On Being Indigenous Serving
On March 8, 2017, the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents Committee on Academic and Student Affairs approved the College’s revised mission statement:
Kapi‘olani Community College provides open access to higher education opportunities in pursuit of academic, career, and lifelong learning goals to the diverse communities of Hawai‘i. Committed to student success through engagement, learning, and achievement, we offer high quality certificates and associate degrees, and transfer pathways that prepare indigenous, local, national, and international students for their productive futures.
Our mission is guided by our shared vision:
Kapi‘olani Community College is a model indigenous serving institution whose graduates strengthen the social, economic, and sustainable advancement of Hawai‘i and the world.
Recently, the College has participated in activities that demonstrate our commitment to being indigenous serving. And those activities were quite different: professional development, visits from students representing other indigenous groups, and consultations with our government leaders. Many thanks to Kapulani Landgraf for the photos.
Professional Development for Faculty and Staff
Kilo Workshop — January 6, 2017
Central to indigenous communities is the land. To better align our educational practice with indigenous values and ways of knowing, faculty and staff have been participating in workshops that promote ‘āina-based teaching and learning. On January 6, 2017, a group of 15 faculty and staff were introduced to the Kaulana Mahina methodology. Workshop materials explain the methodology as providing “communities with tools to begin understanding the natural environmental cycles and weather patterns in correlation with the moon’s cycle. Communities learn about the moon and its influence over the weather patterns, growth processes and seasonal changes by making daily observations, recording the observations and then analyzing the collected information that will then inform them on the health and status of their own environment.”
The overall purpose of following this methodology is to “empower ourselves with knowledge, identify the natural indicators of environmental health and readapt to the changing climate instead of waiting for the government or leadership to do it for us.” The focus is on taking individual action for community sustainability.
Foundation for Research and Promotion of Ainu Culture
January 12, 2017
Kapi‘olani welcomed a group of students and staff from the Foundation for Research and Promotion of Ainu Culture. In 1997, the government of Japan enacted legislation to make the Foundation the “sole corporation in the nation with the authority to carry out the services provided in the law.” The overall principle is to build “a society where the ethnic dignity of the Ainu people is respected” and to ensure the further development of Ainu culture through “promotion of comprehensive and practical research on the Ainu, promotion of the Ainu language and culture, reproduction of traditional life style, and facilitating understanding” (http://www.frpac.or.jp/english/).
Maskwacis Cultural College
February 22, 2017
Indigenous people in Canada, like indigenous people in Hawai‘i and Japan, share similar histories as well as a focus on the preservation of language and cultural knowledge. Kapi‘olani hosted a large group of students, staff and elders from Maskwacis Cultural College.
The visiting students were in fact completing their coursework and had to give presentations on the history, language and culture of the Cree and Blackfoot people to the students in the cafeteria. In listening to their presentations, I was struck by the determination of these students and their teachers to make sure that cultural traditions and knowledge are passed on to future generations. If you are in the Mānele Building, please do take a look at the quilt that the College was given by the visitors from Maskwacis Cultural College. On it you will see the syllabary that was used to write Cree. The syllabic writing system, developed in 1840 by a missionary named James Evans, was used extensively and “by the late 19th century the Cree had achieved what may have been one of the highest rates of literacy in the world” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Aboriginal_syllabics).
Hawaiʻi State Capitol — February 18, 2017
Sponsored by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Rep. Kaniela Ing, Lā Pukoʻa provided an opportunity for faculty, staff and students from Kapi‘olani Community College to join colleagues from a number of UH campuses to promote the need for state and federal funding programs aimed at strengthening institutions that serve Native Hawaiian students.
Native Hawaiian Academic Advancement Coordinator, Mrs Keolani Noa, Native Hawaiian Career Explorations Facilitator ʻEleu Novikoff and four of students (ʻAlohi, Laʻakea, Keʻalohi and Kalei ) engaged with state legislators and their staff, letting them know about the programs at the College.
Sen. Kahele is chair of the Higher Education committee and as a result of his conversations with the KCC representatives, he is very interested in visiting the campus to see how we are engaging Hawaiian students in their academic pursuits.
The staff from Kapi‘olani Community College’s Title III grant met with staff from Senator Colleen Hanabusa’s office to make sure the message about supporting Native Hawaiian programs made its way to Washington, DC.
Finally, if we are to realize our vision of being a model indigenous-serving institution and commit to the success of indigenous students, it will all of us learning and taking action together.