On Jan 17, 1893, a group of US businessmen, backed by the bayonets of the U.S. Marines from “USS Boston,” staged a coup d’etat in Honolulu, overthrew by force the Hawaiian Queen, and stole the Islands from the native Hawaiians

Today, native Hawaiians account for only 10% of Hawaii’s population

Most Americans have heard of the “Day which will live in infamy.” It is a much quoted FDR (President Roosevelt) phrase that refers to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941. But few realize there was a much darker Day of Infamy, half a century before.

Queen-LiliuokalaniJanuary 17, 1893 is the day modern Washington would rather forget. It was the day United States overthrew the Hawaiian Queen backed by bayonets of the U.S. Marines from USS Boston, and stole this Pacific paradise from the native population.

Before then, this beautiful archipelago, originally named Sandwich Islands by Captain Cook, was actually known as the Kingdom of Hawaii (thus the British Union Jack in our state flag even today). Hawaii was recognized as an independent country by Britain, France, Germany… and yes, the United States, too.

Ever since Jan 17, 1893, however, Hawaii has been treated like a United States colony. Over the last 122 years, the native population has been decimated, mostly by disease and malnutrition. The US Census Bureau of 2011 reported that native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders accounted for only 10.1% of the total population.

Paradise lost. Paradise stolen.

Hawaii flag upside down pg1_090803_b (demonstrators for Hawaiian sovereignty carrying upside-down state flags)

As you can see, the real story of Hawaii is a tragedy. You will not find that in the tourist brochures or in postcards depicting happy vacationers. Yet the world needs to know how this proud nation lost its sovereignty.

Hawaiian flagsWhich is why today, Jan 17, 2015, I invite all my fellow IMG_2125Americans to join me in a minute of silence, with our heads bowed in honor of the native Hawaiians – dead and alive.

Here at the Rainbow Shower, we are flying the Hawaiian flag upside-down today. Whenever we are in residence, we also fly the sovereign Kingdom of Hawaii flag in from of the Rainbow Shower (right and below).

This afternoon, I also plan to do a remembrance fire ceremony at the Anahata-Huaca-Ahu, the sacred place (heiau) and the shaman’s altar at the Rainbow Shower. Maybe you can also join me in ether with your prayers.



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Fire ceremony Rainbow Shower

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Royal Iolani Palace (an excerpt from my May 25, 2011 travelogue)

In the afternoon, I suggested we visit the Royal Iolani Palace where once the Hawaiian kings and queens resided.  Ever since we moved to Hawaii, I have felt very well connected and welcome by the land, the ocean and the spirits.  But even though I have read a fair bit about its history, I felt I was lacking a personal connection to the island’s past.  So off the palace we went… Oahu5_25-9

The Iolani palace was built in 1882 by Hawaii’s last king, David Kalakaua.  Its name means a royal or heavenly hawk.  Since King Kalakaua did not leave an heir, he was succeeded by his sister, Queen Liliuokalani. 

The queen was deposed in 1893 in a coup d’etat led by American businessmen and backed by the bayonets of the U.S. Marines from USS Boston.  Thus ended the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Hawaii which was at the time recognized as an independent country by Britain, France, Germany… and yes, the United States, too.  The last Hawaiian Queen spent eight localnews29_bmonths as a prisoner in a single room in her own palace (the Hawaiian Royal standard, the “old flag,” is shown in the left frame).

One hundred years later, the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 103-150, otherwise known as the Apology Resolution, signed by President Bill Clinton on Nov 23, 1993. The resolution apologized for the U.S. Government’s role in supporting the 1893 overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

But did we return the ill-gotten property?  No.  Did we reinstate the Hawaiian sovereignty?  No. kahili-flag-quilt

Yet the Hawaiians may consider themselves relatively fortunate.  The Native Americans did not even get an apology for the “ethnic cleansing” and slaughter Washington perpetrated against them in the 19th century.  Instead, they were herded like cattle and forced into reservations. 

Yet, the native Hawaiians were hardly fortunate.  In the hundred years or so since Captain Cook landed in Hawaii as the first white man to make contact with the natives,  the Hawaiian population has been decimated by white man diseases against which they had no immunity.  The pogrom was more effective than any war white man may have waged against the natives.  By the time Hawaii lost its sovereignty, its population was reduced to only about a fifth of that in late 18th century.  And today, the native Hawaiians and other Polynesian races account for only 10% of state’s population.

By the way, Captain Cook landed in Hawaii, which he called Sandwich Islands, in 1779.  He was killed on the Big Island in a fight with the natives over a stolen boat.  Who would have thought that a century later, white man would steal the whole archipelago along with the natives’ health.  The beautiful but empty Iolani Palace is a sobering reminder of frailties of cultures, freedom and royalty.  And what can happen when someone is enamored of technology.

You see, the Hawaiian royals had close ties with the British monarchy, and were far more “progressive” than many other modern societies of the 19th century.  The Iolani Palace had electricity and running water, for example, before the White House or the Buckingham Palace had installed the same.  Sadly, the modern American invention merely illuminated the royals’ demise.

(an excerpt from a May 25, 2011 YinYangBob travelogue)

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By 1887, turmoil erupted when the Bayonet Constitution was imposed on Hawaii by a small group of American, European and Hawaiian nationals called the “Honolulu Rifles” which had more than 1,500 armed men.  They had a meeting and planned to take away the political rights from the native population.  They threatened King David Kalakaua with death if he did not accept their demands.  One of the demands was for a new Cabinet Council, so on July 7, 1887 the new “Bayonet Constitution” was forced upon the King by the newly imposed members of his cabinet.

The new constitution forced voters including foreign nationals (who were considered aliens and first time voters) to swear an oath to support the constitution before they could vote in any election. The “Honolulu Rifles” used the vote to disenfranchise the majority vote of the native Hawaiian population so that “White” foreign nationals can gain control of the Legislature and it also provided a loophole that benefited the self-imposed Cabinet Council to control the Monarchy.

Hawaii has also experienced rampant militarization since President William McKinley; a veteran of the American Civil War, expanded the US military presence in Hawaii.

Military expansion continued under President Theodore Roosevelt.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 the US military expanded its power and declared Martial Law until October 24th, 1944.  Since then Hawaii has been turned into a major strategic location for the US military.  On January 1st, 1947, the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) was established with its headquarters in Aiea, a small Hawaiian town on the island of Oahu.

I, Liliuokalani, by the grace of God and under the constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Queen, do hereby solemnly protest against any and all acts done against myself and the constitutional Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom by certain persons claiming to have established a Provisional Government of and for this Kingdom. That I yield to the superior force of the United States of America, whose minister plenipotentiary, His Excellency John L. Stevens, has caused United States troops to be landed at Honolulu and declared that he would support the said Provisional Government.Now, to avoid any collision of armed forces, and perhaps the loss of life, I do, under this protest and impelled by said forces, yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon the facts being presented to it, undo (?) the action of its representative and reinstate me in the authority which I claim as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.

Done at Honolulu, this 17th day of January, A. D. 1893.

On November 16, 1893, President Cleveland proposed to return Queen Lili’uokalani to the throne if she granted amnesty to those responsible for the Coup.   She refused the offer.


Also see.. Hawaii: 120 Years of US Occupation: Militarism and “America’s Pacific Century”

Hawaii forgotten day of infamy header






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