Alaka’i Project 2004

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Hawaiian Community Mentor Program

In June we traveled to O’ahu for the last meeting of the Alaka’i Project hosted by the Kamehameha Schools. For five days camped by the waters of Punalu’u at the home of John and Bobbee Mills, we discussed and practiced concepts and strategies within the plates of our curriculum: Thanksgiving, Traditional Tracking & Survival Skills, Nature Awareness, Peacemaking, Cultural Awareness, The Arts of Life, Personal Development, Community Education, Ceremony and Renewal and how the curriculum can be “localized” to the Hawaiian environment.

Brother Noland demonstrates the art of the throw net

Guest artist/mentor Brother Noland demonstrates the art of the throw net for our mentors, Alaka’i Project, O’ahu.

Over the three years of the mentor project we engaged in a number of cultural activities on the land and sea: an opening pule and ceremony with Calvin and Liko Ho at the voyaging ahu at Kualoa; tracking within the ahupua’a of Punalu’u; chants and protocol regarding voyaging, with a meal on-board the canoe E Ala; a brief explanation of ho’oponopono (family-based peacemaking ) with Billy Arnalles; instruction on paddling kayaks and canoes with amas by Kahele; a visit to the fishpond at Heia and community service work with Koa Schultz; an introduction to the traditional games of the Makahiki; the making of ti leaf lei carriers; musical presentations by well-known slack-key guitarist and recording artist Brother Noland; an introduction to navigation and the Polynesian Voyaging Society by Brad Cooper; an introduction to Ka’ala Farms and projects in Waianae by Eric Enos; instruction in Native plants and gathering…

Our guest presenters this year included: Meleana Aluli Meyer on “Indigenous Art,” Mihana Souza and Yuklin Aluli on “The Music of Auntie Irmgard,” andBrother Noland who presented his “Hawaiian Inside” curriculum one morning on the beach through talks and the practice of using a throw net. Noland and wife Heidi also came over to give an evening concert.

Participants, staff, mentors and guest presenters numbered about 25, including teachers from Kamehameha Schools and the Haipu’u Learning Center, as well as individuals from many different callings.

Our team of mentors and staff from the mainland included: G. Pete Jemison (Seneca artist/ site manager of the Ganondagan State Historic site); Cary Odes (professional comedian); Keith Strever (long-time staff member of The Tracking Project); and John Stokes.

In Hawai’i most of the planning, fundraising and pre-camp details for all three years of the project were done by three individuals at Kamehameha Elementary School: Miki Maeshiro, long-time associate of the Project and now a Literacy Outreach teacher on the North Shore; recently-retired Principal Kahele Kukeaand Rachel Lee. Thank you for making the program possible. We extend our special thanks also to Yuklin Aluli and Mililani Trask -attorneys and long-time Advisory Council members – who have helped to guide our work in Hawai’i and who have hosted our stays in the islands for many years.

At the conclusion of the mentor project’s third year, we assess the participants on the quality of the time they have put into the project – they must have successfully attended at least two of the 3 years of the gathering – and they must be well-versed in each of the eleven essential elements of the curriculum. They should also be able to: recite the Thanksgiving Address; lead ourSecrets of Natural Movement workout; demonstrate silent movement and traditional firemaking; teach a class on introductory tracking principles; and tell a story.

With the conclusion of this Hawaiian mentor project, our international mentor network grows to include trainers in North America, Brazil, Spain, Japan, the Philippines, Australia and Hawai’i Nei.

Kau ka ‘onohi ali’i i luna.
The royal-eyes rest above.

(A rainbow – a sign that the gods are watching the chiefs – is now visible.)

Our work in Polynesia continues to grow as we follow the inspiration of Parley Kanaka’ole, who gave us this vision of a global circle of artists/educators back in 1991. We will keep our gaze on the royal eyes above as we look to the next chapter of the vision with the hope that our circle will continue to grow throughout the Hawaiian Islands and other nations of Polynesia.

Land and sea, land and life. We will continue to bridge the teachings of wayfinding (the art of Non-Instrument Navigation) and principles of hardground tracking, working on an awareness curriculum which will be applicable anywhere on this planet. Our work in Hawai’i continues to nurture and inspire us. We send our finest thoughts and our deepest aloha to the Hawaiian people for their strength, ingenuity and hospitality.

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