This weekend a Hawaiian cultural icon was celebrated.
Edith Kanakaʻole Day was held on the Hilo Campus of the University of Hawaiʻi.
Huihui Kanahele-Mossman, Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation Executive Director: “This is who she was. And this is the person that the hall is named after, and this is the person that the multipurpose stadium is named after, and now we know who she is and now we have another native Hawaiian hero to follow after.”
In March 2022, the United States Mint announced that Edith Kanakaʻole, the late iconic Hawaiian kumu hula, would be featured as one of five honorees on the 2023 American Women Quarters Program.
U.S. MINT VIDEO: “Edith Kanakaʻole was an indigenous Hawaiian composer, chanter and a custodian of native culture, traditions, and the natural land. Kanakaʻole assisted in the development of the first Hawaiian language program for public school students, and created college courses and seminars on ethnobotany, Polynesian history, genealogy and Hawaiian chant and mythology.”
Then-U.S. Congressman Kai Kahele made these remarks on the house floor.
Rep. Kai Kahele: “Today we recognize Edith Kekuhikuhiipuuoneonaaliiokohala Kenao Kanakaʻole. A revered native Hawaiian dancer, chanter, teacher, kumu hula, and founder of Hālau o Kekuhi. Edith was one of only five women in the country honored this year in the 2023 American Women Quarters Program. E hō mai ka ʻike – grant us knowledge – is inscribed on the commemorative coin for Edith Kanakaʻole. It is a reminder of her lasting legacy, and a guiding principle for Hawaiians. That is, to look to those who came before us, so that we may find success in the present, and prosperity in our future.”
In March 2023, the quarter was released into circulation, and a special celebration was set to be held at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo in May.
Before the day of the event, more than 300 students from three Hawaiʻi Island schools gathered for a workshop.
Keao Killion, Student at Ka ʻUmeke Kāʻeo Hawaiian Language Immersion Public Charter School, Edith Kanakaʻole’s grandson: “Just me being able to get out there and to hula for my grandmother to honor her in the ways of hula that are meant for her that really impacted me pretty hard today. Because of the fact that she left all these hulas, all of these dances, all of these songs, meles, not only for us to know but to pass on to our next generation and for us to teach, not for us to hold on to it or to let it die out.”
Kaniaulono Hāpai, Student, Ka ʻUmeke Kāʻeo Hawaiian Language Immersion Public Charter School: “Remembering Aunty Edith is something very important to our community of Keaukaha, because sheʻs done so much, not only for the whole world but especially for us individually. And “E hō mai ka ʻike” is a famous line of hers that means, ‘to instill all the knowledge into us,’ and that is something that should be spread to everyone, to always seek knowledge.”
On May 6 the public packed the UH-Hilo Performing Arts Center to take part in a welcoming ceremony for the celebration
Nalani Kanakaʻole: “Welcome to e hō mai ka ʻike. I am Nalani Kanakaʻole, the youngest child of Luca and Edith Kanakaʻole.”
Alapaki Nahale-a, UH Board of Regents: “When I start my car in the mornings, my audio system immediately connects to my cell phone and starts playing this song. (music) All right, immediately folks are clapping. They know, they know the beginning of this song, and Aunty Edith’s incredible voice. So inviting, so compelling, so rich. I’m not that savvy. I didn’t program my car to play that song. That’s not the first song on my playlist. I don’t know how it happened, it just started happening. And of all the artists in the universe they could have chosen to greet me when I started to go someplace, there could be none better.”
Bonnie Irwin, UH Hilo Chancellor: “Kamea Hadar and Kūhaʻo Zane, with the support of the UH-Hilo Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center, are collaborating on a mural of the late Hawaiian icon on the Edith Kanakaʻole Hall at the University of Hawaiʻi Hilo campus. Some of you may have seen the work when you came in, today. As a faculty member at both the Hawaiʻi Community College and the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, Aunty Edith openly shared her deep ancestral knowledge, passed down to her through her familia hula lineage. Her early contributions to the University’s Hawaiian Language program and numerous community initiatives have set a foundation that continues to be built on today. It is an immense honor to share her story through this mural and have her portrait serve as a prominent feature on our campus.
Nahale-a: “As the representative, Wayne and I want to share with you that we approved the awarding of an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters to Aunty Edith, posthumously, on April 20th, 2023. Long overdue. We’d also like to share with you that UH President David lassner approved the naming of the UH Hilo Edwin Moʻokini Hawaiian Collection to the Edith Kanakaʻole Hawaiian Collection. And Hawaiʻi Community College building 382 room 16 to the Edith Kanakaʻole Collection of Indigenous Knowledge and Leadership, effective today May 6th, 2023.”
by Big Island Video News
HILO - The community gathered on Saturday to celebrate the life and legacy of Edith Kanakaʻole, the Hawaiian cultural icon who was recently featured on a U.S. Mint American Women Quarter.