Join us at Union Square in New York City on Sunday July 26th, 2009 from 11:00AM-12:30PM.
Celebrate an often overlooked Hawaiian National Holiday, Ka Lā Ho'iho'i Ea or Restoration Day.
Ka Lā Ho'iho'i Ea
Ka Lā Ho'iho'i Ea was largely unobserved for years. The holiday was revived in 1985 and has been an annual celebration at Thomas Square as a reminder of the push for Hawaiian independence. Now we are taking a historical event that occurred in 1843 and applying it to today to the United States government. Since Ka Lā Ho'i Ho'i Ea was reinstated, the United States government has officially apologized for the takeover of Hawai'i in 1893. This came under the Clinton administration in a joint resolution signed by Congress in 1993 that recognized, among other things, that the takeover resulted in "the deprivation of the rights of Native Hawaiians to self-determination."
It is our intention to educate ourselves and each other while raising awareness for American, French and British citizens whose countries are a part of our own Hawaiian national narrative. We also recognize that New York is home to other people from countries such as Israel, Palestine, Tibet, Taiwan who are also fighting for independence and self-determination in their own right. We hope to learn about sovereignty movements taking place all over the world. By making a presence here in New York we hope to pay tribute to our friends, family and ancestors back home in Hawai'i. This is a time of celebration and a call for the restoration of Native Hawaiian people, language, culture, land and government.
In the presence of King Kamehameha III, the replacing of the British flag with the Hawaiian flag by order of British Admiral Richard Thomas and the British government. This British recognition of Hawaiian sovereignty ended five months of military occupation by Britain's Lord George Paulet.
Videos on Ka Lā Ho'iho'i Ea
Celebrating Hawaiian Holiday: 'Restoration Day'
Ka la ho'i ho'i ea (Restoration Day)
Early Struggles with Sovereignty
In July 1839, the Artemise, a French warship commanded by Captain Cyrille Laplace, arrived in Honolulu to make several demands, including that French priests be allowed to establish a mission, that a land grant be made for such a mission, and that the government pay $20,000 as guaranty for the other demands. If these demands were not met, Captain Laplace was to make war on Hawai'i. In the absence of the mō'ī, Kekauluohi agreed o all of the demands, including payment of the cash.
This incident impressed on Kamehameha III and his advisors that Hawai'i was vulnerable to the "Great Powers," as they were known.
In 1841, Sir George Simpson, former commander of Fort Vancouver where many Kānaka had emigrated to work, arrived at Hawai'i. He offered to act as ambassador to the queen of England to obtain from her official recognition of King Kamehameha III as an independent ruler over an independent country. Former missionary William Richards and the mō'ī's other advisers agreed that this was a necessity, because those nations not recognized and accepted into the family of nations were vulnerable to colonization.
The Hawaiian kingdom had already taken some steps toward conforming to the European conventions of statehood, including the creation, in 1840, of a constitution and the enactment of laws of recognizably European type; the assessment and defining of the territory of the islands; and the agreement of the people of the archipelago that they were one nation. All that was lacking was recognition of the nation by the members of the exclusive club of European nations and the United States.
Kamehameha III's declaration that the kingdom was Christian meant that Hawai'i had also met that unwritten requirement for membership.
The mō'ī thus sent Simpson on one vessel, plus one of this closest and most trusted advisors, the ali'i Timoteo Ha'alilo, together with William Richards on another ship, to journey to the United States, England, and France to obtain recognition of Hawai'i's independence.
While they were gone, Richard Charleton, the British consul in Hawai'i, became involved in a dispute with ali'i over a house lot. Lord George Paulet, commanding a British warship, demanded that Charleton be given the land. This demand was accompanied by others disrespectful of Hawai'i's sovereignty, and by threats of war.
The mō'ī's response was to inform Paulet that Sire George Simpson was on his way to settle matters with Queen Victoria, and that Paulet's demands were "contravening the laws established for the benefit of all." Then, under protest, the mō'ī provisionally ceded the sovereignty of Hawai'i to Paulet until Queen Victoria could be apprised of the conflict. The British government promptly disavowed Paulet's act, and dispatched Admiral Richard Thomas to Hawai'i. On his arrival Thomas reprimanded Paulet and restored Hawai'i's sovereignty. The date was July 31, 1843, which was celebrated for the following fifty years as Lā Ho'i Ho'i Ea, or Restoration Day.
It was on the first Lā Ho'i Ho'i Ea, July 31, 1843, that Kamehameha III announced, "Ua mau ke ea o ka 'āina i ka pono" (roughly, "The sovereignty of the land has been continued because it is pono"), which became the mō'ī's motto. It later became the motto of the kingdom, and then (strangely or perversely) was appropriated as the motto of the State of Hawai'i, where it is usually translated as "The Life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness." "Ea," which can mean "life" or "breath" as well as "sovereignty," in it's original context was clearly meant to signify sovereignty. The word pono, as I have shown, has multiplicity of meanings, and had been appropriated by missionaries as well as government officials to translate the Christian concept of righteousness. In the mō'ī's phrasing, it likely corresponds more closely to "justice" and, more broadly, what is good or beneficial for the people. Simultaneously, it is an assertion that the mō'ī's government was the appropriate and correct one. Translation of pono into "righteousness" or even "justice" is an example of the reduction of an understood multiplicity of meanings in the Hawaiian language to a single meaning in English, with a different set of connotations altogether.
Ha'alilo and Richards went first to the United States, where they obtained a verbal agreement from President John Tyler to respect Hawai'i's independence. They then proceeded to Europe, where for several months they received distressing letters about Paulet's threat to their nation. On November 28, 1843, they obtained the signatures of officials of both Great Britain and France on a joint proclamation recognizing Hawai'i as an independent nation and a member of the family of nations. November 28 was officially celebrated thereafter as Lā Kūko'a, or Independence Day. Ha'alilo and Richards returned to the United States to continue their work, and then finally departed for home in December 1844. Ke Ali'i Timoteo Ha'alilo died on ship just days into journey home.
Source: Aloha Betrayed by Noenoe K. Silva, Duke University Press, 2004
Come celebrate Hawaiian Restoration with us at Union Square in New York City on Sunday July 26th, 2009 from 11:00AM-12:30PM.
Mahalo nui loa!
Me ke aloha,
Na Ōiwi NYC