On the 100th anniversary of Queen Lili`uokalani's arrest, sentiment for Hawaiian sovereignty yesterday surrounded Iolani Palace, which was draped in mourning black.
It's a step in the group's march towards nationhood, explained leader Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele; next comes international recognition. The group, formerly known as the 'Ohana Council,' also marked the first anniversary of its declaration of independence.
The exhibit includes the quilt that Lili`uokalani began sewing during her days in custody at the palace.
Members of the societies, many of them women in black or white dresses, with big hats or leis adorning their heads, waited quietly for their turn to see the palace room the way it appeared a century ago.
One was Theresa Mews, a member of Hale O Na Ali`i O Hawaii and a descendent o Robert Wilcox, who led the unsuccessful rebellion against the Republic of Hawaii in early January 1895.
"This is very important to me because I haven't forgotten the illegal overthrow of the queen," said Mews. She shares "the hurt and anger" that other, more vocal Hawaiians feel about that.
While her order's rules forbid political activity, she said, "We're struggling for sovereignty just like everybody else is."
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One of the kupuna (elders) who signed the (Nation of Hawaii) constitution yesterday was Sala Kealoha Camacho, a great-grandmother from Maui.
Camacho was moved to tears as she addressed the crowd in Hawaiian, and said how humble she felt to be present on such a great occasion. And she urged the crowd to make sure their children learn Hawaiian as well as English.
In an interview after, Camacho, who teaches fourth- and fifth-graders in the state's school systems kupuna program, recalled how she spent much of her childhood with her hand over her mouth - a response to being pinched and beaten for speaking her native Hawaiian in school.
She said she was given the English name Sarah by her second-grade teacher, who didn't like Camacho's given name, Sala.
"Our culture didn't leave us. We left our culture behind," she said.
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