By Cheri Smith | Staff Writer
This Sept. 2 was not only Queen Liliʻuokalani’s 182nd birthday but also the start of the celebration to the first worldwide Hawaiian History Month.
However, this celebration came and went with most people unaware that it even existed.
Though Kapi’olani Community College Hawaiian professor Frank Palakiko admitted he didn’t know September was Hawaiian History Month when asked about it, he quickly turned it around by exclaiming “Every month is Hawaiian History Month,” he said with his trademark humor.
Kumu Jacob Hauʻoli Ikaika Poʻokela Lorenzo-Elarco, who has been teaching at Honolulu Community College for a year, also didn’t know about Hawaiian History Month but scoffed at the idea of celebrating the culture for just 30 days.
“We don’t necessarily need a specific month to celebrate Hawaiian History,” he said. “It’s something we honor, understand, live, and breathe every single day. I believe it’s for people who are not a part of our island; it’s something we dedicate to them to learn more about.”
Both professors emphasized the importance of highlighting the Hawaiian language and culture at all times, but especially now during the Covid-19 pandemic.
During the pandemic, Kumu Jacob continues to inspire his own students to add Hawaiian flair to their education, just like he did with his Business degree. He wants to encourage students to learn the Hawaiian language so it doesn’t become extinct.
Palakiko, who was born and raised on Maui, sees an even bigger need to contribute to the Hawaiian community during this pandemic.
”I’ll be throwing the net by taking care of responsibilities, the environment, resources, my family, and educating my students on what they need,” he said.
That complete embracing of the Hawaiian culture, both men said, is what should be emphasized worldwide, not just during the month of September but all year long.
“What’s good for Hawaiians is good for everyone,” Kumu Jacob said. “Aloha means no racism for the island and our island is a model for the world.”
The celebration of Queen Liliʻuokalani’s birthday was held by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge in collaboration with the Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī Coalition. Locals were able to watch it live on Hauʻoli Lā Hānau e Liliʻuokalani on OiwiTV. If you missed it, you can also catch it on YouTube.