Skip to Main Content

ʻŌlelo O Ka Mahina: Home

Image of beach with ʻŌlelo O Ka Mahina text

Introduction to ʻŌlelo o Ka Mahina

I ka ʻōlelo ke ola, i ka ʻōlelo ka make means "in words is the power of life, in words is the power of death." This proverb speaks to the power of language and the words we choose. In the context of the history of Hawaiʻi, this saying becomes particularly poignant, given that this "power of life" in the Hawaiian language was nearly taken.

The Hawaiian people's value of language is evident in history. Prior to outside contact, Hawaiian culture relied on perpetuating history and cultural practice through oral traditions. Upon learning to create a written language, Native Hawaiians took enthusiastically to learning this new system of writing and passing down information. Historians have identified Hawaiʻi as, at one point, one of the most - if not the most - literate nations in the world in the mid-1800s, with a literacy rate exceeding 90 percent.

Then, in 1896, three years after the overthrow of the Hawaiian government, the US banned the Hawaiian language to sever the people from their culture. The Hawaiian people were robbed of their ability to communicate, make sense of their world, and build community and culture, and the literacy rate plummeted. It was not until the 1960s and into the 1970s that the Hawaiian Renaissance would begin, giving birth to growing efforts to revitalize the Hawaiian language and culture.

ʻŌlelo o Ka Mahina is a program that seeks to contribute in a small way to this revitalization here at Leeward Community College. The program provides a space in which to highlight Hawaiian words, phrases, and values in pursuit of normalizing the use of the language and enhancing understanding of the host culture. Join us as we learn ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi!

E ola ka ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi!

The Hawaiian language shall live!

Initiated and created by Student Services: Kalei Ruiz, Leilani Puchalski, Piʻikea Hardy-Kahaleoumi, Poki Pokipala, and Lexer Chou.