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Sovereignty Restoration Day may not be a paid holiday, but supporters say it's progress

Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea festivities were held at Thomas Square in Honolulu on July 31, 2020.
Mikey Inouye
Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea festivities were held at Thomas Square in Honolulu on July 31, 2020.

Preparations are underway in communities across the islands for the celebration of Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea or Sovereignty Restoration Day on July 31. This year’s festivities will take on extra meaning following the state government’s recognition of the first-ever national holiday of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea marked the restoration of the Hawaiian Kingdom after five months of British occupation in 1843. The new designation aims to increase public awareness of this history. ʻĪmaikalani Winchester is one of the event’s organizers.

“This is not the end. This is not the finished goal,” says Winchester. “This is one step in the journey that we’re taking to go home. And so if this helps to amplify the voice, the cause, the story…then this will be an important piece for our march towards independence and hoʻihoʻi ea.”

Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea was celebrated as a national holiday in the islands from 1843 until the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893. Celebrations picked up again in the late '80s and now include community workdays, a flag raising ceremony, and discussions on Hawaiian sovereignty.

“This isn’t just a Hawaiian issue, our history is Hawaiʻi’s history,” says Waimānalo native Kalani Kalima, who hopes the celebration will spark community conversations of the naʻau – or heart. "Everybody in Hawaiʻi is a part of that history. Everyone in their naʻau is looking for that justice, is looking for the same things that we yearn for, the future for our keiki.”

Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea festivities were held at Thomas Square in Honolulu on July 31, 2020.
Mikey Inouye
Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea festivities were held at Thomas Square in Honolulu on July 31, 2020.

Daniel Anthony and his keiki have been celebrating Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea at Thomas Square in Honolulu for years. He says it inspires the type of lifestyle changes associated with sovereignty.

“Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea is a clear reminder that righteousness, sovereignty, independence is something that we must practice,” says Anthony. “But until the independence of Hawaiʻi is restored, thank you for all the theatrics, thank you for all the support.”

Winchester says the state's recognition of Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea is an assessment, a sign of progress built upon the decades of Hawaiian patriotism and aloha ʻāina.

“What happened at Maunakea was built upon what happened in Pōhakuloa, what happened in Kahoʻolawe, what happened in Makua...these are all built upon each other,” says Winchester. “We have been damaged and fragmented from years of invasive, haole ideology, physical removal, spiritual depression, but we're at a time where we’re learning to restore our loʻi, to restore our fishponds, and to restore our identity as a people.”

For a listing of Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea events in your community visit LaHoihoiEa.org.

July 31, 2020 | Welo ka hae Hawaiʻi

Earlier today at 12 pm, La Hoihoi Ea Honolulu celebrated Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea from Thomas Square after an entire month of celebrating EA. It was different, not being able to gather as a lāhui. And while we missed you all, we loved seeing all the ways you celebrated and raised your hae in your space, whether that was at your own hale, in your neighborhood, at your place of business, or any and all of the spaces in between. All month long, we hosted virtual events and panels. #NaHuaEa2020 satisfied our craving for connection as workshop leaders weaved together words of EA. #HoikeEa2020 encouraged us to think outside of the box and consider what EA-ducation could and should look like. #HoEA2020 highlighted Kanaka Maoli filmmakers and the moʻolelo they brought to life. #AhaMeleEa2020 brought extraordinary musicians and speakers into your home - kanaka, do you know that you come from visionaries? We were honored to host panelists that covered topics from the protection of Kanaloa to the importance of hume malo to honoring Dr. Kekuni Blaisdell, who we mahalo for reviving these celebrations. Nui kā mākou mahalo! E welo mau ka hae Hawaiʻi! Mahalo Mikey Inouye for joining us to capture footage and putting together this clip of today's ceremony. Mahalo to Hawai'i People's Fund, Hoike Ea - Ka La Hoihoi Ea EA-ducation Conference, Waiwai Collective, Ke Ea Hawaii, Aha Kane, and so many others for making all of these celebrations possible!

Posted by La Hoihoi Ea Honolulu on Friday, July 31, 2020

Video courtesy of Mikey Inouye and Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea Honolulu.

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at khiraishi@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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