Ke Ea O Ka ‘Āina
(The sovereignty of the land)
11th from the series:‘Ike Ho‘omaopopo by artist: LeoHone
This painting is intended to represent the legacy of Ke Ali‘i Maka‘āinana, the “Citizen Prince,” Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole (1871-1922), the boy who would be king… or not…
For the first two decades of his life, Prince Kühiö, adopted son of King Kaläkaua and Queen Kapi‘olani, had been groomed as the probable heir to the throne. Had the monarchy survived, he most likely would have become king. But it was not to be.
Soon after he returned to his homeland from his extensive studies on the mainland and abroad, he was faced with the horrifying deposition and subsequent imprisonment of his aunt, Queen Lili‘uokalani. His world, as he had always known it, came crashing down around him, his dreams of one day ruling the Kingdom of Hawai‘i up in smoke.
From the ashes of these ruins, Prince Kūhiō’s great, indomitable spirit rose to fight for his people. A loyal and staunch Royalist, he organized a counter-revolution which was thwarted in its final stage. He was arrested, jailed, and released one year later – on the same day that Queen Liliÿuokalani was released from her imprisonment in the palace. He left his homeland in a self-imposed exile.
In 1901, Prince Kūhiō returned home to a rapidly dwindling native population. He was soon persuaded that the best way he could serve his homeland and save his people from extinction, was by running for Congress. He was elected in 1902, serving 20 years in Congress (10 terms) before his death in 1922. As a tremendously capable statesman, Prince Kūhiō accomplished many great things, the most remarkable being the 1921 enactment of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, giving native Hawaiians first consideration in the disposition of the public lands of the territory. He pled with Congress to rectify the great wrong which had been done the Hawaiians, arguing that a return to the soil would save the Hawaiian race from dying out. “You must save yourselves by work – hard work. It rests with those who go upon the land, under the rehabilitation scheme, to prove that they can and will remain upon the soil and get a living from it.”
He urged Hawaiians to take pride in their American citizenship and to work within the system to get ahead. After one of his most successful elections, he proclaimed in triumph: “Hawaiians have risen in their glory, in manhood and pride of their own. Hawaiians are now inoculated with love for their native hearth, and their pride of race.”
The imu (distant background), the taro pulling in the ancient lo‘i fields (middle), and the exclusively Hawaiian poi pounding (foreground) are to illustrate the sovereignty of the land – ke ea o ka ‘āina.
The young model in the foreground is Raycyn, eldest son of Pua Moefu (hula painting). I was fascinated by his resemblance to the very young Kūhiō (Raycyn is also from Kaua’i). In portraying the prince both in his formative years and as an adult statesman (shown on horseback the way he so often was), I wanted somehow to “introduce” you to the child who would one day grow up to make the single greatest ongoing contribution to people of Hawaiian ancestry. (As with the other ali‘i in this series, their eyes will follow you anywhere in the room.) The faint image of the house against the newer house is one of the first Hawaiian homesteads (Moloka‘i , circa 1926).
The two models (with visible faces) pulling taro are from the left, my husband, Kamuela Kuia Magno, and on the right, my good friend, Libert O’Sullivan. Libert made many trips with me up to the lo’i fields in Waiāhole to research this painting. He regularly pulls taro there and pounds poi at the Poi Factory by the highway. He gave me a basket he had just finished weaving and I put the poi pounder in it and painted it thus. Tending the imu along with their late father, Ramus Ho‘olulu Seabury, are my nephews, (left to right) Keone (father of Briana from the Leimakers), Kala, (grandfather of Ku‘ualoha from the Leimakers), and Kekai. The poi pounding board and the poi pounder are over one hundred years old. They belong to the Daniel Kapuniai ohana in Waimānalo.
– Leohone 2007
Artist Proofs 54.4″ x 68 ” signed “LeoHone” and numbered 1/75 -75/75
Edition A 40″ x 50″ signed “LeoHone” and numbered 1/145-145/145
Edition B 32″ x 40″ signed “LeoHone” and numbered 1/288 -288/288
Edition C 24″ x 30″ signed “LeoHone” and numbered 1/288 -288/288