June 09, 2019

Hirono Honors King Kamehameha I, Highlights Importance of Hawaiian Language at 50th Annual Kamehameha Day Lei Draping

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) joined members of Hawaii’s Congressional Delegation and the Hawaii State Society to celebrate and honor King Kamehameha I at the 50th Annual Kamehameha Day Lei Draping in Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol.

In her remarks, Senator Hirono reflected on this year’s theme – Olelo Hawaii – and highlighted the important role the Hawaiian language plays in preserving and perpetuating the Hawaiian culture. Senator Hirono also discussed the ongoing threats to programs and institutions serving the Native Hawaiian community.

From Senator Hirono’s Remarks:

“As the stories of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders become more prominently recognized in popular culture, the next generation of Hawaiian language speakers are working hard to protect the language and keep it alive.  

“They show up when facing the difficult questions of land use, they speak out to protect their values, and they stand up for their cultural practices and traditions to ensure they are honored and appropriately represented. 

“While we in Hawaii continue to value the Native Hawaiian community, the conservative movement seeks to disempower indigenous peoples nationwide. Justice Kavanaugh, the newest member to the Supreme Court, wrote an op-ed and amicus brief that asserted Native Hawaiians were not an indigenous community. Shannon Goessling, a nominee to lead the Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women, has argued that the Native Hawaiian community has not done enough to assimilate in the United States and has even described them as ‘an evil empire dedicated to Native Hawaiian Supremacy.’

“Every day, and in very concrete ways including confirmation of Trump-appointed judges, we must fight to ensure respect for the Native Hawaiian community and indigenous communities everywhere.