In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Education of Native Hawaiian Students

  • Introduction
  • Historical and Political Context
  • Inquiry/Research Methodologies
  • Data, Measures, and Accountability

Education Education of Native Hawaiian Students
Maenette K.P. Ah Nee-Benham, Shawn M. Kana'iaupuni
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 October 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0225


The purpose of this literature review is to provide an overview of Hawaiian education, its history, sources, and players. A certain narrative emerges through this review about what happens when conventional Western education systems are confronted by educational leadership powered by a distinctly indigenous culture, language, and knowledge system with its own epistemologies, reasoning, and logic. The narrative highlights the champions that have advocated for seeing Native Hawaiian knowledge systems as a pathway to educational transformation. Through this struggle, the relationships built over time have begun to produce systemic change. Thinking and learning in Native Hawaiian ways and in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language) are slowly being integrated into the fabric of Hawaii’s pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools and post-secondary institutions. Yet, as the millennium progresses, Native Hawaiians continue to be among the most marginalized populations in Hawaiʻi, indicating there is still much work ahead. The scholarship presented in this review traces a path of progress rooted in the great body and depth of Native Hawaiian knowledge. Admittedly, as collector-authors of this review, it was not possible to include a complete inventory of research and scholarship. Instead, we offer a select overview of an expanding field of knowledge generated by Native Hawaiian scholars and their allies, positioned here as a critical foundation upon which we continue to build. We begin with a set of references from a Native Hawaiian worldview that anchor educational approaches in our communities in the 21st century. Several sections on education in historical and social context follow, in addition to resources exploring pedagogy, praxis, culture-based education, research methodologies, and assessment. Also included are online sources and several university and legacy publishing organizations that produce resources in Hawaiian education.

Ua lehulehu a manomano ka ʻikena a ka Hawaiʻi

Great and numerous is the knowledge of the Hawaiians.

Native Hawaiian Worldview

The study of indigenous education begins with The Source of Hawaiian Worldview overviewing key resources that express ancient and traditional Native Hawaiian principles and values. The second section Hawaiian Worldview in Educational Settings contextualizes how worldview is translated into contemporary practice. Overall, the prevailing theme across the references presented in this section is that of power over who controls educational governance, pedagogy, and content for Native Hawaiians. Whose knowledge, by whom, and for whom? These resources help to understand the movement to “civilize” and “Americanize” the Native Hawaiian people. They articulate the struggle of contemporary Native Hawaiians and our allies to reenvision native epistemologies that return traditional principles and practices to the learning process. These latter efforts return power over learning and teaching to Native Hawaiians. The references that follow reflect rich ancestral wisdom and dignity illuminated through Native Hawaiian worldviews.

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