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Headshots of three people
From left: Masahide Kato, Kealani Cook and Kawena Komeiji

A student- and community-based Native Hawaiian oral history film project out of the University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu has been awarded a $10,000 grant by the Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities.

“Life Stories of Cultural Practitioners” is a multimedia project that will feature videos with Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners and a live event where the audience will be offered an intimate portrayal of cultural practitioners’ everyday lives integrating moʻolelo (stories), arts, pedagogies and cultural protocol.

The project is led by Masahide Kato, associate professor of political science, in collaboration with Kealani Cook, associate professor of history, and Kawena Komeiji, Hawaiian Pacific Resources librarian at the James & Abigail Campbell Library, with support from Chancellor Maenette Benham’s office and the Institute for Research & Engaged Scholarship (IRES).

“This is an opportunity to not only research the life stories of cultural practitioners, but it’s also a valuable way to get that research back into the community almost immediately through digital technology,” said Lea Lani Kinikini, director of IRES. “The Academy for Creative Media (ACM) facilities at UH West Oʻahu have made this community-based research really engaging to our students and their ʻohana.”

“The project features the life stories of Uncle Shad Kane and Kumu Page Chang as a living embodiment of Moʻo ʻŌlelo—cosmogony, history, and cosmology—that connects us with the ancient past to navigate the future,” said Kato, the project facilitator.

Over the next year, student filmmakers will work to document the life stories of cultural practitioners, then the project will culminate with a live community film event and screening at the UH West Oʻahu ACM outdoor theater in 2024.

Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities has served our community for 50 years, supporting the programs that strengthen and perpetuate Hawaiʻi’s cultural heritage,” said Kato. “One of their values, ‘kuleana to our communities’ histories and futures,’ resonates deeply with the purpose of our project.”

Read the full story at Ka Puna O Kaloʻi.
By Zenaida Serrano Arvman

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