Ke'onipaa Choy, front, and Hanalei Fergerstrom blew the conch shell yesterday to start the Native Hawaiian Unity march in front of the state Capitol.

Hawaiians call
for independence

Yesterday was the 110th anniversary
of the U.S. overthrow

By Ron Staton
Associated Press

Native Hawaiians observed the 110th anniversary of the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani yesterday with calls for unity and independence.

"Our nation is coming. It's inevitable," said Lynette Cruz, co-chairwoman of the Living Nation campaign, an umbrella group which concluded a week-long observance with a rally on the grounds of Iolani Palace, the former home of Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii's last monarch. "We're all headed down the same path."

That path will lead to independence by taking direction from history and acknowledging that the overthrow was illegal, she said.

"We hope that America will realize that the wrong that was done to the Hawaiian nation can be undone," said Cruz.

The events commemorated Jan. 17, 1893, the date a group of U.S. businessmen and sugar planters forced the queen to abdicate. Five years later, the United States annexed the Republic of Hawaii. The U.S. Territory of Hawaii was granted statehood in 1959.

Cruz said the various Hawaiian civic and sovereignty groups are putting their own agendas aside and working toward unity, which was mentioned by various speakers.

"Unity is the key to our cause," said event co-chairman Mel Kalahiki.

"Our goals won't be achieved by one person. We must stand together," said Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chairwoman Haunani Apoliona.

"We need to pull together," said Vicky Holt Takamine, head of the 'Ilio'ulaokalani coalition, a sovereignty group.

"We are always going to have diverse opinions, but that makes us healthy," said Kaiopua Fyfe, of the Koani Foundation, an organization working for independence, "but we work within that diversity for a united approach."

This week's activities were a starting point, and several more meetings are planned this year, Cruz said.

"We want to train people to work together and show them we are all the same people," she said. "People are starting to align behind a common vision."

The concrete pillars at the main entrance to the palace were draped in black, as were some of the pillars on the palace. Black bunting hung from some of the palace lanais.

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