Aka, with, care, and hai, to speak. To be tender of heart; meek (Andrews)

Did you know that up until 1986, a mere 37 years ago, it was illegal to speak or teach ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi in school? In 1896, three years after the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, the new government decreed that all of Hawaiʻi’s public schools were to be English-only. This ban nearly caused the Hawaiian language to become extinct. Fortunately, there were a few who bravely resisted and did all that they could to preserve Hawaiian culture. One of these heroes is being celebrated today with the release of a US quarter with her image

Edith Kanakaʻole was born during a time when practicing Hawaiian traditions and culture were oppressed. Many Native Hawaiians felt stigmatized by the pressure to become “Americanized,” so they chose not to pass on the ʻike of their kupuna to their keiki. However, Kanakaʻole was not deterred. She continued to study ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, hula, oli, and mele. In 1953, carrying forth the teachings of her kupuna, Kanakaʻole opened a hālau hula. Rather than teach hapa haole styles or just how to dance, her hālau stood out by teaching both dance and oli, requiring dancers to learn the language. 

As her prominence bloomed, Kanakaʻole played even greater roles in promoting the preservation of the Hawaiian culture. During the 1970s, she was instrumental in establishing a Hawaiian Language program at Keaukaha Elementary School as well as implementing the Hawaiian Studies Kupuna Program (for which Kumu Hanohano is our Hawaiian Studies Kupuna). Kanakaʻole also taught at Hawaiʻi Community College and the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo where she created courses in ethnobotany, Hawaiian chants and myths, genealogy, Polynesian history, and land ownership.

By the time of her passing in 1979, Kanakaʻole performed a key role in ushering in the Hawaiian Renaissance. Her efforts ensured the Hawaiian culture would continue to thrive well into the future. She resisted oppression and discrimination, but not by shedding blood or taking up arms. Edith Kanakaʻole resisted by spreading grace; by teaching others, sharing her ʻike, showing kindness, and inspiring others to act. She resisted by being akahai.


  • Make someone or someplace better by
    • Showing kindness – even when frustrated or upset;
    • Teaching someone a skill or piece of knowledge; or
    • Making someplace more beautiful.


Inspired by Gholdy Muhammad

Please watch this: Edith Kanakaʻole kumu aʻo “Ohana & Laulima”  by Kokua Films Hawaiʻi where she shares the moʻolelo of ʻohana. Then with you child, answer the following:

IDENTITY: As Edith Kanakaʻole explains the importance of kalo to the Hawaiian people, she identifies other foods important to people of different cultures. What food item is important to your ʻohana?

SKILLS: What do you think was Kanakaʻole’s purpose in telling the story behind the word ʻohana?

INTELLECT: Kanakaʻole shares the moʻolelo of Hāloa and calls him the “progenitor” of the Hawaiian people. What does “progenitor” mean?

CRITICALITY: One of the ways Kanakaʻole resisted the oppression of Hawaiian culture was to share moʻolelo like in this video. Your challenge for this week is to be like Edith Kanakaʻole and share a story with someone that creates more love and less hate.

JOY: How does Kanakaʻole share the joy of laulima in her story?


Wed, Mar 29, 20234:30 PM School Community Council Meeting 
Sat, Apr 1, 2023Campus Beautification – Sign up to help by Wednesday, 12:00pm. 
Sat, Apr 22, 2023Rainbow Keiki Run (details forthcoming)





Also – a very moving and beautiful video about the power of hula by Kaumakaiwa Kanakaʻole, great granddaughter of Edith Kanakaʻole

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