Reclaiming History

EP. 2 / Hawaii

Reclaiming History

Until 1893, there was the Kingdom of Hawaii, an independent nation recognized around the world. But that was before Hawaii’s last ruling monarch was overthrown by the United States.

Now, over a century later, Indigenous people are rediscovering their history, and waging an organized campaign to regain lost rights and their sovereignty.

Since the first steps of man, Native peoples have shared a spiritual connection with mother earth; a belief that sustains us, shapes our cultures, and gives us faith.

My Name is Simon Baker and I’ve come to Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii, the 50th and youngest of the United States of America.

It is a modern city of 1.4 million people located on the island of Oahu.

Since the 1960’s, the University of Hawaii has been at the forefront of the Hawaiian independence movement. While there’s different opinion on how to reclaim Hawaiian sovereignty, most here agree Hawaii is a stolen nation.

I’ve come to meet Dr. Keanu Sai, a political scientist who leads the Hawaiian Kingdom Government. His research indicates the United States is illegally occupying Hawaii and they have taken their case to the international courts.

University of Hawaii

Dr. Keanu Sai, Political Scientist, University of Hawaii

We’re occupied. We’re kidnapped.

As Keanu was gathering information and putting together his research, he came to the overwhelming realization that what he had been taught about the US annexation of Hawaii was just not true, and concluded that he was in the wrong army. In 1994, after 10 years of service in the US military, he retired as a captain. He needed to get my questions answered.”

In January of 2001 Keanu came to the University of Hawaii with an agenda. He would get his questions answered and get the history, he knew was wrong, out to the public.

So what exactly did happen?

Keanu took me for a tour of a couple important historical sites in Honolulu in order to explain…

First we went to Iolani Palace.

This building housed the executive branch of the Hawaiian Kingdom, which in 1893 was a progressive Constitutional monarchy, led by its chief executive, Queen Lili’uokalani.

That same year US Marines landed on the island. In order to establish their authority and quiet the people, these insurgents charged her with treason, and held her prisoner in her own palace.

“She was confined to that room right there”, says Keanu pointing to a window in the top right corner of the palace.


Next we head a couple of blocks over to Ali Iolani Hale, another stately building from the Kingdom era that housed the judiciary and the legislature. In front of it is a statue of King Kamehameha also built during the Kingdom era.

Ali Iolani Hale

It is here that Keanu paints the picture for me of US soldiers marching up the street, setting up defensive positions, and taking control of the Kingdom…

By 1889 the US had officially annexed Hawaii for military purposes. Keanu believes passionately that education is the key to exposing their illegal occupation. At one point outside he says to me, “This rock in the middle of the Pacific has been in the hands of the United States since 1898. How do you get their hand to release the rock?  Heat it up like molten lava.”