Acknowledging July 4th and Preparing for Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea

Jul 07, 2024


As July has begins, we are reminded of the complexities that this month holds for us as Kanaka Maoli. On one hand, we have America's Independence Day on July 4th, a holiday that brings mixed emotions and reflections for many of us. On the other hand, we have our own significant celebration, Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, at the end of the month. Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, celebrated on July 31st, commemorates the restoration of Hawaiian sovereignty in 1843. These two holidays provide us with an opportunity to reflect on our history, our culture, and our ongoing struggles and resilience as a people.

Historical Context

The celebration of American independence can be a reminder of the loss of Hawaiian sovereignty. In 1893, the Hawaiian Kingdom was overthrown by American and European interests, leading to the illegal annexation of Hawai'i by the United States in 1898. This event is a source of historical trauma for many Native Hawaiians, as it marked the end of our self-governance and the beginning of significant cultural and political changes.

Cultural Preservation

The Fourth of July celebrates American culture and independence, which overshadows the rich and unique culture of Kanaka Maoli. Participating in this celebration might feel like prioritizing American traditions over Hawaiian ones, potentially diluting the focus on preserving and honoring our heritage.

Personal Experience

For many years as a child I celebrated with my family, lacking awareness of the complexities I talk about today. As I've grown up, I've been exposed to more information and have sought greater understanding. At times, awakening to a deeper understanding of things you assumed to be one way for a long time can evoke uncomfortable feelings like guilt, shame, or embarrassment. But, we did not know what we did not know. When we know better, however, we must do better. Now, I'm empowered to teach my own keiki (children) of these complexities so that they can make better informed choices as they mature into independent adults one day.

Sovereignty and Self-Determination

The celebration of American independence can feel contradictory to the ongoing struggle for Native Hawaiian self-determination and sovereignty. For many, it is a day that highlights the continued fight for recognition and rights within their homeland, which was once an independent nation.

Respect for Kūpuna

Many Native Hawaiians choose to honor and respect their ancestors by acknowledging the historical injustices they faced. Celebrating a holiday that represents the power that took away their sovereignty can feel disrespectful to the memory and struggles of those who came before. 

On the other hand, some Kūpuna who were taught to assimilate to American culture, who were forced into the U.S. Military, might feel strongly aligned with American patriotism or struggle with conflicting feelings. This too, invites us to be sensitive and understanding of the inevitable trauma that must have inflicted upon them.


The Fourth of July can be a time to reflect on current social, economic, and political issues facing Native Hawaiians, such as land rights, cultural preservation, and health disparities. It can be a reminder of the work still needed to address these challenges and achieve true justice and equality. I hope this blog article provided useful facts and relatable context to help you reflect on your personal feelings regarding the topics of Independence, Sovereignty, Nationality, Politics. Furthermore, I hope it empowers you to align your personal choices with those feelings in order to have positive impacts on the Lāhui Hawaiʻi.

Remember: this post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read here.

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