'Aloha is not for sale': Native Hawaiian activists plan protests in Chicago

'Aloha is not for sale': Native Hawaiian activists plan protests in Chicago

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS (HawaiiNewsNow) - A group of Native Hawaiian activists is preparing to march through downtown Chicago to protest Aloha Poke Co.

It's all part of a series of protests starting Friday through Wednesday.

The Illinois poke shop came under fire recently for sending cease-and-desist letters to poke shops around the world bearing Aloha Poke in their titles.

Poke shop owners and Native Hawaiian activists have vocally opposed the letters, saying that to trademark the Hawaiian terms would amount to cultural appropriation.

"As a Native Hawaiian living in Chicago, I am offended and embarrassed. This company clearly doesn't understand the word Aloha," said Lanialoha Lee, a long-time Chicago resident.

The Native Hawaiian group organizing the protests have a list of demands for Aloha Poke Co.

The terms include an apology that admits wrongdoing, a retraction of cease-and-desist letters, and voiding their trademark on the words "Aloha" and "Poke".

The march on Monday will begin at Millennium Park, go through the downtown area, and end with a rally in front of Aloha Poke Co. on 125 S. Clark Street.

"'Aloha' is something we've shared with the world, and in this case, Aloha Poke Co. is trying to take the word away from us – that is unacceptable," said Kuhio Lewis, chief executive officer of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, who is flying to Chicago from Honolulu to participate in the march.

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