Tuesday, June 1, 1999

Hawaiians get
ready for next
world meeting

Indigenous people from
around the world will
gather here Aug. 1-7

By Pat Omandam


Three years ago, when the World Indigenous Peoples' Conference on Education was held in New Mexico, Pualani Kanaka'ole Kanahele noticed a lack of awareness among delegates about Hawaiian culture and education.

That will change this August when up to 3,000 people from 20 countries converge in Hilo for a weeklong dose of Hawaiiana. The Aug. 1-7 gathering was made possible after the Edith Kanaka'ole Foundation was named host of the triennial conference.

"We decided to bid for the conference this time because there wasn't enough people there that knew that Hawaii was a separate culture," said Kanahele, co-chairwoman of the Hawaii conference and foundation president.

Kanahele's mother was a respected Hawaiian cultural expert and kumu hula, or dance master.

"We are very passionate about who we are and why it is important to get more people here to see what we're doing and to look at our educational style as well," she said yesterday.

NoeNoe Wong-Wilson, Hilo conference director, said yesterday that organizers are putting the finishing touches on the conference schedule.

This year's theme is "The Answers Lie Within Us," and delegates will focus on past, present and future cultural practices, she said. "It's an opportunity for us to show the native community around the world what Hawaii and Hawaiians are all about, and how we are maintaining our language, our culture and our tradition," Wong-Wilson said.

"What's important for us is to acknowledge, in addition to Western education, that native people have to maintain cultural education," she said.

Wong-Wilson said that more than 200 workshops are planned around eight subjects: health, justice, language, educational policy, teaching practices, arts and education, science and technology, and philosophy and education.

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