Gatherers of Knowledge, Farmers of Wisdom, Harvesters of Understanding

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“Eliʻeli kūlana o ʻĀina ʻike.” – #339

Profound is the nature of ʻĀina ʻike.” This ʻōlelo noʻeau refers to a person respected for the depth of their knowledge. Our ancestors, past and present, respected the importance of knowledge from kilo, to literacy, to analysis and interpretation of the natural and physical phenomena of our world. I believe this ʻōiwi lens in which our kūpuna lived elevated their insight as a knowing culture, learning culture, and expressive culture.

Our kūpuna understood the assignment.

Today we have the same opportunity to forward this knowledge legacy. Big data has become the global currency and for much of this movement, Native Hawaiians have been left out of the exchange. Hence, the continued advocacy for data disaggregation for accurate, meaningful, and timely data to inform evidence-based policy as well as deeper conversations of data sovereignty for the rights of native communities to govern, collect, have ownership and say in the application of data, is as important as our individual and collective rights.

At the core of our work, the Native Hawaiian Education Council (NHEC) advocates for Native Hawaiian education funding, support, and success.

We do this by leveraging the extensive data, research studies, and community consultation discussions we’ve gathered over the years and continue to gather each year. For example, at the height of the pandemic in March 2020, NHEC petitioned the governor’s office to extend $10 million of the $40 million CARES Act funds for Native Hawaiian Education Program grantees based on the program’s funding analysis.

In the following year, for FY21 NHEC pushed for increased appropriations for Native Hawaiian education grantee programs to $44 million to address pandemic program safety needs and increased technical support. Further, in the initial Build Back Better plan, NHEC worked closely with Native Hawaiian-serving organizations such as OHA and Kamehameha Schools to advocate for $1.47 billion in facility replacement, renovation, repair, and deferred maintenance for kaiapuni schools and Hawaiian-focused charter schools (HFCS).

The power of our data is the power of our impact narrative and collective storytelling.

As an advocacy organization, we understand that shared data means shared learning for our community. Hence, NHEC has embarked on developing an online clearinghouse for Native Hawaiian education that will initially house all of our data collection, research studies, needs assessments, evaluations, and reports on a centralized platform for public access. This digital resource is set to launch in early fall 2022.

Like everything we value and create, we have named this digital resource Hīpuʻu – which means to knot or fasten. This is in reference to the lei style using lau kukui where the act of tying a knot symbolizes the bonding of knowledge and steadfast enlightenment.

It is our goal that the Hīpuʻu Native Hawaiian Education Clearinghouse resource will support increased data literacy for our community, programs, and policymakers, will shape Kānaka ʻŌiwi-informed approaches to data rights and governance, and overall, help to support new and current programs to serve our keiki, kumu, and ʻohana.

We look forward to our site launch and sharing this with our community soon. For more information, or to request a site launch demo for your organization or community, please contact us at nhec.org.