ANAHOLA — Keohokui Kauihana said the first step to recognize Hawaii as a sovereign nation from the United States was realized on Monday.
“The significance of the state allowing the Hawaiian Kingdom back on its own land is the beginning of the record, the changes,” said Kauihana, a noble representing Kauai in the Hawaiian Government Legislature. “We have to do the things we used to do. It’s so valuable to me. It’s going to make it easier.”
Kauihana was among dozens of people who gathered for Hawaiian Independence Day at Anahola Beach Park on Monday.
Recognized as La Ku‘oko‘a, Hawaiian Independence Day is the most important national holiday in the Hawaiian Kingdom. On Nov. 28, 1843, Great Britain and France recognized Hawaii as an independent state.
According to “A Brief History of the Hawaiian People,” U.S. Sec. of State J.C. Calhoun sent a dispatch to French and British authorities in July, 1844, which said the president recognizes the Hawaiian government as an independent nation.
Sixteen years later, however, the U.S. annexed Hawaii by a joint resolution, known as the Newlands Resolution. In Aug. 21, 1959, Hawaii entered statehood and became the 50th state in the union.
The annexation by the U.S., according to Kaiulani Mahuka, is illegal because the U.S. did not declare a treaty of annexation.
“We are still celebrating that we are sovereign,” Mahuka said. “Independence for Hawaii is imminent. People really need to get educated about it. “
She said having having La Ku’o Koa means celebrating Hawaii as being a neutral, peaceful kingdom.
“This celebration is the first of its kind on Kauai, and there will be more and more as people will be aware that we are still sovereign,” she said.
By having the event on Monday, Keohokui hopes to show the world United States is illegally occupying the islands.
“This is recognition of the Kanaka Maoli people,” he said. “It’s historical what we did here today. This is Hawaiian Homelands’ property. I had to get permission from them to have the Hawaiian Kingdom do this event in order to remember our national holiday.”
La Ku’o Koa is a day of sharing knowledge and wisdom, said Jessie Jessie of Kapaa.
“We have to learn from our mistakes and try to find better means of compromise instead of fighting,” said Jessie. “The keiki are the key. Young kids can absorb things faster than the older folks. The next generation is the key to carry on the legacy which we need to pass on.”
Self-determination is about getting back one’s identity, said Susanne Gottschalk, a Hawaiian Kingdom national who lives in Anahola.
“By doing this, it’s also part of what is there already, what is there as an identity, what is there as a people,” she said. “There was an independence day under the kingdom. It’s very important to bring the spirit and remembering this day.”
The gathering is an opportunity for everyone to come together, Gottschalk said.
“When it comes to party time, people start to come together and start to talk,” she said. “Pretty often the solutions aren’t coming from the big conferences. They are coming from the little side talks.”
In September, the U.S. Department of the Interior finalized a rule for creating a government-to-government relationship with Native Hawaiians and the United States.
The rule would leave the Hawaiian community with the authority to reorganize its governing entity.
The Hawaiian Kingdom does not recognize the ruling.
“We’re not part of America. The Kingdom of Hawaii has been recognized by the league of nations as its own country,” said Puanani Rogers, founder of Hookipa Network and co-organizer of the protest, in a previous interview with The Garden Island. “The United States has no jurisdiction over us because their resolution only went to the voters of their own lands.”