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A Timeline of Revitalization

ʻŌpūkaha‘ia, a Hawaiian living in New England, writes his own spelling book, grammar, and dictionary for Hawaiian, then an unwritten language. ‘Ōpūkaha‘ia had become a Christian and studied Hebrew and Latin in order to begin his translation of the Bible into Hawaiian. He invites missionaries to join with him to travel back to Hawai‘i. He dies and his books are lost before missionaries leave for Hawai‘i in 1819.

The first printing of the Hawaiian language occurs with eight pages of a spelling book. The writing system is similar to that already used by missionaries in Tahiti.

King Liholiho sends out Hawaiians to teach the new skill of reading into the country districts. Teachers such as Kaomimoe, establish schools based on the model of the traditional Hawaiian hālau hula (hula schools) and Hawaiian traditions of teaching reading and writing through chanted syllables (hakalama) develop even before Hawaiians convert to Christianity.

Missionaries standardize the Hawaiian alphabet into its present form and order to include vowels followed by indigenous consonants and then consonants used in words borrowed from other languages.

Lahainaluna established as a teacher training college taught through Hawaiian. It is the first college west of the Mississippi River and eventually subjects such as trigonometry, anatomy, world geography, Greek and English are taught there through Hawaiian.

First Hawaiian newspaper established. This newspaper, Ka Lama Hawai‘i, was printed at Lahainaluna School. For over 100 years thereafter, Hawaiian language newspapers flourish in Hawai‘i and serve as vehicles for the recording of a huge amount of traditional Hawaiian literature, history, and culture.

Ka Moolelo Hawaii (The Hawaiian History) is produced written primarily by Lahainaluna alumni Malo, Kamakau, Moku, and Hale‘ole.

A full translation of the Bible is completed in Hawaiian. By this time many Hawaiians have converted to Christianity. Christianity practiced through the Hawaiian language while maintaining knowledge of traditional Hawaiian religion becomes a defining feature of subsequent generations of Hawaiians. Within a few decades there are also full Hawaiian translations of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, Catholic missals, and the Book of Mormon.

The Hawaiian language community schools are united by the Monarchy as a separate government department of public education. The Department also includes Hawaiian medium boarding schools. These Hawaiian medium boarding schools and the larger day schools include teaching English as a second language. The Hawai‘i Department of Education has continued until the present time. The only U.S. state with a department of education older than that of Hawai‘i is Massachusetts. Hawai‘i begins its rise to one of the most literate, if not the most literate, nations of the nineteenth century.

The missionaries establish Punahou, a school taught solely through English, to protect missionary children from the influences associated with high fluency and literacy in Hawaiian developed in other schools. Hawai’i's unique sociopolitical realities result in the children of the Native Hawaiian elite also enrolling for an English language immersion experience at Punahou. Later the Hawaiian elite establish primarily British staffed private schools - now ‘Iolani and St. Andrew’s Priory - to promote what they consider a higher standard of English among Hawaiians. Race and class divisions based on the language of education eventually become entrenched in Hawai‘i. A resulting move to more English medium immersion-like education for those with higher class aspirations brings neglect of Hawaiian language medium schools. Long term results are the loss of confidence among Hawai‘i’s people in themselves, weakening of the academic strengths of Hawai‘i’s population, and increased tension between the missionary descendants and the Hawaiian community.

The first of many contract laborers from Asia arrive to work on sugar plantations. A form of broken Hawaiian called ‘ōlelo pa‘i‘ai is used as the lingua franca on the plantations. This broken Hawaiian had begun as a means of communication with European sailors even before missionaries arrived. Children of sugar plantation immigrants adopt fluent Hawaiian from their indigenous peers as the language of local youth. The Hawaiian Kingdom encourages intermarriage of contract laborers and their children with Hawaiians as a means to stem the rapid depopulation of Hawai‘i due to introduced diseases. ‘ōlelo pa‘i‘ai use increases toward the turn of the century as immigration grows to include many Portuguese, Japanese, and others. It also adopts more English terms as the English speaking minority exert increased political influence.

Hale’ole publishes the first Hawaiian novel - Ke Kaao O Laieikawai - (The Legend of Lā‘ieikawai).

Lorrin Andrews publishes the first full scale Hawaiian/English Dictionary. It is based in part on an earlier manuscript monolingual Hawaiian dictionary by Lahainaluna alumnus Kamakau.

