For my family and friends ™ (haolegirl) wrote,
For my family and friends ™

Culture celebrated, shared in Hawai'i

This was in Hawai'i:

Taja Hirata-Epstein, 6, of St. Louis Heights, performs with Native American dancers at the Early America cultural celebration.

Culture celebrated, shared

By Peter Boylan

Kailliata Rose Littlewing Strongwoman Axe believes that sharing her Native American heritage will help Hawai'i residents get back to their own roots.

Red Thunder Drum participants, counterclockwise, beginning foreground left, Jonah Jones of Ala Moana, Fred Chino of Kalihi, Damon Lujan of Pearl City, Mahakoa Lujan of Pearl City, Richado Tsosie of Alewa Heights, and Jeremy Lewis of Alewa Heights provided one of the highlights of yesterday's Native American gathering at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.

"We're all one nation and we have our adversities, but we have the harmony and creation of each other," said Axe, 40, a U.S. Army mechanic. "By showing everyone our (Native American) culture, it takes (local residents) back to the roots of who they really are."

Yesterday, Axe, a member of the Cherokee tribe, and dozens of other Native Americans gathered at the Honolulu Academy of Arts for a cultural celebration known as Early America. The event, co-sponsored by Bank of Hawaii and The Honolulu Advertiser, was a daylong collection of performances, demonstrations and exhibits.

Families browsed galleries of Native American arts and crafts, listened to Cherokee storytelling, made Native American dancing bells and were able to interact with representatives from different tribes.

"In Hawai'i, the powwows and things like this are the only chance they have to see Indian culture," Wendy Vandewaal said of her children, who are Native American and Native Hawaiian. "They're part-Hawaiian and they see that a lot, but they don't really see the Indian side."

Taja Hirata-Epstein, 6, of St. Louis Heights, performs with Native American dancers at the Early America cultural celebration.
Rebecca Breyer • The Honolulu Advertiser

The most popular event of the day was the Red Thunder Drum with Native American dancers.

Held in the Henry R. Luce Pavilion, a group of dancers bobbed and shimmied to the beat of a drum while more than 100 people sat watching on benches, up against trees, or cross-legged in the grass. A group of musicians wearing red T-shirts sat in a circle around the drum, banging and chanting in unison. Little kids, who prior to the performance couldn't sit still, stared, then smiled in amazement.

"It brings out the cultural part of early America and it teaches children and their families about that culture," said Marge Pescaia, a Honolulu Academy of Arts employee. "I think it's important for our young people to be exposed to the (native) culture we have here in America."

While families were the focus of yesterday's event, many of the presenters and performers said they got a lot out of sharing their culture with the crowd. Cristy Figueroa, a member of the Cherokee and Choctaw tribes, said while Hawai'i is an ethnic melting pot, events like yesterday's show local residents another "native" culture.

"This gives us a chance for all the tribes to be as one," she said.

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Gabriel "Standing Wood Bear" Figueroa posed for a portrait at the Honolulu Academy of Arts yesterday during a celebration of early American culture that featured performances, demonstrations, special exhibits and art activities for individuals and families to learn more about how early Americans lived. Figueroa was wearing the ceremonial clothing of the Taino, his native tribe from Puerto Rico.

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Cross-posted to nativeamerican and to indigenousam
Tags: other native americans in hawaii

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