You get the sense that things are up on the Big Island the minute you get your rental car out on the roadway. That being the flags.
I am not talking about any kind of flags, but two types, typically flying from the back of trucks throughout the island. On one side is the Hawaiian State Flag. The other side is the “Kanaka Maoli” flag, introduced in 2001 by Gene Simeona of Honolulu and commonly seen in the community as “the people’s flag”.
For the state flag, the official flag of the Kingdom, Republic, Territory and then State, there were trucks flying that flag upside down, which is a universal signal for “distress” or desecration of the flag. On other trucks, the state flag was flying right side up. There was no rhyme or reason as far as I could tell of why one truck would fly it upside down, and another right side up.
Maoli” flag, though, was always flying right side up. That seemed to be the
only constant outside of the fact that there were a lot of trucks driving
around the Big Island with flags a flying.
It was a interesting way to spread the word that something was up with out unduly alarming the visitors that were also on the island. For all that I could see, the quiet demonstrations using flags went almost unnoticed by any group of visitors that I would see in proximity.
In fact, it has come to be even with our return to O’ahu that when we see a truck with flags flying, I typically look to see the orientation of the flags. I eventually call out “that one is upside down” or “right side up”. It has become the car game that you may have played as a kid “red car, blue car”. Instead, its “right side up, upside down” that is called out. I am sure that it is not appreciated that the quiet demonstration is seen like this, but at least it’s noticeable no matter where you go.