Place names. Cultural sites. Wind and rain names. Mo‘olelo. What makes your ahupua‘a unique?
Everywhere in the Hawaiian Islands is a special place. The richness of Hawaiian culture speaks to the depth of engagement and aloha between people and the land. Although much of the traditional and natural environments have been altered over the past 200 years, the richness of Hawaiian cultural heritage remains.
We at Pacific Worlds will work directly with teachers and students in a mentorship role to guide the process of collecting, processing and presenting information gathered by students. We use the Pacific Worlds template (below), which is divided into ten “chapters” with 5-6 specific topics each.
This is a team effort. You and your class may want to focus on a specific topic(s), or a specific theme (i.e. a “chapter” from our template), or whatever combination of topics you choose. We will mentor your students in conducting online, bibliographic and field research (as appropriate), including guidance on protocols and appropriate behavior for interviews and site visits. We will then work with the team to help them decide what information to present. We will also mentor them in finding public-use images and in the taking of their own photographs to supplement the texts, as well as using and presenting information from maps. Finally, if desired, we will work with the team to present the information on the web—either a school website, community website, or the Pacific Worlds website itself.
We recognize that not every school or community can or desires to commit to producing an entire community profile. But each piece of the profile template provides opportunities for projects on place-based Indigenous knowledge, and can develop skills in interviewing kūpuna, photography, bibliography research and archival research. For ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i students, the latter can include searching the Hawaiian Language newspapers. Where possible, we encourage direct generation-to-generation transmission of knowledge between students and kūpuna. But we also teach research skills to enable students to look deeper into the history and geography of their ahupua‘a.
This work beckons that participants get out on the land to experience and photograph the sites or activities discussed. Though we are not applying in the ‘āina-based learning category, our exercises would ideally include site visits that broaden students’ knowledge about ‘āina-based topics such as Native plants, fish, ecosystems, wahi pana, planting and gathering practices, and so forth. Because of the extensive range of topics we cover, our work enables students to experience the depth and breadth of Hawaiian knowledge, epistemology and pedagogy and its application to multiple environments. Through our focus on exploring Indigenous knowledge and worldviews, we create a culturally responsive learning environment. And through our focus on place names, ‘ōlelo noeau and relevant terminology, we foster the use of ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i as critical to understanding Hawaiian worldviews. Through the gathering and discussion of local traditional knowledge, students actively reflect on skills and knowledge that are passed on through mo‘olelo, and connect far more deeply with their ‘āina.
It is our intention that from this work, students will gain values critical to the mālama of our ‘āina, including social and environmental responsibility and stewardship. We hold that all residents of this pae ‘āina should engage in Native Hawaiian approaches and relationships to the ‘āina, to keep this ‘āina momona for future generations. Thus we encourage that pono behavior translate into all life situations: classroom, office, functions, processes, etc. Finally, those who engage in the information-gathering process will be engaging in effective collaboration with their communities.
Pono is our guiding principle, and the intention is to develop resources for communities to gather and share ‘āina-based traditional knowledge.
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