Kalākaua elected king of Hawai‘i during a period of major economic growth. Kalākaua expands Hawai’i's international connections through a trip around the world, the first for any head of state. He also initiates a Hawaiian cultural revival that focuses on Hawaiian literature, dance, and music, all dependent on the Hawaiian language and strongly supported by the Hawaiian language press and schools. A major setback is a new constitution forced on Kalākaua by gunboat diplomacy that results in lower class Hawaiians and all non-European immigrants loosing the right to vote. Elected officials then act to further weaken the Hawaiian medium schools through attacks on the budgets of the public Hawaiian medium schools, including the salaries of their teachers.

Following the death of the last heir of the Kamehameha line, Bernice Pauahi Bishop, an industrial arts boarding school for Hawaiians is established with control by a board of trustees appointed by the non-Hawaiian controlled Supreme Court of the Kingdom.  The new Kamehameha Schools is to follow the same English-Only model used for American Indian boarding schools complete with military uniforms. Such Indian boarding schools set up to “kill the Indian, but save the man.” Children of recently defeated tribes where rounded up divested of their traditional clothing, shorn of their traditional hair and religious emblems, and transported away from any “contaminating” contact with their families. Christian religious practices were enforced along with military uniforms and military discipline. Any use of the traditional languages were strictly punished. The first class of students selected for the Kamehameha Schools stages a total walk out when told they are not to use Hawaiian on campus. New political developments would soon give those who would eliminate Hawaiian entirely an even stronger hand over all Hawai‘i schools and their students.

The Hawaiian Kingdom is overthrown by a core group of missionary descendants and foreign residents supported by the U.S Marines. The leaders of the coupe set up the Republic of Hawai‘i on July 4th of the following year in preparation for seeking annexation by the United States.

Education through the Hawaiian language in both public and private schools is outlawed on the model of U.S. policy towards the use of American Indian languages in education. Teachers are told use of Hawaiian with children will result in termination of employment. Children are harshly punished for speaking Hawaiian in school. At the Kamehameha schools, even the letters of boarders to their parents are opened to censor use of Hawaiian.

Hawai‘i annexed by the United States with a requirement that the laws of the Republic of Hawai‘i relative to the language of public education remain in force. Children and even teachers in many non-private schools do not have access to English in their daily lives. The best that most can do to comply with the forced use of English in school is to put as many English words as they can in the ‘ōlelo pa‘i‘ai used by Hawaiians with immigrants.  Later this mixture of primarily English words, primarily Hawaiian pronunciation, and semantics, and influences from interactions with plantation immigrants becomes transformed into the normal language of interaction for Hawaiian children. Immigrant children follow Hawaiian children in using this language as they had earlier followed them in using Hawaiian. This new language developed between 1898 and 1920 comes to be called Pidgin, or Hawai‘i Creole English.

Hawaiian newspaper editorials appears decrying the poor standard of Hawaiian used by Hawaiian children in speaking with adults. Other editorials note that in abandoning Hawaiian, Hawaiian children’s English has also suffered. These editorials call upon Hawaiians to counteract the American law banning Hawaiian in the schools by persisting to solely use Hawaiian in the home and those areas still controlled by Hawaiians - the church and Sunday Schools.  Churches follow this advice and there is a flourishing of new documentation of Hawaiian literature in the newspapers, including Hawaiian church newspapers. Hawaiian leaders form associations conducted solely in Hawaiian - ‘Ahahui Ka‘ahumanu, Nā Māmaka Kaua, Nā ‘Ahahui Sīwila Hawai‘i (The Hawaiian Civic Clubs), and others. Many Hawaiian parents insist on addressing their children only in Hawaiian, but the children are encouraged by the schools to only reply to their parents in English, American English, not the more British style English spoken by the Native Hawaiian middle and upper classes. The children take a middle road - rejecting standard American English and American schooling being forced on them and also rejecting the Hawaiian language and British style English of their parents’ generation. Pidgin is their language of resistance. These children take on a colonial identity and the socioeconomic and academic status of Hawaiians decline drastically.

The territorial legislature passes a law requiring the Hawaiian language to be taught as a foreign language style course in all public high schools and in the territorial teacher preparation program. Later an additional law requires that Hawaiian be taught as a daily course in all elementary schools serving the Hawaiian Homestead areas set aside for Native Hawaiians. These Hawaiian language instruction laws are poorly enforced by the externally controlled Department of Education and the classes are ineffective. The traditionally elite private schools such as Punahou do not participate in the academic teaching of and will not for many decades to come. Many Hawaiian parents with higher economic and social aspirations absorb colonial attitudes in opposition even to the academic study of Hawaiian by their children.

