While much of the U.S. spent the Fourth of July celebrating its independence, some members of the Native Hawaiian community used the holiday occasion to mark a painful part of Hawaii’s history.
Activists gathered on the footsteps of ‘Iolani Palace Thursday morning to perform a re-enactment of the illegal annexation of the Kingdom of Hawaii. The bloodless coup, which happened on January 17, 1893, ended with a group of foreigners seizing power from Queen Liliuokalani.
The overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom was acknowledged by the United States government in Apology Resolution of 1993, more than 100 years after the monarchy was overthrown.
“It’s an important part of our community to tell the story again, to re-frame some of our history that was purposely left out,” said Imaikalani Winchester, an organizer of the event. “In order for us to bring our community together, to provide clarity, to give a stage, a voice to many of the issues we’re facing Hawaiian communities right now.”
Winchester said the reenactment was about “reaffirming who we are as kanaka” on an island chain they still consider illegally occupied.
“Today was about bringing that story to life, so that our people can hear what the words that were shared, what the resistance was, what the resistance continues to be,” he said. “It’s a very special occasion for us to spend time with our community.”
The forum was also used to discuss contemporary issues important to the Hawaiian community. After the reenactment, organizers offered ho’okupu, or gifts, on the palace steps.