The King Kamehameha Statue at Emancipation Hall at the U.S. Capitol united Hawaiʻi residents and former Hawaiʻi residents currently living in Washington, D.C.
“King Kamehameha played such a pivotal role in uniting the islands of Hawaiʻi and building what we have as a culture today,” said Kohono Mossman, president of the Hawaiʻi State Society of Washington, D.C.
The culture and the king are what they celebrated at the 43rd annual lei draping ceremony, held each June to coincide with King Kamehameha Day in Hawaiʻi.
The Hawaiʻi State Society in D.C. officiates the ceremony to promote Hawaiʻi’s culture and the aloha spirit. The group also teaches people from all walks of life about the Hawaiian culture, and helps former Hawaiʻi residents living in D.C.
“We just try to promote opportunities for people from Hawaiʻi who are up here, who want to get back with their culture, want to talk to people, to have the opportunities for them to do so,” said Kohono Mossman, president of the Hawaiʻi State Society.
For the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the annual event is Congressional recognition of one of the founding leaders that united the Hawaiian Kingdom.
OHA chair Colette Machado says the Kamehameha statute’s new location in Emancipation Hall is proof of great progress toward federal recognition.
Millions of visitors come to Emancipation Hall each year. “They will know that Hawaiians are in the house,” Machado said.
OHA helped sponsor the University of Hawaiʻi’s participation in this year’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which is also uniting former and current Hawaiʻi residents who will celebrate Hawaiʻi’s culture with more than a million visitors from around the world.
Smithsonian Folklife Festival
The University of Hawaiʻi will be among 20 public land-grant universities to be featured in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington D.C. from June 27 to July 8, 2012.
The festival celebrates the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Morrill Act, which paved the way for higher education for rural and working class Americans.
The University of Hawaiʻi exhibits will feature traditional Hawaiian health and healing practices, a mini taro patch, non-instrument navigation, medicinal herb and organic farming and much more. Hawaiʻi Community College’s halau Unukupukupu and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Tuahine Troup will also perform.