Quarter released to honor Native Hawaiian leader

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US Mint drawing

Native Hawaiian leader and master hula teacher Edith Kanaka’ole will be one of five women to be pictured on a new quarter, the U.S. Mint announced this week.

It’s the seventh coin in the American Women Quarters program. Known as Aunt Edith, Kanakaʻole is remembered as a practitioner and teacher of modern Hawaiian culture and language.

She believed her Hawaiian chants or oli formed the basis of Hawaiian values and history. Kanaka’ole began composing oli in 1946 and choreographed hula to go with those chants.

“It is so appropriate that her famous chant “E hō mai ka ʻike, Grant us knowledge” is inscribed on the coin, marking her legacy which continues today through the outstanding work of the Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation,” said Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board Chair, according to Big Island Video News.

Other coins released this week include those honoring Bessie Coleman, the first African American and Native American woman pilot; Jovita Idar, a Mexican-American journalist, activist and suffragist; Eleanor Roosevelt, former first lady and first chairperson of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights; and Maria Tallchief, a Native American prima ballerina.

“Edith Kanaka’ole was a prominent leader in the revitalization of Hawaiian language and culture — notably as a renowned kumu hula,” Sen. Mazie Hirono said in a statement Monday, reported Maui News. “She helped preserve and spread Hawaiian language, traditions, and history, contributing so much to the Native Hawaiian community, Hawaii, and our nation. It is fitting that she be honored with this special recognition.”

The design shows the hair and lei po’o of Kanaka’ole flowing into the landscape. It marks her work preserving the beautiful land and traditions of Hawaii.

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