Hawaiian is introduced as a “foreign” language in the new University of Hawai‘i, at the direction of the territorial legislature. University programs develop very slowly, but by the 1980s become the primary source of future fluent speakers of Hawaiian.

The government begins to establish a small set of English Standard Schools for those who can speak standard English upon entering public school - primarily the children of new middle class residents from the United States. The parents of these children fear the “contamination” of their children’s English in the public schools. Pidgin has become nativized with second generations of Pidgin speakers being born. The private schools remain the bastion of the English speaking elite, except for the Kamehameha Boarding Schools which have developed a reputation for preparing Pidgin speaking boys and girls for work as lower level employees of the public sector. Hawaiian resistance to the low academic aspirations of Kamehameha in the early territorial period almost leads to the school being opened for non-Native Hawaiian children, but the continued lowering socioeconomic status of Native Hawaiians and the growth in the Native Hawaiian population results in more and more children being sent to Kamehameha.

Mary Kawena Pukui, born in 1895, begins translating Hawaiian newspapers at the Bishop Museum. This has developed out of her earlier assistance to Dr. Martha Beckwith, a professor of folklore at Vassar College. Ms. Pukui’s keen interest in providing future generations of Hawaiians with an accurate record of their ancestral language and culture provides motivation for her to spend years documenting that heritage and assisting interested others for decades to come.

Samuel H. Elbert, a linguist who worked for the U.S. Army in the Pacific during World War II, begins to teach Hawaiian at the University of Hawai‘i. Elbert is especially interested in traditional Hawaiian culture and its expression in traditional Hawaiian literature and poetry, a change from most earlier teachers of Hawaiian at the University of Hawai‘i.

The Hawaiian Dictionary by Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert is published with funding from the territorial legislature. Containing approximately 30,000 entries spelled with full marking of all ‘okina (glottal stops) and kahakō (macrons used in distinguishing long vowels), this book opens the door to the Hawaiian language for younger generations and could arguably be considered the key to later rebirth of Hawaiian as a language of children and families. Seven years later, the two complete an English-Hawaiian companion volume.

Hawai‘i is admitted as a state over the objections of older Hawaiians loyal to the Monarchy and others who feel its majority non-white population inappropriate for an American state. The new state continues to use the Hawaiian language motto and anthem of the Hawaiian Monarchy as its emblems and establishes the Committee for the Preservation of Hawaiian Language, Art, and Culture at the University of Hawai‘i.

The Kamehameha Schools hire former University of Hawai‘i music teacher Ms. Dorothy Kahananui to teach Hawaiian as an elective foreign language at the Kamehameha Schools. While over forty years after the establishment of such formal teaching of Hawaiian in the public high schools, the new aspirations of Kamehameha to become a college preparatory school, Ms. Kahananui’s seriousness of purpose, and the strong interest of a core group of students makes this course a stepping stone to a new level of Hawaiian language teaching. Most students at this time still have access to Hawaiian speaking grandparents, and some even parents who can speak Hawaiian.

Hawaiian language enrollments at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa are several hundred strong with a full four years of Hawaiian offered. Students are protesting to have four years of Hawaiian offered at the new four-year branch of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.  Students initiate a Hawaiian language radio talk show, Ka Leo Hawai‘i. Hosted by new faculty member and former Kahananui student Larry Kimura, the program features a different native speaker guest each weekly broadcast. These programs are recorded providing a rich educational resource for the growing number of emergent young adult speakers of Hawaiian.

The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa establishes a B.A. program in Hawaiian language and a B.A. program in Hawaiian Studies to meet the growing student demand for these programs.

The ‘Ahahui ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i, a non-profit organization dedicated to the perpetuation of the Hawaiian language is incorporated. It is spearheaded by Ms. Dorothy Kahananui and provides such services as Hawaiian language resource persons, Hawaiian language classes for adults, publications and workshops. A similar organization called Hui Ho‘oulu ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i is founded in Hilo spearheaded by Ms. Edith Kanaka‘ole, also a leader in the revitalization of traditional Hawaiian hula.

John Waihe‘e, president of the Constitutional Convention, submits two provisions for the State Constitution: that the Hawaiian language be accorded the status of official language along with English; and that the study of Hawaiian be accorded special promotion by the State. Both provisions are passed.

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo initiates a Hawaiian Studies degree program taught through Hawaiian. The focus of the degree is traditional Hawaiian language and culture, especially performing arts, to complement the focus of the Mānoa campus B.A. on Hawaiian history and politics. This is the first time that Hawaiian has been used as a medium of government funded education since 1895.

