News Briefs | October 2020


Applications for Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship Now Available

Photo: Loyd Sing
Lloyd Harold Kumulāʻau Sing Jr.

First Nations Development Institute and The Henry Luce Foundation have opened applications for the 2021 Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship, a 12-month, self-directed program designed to support the growth, development, knowledge and networks of Indigenous knowledge holders and knowledge makers.

First Nations will award 10 fellowships of $50,000 each to outstanding Native knowledge holders and knowledge makers engaged in meaningful work that benefits Indigenous people and communities in either reservation and/or urban settings. The fellowship is in its second year. The inaugural cohort of Fellows included ʻōiwi artist, kumu and cultural practitioner, Lloyd Kumulāʻau Sing, Jr.

This fellowship supports Native knowledge holders and knowledge makers as they advance their work in ways that will ultimately lead to broad, transformative impacts for Indigenous peoples.

The fellowship is open to members of Native American or Alaska Native tribes and Native Hawaiians at least 18 years of age, and who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Applicants should have expertise in the field of knowledge they are pursuing, be engaged in its perpetuation and able to demonstrate how their work can benefit the Indigenous community.

Applicants must complete an online application and provide other required information including essays and a current resume. Completed online applications must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time (1:00 p.m. Hawaiʻi time) on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020.

For more information or to apply go to:

Kalaupapa Music Celebrated

Photo: Bernard Punikaiʻa
The late songwriter and auto-harp player Bernard K. Punikaiʻa will be one of several Kalaupapa musicians celebrated in a virtual concert that will air at 1 p.m. October 17. – Photo: Ka ʻOhana O Kalaupapa

The rich history of music written at Kalaupapa will be celebrated in a virtual concert, “The Music of Kalaupapa,” airing on Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. on Facebook and YouTube. The event is sponsored by Ka ʻOhana O Kalaupapa with assistance from the HI-Humanities Care Act Grant from the Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities and National Endowment for the Humanities.

The concert is a fundraiser for The Kalaupapa Memorial which will list the names of the nearly 8,000 men, women and children taken from their families and forcibly isolated at Kalaupapa between 1866 and 1969.

“The music of Kalaupapa is one of the most inspiring parts of this history, showing how people could overcome the sadness and separation,” said Valerie Monson, executive director of Ka ʻOhana O Kalaupapa. “We believe the music helped people to heal and to find hope.”

From the earliest days of the settlement, choirs and bands were assembled. Throughout the entire history of Kalaupapa, residents composed songs, chants and kanikau.

Their songs will be performed by artists who knew them, or who have a connection to Kalaupapa. They include Stephen Inglis, Brother Noland, Melveen Leed, Kenneth Makuakane, Makana, Kevin Brown and Lopaka Hoʻopiʻi. They will play songs written by Kalaupapa composers The ʻAikala Brothers, Ernest Kala, Helen Keao, Samson Kuahine, George McLane, Bernard Punikaiʻa and the Boys of Kalawao.

The musicians will record their own video of songs and memories of Kalaupapa which will be compiled by producer Chris Lau. Television and radio veteran Billy V will serve as master of ceremonies. For up-to-date information and concert details, visit

To donate towards construction of The Kalaupapa Memorial go to: Checks can be mailed to Ka ʻOhana O Kalaupapa, PO Box 1111, Kalaupapa, HI 96742.

Maui’s Kamehamenui Forest Acquired for Conservation

A recent land acquisition will protect the Kula water aquifer and habitats for endangered species and provide community-based forest restoration opportunities.

The Trust for Public Land purchased 3,433 acres of upland Kula property in July and conveyed the property to the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) on August 31. These lands are now protected in perpetuity for the people of Hawaiʻi thanks to federal, state, and nonprofit partners.

Over the coming year, DOFAW will add the property to the Forest Reserve System and will consult with the community to develop a management plan for the area to address native forest restoration and tree planting for self-sustaining forestry operations, and endangered species recovery. The area is home to endangered Hawaiian petrels, and the restored forest is expected to improve habitat for numerous native plants and insects. Reforestation efforts will also help recharge the Makawao aquifer, securing clean drinking water for people for generations to come.

In the future, the property is intended to provide new recreational opportunities for Maui residents with hiking trails, places to picnic, and places to grow and gather forest products. “Many people worked hard over many years on Kamehamenui, and we are thrilled and grateful to see it protected now. Over the long-term, this project will increase community and ecosystem resilience – which is more important than ever now,” said Suzanne Case, chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural Resources.

Funding for the $9.8 million purchase came from the U.S.D.A. Forest Service Forest Legacy Program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Habitat Conservation Plan Acquisition Program, and state funding procured through legislative appropriation. As the state has just acquired the property, it is not yet open to public use.

De Fries New President and CEO of HTA

Photo: John De Fries
John De Fries

John De Fries has been named the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority’s (HTA) new president and CEO. De Fries is the first Native Hawaiian to hold this position.

Originally from Waikīkī, De Fries was raised by his kūpuna and steeped in Hawaiian culture. Now a resident of Kona on Hawaiʻi Island, De Fries has more than 40 years of experience in the tourism and resort development industries, including serving as executive director of the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association. He is also president and principal advisor for Native Sun Business Group, a consulting and project management firm. Previously, De Fries led Hawaiʻi County’s Department of Research and Development, the division responsible for stimulating economic growth in sectors including tourism, agriculture and renewable energy.

Referring to the pandemic and its economic impact, De Fries said, “Hawaiʻi’s pathway to economic recovery and enhanced community wellbeing will require unprecedented levels of focus, collaboration, cooperation, coordination and unified executive leadership across all sectors.”

Noted De Fries, “Hawaiʻi faces a myriad of daunting challenges – among them the reopening of our tourism industry – at a time when immense and growing anxiety can be felt in our local communities. Hope, however, is found in the resilience and creativity of Hawaiʻi’s leaders in both the public and private sectors who are diligently searching for solutions for their communities. I am grateful to have been chosen to lead HTA.”

“All of us at HTA are looking forward to having John take the helm of Hawaiʻi’s visitory industry,” said HTA Board Chair Rick Fried. “He has already become involved with working on ways to safely reopen tourism while keeping COVID-19 under control.”