Yesterday, the King of Hawaii and his followers seized Iolani palace and occupied it in Honolulu. I’m not joking. First though, you need some background in Hawaiian History.
Alright, for those of you who don’t know about Hawaiian History, here it is in a nutshell. I’ve developed this shortcut method of telling people the entire history of Hawaii on my tours, then I focus on what interests them.
70 million years ago a thin spot on the earths crust forms and begins melting the basalt of the pacific plate, since hot rock rises just like hot air does it radiates upward and forms piles on the surface (ocean floor) that get big enough to actually rise quite high above sea level.
3.5-1 million years ago. That’s when this island I live on, Oahu formed from two giant shield volcanoes. With erosion over time and a further volcanic series about 100k-300k years ago, this island moves off the hot spot and after some massive erosion is more or less geologically
About 400 AD the first humans arrive in Hawaii from the Marquessas. They find the most diverse examples of speciation and evolution on the planet. They eat the three foot turtle billed ducks into extinction.
About 700 AD the next wave of humans arrive. They eat more birds into extinction and the Marqeussans (called Menehune) also disappear.
From 700-1778, Hawaiian culture blossoms and becomes a complex, advanced social structure. Various strongmen on the different islands are vying for control. A nation-state is imminent.
1778- Captain Cook comes and throws the future of Hawaii a big left turn. Shortly after contact, one man, Kamehameha, manages to get western weapons, learn western tactics, and unite the entire chain under himself as King. He kidnaps a couple of smart Englishmen, marries them to his daughters and turns Hawaii into a very modern Kingdom.
1893- The monarchy is overthrown by mostly United States business interests. A cabal of military desiring a U.S. base at Pearl Harbor, pro-American businessmen wanting to stop paying tariffs, and greedy children of missionaries overthrow Queen Liliuokalani. Without asking the Hawaiian people, the Hawaiian Republic is born after the illegal overthrow of the Queen. Not long after this, without asking the Hawaiians, the republic decides to be annexed by the United States.
1941 – Pearl Harbor gets bombed. Hawaii starts to feel very American to those not here.
August 15, 1959- Again, without asking the Hawaiians, Hawaii is made a state. Hawaiians are so outnumbered by this point that their votes count for only a small percentage.
August 15, 2008 – A group of pro sovereignty Hawaiians under His Majesty Akahi Nui, the King of Hawaii, occupy the palace and are arrested.
The pro-sovereignty group identified its leader as King Akahi Nui, who was among those arrested. An “occupation public information bulletin” distributed by a member of the group began: “Majesty Akahi Nui, the King of Hawaii, has now reoccupied the throne of Hawaii. The Kingdom of Hawaii is now re-enacted.”
Akahi Nui claims to have been coronated in 1998.
The takeover of the palace — built in 1882 when the islands were ruled by a monarchy — came on Admission Day, a state holiday marking Hawaii’s admission to the United States on Aug. 21, 1959.
Several Native Hawaiian organizations have rival claims to sovereignty over the islands. Another group calling itself the Hawaiian Kingdom Government occupied the palace grounds April 30 and has been getting permits to set up on the grounds each week since then. That group claims to be operating a functioning government from the palace grounds.
The ornate palace is operated as a museum of Hawaiian royalty. King Kalakaua built it, and it also served as the residence for his sister and successor, Queen Liliuokalani, the islands’ last ruling monarch. Liliuokalani was imprisoned in the palace after the 1893 U.S.-supported overthrow of the monarchy.
After falling into disrepair, the palace was restored in the 1970s as a National Historic Landmark. It now includes a gift shop and is open for school groups and offers tours.
Hawaiian activists have long used the site for protests against the U.S. occupation of the islands.
Letter from the acting government of the Hawaiian Kingdom here.