With much of the island taking a long weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving, those gathered at the Maunakea Access Road will celebrate a different holiday.
This year, Thanksgiving falls on the same day as La Ku‘oko‘a, the Hawaiian Independence Day in commemoration of the signing of the Anglo-Franco Proclamation that recognized the sovereignty of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1843.
In observation of the holiday, those currently occupying the Maunakea Access Road — who call themselves kia‘i, or protectors, of Maunakea because of their opposition to the planned construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the mountain, which is considered sacred by many Hawaiians — will have several events throughout the rest of the week at their camp, Pu‘uhonua o Pu‘uhuluhulu.
“This is something that we’ve recognized and celebrated for many years now,” said protest leader Noe Noe Wong-Wilson. “We’re hoping to bring it back, raise awareness of it and get people to celebrate it again.”
The main event today will be a flag-raising ceremony — called Raising the Nations — at the kupuna tent on the access road. The many flags of the different nations that have come to pay respects since the occupation began in July will be raised as a celebration of the international support for the protesters’ movement and for the Hawaiian Kingdom.
“We’ve received several dozen flags, some country flags, some tribal flags, since we started,” Wong-Wilson said. “We’re making a point about the support we’ve received.”
Other than Raising the Nations, Wong-Wilson said there will be a communal meal today for attendees to share food and fellowship.
Also today will be the opening of the “Kingdom of Hawaii Post Office” near Pu‘uhonua o Pu‘uhuluhulu.
The post office, a small structure of sticks and leaves to the east of the main camp, represents another step toward the Hawaiian Kingdom’s return to self-governance, said one of its creators, a man who calls himself “Pikachu.”
“We’re showing people that there’s nothing stopping you from building something like this on your own, if you can use (Department of Hawaiian Home Lands) land,” Pikachu said.
While there will be a brief opening ceremony today for the post office, Pikachu said it will not yet be fully operational — although how it will operate is not entirely clear. Pikachu said more information about the post office will be available at the Hawaiian Kingdom office on Mamo Street in downtown Hilo.
Other events throughout the holiday weekend will include a day of Hawaiian history classes Friday at Pu‘uhuluhulu University — where Hawaiian educators share cultural lessons with attendees — and a family art day on Sunday.
Wong-Wilson said art produced during the art day might become part of a future exhibition created about the kia‘i movement.
A convoy planned for Saturday from Hilo to the access road was postponed, Wong-Wilson said, explaining it will be delayed to a later date when it can be controlled more effectively. Instead, Saturday will feature a presentation from a Windward Community College lecturer about the history of La Ku‘oko‘a.
Wong-Wilson said she expects “a couple hundred” people to attend today, similar to the number of people who ascend to Pu‘uhonua o Pu‘uhuluhulu during weekends.
“It’s been a while since La Ku‘oko‘a fell on the same day as Thanksgiving,” Wong-Wilson said. “It’s extraordinary that they fell on the same day this year.”
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