Native Hawaiians celebrate sovereignty

PUHI — Saturday afternoon’s La Hoi Hoi Ea (Sovereignty Restoration Day) at Kauai Community College wasn’t just a day of remembrance and celebration of Hawaiian culture and tradition.

It was also about educating the community, Hawaiian or not, about the truth behind the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

“People will realize that we’re not part of the United States, that the kingdom still exists here,” said Walter Ritte, Native Hawaiian activist. “Today is about coming together. In the Hawaiian community, we have lots of arguments regarding the future and where we should be going.”

Ritte said that Saturday’s objective was to get the Native Hawaiian community on the same page so that they can go to the International Commission of Inquiry as one cohesive, united front.

“We’re showing the efforts being done on an international level for the Native Hawaiian community and show the whole world the truth about what has happened to us as Hawaiians,” he said. “We’ve been told lies all of these years about our overthrow, and the most important lie that we need to correct is about our annexation.”

Kevin Kaleiohi, member of the Hui Aloha Aina o Anahola (Hawaiian Patriotic League), said that the mission of the Native Hawaiian community is to get behind one another and support each other, regardless of differences they may have.

“It’s always important for us Hawaiians to get together to talk about the past, the present, and we do this for our keiki,” Kaleiohi said. “It’s important for our keiki to know what we’re about and who we are around the island.”

Creating a sense of community was the spirit felt by the estimated 70 people in attendance. Even people from other parts of the world showed up, including a representative from Aotearoa. Aotearoa is the widely used Maori name for New Zealand.

“We’re also on a similar pathway to reclaim our sovereignty so I’m here on Kauai as a diplomat from Aotearoa,” said Lilly Eden of the Sovereign Office from Aotearoa. “We’re preparing to take a case to the international courts. We’re on very similar pathways as Hawaii: They are occupied by the United States, and we have occupation by the British.”

Eden said there is no coincidence between Aotearoa and the Kingdom of Hawaii seeking sovereignty and international recognition, because it is destiny.

“There is a prophecy that the first nation to see the light, which is Aotearoa, will be the first indigenous people to rise and reclaim their lands, and when we do that all other indigenous people will follow,” she said. “That’s what’s happening right now. This is the time. We already have things under way, so I’m just here in support of our ohana. All of our people originally came from here. I just want to bring my aloha and support.”

La Hoi Hoi Ea featured multiple guest speakers, entertainment and activities, including pounding kalo. Most importantly, films were shown on what is being done on the national and international levels for the people of Hawaii.

Circling the booths to learn about the history behind the annexation of Hawaii, David Gardener said he hopes the day will come when Native Hawaiians reclaim their land as their own.

“I would like to see something that was made wrong, made right,” said Gardener, a Chicago native who resides in Princeville. “It was wrong then, and it’s still wrong now. Just because everything is established and happened a long time ago, is not a good enough reason that it doesn’t get restored.”

Saturday was a celebration of when Great Britain returned sovereignty to King Kamehameha III and the people of Hawaii, which Ritte referred to it as Hawaii’s Independence Day. But although progress is being made locally and internationally, he understands the concerns of what is supposed to happen next for Native Hawaiians.

“The question comes, ‘So what?’ We don’t have enough aircraft carriers to go against the United States,” he said. “We cannot tell America to get out, but we can tell the world that Hawaii is not a part of America. We are a recognized kingdom, a country that is sovereign and neutral.”

Ritte, along with other Native Hawaiians, is simply looking for justice.

“Hopefully the truth will allow us to be who we really are,” Ritte said. “We don’t have the muscle, we only have the truth. The truth will set us free.”

La Hoi Hoi Ea will continue on to each of the islands. On July 1, the event went to Molokai, and will culminate on Oahu July 29.

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