July 4 celebrates independence — but not for some Native Hawaiians

Updated: Jul. 4, 2017 at 4:16 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As America celebrates independence on July 4, some Native Hawaiians use the day to recall a painful past of annexation to the United States, and the overthrow of the kingdom's last reigning monarch, Queen Liliuokalani.

Iolani palace served as a backdrop for the reenactment of the 1893 overthrow Tuesday.

"It was far more powerful than I had expected," show writer and producer Marsharose Joyner said. "As they proclaimed the provisional government, the crowd booed and hissed... I cried and I knew it was coming."

"The Theft of a Nation" was written and produced by several notable Hawaiian scholars, and depicted the dramatic moments of the overthrow, up to the moment the Hawaiian flag was lowered from the palace, and the American flag put up in its place.

The cast was made up of familiar faces.

Draped in the Hawaiian flag, Kumu Hina Wong-Kalu played the respected role of Queen Liliuokalani.

"Standing in for the role of the queen really reminded me of the of the pain and the anguish and the hurt of an independent nation," Wong-Kalu said.

She held a bouquet of flowers wrapped in newspaper. During the overthrow, as Queen Liliuokalani sat imprisoned in the palace, the people of Hawaii would send her flowers wrapped in newspaper as way to get the queen information of what was happening in the land.

"Although July 4 is not necessarily our aloha aina patriot -- Hawaiian National Holiday -- we are reminded to strive as Hawaiians for betterment," Wong-Kalu said.

Peter Carlisle was also a part of the cast. He portrayed one of the members of the provisional government.

In the months and years following, the provisional government worked to officially annex the Hawaiian Islands to the United States. After a failed attempt in 1897, a joint-resolution to annex the islands passed on July 12, 1898 as the Spanish American War began.

Leaders of the U.S. saw Hawaii as a strategic and valuable mid-Pacific fueling station for war efforts.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton officially apologized on the states' behalf for the illegal overthrow and annexation.

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