Former UH Hilo, Hawaiʻi Community College instructor Edith Kanakaʻole to appear on U.S. quarter

An award-winning composer and former instructor at Hawai‘i Community College and UH Hilo, Edith Kanaka‘ole will be one of five American women to be minted on new quarters next year.

Edith Kanaka‘ole pictured
Edith Kanaka‘ole

The late legendary kumu hula and University of Hawai‘i instructor Edith Kanaka‘ole is among the 2023 honorees for the American Women Quarters™ Program announced by the United States Mint.

5 honorees pictured.
2023 American Women Quarters Program honorees: Eleanor Roosevelt (center), top from left, Maria Tallchief, Edith Edith Kanaka‘ole; bottom from left, Jovita Idár, Bessie Coleman.

An award-winning composer and former instructor at Hawai‘i Community College and UH Hilo, Kanaka‘ole will be one of five American women to be minted on new quarters next year, joining fellow honorees such as former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Maria Tallchief, America’s first Native American prima ballerina.

Kanakaʻole was an internationally acclaimed indigenous Hawaiian composer, chanter, dancer, teacher, and entertainer. She passed away in 1978.

During her time at Hawai‘i Community College and UH Hilo, Kanakaʻole developed a variety of courses on ethnobotany, Polynesian history, genealogy and Hawaiian chant and mythology.

To honor her monumental contributions to the Hilo campus, the humanities building at UH Hilo, which houses subjects such as languages, English, philosophy and kinesiology, is named in honor of the Keaukaha native.

Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele, a retired Hawai‘i CC Hawaiian studies professor and daughter of the late Kanaka‘ole, released a statement on the Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation website.

“My mother was a ‘pusher’ but she always did it with a smile. She pushed all six of her children, when it was not yet a natural process for Hawaiians, toward higher education to earn a degree. When she became an instructor at the University of Hawaiʻi in Hilo, she encouraged Hawaiian students to 1) maintain their stay and earn their degree, 2) know who they were as Hawaiians and elevate the status of the Lāhui.”

In 1999, Kanahele helped launch I Ola Hāloa Center for Hawai‘i Life Styles at Hawai‘i CC. The program, which stresses the importance of Hawaiian cultural values and practices in higher education, is intertwined with teaching styles and lessons that stem directly from Kanaka‘ole.

Read the full story at UH System News.

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