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Modern voices speak on historical pasts at this year's ʻOnipaʻa march

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Krista Rados
/
HPR

Native Hawaiians and supporters commemorated the 130th anniversary of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom with a march through downtown Honolulu on Tuesday.

Some waved Hawaiian flags and others wore black as a sign of mourning for the loss of their kingdom.

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Krista Rados
/
HPR

Kenji Cataldo, 26, said the event is a reminder that the overthrow hasn’t been forgotten.

"The illegal occupation it’s still ongoing. Oftentimes it looks invisible, and today is one of those days to really make sure it’s visible," Cataldo said.

"People who might not have heard about it before will see these people marching down the streets and think 'what are they marching for?'"

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Krista Rados
/
HPR

It was on this day in 1893 that a group of Western businessmen, backed by the U.S. military, forced the Hawaiian monarchy from power. The event set off a chain of events that would ultimately lead to the loss of land, culture and identity for Native Hawaiians.

For Evan Mokuahi-Hayes, the event allowed him to learn more about the overthrow and his family's role in it.

He said that he found one of his ancestors — Mele Mokuahi of Molokaʻi — among the 21,000 signatures to the 1897 Kūʻē Petitions, a 652-page petition against the annexation of the Hawaiian Kingdom by the United States.

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Krista Rados
/
HPR

"It's powerful to see your ancestors stand for something that they knew was so precious. It's proud to have that type of history," Mokuahi-Hayes said.

Hawaiʻi is the only state to have once been an independent monarchy, and the anniversary serves as a reminder of the ongoing battle to right the wrongs of this historical injustice.

"It’s the 130th year. That's too long to wait for justice," said event organizer Healani Sonoda-Pale.

"It was amazing today to see thousands of children come out understanding what this day means, this moment changed all of our lives," Sonoda-Pale said.

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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