‘Onipa‘a Kākou: Standing Firm for 125 Years and Beyond

We are often told that to move forward, we have to forget the past. Told that it is time to move on. Yet the past is not a burden that we have to put down so that we can move more quickly. It is the foundation upon which we stand. Our traditions, our history, our language, our practices, our stories, our genealogies. Without these we would not be who we are today, would not be Hawaiians, would not be as strong as we are.

Sure, some of our past is painful. 125 years ago, our kingdom was overthrown by businessmen backed by the might of the US and its military. It is a grave injustice. But we do not remember January 17, 1893, just because we can’t move on. We remember it because it is one of the very things that gives us the strength to move on. When we look back at our kūpuna and see the resilience and grace through which they faced the struggle, the way they laughed and loved and roared and stood up, we have no choice but to keep following their footsteps as we march into the future.

“Our one hope is in standing firm—shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart. By uniting our voices the sound will be carried on so they must hear us.”

Emma Nāwahī, aloha ʻāina kūpaʻa