Celebrating a National Holiday

Photo courtesy of Maile Naehu

For the first time at Keawanui Fishpond, the Molokai community gathered last Wednesday to celebrate a holiday that became one of the first national holidays of the Hawaiian Kingdom: La Ho’iho’i Ea, Sovereignty Restoration Day.

“I returned five days prior from Mauna Kea, where we were able to teach at Puuhuluhulu University,” said organizer Maile Naehu of the event. “Upon returning, I realized that we were only five days away from La Ho‘iho‘i Ea. I decided even if it was last minute, a celebration was in order. With the rising of our Hawaiian nation, it seemed so appropriate to hold an event on July 31, La Ho‘iho‘i Ea, our kingdom’s first holiday. I saw this as a way to continue to serve my lahui in light of the momentum of consciousness rising that is happening all over Hawaii.”

Pulling together the event in record time this year, Naehu plans to make it annual.

“It was truly a wonderful community celebration and it will only get better next year!” she said.

The free event featured speakers and presenters, educational workshops, Hawaiian music, crafters and food. Topics included Q and A about “dispelling false narratives,” learning oli from daily ceremony on Mauna Kea during the recent protests against construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), painting the Hawaiian flag, STEM studies as they relate to Hawaiian best practices and TMT, and the history of La Ho‘iho‘i Ea.

La Ho’iho’i Ea was established in 1843 under Kamehameha III, Kauikeaouli, after a temporary occupation by agents of the British Crown.

“In a large ceremony attended by thousands of Hawaiian citizens, of all ethnicities, a flag ceremony was held at what is now Thomas Square in Honolulu, where the Union Jack was lowered and the Hawaiian flag was raised to symbolize the return of effective sovereign control back into the hands of Hawaii and Kamehameha III,” states lahoihoiea.org of the event’s history.

Molokai’s Keani Rawlins-Fernandez was one of the celebration’s speakers.

“The organization and mobilization occurring islandwide and across the globe to protect Mauna a Wākea provides us a glimpse of what the return of people power looks like, what a lahui lead by love looks like,” she said. “It is such an important reminder on La Ho’iho’i Ea, a day we celebrate the sovereignty being returned to our lahui, that together we can not only move mountains, we can protect maintains.”


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