UH Hilo’s Kauanoe Kamanā, advocate for Hawaiian language revitalization, on Hawai‘i Women of the Century list

Kauanoe Kamanā, director of Ke Kula ʻO Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu, UH Hilo’s internationally renowned preschool-12 Hawaiian-medium laboratory school, is named one of Hawai‘i’s 10 Women of the Century by USA Today.

Kauanoe Kamanā.
Kauanoe Kamanā. Courtesy photo.

This year, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, when American women won the right to vote, the USA TODAY Network is naming 10 women from every state, plus the District of Columbia, as “Women of the Century.” These women have made significant contributions to their communities, states and country with documented achievements in areas like arts and literature, business, civil rights, education, entertainment, law, media, nonprofits and philanthropy, politics, science and medicine, and sports. The women had to have been alive during the last 100 years — 1920 to 2020.

Among Hawai‘i’s 10 is Kauanoe Kamanā, advocate for Hawaiian language reclamation and revitalization and the director of Ke Kula ʻO Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu, the internationally renowned preschool-12 Hawaiian-medium laboratory school of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.

Kamanā’s bio from USA TODAY Network:

An icon in Hawaiian language reclamation and revitalization, Kauanoe Kamanā is renowned for her deep commitment to her native language. She is a founding member and president of the Aha Pūnana Leo, a nonprofit, family-based organization committed to promoting Hawaiian language revitalization.

She is one of the early faculty of Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawaii-Hilo, the only Indigenous language college in the U.S., and the director of Ke Kula ʻO Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu, the internationally renowned preschool-12 Hawaiian-medium laboratory school.

Kamanā grew up in a time when Hawaiian was considered a dying language; at school she studied French instead of her own native tongue. She later became the first person of Native Hawaiian ancestry to receive a Ph.D. in Hawaiian and Indigenous Language and Culture Revitalization from the UH-Hilo.

Today, the Hawaiian-medium education reaches as far as the doctoral level, bringing the language back not only to schools, but into homes and businesses again.

Share this story