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Hirono Continues to Support Programs that Enhance Access and Preservation of Native Hawaiian Culture

Over $500,000 Awarded to the Bishop Museum, Hawaii Maoli, Hula Preservation Society, and Papahana Kuaola

Washington, D.C. – Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) announced today that Hawaii organizations will receive more than $500,000 in Native Hawaiian Library Services grant funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to enhance access to Native Hawaiian language and cultural resources.

“By increasing access to Native Hawaiian manuscripts and historic materials, the projects supported by this grant will help to preserve Native Hawaiian traditions and culture,” said Senator Hirono. “I will continue working to see that Native Hawaiian programs receive the federal support they need to implement important projects like these.”

Today’s federal investment announcement includes four grants that support research, archival, and educational projects from the Bishop Museum, Hawaii Maoli, Hula Preservation Society (HPS), and Papahana Kuaola (PK).

“Mele are an invaluable primary resource for Hawaiian scholarship and cultural connection. Welo Hou: Building Connections to the Roberts Mele Collection will improve the digitization, indexing, and accessibility of a unique and treasured collection of mele dating from pre-Western contact to the early 1900s. This pilot project will serve as a model for improved access to and increased engagement with the Bishop Museum Library & Archives’ other mele collections,” said Leah Caldeira, Library & Archives Collection Manager for the Bishop Museum. “In support of the Museum’s mission to inspire our community and visitors through the exploration and celebration of extraordinary history, culture, and environment of Hawaii and the Pacific, Welo Hou honors the connections between Hawaiian voices of the past and our community of the present.”

“Our teachers are on the frontlines of addressing the critical learning needs of Native Hawaiian students. Through Nana I Ke Kumu (Look to the Source), we will offer professional development to train librarians and other educational leaders to use Hawaiian cultural repositories and resources that support curricular goals of Hawaiian students. With so much culturally relevant digital content available at any computer, tablet, or smartphone, we believe that teachers and students will be able to expand and deepen their knowledge of Hawaiian history, culture, genealogy, chant, and language,” said Maile Alau, Executive Director of Hawaii Maoli.

“Hula Preservation Society’s cultural library is built upon the oral histories and associated materials of our late hula elders, who helped lay the groundwork for the Hawaiian Renaissance in the last century. This grant from the IMLS will assist HPS in providing first-time direct online access to these resources, digitally preserve an additional 700 treasured historical items under are care, dating back to 1890, and provide internship opportunities for Native Hawaiian youth entering the Library Information Science and Hawaiian Studies fields,” said Maile Loo, Executive Director of HPS.

“The Makaikai Mele a Moolelo project will provide moolelo/mele tours specifically designed for kupuna and the general community to nurture understanding and appreciation of traditional Hawaiian literature and the places to which they are connected,” said Mahealani Merryman, Program Director for PK.

Below is a summary of the grant funding:

  • Bishop Museum: The Bishop Museum’s “Welo Hou: Building Connections to the Helen Roberts Mele Collection" project will digitalize and index a rare collection of mele, including an in-house database with word-searchable digital typescripts, associated manuscript notes, and English-language translations.– $140,104
  • Hawaii Maoli: Hawaii Maoli will partner with the Na Hawaii Imi Loa, Hawaiian Librarian Professional Association, University of Hawaii-West Oahu, and Hawaii Department of Education to implement the Nana I Ke Kumu project. As part of the project provide library research skills training for 40 Native Hawaiian students and Hawaiian resource database workshops for at least 125 educators. – $128,569
  • HPS: HPS’s Kauhola Hou project will develop a public access module for the Kauhola library database, as well as online tutorials and digital preservation of 150 audio pieces and 550 historic photos. – $143,517
  • PK: PK will implement the Makaikai Mele a Moolelo to increase interest in reading through understanding and appreciation of traditional Hawaiian literature and the places to which they are connected. The program will serve over 300 students and teachers, 320 community members from kupuna service agencies and programs, and 50 families from Oahu, Molokai, and Lanai. – $146,177

Senator Hirono continues to support federal funding for Native Hawaiian programs and services, and has consistently supported IMLS, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) during her time in Congress. Earlier this year, she signed letters with her colleagues requesting support for IMLS’s Office of Museum Services—the country’s largest dedicated commitment to our nation’s museums, which support around 400,000 Americans and contribute $21 billion to the U.S. economy ever year.