Monday, November 28, 2022

Today is

Today is Hawaiian Independence Day.  It's a day that like some other so-called independence days commemorates a particularly odd, if politically important at the time moment in Hawaiian history.  And well, Hawai'i is also not currently independent, so there's that too. 

My very unofficial historical context is that Hawai'i had established itself as a monarchy, but because it was strategically located for all those folks who were sending ships to Asia, there were folks who wanted to be able to guarantee they could stop there and do all the things they wanted (which tended to included let all the sailors off the boat for a sex break, but I digress). Anyhoodle, in the way of people who think land should be owned by the most important person who wants it, some folks had shown up and declared Hawai'i theirs a time of two.  So, King Kamehameha III said, okay folks, how about we sign a document that we all agree that Hawai'i is independent.  And Great Britain and France agreed, and it was signed on November 28th.  The US had said they totes would agree, they just had to like, send the treaty to Congress, and like would absolutely go do that.  Several other countries also agreed to acknowledge that Hawai'i was yep, it's own country, no plans to poach that here. 

It's not really a spoiler to tell you that worked for about fifty years, and then a bunch of pineapple and other businessman decided, it really would better benefit their purpose if Hawai'i was part of the US, so they just overthrew the government, imprisoned the Queen, and called the US, and were like, so we took it for you, you're welcome. 

And the US government hemmed and hawed, because of course they did not just take other countries, not like real ones, that they had like had dinner with.  The US investigated the overthrow, and concluded that is was indeed not nice to take over other people's governments.  The "new" government made a new constitution, and then turned the independence Day into Hawaiian Thanksgiving basically.  (Redoing the holidays does not seem like a high priority in your brand new super legitimate, what no, we did no steal this country government, until you realize that they were very concerned that all the people who had not agreed to this new government, might rally, and use the day to try to take it back.) 

Funnily enough, there was an attempt on January 6th. 

Anyway, the US elected a new President, who apparently cared a little less about how territory got acquired, and so, the "new" government resumed negotiations for annexation, and well, as you know Hawai'i is now part of the US. 

And after that, Hawai'i began celebrating American Thanksgiving, ie a moving target, and the day fell into history. 

Some folks want to bring it back, as a reminder that Hawai'i is part of the stolen land that the entire US is made up of.  There is of course precedent for the US essentially giving territory back, like they did with the Philippines.  The revelation that O'ahu's water is currently being poisoned with military jet fuel has added to that. 

But, like a lot of independence days, it's kind of odd.  It was a treaty signing day.  Hawai'i wasn't really more or less free, though certainly two large political powers agreeing to not encroach seemed likely to buy Hawai'i some time. 

But Hawai'i isn't free now.  And turning the day into a day of drinking and fireworks doesn't really seem like it will bring more visibility to the issue.  Goodness knows, I don't think bringing Cinco de Mayo into wider notice has helped more people understand much more nuance about Mexican international relations.  

So, today is that day.  I am a person who enjoys looking into the histories of holidays, both grave and silly. And so here we are.