledged as Native Hawaiians and to participate in a future convention to reorganize the Hawaiian nation … and as a result may also be excluded from being granted rights of inclusion (citizenship), rights of participation (voting) and rights to potential benefits that may come with citizenship (e.g., land use rights, monetary payments, scholarship, etc.).

This is a serious flaw, and very likely a human rights violation. As the activist Laulani Teale pointed out to me, the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in Article 15 that “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality.” This is precisely what the Kanaʻiolowalu process does.

 In essence, Kanaʻiolowalu is being portrayed as simply a voter registration drive. But the issues underlying it are serious as they deal with Hawaiʻi’s political status.  All of these questions concern our understandings and interpretations of Hawaiian history, and it is there that the answers lie. Do not assume that leaders know more of the history than you do – many know less. It is up to each one of us to grapple with these questions ourselves and reach conclusions on our own terms.


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Moʻolelo Refigured – TEDx Mānoa

The comment about cheesecake at the beginning refers to an earlier talk by Brandon Ledward, in which he described how his Hawaiian History class in public school was so pathetic that the “teacher,” who was actually the gym coach, gave passing grades if students brought him a cheesecake at the end of the semester – no other work required.
I like to think weʻve come a long way..

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TEDx Manoa Recap

ImageI donʻt want to give away too much about my talk at TEDx Manoa “Moʻolelo Refigured” – Iʻll save that for when the video comes out – but my theme of moʻolelo (myth, history, legend, story) seemed to be one that ran through most of the talks, as Naʻalehu Anthony noted. Anthony himself explained how ʻOiwi TV was not really about technology, or even the telling of stories exactly, but about the question of who gets to tell the stories. In her talk  Ola (i) nā Mo’olelo: Living Mo’olelo, Brandy Nalani McDougall read poetry framed by vivid commentary on stories and colonialism – her “On Cooking Captain Cook” got a rise out of the crowd, and it was hard to say whether they all really got it. One person who blogged on my talk didnʻt seem to get it – I noticed his comment that I “made an argument on annexation” – the strategy of continually calling history an opinion has been used by those who still control the story.

Lissette Flannary, a mainland born and raised Hawaiian filmmaker, focused on the stories of the Hawaiian diaspora, hula, music and their intersections. Her American Aloha, on mainland halau hula, epitomizes this focus, and many of her films are on hula, like Na Kamalei: The Men of Hula, but she also made One Voice about the Kamehameha song contest, which Iʻm in for one nanosecond.  Manu Boyd skillfully delivered a story that connected the gods of Manoa to the “robust retail environment” he heads in Waikiki -Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center – in a surprisingly captivating and funny moʻolelo. In Hawaiʻi’s Legacy of Literacy, Puakea Nogelmeier focused on the means of telling the story itself – Hawaiian language newspapers, from which I dutifully transcribed my pages for his Awaiaulu/ʻIke Kuʻokoʻa project. His project is directly relevant to mine (a Hawaiian history textbook) in that it could make my project immediately out of date as new voices from the past emerge, and thatʻs OK.

Kealoha, the singularly named State Poet Laureate recited The Poetry Of Us, connecting his background in nuclear physics and poetry in a poetic examination of Hawaiian origins (and all origins). His poem “What are the chances?” spoke of the contingency and irony of existence in a way that was timely and in a contemporary style. And this summed up the TED theme “New Old Wisdom” – new frameworks for old knowledge, or as Vicky Holt Takamine put it, It’s Na’au or Newa.

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