UH to be featured at Smithsonian Folklife Festival in D.C.

The University of Hawai‘i will be among 20 public land-grant universities to be featured in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C., from June 27 to July 8.

Close to 80 UH delegates and community partners will travel to the nation’s capitol to celebrate the best in indigenous culture and modern science and demonstrate that the two worlds are being bridged through educational and community outreach.

“It is a great honor to have a place of prominence in this sesquicentennial celebration of the creation of public land grant universities in the nation,” said University of Hawai‘i President M.R.C. Greenwood.

The festival marks the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Morrill Act which paved the way for higher education for rural and working class Americans. This year’s festival is being presented in partnership with APLU, the Association for Public and Land Grant Universities.

 An estimated 1.5 million people are expected to visit the festival and enjoy some of the highlights of UH’s presentations below:

• Hale Mauli Ola exhibits will share traditional health and healing practices and feature lomi lomi (massage) demonstrations, discussions on nutrition, obesity and traditional Hawaiian physical activity such as makahiki games. Nutrition advocate Dr. Claire Hughes and cultural practitioner Gordon “Umi” Kai will be among the experts on hand.

• A mini lo’i kalo (taro patch) where experts like Makahiapo Cashman, Ka Papa Lo‘i O Kanewai, will share their knowledge of plants used for food, medicine and clothing. There will be a medicinal herb display and an organic farming exhibit to be hosted by MA‘O Organic Farms. Organic farmer Derrick Kiyabu and youth leadership fellows will lead discussions and demonstrations.

• Presentations on non-instrument navigation and the Hawaiian star compass chart by way-finding expert Kalepa “Chad” Baybayan of the voyaging canoe Hokule‘a and the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo will accompany free screenings of ‘Imiloa’s new “Awesome Light” planetarium visual presentation at the Air and Space Museum’s Einstein Planetarium, by special engagement.

• Hawai‘i Community College’s Kumu Hula Taupouri Tangaro and his 25-member halau Unukupukupu, will share Hawaiian culture, history and traditions through oli (chant), mele (song) and hula (dance). “If the people walk away realizing that hula is not so much entertainment as it is a process of transformation, I’ll be satisfied. We want people to see for themselves how we are creating leadership models and academic success using this 2000-year-old story,” said Tangaro.

• From the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa’s Hawai‘inuiakea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, the Tuahine Troupe, under the leadership of Professor and Kumu Hula Keawe Lopes, will provide an unforgettable journey through Hawai‘i’s musical and hula heritage, with instrumental, vocal and dance presentations on the large stage, at intimate venues under the “UH tent” and at the prestigious Kennedy Center in a special Folklife Festival performance.

• The UH Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) will feature its outreach and research work in aquaponics, sustainable agriculture, natural resource management, and honeybees/crop pollination. CTAHR is one of the world’s leaders in these fields and in tropical agricultural systems — natural contemporary outgrowths of Hawaiian traditional and indigenous sustainable knowledge.

 • Auntie Naomi Losch, Hawaiian Language professor with UH Manoa, will present language lessons and discuss the value of an indigenous culture’s language, how its identity, history and world view are all contained within this oral tradition. She will also share how the university has played a critical role in the revitalization and perpetuation of the olelo Hawai‘i.

• The John A. Burns School of Medicine, through its Department of Native Hawaiian Health and community partners, will discuss several community-based health interventions. Mele Look  will discuss the benefits that cardiac patients saw while participating in a 12-week hula class as part of a cardiac rehabilitation program. Dr. Claire Hughes will share a community-based and led project to eliminate obesity and diabetes in Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.


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