Kānaka Activists’ Maunakea Rally Demonstrates Queen Liliʻuokalani and Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-violence Philosophy


Leina‘ala Ahu Isa, Ph.D., Trustee, At-Large

“For myself, I would have chosen death rather than sign it. Think of my position…the stream of blood ready to flow unless it was stayed by my pen.” – Queen Lili’uokalani (Lydia Liliʻu Loloku Walania Kamakaʻeha’s autobiography)

In our struggles for justice and self-determination, Native Hawaiians, have continuously demonstrated non-violent disobedience, sheer courage, and faith in our demonstrations. Once again, we gathered at the State Capitol to rally for our cause. I bring to you in this month’s article a few quotes that Gandhi and our Queen illustrated for us to follow.

In 1887, the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi was overrun by white landowners, missionaries and businessmen. When King Kalākaua died in 1891 his sister, Liliʻuokalani, succeeded him. Her unselfish act of non-violence, as Mahatma Gandhi had done for India, imprints on everyone her loving, caring, and kind character and remains a “legacy” in our minds today. A contingent of marines from the warship, U.S.S. Boston, at the behest of U.S. Minister John Stevens, provided U.S. military support for the overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani on Jan. 17, 1893.

In her Honolulu palace, Liliʻuokalani wavered over the piece of paper that, once signed, would remove her standing as queen. Her men (warriors) had rallied a small army of fewer than one hundred to defend her position as the ruler of Hawaiʻi, but after a few unsuccessful skirmishes, they had to stand down. With sorrow in her heart, our queen could not bear to see her men suffer a bloodbath so she consented and signed under duress. With her signature on Jan. 24, 1895, generations of Hawaiian monarchy came to an end. And now you understand why we ALOHA her.

QUOTES from Gandhi and our Queen:

  1. The future depends on what we do in the present.
  2. It’s easy to stand in a crowd, but it takes courage to stand alone.
  3. My life is my message.
  4. Hate the sin, love the sinner.
  5. Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.
  6. The enemy is fear: We think it is hate, but no, it is fear.
  7. There are two days in the year that we cannot do anything, yesterday and tomorrow.
  8. Carefully watch your thoughts, for they become your words. Manage and watch your words, for they will become your actions. Consider and judge your actions, for they become your habits. Watch your habits, for they shall become your values. And lastly, understand and embrace your values, for they shall become your destiny.

Hauʻoli Lā Pakoa! Happy Easter! Ke Akua Pū! Mahalo, Trustee Leinaʻala Ahu Isa