Over one hundred twenty years after the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, many Native Hawaiians still feel a degree of bitterness toward the United States’ government. Strong ties to indigenous culture, the continued commemoration of royal ancestors, and even inadequate civil rights make some Native Hawaiians resent American rule.

We do not often consider how Native Hawaiians feel about being American citizens. After all, they did not choose to have their centuries-long kingdom cheated by American sugar barons and eventually absorbed into the United States.

And Queen Liliuokalani’s right to rule was essentially stolen by American businessmen of a fruit company. After a coup d’état, this Provisional Government was established, with Sanford B. Dole as the president. Hawaii soon became a U.S. territory and was later annexed as a state in 1959.

Some argue that Hawaii was better off being under the control of the United States. America sought to obtain a secure spot in the Pacific, and by taking the Hawaiian islands, natives were therefore “protected” from being colonized by more aggressive nations with worse colonial practices (e.g., Japan). Hawaii was able to build a booming economy first with fruit and sugar production. Soon, defense and tourism would become the main money-making industries of the tropical state.

Over the years, the United States has at least attempted to “make it up” to Hawaii. In fact, before Hawaii was annexed, Grover Cleveland admitted that the overthrow was not just. He tried to convince Congress to repair relations with the kingdom, but it instead made the decision to annex it.

Today, America makes an effort to respect Native Hawaiian culture, especially through attempting to preserve the language that is being overtaken by English. But many Native Hawaiians are faced with a lack of health insurance, substandard education, and poverty, and some still claim to be searching for the rightful ali’i—monarch to rule their kingdom.