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OHA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs

Hundreds protest Aloha Poke Company

CHICAGO (August 13, 2018) – Two hundred protestors rallied today against Aloha Poke Company’s aggressive efforts to assert ownership over the Native Hawaiian word “aloha.”

Protestors marched from the Millennium Monument to the Aloha Poke Company on Clark Street, where a rally was held during lunch. Today’s protest was part of the “Aloha Not For Sale” campaign, a week-long series of rallies that began on Friday, August 10, and that will finish on Wednesday, August 15.

The campaign is being coordinated by a coalition of Native Hawaiian organizations from Chicago, Hawaiʻi and Alaska. The coalition is led by Lanialoha Lee of the Aloha Center Chicago, a multi-media resource cultural center in Chicago dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of Native Hawaiian and South Pacific Arts.

The protests are in response to the Aloha Poke Company sending cease-and-desist letters to poke restaurants in Hawaiʻi, Alaska and other places demanding that they stop using aloha in their names. Aloha Poke Company claims to hold the trademarks for “aloha” and “poke.”

The controversy has outraged Native Hawaiians. An online petition against Aloha Poke Company already has received more than 167,000 signatures.

The Aloha Not For Sale campaign demands that the Aloha Poke Company:

  • Make a real apology – one that admits it was wrong in issuing cease-and-desist letters to business owners;
  • Retract the cease-and-desist letters sent to other businesses; and
  • Rescind its trademark on the words “aloha” and “poke.”

Joining the protests in Chicago were members of the Kahele family, the owners of the poke store in Anchorage, Alaska, who received a cease-and-desist letter from Aloha Poke Company. To avoid potential litigation, the Kahele family recently re-named their store Lei’s Poke Stop.

A delegation of Native Hawaiian organizations from Hawaiʻi also travelled to Chicago to participate in the protests. Hawaiʻi based organizations attending include:

  • Office of Hawaiian Affairs – Established by the state Constitutional Convention in 1978, OHA is a semi-autonomous agency of the state of Hawaiʻi. OHA is mandated to better the conditions of Native Hawaiians. Guided by a board of nine publicly elected trustees, OHA fulfills its mandate through advocacy, research, community engagement, land management and the funding of community programs.
  • ʻĪlioʻulaokalani Coalition – ʻĪlioʻulaokalani Coalition is a Native Hawaiian political advocacy organization comprised of kumu hula (hula teachers) and other cultural practitioners. Founded in 1997, the coalition has been at the forefront of advocating for the protection of Native Hawaiian rights, culture and land.ʻĪlioʻulaokalani held conferences on Native Hawaiian intellectual property rights in 2003, 2004 and 2007. The first conference led to the adoption of the Paoakalani Declaration, a statement affirming the Native Hawaiian people’s collective right, as the creators of their traditional knowledge, to protect their cultural expressions from misuse by individuals who behave disrespectfully and inconsistently with their worldview, customs and traditions.
  • Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement – CNHA is a member-based Native Hawaiian nonprofit organization led and governed by a 21-member board of directors elected by its 160 dues-paying members, which are Native Hawaiian organizations and business owners. Its mission is to enhance the cultural, economic, political and community development of Native Hawaiians.

A sign waving was held on Friday, and an educational workshop on Native Hawaiian intellectual property rights was held on Sunday. Wrapping up the Aloha Not For Sale campaign is the following event:

Peaceful Rally (W Fullerton)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

818 W. Fullerton

Chicago, IL 60614

For more information on the Aloha Not For Sale campaign, visit www.alohanotforsale.com.



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