HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On January 17, 1893, the government of the Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown.
Hawaii's last reigning monarch protested the overthrow, but Queen Liliuokalani yielded her authority in hopes to avoid bloodshed and spare her people. She did release a statement saying she expected the United States to reinstate her as the rightful Constitutional Sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.
That never happened.
"Today, it still resonates in me. It resonates through every kanaka maoli. Our remembrance -- our blood can never forget," said Isma Moikeha Paleka.
The somber anniversary was recognized with a ceremony by the Royal Order of Kamehameha 'Ekahi -- a knighthood which was established in 1865 to promote and defend the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Members from all statewide chapters of the Order gathered to proclaim the Kingdom of Hawaii still exists -- even though the government does not -- and to reaffirm their efforts to someday restore one.
"If we continue to divide our people and not be lokahi -- we'll never get anywhere and that's why we're really adamant to look at the ground base that the Kingdom of Hawaii still exists and if that's the start then let's lokahi that and then move forward to see what's best for our people," said Timmy Paulokaleioku Bailey of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I.
The Order has maintained its position that the Kingdom of Hawaii is still intact for decades. Order members say their commitment to restore a rightful government to Native Hawaiians does not mean kicking everyone out of Hawai' -- or even seceding from the United States -- but it does mean that the re-established government would be the inheritors of all lands presently held in trust as "ceded lands."
For the first time, the Order also took a public stance on the recent Interior Department rule regarding Native Hawaiian nation-building efforts.
"Our kanaka people are not tribes. We are an independent nation with an independent Constitution independent treaties and an independent government system," said Bailey.
On the 100th anniversary in 1993, President Bill Clinton signed into law a resolution which apologizes to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the United States for its involvement in the overthrow. At the time, many Native Hawaiians felt "I'm sorry" wasn't enough and decades later, they say there's still been no progress.
"I think the United States should recognize that they are illegally occupying the state of Hawaii," said Williama Kaauwai.