Thirty-five Lanai students from sixth through 12th grades hiked, surveyed and spoke the Hawaiian language as they developed a deep understanding of the island’s natural and cultural history in the month of June. The summer enrichment program, titled “E ‘Ike Hou Ia Lanai — Embracing Lanai’s History Through Language and Literacy,” was developed by the Lanai Culture & Heritage Center (Lanai CHC), Lanai High & Elementary School (LHES), Pulama Lanai, and the U.S. Department of Education-Native Hawaiian Education Act place-based education program.
The program is part of a three-year, place-based initiative that began in 2013, with year-round programs that are offered free of charge to Lanai residents and those interested in Lanai history.
“It has taught me to remember how our kupuna once lived — to cherish the ways of the past, to preserve ancient sites, to malama ‘aina and to make a difference for the island,” said an LHES 11th grade student. “I realized that Lanai is more unique than I thought it was. Some islands don’t have access to historical sites like we do. Some don’t have the bond with their community like we do.”
Students completed a series of cultural landscape and literacy workshops in which they studied Hawaiian language as well as historic literature documenting the practices, beliefs and changes that occurred on Lanai over the past 180 years.
The program also included a three-week field school in Hawaiian lifestyles, archaeology, marine biology, watershed systems, stewardship and literature.
Field work activities included surveying a traditional Hawaiian fishpond at Waiaopae along the windward shore of Palawai Ahupuaa, mapping ancient loi kalo and other cultural-archaeological resources in Maunalei Valley, exploring the marine environment with Hawai‘i Pacific University marine biologists, and visiting the Sea Education Association’s 135-foot research sailing vessel. At the end of the three-week program, students also partnered in the development of resource management plans, sharing their ideas on how to care for the honua ola (living environment).
“It was an inspiration to see, through a revival of traditional knowledge, history, and sense of place, E ‘Ike Hou Ia Lanai inspired our students to embrace the wise use of resources, stewardship and cultural sustainability,” said Kepa Maly, director of the program and vice president of culture and historic preservation for Pulama Lanai. “We are grateful to all our partners for helping us create this learning experience in our community.”
Partners in the Lanai CHC program include LHES, Pulama Lanai, Honua Consulting, UH-Maui College, Hawai‘i Pacific University/S.E.A., and Queen Liliuokalani Children’s Center. Instructors included specialists in a wide range of fields including archaeologists, marine biologists, musicians, anthropologists, environmentalists, university professors, and longtime Lanai resident fishermen and cultural practitioners.