Boston ti party
Dozens of leis are droppedBy Helen Altonn
into the harbor to draw attention
to the sovereignty movement
Tears streamed down Kauai homesteader John "Butch" Kekahu's face today as he and other Hawaiians delivered a message in Hawaiian style aboard the Boston Tea Party Ship.
"It was wonderful," Kekahu said after the "Hawaiian Ti Party."
Kekahu organized the party with the help of former islander Al Kuahi Wong as a "wake-up call" for an Aloha March 2000 Aug. 11-12 in WAshington D.C.
Wong and Boston Hawaiian Club members joined Kekahu and three other Hawaiians from Kauai and the Big Island in marching from the Amtrak South STation to Boston Harbor.
A permit allowed only 30 people to march on the sidewalks so others scattered and stood on a bridge looking down on the bridge.
The Hawaiians wore colorful Hawaiian garments and were accompanied by kahili bearers and conch-shell blowers.
To defray costs of the Washington March, organizers have released a CD called "Aloha March 2000-Beyond the Apology."
"It was quite a sight because our contingent was easily idntified," Wong said.
Kekahu threw eight ti leaf leis into the water to symbolize the unity of the eight Hawaiian islands.
Then Hawaiians on the bridge cast ti-leaf leis into the water to show unity among Hawaiians in an effort to achieve sovreighty.
"This political act we did was very peaceful with dignity...People were very moved," Wong said.
"Butch was extremely moved by this, which cuased others to be moved as well. Tears were just streaming down his face."
The Boston tea party also was reenacted for spectators, who paid a special price.
"We didn't charge them. We kokua. We just brought the aloha spirit," Kekahu said. "It was such a great moment."
The islanders were guests of Wong and Wahi Ku Moku, a Hawaiian club in Boston.
"We're joining them," Kekahu said. "This is their island, Boston. We come in as visitors. It's wonderful here in Boston," added Kekahu, on his first trip to the historic city.
The Hawaii group carried more than 150 ti leaf leis to drop into Boston Harbor, just as hundreds of boxes of untaxed imported tea were dumped into the waters there Dec. 16, 1773, by American colonists.
The leaves of the leis were gathered from different Hawaiian communities to symbolize unity among native Hawaiians in their struggle for the return of their stolen lands and fight for political self-determination.
"America's founders risked their lives for freedom and political self-determination," Kekahu said. "Are native Hawaiians wrong to want the same thing?"
He said he hoped the ti party would generate enthusiasm among Boston people "to carry on and spread the message of the sovreignty movement."
The Washington march in August will be similar to a Washington march organized by Kekahu in August 1998.
He's trying to raise national awareness about the plight of native Hawaiians over land rights, homestead issues and sovreignty.