Group from UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College visits tribal colleges in Minnesota

At Leech Lake Tribal College, the group from Hawai‘i presented a selection of traditional dances to honor the ancestors of those from the college attending the event.

Taupouri Tangaro drumming on pahu with dancers behind him.
Taupouri Tangaro, professor at Hawai‘i Community College, beats the drum as a group from UH performs traditional dances at Leech Lake Tribal College in MN. Eighteen representatives from the UH System visited tribal colleges at Leech Lake, Red Lake and White Earth. (Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer). Click to enlarge.

In the spirit of cultural exchange, a group of staff and students from Hawai‘i Community College and the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo recently visited three tribal colleges in Minnesota so the groups could learn from each other. The group from Hawai‘i visited colleges in Leech Lake, Red Lake and White Earth. At Leech Lake Tribal College, the group presented a selection of traditional dances to honor the ancestors of those representing and attending the event at the college.

Members of the group from UH Hilo were Drew Kapp, lecturer in the geography department; Ākeamakamae Kiyuna, lecturer in linguistics and Hawaiian language; and Ka‘alalani Ahu, a student majoring in environmental science with a minor in Hawaiian studies.

  • See The Bemidji Pioneer, March 25, 2015: “Hawaiians visit tribal area colleges”.

The Hawaiians’ visit was equally beneficial for the Leech Lake Tribal College, which continues to become more global. Bill Blackwell, LLTC’s director of institutional advancement, said LLTC and the Hawaiian contingency would be discussing the possibility of articulation agreements, which could lead to future student and faculty exchanges.

“One of the biggest things for us as a tribal college (is) we want to really expose student to the world,” Blackwell said. “A lot of them have not traveled too far out of this area or Minnesota, so exchanges like this open up the similarities and also the differences the two cultures have.”

Several of those similarities were evident on Wednesday, as both groups came bonded over language, dance and food. Before partaking in a lunchtime feast, Nyleta Belgrade, the Ojibwe language coordinator at LLTC, schooled the visitors with some introductory Ojibwe lessons.

“I’m really happy to see you guys here. We really admire native Hawaiians for the work that you’ve done with your language and really look to you guys in doing that work here, for our language,” she said.

Share this story