125 years later, overthrow of Hawaii's last monarch marked with tears, reflection

Published: Jan. 15, 2018 at 9:44 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 17, 2018 at 6:43 PM HST
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(Image: Dillon Ancheta, Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Dillon Ancheta, Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A light rain fell Wednesday as thousands marched toward the grounds of 'Iolani Palace.

"Tears from our queen," said Dolinda Kaholi, of Waimanalo.

Kaholi was among a large crowd of students, kupuna, activists and others who gathered to commemorate the day Queen Lili'uokalani and the Hawaiian kingdom were overthrown — exactly 125 years ago.

"That's a long time. Even though 100 more years pass, we are still going to be here," Kaholi added.

The day's ceremony began at the Royal Mausoleum in Nuuanu. Royal Hawaiian societies presented ho'okupu, or offerings, before marching towards the palace alongside hundreds of schoolchildren.

On their arrival, the sound of conch shells echoed through the streets.

"I'm feeling so sad and happy inside to see lots of our Hawaiian keiki here. Our schools, representing our 'aina and standing strong together. Not as one, but together," attendee Ahu'ena Lakalo said.

As the mass of marchers proceeded through the gates of palace grounds, many cried out 'oli, or chants. Hawaiian flags, torches, and purple-feathered kahili were carried alongside a portrait of the queen.

At 10:45 a.m., a Hawaiian flag was hoisted above the palace.

"I felt a lot of pride and a lot of aloha for everybody around me," former Gov. John Waihee said. "It's about a moment in history that was extremely painful for our people. At least one day a year, we should be able to reverse it."

After the flag-raising ceremony, many continued the commemoration at the Queen Lili'uokalani statue at the State Capitol building grounds, where students chanted and presented more ho'okupu.

The day's events served as a reminder of what happened on Jan. 17, 1893.

The kingdom's overthrow has long been legally challenged by Native Hawaiians, who say Hawaii's annexation was illegal.

"We mourn the taking of our government in 1893," said Prof. Jon Osorio, during a speech at the state Capitol.

But, he added, Hawaiians have not "given up our identities."

"It is clear that our culture, not just our language, not just our arts, but our ... essential character as a people, these things have all survived," Osorio added. "Our sovereignty is more alive and more potent than ever."

In 1993, 100 years after the overthrow, Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed a formal apology resolution.

"Whereas, it is proper and timely for the Congress on the occasion of the impending 100th anniversary of the event, to acknowledge the historic significance of the illegal overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii," the apology reads, "to express its deep regret to the Native Hawaiian people."

Mobile users, click here for a full photo gallery from the event.

This story may be updated. 

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