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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, November 26, 2006

Group honors Independence Day

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer

A Hawaiian sovereignty group is holding an event at 'Iolani Palace today to commemorate the day 163 years ago when Great Britain and France formally recognized Hawai'i as an independent nation.

Lynette Cruz, a spokeswoman for the group The Living Nation, said that Nov. 28, 1843, was known as La Ku'oko'a, Hawaiian Independence Day, and recognized as a holiday by the Hawaiian monarchy. But it was eliminated in favor of the American Thanksgiving by the Republic of Hawai'i in 1895, two years after the overthrow, she said.

The Living Nation gives much of the credit to Timoteo Ha'alilio, an ali'i and confidante to King Kamehameha III, who led a delegation through the U.S. and Europe in search of a treaty that would recognize Hawai'i as a sovereign nation, Cruz said. "The idea was that in order for Hawai'i to become recognized as a member of the family of nations, (a treaty) had to be brought back," she said.

The U.S. did not sign the treaty but issued the 1842 Tyler Doctrine, a unilateral American policy that recognized Hawai'i as an independent nation.

Today's event takes place from 3 to 7 p.m. on the palace grounds. History and ceremony will be cited and food will be served, Cruz said.

The celebration has generated heated discussion on the Hawaiian Independence Blog Web site.

Opponents say that independence supporters are seeking to draw Hawaiians away from the American mainstream and seeking to perpetuate "ethnic cleansing" by downplaying the role of non-Hawaiians in the former kingdom.

Supporters of Hawaiian sovereignty applaud the renewed interest in the holiday and say it was the U.S.-backed republic that replaced Hawaiian Independence Day with Thanksgiving.

Reach Gordon Y.K. Pang at gpang@honoluluadvertiser.com.