Confident Cultural Identity

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Photo: Jace Inagaki

By Jace Inagaki, Grade 8
Mālama Honua Public Charter School

Our school’s foundation of our learning comprises of six Mind of the Navigator skills (MON), skills that not only assist us in voyages but also in navigating our lives.

These MON skills consist of civic responsibility, environmental awareness, ethical problem solving, global perspective, communication and collaboration, and confident cultural identity. Through these values, they are welded together and formed through the foundational skill, confident cultural identity. This value is embedded within these skills we perpetuate as it demonstrates how we as individuals can be respectful of other cultures while also taking the intuitive to be grounded in our practices.

Coming from a school deeply embedded in the cultural practices of Kānaka, many of us have been interacting with these cultural practices since we entered kindergarten. Over the years, we’ve shaped our identities as proud Kānaka and fervent supporters of our school and heritage. We formed these identities through the many lessons learned from many different people.

As we go around the island, we can learn from different people who specialize in different cultural practices such as hula, food prepping, voyaging, and agriculture. With every lesson, it imparts values that contribute to our growth as respectful individuals. Living by the ways of our kūpuna is a physical representation of how we consistently live by the value of confident cultural identity.

Being granted the privilege of a huakaʻi every week, we usually visit the agricultural-focused study area of the University of Hawaiʻi, the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR). There, we learn how to apply our knowledge to the various projects we work on, such as our first project a kalo garden and our current project a lāʻau garden.

During each of our visits, we make sure to acknowledge the area we are working in. We open with oli to ask for permission and leave with oli mahalo. This is to thank the land for the work we were able to get done and allowing us to be able to foster our traditional values. As we work in the ʻāina, we have to keep a consistent attitude and utilize it to make sure we are mindful of what we do.

Working on a lāʽau garden will help to make sure our community is able to have access to medicine and ensure better use of the practice lāʻau lapaʻau. As our culture is on the decline, we have the opportunity to rehabilitate our culture through utilizing this practice and repurposing it towards benefiting our community.

This demonstrates how we as Kānaka and students of Mālama Honua Public Charter School are given the opportunity to become daily users of Hawaiian practices and how we use the value of confident cultural identity towards our community’s needs.