Becoming familiar with Hawai’i from Indigenous and Western Scientific perspectives


Audio introduction

Aloha! Welcome to Project Ho’okama’āina. “Ho’o” means “to become” and “kama’āina” means “child of the land.” When the words are combined and form “Ho’okama’āina,” it refers to the process of becoming familiar with a place on a cultural and physical level. Becoming “kama’āina” to Hawai’i and its natural environment also includes learning simple Hawaiian words, phrases and sentences, which will help gain insight into the ohana (familial) relationship that Native Hawaiians have with the natural environment. 

We invite you to take this free course and familiarize yourself with Hawai’i from interconnected Indigenous and Western scientific perspectives. You can explore Hawaii’s fish, coral, and marine life, and their historic and evolving connection to Hawaiian culture. You can learn about the fascinating biology of these animals, discover traditional Hawaiian proverbs (ʻŌlelo Noʻeau) and stories (Mo’olelo) surrounding them, and read about their history in the Kumulipo, the Hawaiian creation chant that describes the origin of life and traces the ancestry of the Hawaiian people, wildlife, plants, and other elements. Additionally, you are able to explore the Hawaiian Lunar Calendar (Kaulana Mahina) and its importance in fishing practices, as well as the causes, threats, and solutions to climate change in Hawai’i. This course features videos, quizzes, and activities, including a coral matching game, a coral reef rap, and a lunar observation exercise.

Hawaiian language is also an important part of this course. Lessons and topics are provided in English and Hawaiian, and a variety of Hawaiian words are featured throughout. 

We hope this course will help connect Western biology and science with Indigenous Hawaiian understandings of nature. We would like to note that, although based in history, Indigenous knowledge is ever-evolving and alive, just as western science is constantly developing. No matter your age or location, we invite you to take the course and receive a certificate of completion.

Get started with the below lessons and topics! You are free to follow the pre-set course pathway or choose your own path.

This course is provided by Hanalei River Heritage Foundation as a free educational resource for Hawaii’s students, visitors, and anyone else interested in Hawaiian culture and wildlife.


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