Native American Storytellers Debut National Cultural Program in Hawaii - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Native American Storytellers Debut National Cultural Program in Hawaii

OAHU'S NORTH SHORE (KHNL) - What do Yu'pik and Inupiaq natives of Alaska, Cape Verdean-Americans, and Native Hawaiians have in common? Their stories--and the story telling traditions of their various native cultures. This week a cross-cultural group of storytellers, musicians, and performers holed up in a North Shore beach cottage to find their common ground and build performance pieces they will carry as far east as Martha's Vineyard, as far west as O‘ahu, and as far north as Alaska.

"The most amazing thing is that seven people from three states representing five different cultures create a performance piece in less than a week and then travel across the nation sharing these oral histories, which in turn, create opportunities for cross-cultural dialogues and celebrations of those commonalities which connect and define us all," says Noelle Kahanu, a former ECHO participant from Bishop Museum.

O‘ahu schoolchildren will be the first to see the performance debut of the stories created by the artists' intensive week-long collaborations. The oral history and storytelling program is sponsored by grants from the Education through Cultural and Historical Organizations (ECHO). The purpose of ECHO programming is to amplify educational benefits, foster greater appreciation of local and national history, and assist communities in maximizing the social benefits of new technologies.

Among the school attending performances are Kamehameha, Ke Kula Kaiapuni O Anueanue, Wai'alae Elementary, Waimänolo, Nänäikapono Elementary, Ka Waihona o ka Na'auao New Century Public Charter School, and others.

The public will also get a chance to see the storytellers perform at the Mary Kawena Pukui Performing Arts Festival Sunday, February 18, at Bishop Museum. The presentations will be made between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on staging areas on the great lawn and in various galleries. Admission for the event is offered at a reduced rate of $3 per person. Museum members and children 3 and under are free.

The festival's theme is Harvest and the Moon. According to Bishop Museum Project Director Kealoha Kelekolio, this year's event will be more sophisticated and elaborate than in past years. "Over the years, the festival has evolved into a new format where our stories and the stories of the other indigenous peoples represented are woven together," say Kelekolio.

The multi-cultural performance troupe will then travel to the Native American Indian Museum in Washington, D.C. to perform on February 21 and 22. Other venues include the George Gustav Heye Center in New York City (Feb. 23, and 24); for the Wapanoag Tribe in Martha's Vineyard (Feb. 25-27); Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts (Mar. 3); and at various public schools in New Hampshire (Mar. 5-9). Once the east coast tour is finished, the group packs their suitcases and props and head to Barrow, Alaska and the Alaska Native Heritage Center where they will entertain schoolchildren and the public in a variety of locations (March 23-30). They will be traveling together, telling their stories across America, for about 6 weeks.

"The stories, the mo‘olelo, were the most important means by which the history of many of these cultures survived. We want to make sure the stories continue to be heard and survive into the next generation," says Kelekolio.

For more information about ECHO programs at Bishop Museum or the Mary Kawena Pukui Performing Arts Festival, call (808) 847-3511 or visit

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