The ‘Ilio’ulaokalani Coalition found its beginning in 1997, when native Hawaiian cultural practitioners — kumu hula and their halau members — held a 24-hour vigil at the State Capitol. They were protesting Senate Bill 8 and House Bill 1920, which would have required native Hawaiians to register to practice traditional religious, cultural and subsistence practices on undeveloped land—a move towards criminalizing indigenous practice. The bill was proposed on the heels of the seminal State Supreme Court ruling Property Access Shoreline Hawaii (PASH) vs. Hawaii County Planning Commission, which held that the state must protect all customary and traditional native Hawaiian rights exercised for cultural, religious and subsistence purposes. The protest around SB8 was one that mobilized haumana and one of the first to articulate a political viewpoint from the perspective of indigenous cultural practice. It marked a key shift in the modern hula—from hula as entertainment to hula as a political act.
This is a reproduction by the artist, Daniela Minerbi, of an original 4-foot painting of the ‘Ilio’ulaokalani protest. The original now resides in Italy.