Native Hawaiian advocate, educator, leader Edith Kanaka‘ole awarded Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters
Legendary kumu hula and composer Edith Kanaka‘ole (1913–79) worked as a teacher at Hawai‘i Community College from 1971 to 1974 and at UH Hilo from 1974 to 1979.
Native Hawaiian luminary Edith Kekuhikuhipu‘uoneonāali‘iōkohala Kenao Kanaka‘ole was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at the April 20, 2023 meeting of the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents in recognition of her contributions toward the preservation and revitalization of the Hawaiian language and culture.
Legendary kumu hula and composer Edith Kanaka‘ole (1913–79) worked as a teacher at Hawai‘i Community College from 1971 to 1974 and at UH Hilo from 1974 to 1979. At both schools, she created courses and seminars on subjects including Hawaiian language, ethnobotany, Polynesian history, genealogy and Hawaiian chant and mythology.
The recommendation letter stated: “Aunty Edith was a kumu hula, a master instructor for hula and an academic researcher developing her own chants for cultural preservation and academic work. Her contributions extend to the work of environmental scientists and Hawaiian universities that teach her philosophies and scientific methods and position Hawai‘i, and the United States, in the global conversation on climate resilience.”
In March 2023, a commemorative quarter honoring Kanaka‘ole was released into circulation by the U.S. Mint. She is one of five American women to be minted on new quarters as part of the 2023 honorees for the American Women Quarters™ Program.
Kanaka‘ole’s family will accept the degree and be recognized at the UH Hilo and Hawai‘i CC spring commencement exercises. The community is invited to celebrate Kanaka‘ole’s life and legacy, on Saturday, May 6, 2023 at UH Hilo.