Lā Hoʻi Hoʻi Ea
A Powerful Symbol of Native Hawaiian Resilience and the Fight for Indigenous Rights
On July 31, the people of Hawaiʻi come together to celebrate Lā Hoʻi Hoʻi Ea, Hawaiian Sovereignty Restoration Day. This Hawaiian holiday holds deep significance as it commemorates the restoration of sovereignty to the Hawaiian Kingdom following a tumultuous period of occupation. Lā Hoʻi Hoʻi Ea serves as a powerful symbol of Native Hawaiian resilience, our commitment to self-determination, and the broader struggle for indigenous rights.
To understand the importance of Lā Hoʻi Hoʻi Ea, we must look back to the 1843 Paulet Affair. British naval officer Captain Lord George Paulet, of HMSCarysfort , acting without authorization, landed in Honolulu and demanded that King Kamehameha III, Kauikeaouli, cede the Hawaiian Islands to Great Britain. Despite the King's refusal, Paulet destroyed all Hawaiian flags he could find, and raised the British Union Flag for an occupation that would last six months. However, on July 31, 1843, the British government, through Rear-Admiral Richard Darton Thomas, ordered the withdrawal of their troops. The Hawaiian flag was proudly re-raised, and King Kamehameha III proclaimed the profound words,
"Ua mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono" – "The life of the land is preserved in the righteousness of the people."
Thomas Square in Honolulu, today, survives as a testament to the honor of the British in correcting the unjust action of their agents and reinstating the sovereignty of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
Significance to Native Hawaiians:
Lā Hoʻi Hoʻi Ea holds immense significance for Native Hawaiians as a day to celebrate our culture, history, and most importantly, the restoration of our sovereignty. It serves as a reminder of our resilience throughout history and reaffirms our commitment to self-determination. This holiday represents a continuation of the ongoing struggle for Hawaiian sovereignty, honoring the sacrifices made by our kūpuna, honored ancestors, and inspiring the pulapula of future generations to keep fighting for their rights.
How It Is Celebrated:
Throughout the Hawaiian Islands, Lā Hoʻi Hoʻi Ea is commemorated in a multitude of ways. Traditional Hawaiian ceremonies, cultural performances, and educational events take place to honor the rich heritage of Ka Pae ʻĀina o Hawaiʻi. Many people in the lāhui proudly fly the Hawaiian flag as a symbol of unity and both cultural and national identity.
In the years since the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance of the 1960ʻs and 70ʻs, Lā Hoʻi Hoʻi Ea has evolved into a day of political activism. Native Hawaiians have utilized this holiday to raise awareness about the issue of Hawaiian sovereignty and to demand respect for our right to self-determination. It serves as a platform to engage in dialogue, educate others about our history and culture, and foster a greater understanding of the ongoing struggles we face.
Support for the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement:
Lā Hoʻi Hoʻi Ea serves as a powerful symbol of the Hawaiian people's unwavering commitment to self-determination. It transcends the boundaries of the islands, becoming a source of inspiration for indigenous peoples fighting for their rights worldwide. The holiday's significance extends beyond the restoration of Hawaiian sovereignty, reminding everyone of the ongoing global struggle against imperialism and the importance of respecting indigenous rights.
Haʻina ʻia mai ana ka puana
Let the story be told now and forever:
Lā Hoʻi Hoʻi Ea, Hawaiian Sovereignty Restoration Day, is an extremely important holiday that commemorates a pivotal moment both in Hawaiian history and international relations. It serves as a time to celebrate the rich tapestry of Hawaiian culture and history, while also renewing the commitment of Native Hawaiians to our ongoing fight for self-determination. Beyond its local importance, Lā Hoʻi Hoʻi Ea carries a broader significance, acting as a symbol of the worldwide indigenous rights movement and resistance against imperialism. As we all reflect on this day, we welcome all to honor the strength and resilience of the Native Hawaiian people and join together in the pursuit of justice, equality, and the restoration & preservation of our sovereignty.
All historical images courtesy of The Hawaiʻi State Archives.