The highlight of the trip was the ceremony recognizing Ke Kula ‘O Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u Hawaiian language immersion school as the recipient of the William Demmert Cultural Freedom Award, one of the highest awards given by the National Indian Education Association.
Educators from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, UH West O‘ahu and UH Maui College, and two students from Ke Kula ʻO Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu immersion school, attended the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) annual convention and trade show held last week, Oct. 10-13, in Hartford, CT. The theme of the convention was “Building Education Nations through Culture, Creativity, and Critical Thought.”
The highlight of the trip was the ceremony recognizing Ke Kula ‘O Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u Hawaiian language immersion school as the recipient of the William Demmert Cultural Freedom Award, one of the highest awards given by the NIEA. The laboratory school, run by UH Hilo Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language, is recognized for its work in Hawaiian medium-immersion education in Hawaiʻi. The award is an NIEA board-nominated award that recognizes an organization for its success and the positive impact it has on native student academic achievement.
“From humble beginnings and through the tenacious commitment of its leadership, teachers and families, Ke Kula ‘O Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u has been a trailblazer in the advancement of Hawaiian medium education,” says Keiki Kawaiʻaeʻa, director of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language. “William Demmert was a strong advocate of language revitalization programs, which makes this prestigious recognition a special honor.” (See full story about the award.)
While at the convention in Hartford, members of the Hawai‘i delegation participated in the cultural events of the convention including the welcome reception, cultural night, and closing powwow hosted by the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut.
Members of the Hawai‘i group attended workshops that covered such topics as student success, scholarships, the promotion of research that enhances Native inclusion,indigenous-based leadership and curriculum, community led solutions to support Native students, and key legislation that impacts Native programs and students in P-20 education, among other topics.
Members of the Hawai‘i delegation also assisted the Native Hawaiian Education Association to promote He Au Honua, an indigenous research conference that will be held at UH Maui College during the week of March 19-22, 2019.
Oct. 18, 2018: The name of the award has been corrected. It is the Cultural Freedom Award, not the Freedom Fighter Award.
About the writer of this story: Susan Enright is a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.