Reviving Hawaiian Culture Through Media: A Journey of Language and Culture

As part of my role at Hawaiian Airlines, I have the privilege of being involved in communications, marketing, public relations, and media. This gives us a unique opportunity to reach out to the community and potentially attract more Hawaiian language advocates. To ensure the Hawaiian language continues to grow, it is essential for people to understand how it applies to their lives and to the life we live in Hawaii. I am proud of Hawaiian Airlines' commitment to providing more opportunities for these connections to be made on board and among Hawaiian Airlines members, as they are the ones who represent Hawaii.

Stories, myths, and legends are an integral part of Native Hawaiian culture, beginning with Kumulipo, the Hawaiian song of creation. The revitalization of Hawaiian is a growing effort that is based on what is preserved in memory, in Hawaiian archives and libraries, and on recordings, in order to pass down the language of their ancestors and much of the culture they transmit to younger generations. The history of Hawaiian culture demonstrates the great importance of literacy and of places that preserve cultural documentation, such as libraries, museums, and archives. Kahoʻohanohano is one of Hawaiian Airlines' main storytellers, with ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi and Hawaiian culture as her main focuses. I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi after graduating from the Hawaiian language immersion program and the wider Hawaiian language revitalization movement.

It is important to note that the term “Hawaiian” is reserved for cultural practices and for the descendants of the indigenous people of Hawaii, the native Hawaiians. After graduating from Ke Kula ʻO Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu (a Hawaiian immersion school) and attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa, I worked at ʻĀhaʻi ʻŌlelo Ola (our first news broadcast made entirely in Hawaiian), ʻŌiwi TV, and Palikū Documentary Films. The culture of native Hawaiians is still alive today in the Hawaiian Islands. At that time, there was a lot of pressure to adapt to the “American” lifestyle and to speak English in order to live and work in Hawaii. This meant that many children did not grow up speaking Hawaiian fluently.

However, when Hawaiian music was featured at the Columbia World's Fair, it included two sounds that were new to Hawaiians. This inspired a vision of e ola ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (the Hawaiian language must live), which is based on incorporating family participation into the educational model to normalize the Hawaiian language beyond the classroom. The modern interpretation is that with the Hawaiian language comes a flourishing culture; without it, it will die. To ensure this does not happen, we must continue our efforts in reviving this beautiful culture through media outlets such as television shows, radio broadcasts, documentaries, books, magazines, newspapers, websites, social media platforms, and more. By doing so we can help spread awareness about this unique culture and its importance in our lives.

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