A Celebration of Lā Kūʻokoʻa

Haʻalilio for Lā Kūʻokoʻa

Let’s celebrate Lā Kūʻokoʻa! Today, we celebrate the 177th anniversary of Lā Kūʻokoʻa or Hawaiʻi’s Independence Day. On November 28, 1843, Hawaiʻi’s first diplomat Aliʻi Timoteo Kamalehua Haʻalilio successfully obtained the signatures of French and British authorities recognizing Hawaiʻi as an independent and sovereign kingdom. Aliʻi Haʻalilio along with his secretary William Richards, traversed by both foot and donkey from Mexico to Washington D.C. where they met former US President John Tyler, who complied with the treaty’s intent. The two men traveled on to Paris, Belgium, and London, receiving signatures of accord from French and British diplomats agreeing to the treaty proposal before returning to Washington D.C. for Tyler’s confirmed support. Before sailing back to Hawaiʻi, Aliʻi Haʻalilio passed away on December 3, 1844 from an illness he acquired during travel. In the same year, Kamehameha III, Keaweaweʻula Kīwalaʻō Kauikeaouli Kaleiopapa Kalani Waiakua Kalanikau Iokikilo Kīwalaʻō i ke kapu Kamehameha cemented Lā Kūʻokoʻa as a national holiday (we also celebrate Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea– our sovereignty restoration day!). Unfortunately only 50 years later on January 17, 1893, the kingdom of Hawaiʻi was illegally and violently overthrown by the United States to the despair of kānaka maoli as the military threatened to murder innocent kānaka unless Ke Aliʻi Liliʻuokalani also known as Lydia Liliʻu Loloku Walania Kamakaʻeha abdicate her thrown. In 1895, the illegitimate “Republic of Hawaiʻi” announced that Lā Kūʻokoʻa would no longer be celebrated and would instead be replaced by the American “Thanksgiving,” which ignores the genocide, rape, and colonization of Native Americans in favor of a happy and family-friendly holiday where people speak only about what they’re thankful for. However, despite America’s pillage and current illegal occupation of Hawaiʻi, we as kānaka ʻōiwi still follow in the steps of our kūpuna, including Aliʻi Haʻalilio and Ke Aliʻi Kauikeaouli, never forgetting what was done to us, but moving forward for a better Hawaiʻi in their honor.