(BIVN) – The United States Mint is now shipping quarters honoring Native Hawaiian cultural icon Edith Kanakaʻole, as part of its 2023 American Women Quarters Program.
“The second coin of the 2023 American Women Quarters™ Program honors the life and legacy of Edith Kanakaʻole,” said Mint Director Ventris C. Gibson in a news release. “She was a renowned practitioner of, and an authority on, modern Hawaiian culture and language. Edith Kanakaʻole believed that the oli, or Hawaiian chants, formed the basis of Hawaiian values and history. She learned this art form and performed all the major styles of delivery.”
According to the U.S. Mint, the reverse (tails) side of the coin was designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Designer Emily Damstra, and sculpted by United States Mint Medallic Artist Renata Gordon.
“It was a joy to become aware of Edith Kanakaʻole’s legacy as I developed a design for her quarter,” said Damstra. “I wanted to create a design that emphasized Kanakaʻole’s relationship with the environment. I came to understand that her deep connection to the land—her home in Hawai’i near the Mauna Kea volcano—played a large role in her life and work.”
From the U.S. Mint:
The reverse depicts a portrait of Edith Kanakaʻole, with her hair and lei poʻo (headband) morphing into the elements of a Hawaiian landscape, symbolizing Kanakaʻole’s life’s work of preserving the natural land and traditional Hawaiian culture. The inscription “E hō mai ka ʻike” translates as “granting the wisdom,” and is a reference to the intertwined role hula and chants play in this preservation. Additional inscriptions are “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” “25¢,” and “EDITH KANAKAʻOLE.”
The obverse (heads) depicts a portrait of George Washington originally composed and sculpted by Laura Gardin Fraser to mark George Washington’s 200th birthday.
Though her work was a recommended design for the 1932 quarter, then-Treasury Secretary Mellon ultimately selected the familiar John Flanagan design. Of Fraser, Director Gibson said, “I am proud that the new obverse design of George Washington is by one of the most prolific women sculptors of the early 20th century. Laura Gardin Fraser’s work is lauded in both numismatic and artistic circles. Ninety years after she intended for it to do so, her obverse design has fittingly taken its place on the quarter.”
Obverse inscriptions are “LIBERTY,” “IN GOD WE TRUST,” and “2023.” The design is common to all quarters issued in the series.
Kanakaʻole (1913-1979) was also a former University of Hawaiʻi instructor. She worked as a teacher at Hawaiʻi Community College from 1971 to 1974 and at UH Hilo from 1974 to 1979. “At both schools, she created courses and seminars on subjects including Hawaiian language, ethnobotany, Polynesian history, genealogy and Hawaiian chant and mythology,” the university wrote in a news release.
The university described Kanakaʻole as a venerated cultural icon, saying:
Edith Kekuhikuhipuʻuone o nā aliʻi o Kohala Kanakaʻole was an Indigenous Hawaiian composer, chanter, dancer, kumu hula and a venerated cultural icon. Through hula, a dance to pass down knowledge to the next generations, and moʻolelo (stories), Kanakaʻole helped to preserve aspects of Hawaiian knowledge, history, culture and traditions that were disappearing due to the cultural bigotry of the time.
She preserved the ancient style of hula accompanied by rhythmic instruments done in the style she passed on which is identified as ʻaihaʻa, or low to the ground. Kanakaʻole was a kumu hula, a master instructor for hula, and an academic researcher who developed her own chants for cultural preservation and academic work. Her contributions extend to the work of environmental scientists, and universities that teach her philosophies and scientific methods, and position Hawaiʻi and the U.S. in the global conversation on climate resilience.
Kanakaʻole, or “Aunty Edith,” as she is commonly known, was a renowned practitioner of and an authority on modern Hawaiian culture and language. She believed that the oli, or Hawaiian chants, informed the basis of Hawaiian values and history. She learned this art form and performed all the major styles of delivery.
The Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation, a Hawaiian cultural-based non-profit organization established in 1990, helps maintain and perpetuate her teachings, beliefs, practices, philosophies and traditions. A celebration of Kanakaʻole’s contributions and legacy will be held at UH Hilo on May 6.
by Big Island Video News
HAWAIʻI - Both the U.S. Mint and the University of Hawaiʻi issued news release celebrating the new quarter honoring the legendary kumu hula.