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Hirono Joins Hawaii Congressional Delegation in Introducing Resolution to Recognize Hawaiian Language Month

WASHINGTON, D.C. Today, U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) joined Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Representatives Jill Tokuda (D-HI) and Ed Case (D-HI) in introducing a resolution recognizing February 2023 as Hawaiian Language Month, or Mahina Olelo Hawaii.

“For centuries, people across the Hawaiian Islands spoke Olelo Hawaii, but after being banned from schools and government in 1896, Olelo Hawaii nearly went extinct,” said Senator Hirono. “In recent decades we have made progress in reviving the Hawaiian language, but Olelo Hawaii is still considered ‘severely endangered’ today and there is more work to do to protect it. This resolution recognizes the importance of preserving Olelo Hawaii—a critical part of Hawaiian culture—and continuing to promote its revitalization. I am glad to join my colleagues from the Hawaii delegation in celebrating Mahina Olelo Hawaii.”

The resolution commits to preserving, protecting, and promoting the use, practice, and development of the Hawaiian language and urges people across the country to support and celebrate Mahina Olelo Hawaii.

“Olelo Hawaii’s ongoing revitalization is a story of perseverance, leadership, and grassroots action by the Native Hawaiian community and its allies,” said Senator Schatz. “Those efforts inspired a reversal of harmful federal policy towards Native languages and led to passage of the landmark Native American Languages Act. With this resolution, Congress is acknowledging the significance of Olelo Hawaii’s legacy for Native languages across the country.”

“I am proud to introduce this resolution designating February as “Olelo Hawaii Month” and I urge Americans everywhere to join us in recognizing the significance of this occasion,” said Representative Tokuda. “Prior to the illegal overthrow, the Kingdom of Hawaii was once one of the most literate nations in the world. Tragically, decades of policies banning the teaching of Olelo Hawaii led to the near extinction of the language in the 1980s. While we have come a long way, more must be done to preserve and promote the Hawaiian Language for future generations. Everyone deserves the right to learn and use their ancestral language. I will fight to protect that right for Native Hawaiians.”

“Aloha mai kakou, Aloha Mahina Olelo Hawaii! The language of a people connects them in many ways – to their past, their culture, their very identity, and when the language is at risk so is the connective tissue of a people,” said Representative Case. “The philosopher Noam Chomsky said ‘language embodies the world view of a culture and is unique to the culture that created it’. This resolution seeks not only to promote and perpetuate awareness of the Native Hawaiian language, but of everything that forms the essence of the indigenous peoples of Hawaii – Na Kanaka Maoli.”

The full text of the resolution is available here