On March 23rd & 24th, 2019, the Lahaina Hawaiian Civic Club (LHCC) set up booths and stage performances at the Lahaina Banyan Court from 9am to 5pm to honor Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole before the Hawaii State observed Prince Kūhiō Day on Tuesday March 26th, 2019. This will mark the 6th festival the LHCC has held in memory of Prince Kuhio. The LHCC advocates for everything that deals with Hawaiian culture, such as language, hula, and ‘āina (land). Daryl Fujiwara, event coordinator and Pelekikena Iho Nei (immediate past president) of the LHCC, was fortunate enough to share some rich history of Prince Kūhiō in a short interview.
Following the Kingdom of Hawaii overthrow in 1893, Prince Kūhiō became the only representative of Hawaii in the United States Congress in 1903 who was born into royalty. According to Fujiwara, Prince Kūhiō’s status within congress left him with relatively no voting power. Yet, Prince Kūhiō’s most impressive feat is through getting a number of proposed laws for Hawaii’s benefit to pass despite his disposition in congress. Among them was the Hawaiian Homestead Act, granting almost 200,000 acres of land in the islands for homesteading by Native Hawaiians. Now although the land given were some of the least valuable areas among the islands, Prince Kūhiō succeeded in spreading awareness that Native Hawaiians were capable of self-governing. Prince Kūhiō had also created the Hawaiian Civic Club of Honolulu, who are on their 100th anniversary this year. This in turn spawned the creation of multiple Hawaii Civic Clubs that are here today.
The Hawaiian Civic Clubs are the longest running Hawaiian grass roots organization in Hawaii, and their work does not stay strictly within Hawaii’s state. They possess over 58 Hawaiian Civic clubs throughout the states of Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Utah, Virginia, Washington State, Tennessee, Texas, and of course Hawaii. Prince Kūhiō’s direct efforts in teaching Hawaiian culture outside of Hawaii has therefore succeeded thanks to the active work of these Hawaii Civic Clubs.
If further interested in upcoming events planned by the LHCC in particular, like the Emma Farden Sharpe Hula Festival planned in early August, give their website a visit at AOHCC.org. In addition, the Na Kamehameha Commemorative pā‘ū parade & Ho‘olaule‘a will take place in Lahaina this coming summer.