The Māori of New Zealand start Kōhanga Reo, “language nest” centers where elders interact all day with babies and preschoolers using Māori language. One of the founders, Dr. Tāmati Reedy, a former student of Hawaiian, brings news of the Kōhanga Reo to Hawai‘i at the end of that year. Earlier that year, the Hawaiian language and culture revitalization community is inspired by a sabbatical visit by Tīmoti Kāretu, the future commissioner of Māori language and head of the Kōhanga Reo.

Hawaiian language teachers Ilei Beniamina, Hōkūlani Cleeland, Kauanoe Kamanā, Larry Kimura, No‘eau Warner, Koki Williams, and Pila Wilson meet on Kaua‘i to discuss dismal state of Hawaiian language. They form a grassroots organization, ‘Aha Pūnana Leo, Inc., “The Language Nest Corporation,” on January 12 at Cleeland’s home.

Board members Beniamina and Wilson draft a bill to reestablish Hawaiian as a legal language of instruction in Hawai‘i public schools with special focus on children from Beniamina’s community of Ni‘ihau. The bill does not pass.

‘Aha Pūnana Leo discovers legal barriers exist not only for public school education, but also for the use of Hawaiian for its plans for a private preschool conducted using Hawaiian kūpuna and Ni‘ihau speakers.

The first Pūnana Leo preschool opens in Kekaha, Kaua‘i. Pūnana Leo O Kaua‘i is funded with employment development funds assistance from the Hawaiian serving agency Alu Like. All books and similar teaching materials must be created or translated into Hawaiian from English. The concept of teaching through Hawaiian is new and teachers find it awkward speaking in Hawaiian to children who know only English. English is used along with Hawaiian and children do not learn Hawaiian for several months.

A bill is submitted to the legislature to provide Pūnana Leo with the same status accorded private foreign language schools. The bill does not pass.

A bill to allow Hawaiian as a medium of education in Hawai‘i public schools is submitted. The bill does not pass.

Pūnana Leo O Honolulu opens in Kalihi. Pūnana Leo O Hilo opens. The method of teaching in Honolulu and Hilo is entirely through Hawaiian with no English. This method becomes established in all Pūnana Leo schools. Inadequate funding results in strong parent participation via in-kind service. This develops into the hana makua or “parent participation” component.

A bill is again submitted to the State legislature to provide Pūnana Leo the same status as foreign language schools. Parents think the bill has passed, but in the joint committee, bill is changed so that it excludes children under five years of age, thus eliminating Pūnana Leo.

Pūnana Leo graduates on O‘ahu enter kindergarten in public school and are assigned to the SLEP (Student with Limited English Proficiency) program for immigrants. Hilo parents refuse to send their children and teach kindergarten in Hawaiian at Pūnana Leo. Program in Pūnana Leo O Hilo referred to as Kula Kaiapuni Hawai‘i “Hawaiian environment school.” The ‘Aha Pūnana Leo decides that primary efforts should be made to reestablish public education through Hawaiian rather than creating more preschools.

After a six-hour hearing, the Hawai‘i State legislature passes a strong bill that removes legal barriers for Pūnana Leo. A bill allowing Hawaiian as a medium of instruction in the public schools also passes.

Pūnana Leo board members form a curriculum development committee with funding from Alu Like resulting in the 1989 publication of four children’s books.

The Hawai‘i State Legislature passes a resolution calling upon the state Department of Education to implement schools taught through Hawaiian in accordance with the law passed the previous session. The Legislature also passes a resolution calling upon the U.S. Congress to develop policy legislation in support of the survival of Hawaiian and other Native American languages. Both resolutions are submitted for consideration to the Legislature by the ‘Aha Pūnana Leo political action committee.

Under newly elected Governor Waihe‘e, Charles Toguchi is appointed as Superintendent of Education. As a senator, he sponsored along with Senator Clayton Hee, a bill to remove the ban on the use of Hawaiian for public school instruction. At the urging of Senator Hee, Superintendent Toguchi agrees to support a one-year trial of Pūnana Leo-type education in the public schools.

The Hawaiian Lexicon Committee is established to create words for new concepts current to the progression of time with emphasis on the curricumlum content of the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program.

With a grant from the Gerbode Foundation, ‘Aha Pūnana Leo begins work on curriculum for kindergarten and first grade.

The Board of Education under Francis McMillan approves what it terms the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program. Parents and children continue to use the name Kula Kaiapuni Hawai‘i used at the Pūnana Leo.

The first elementary indigenous language immersion classes in the United States officially begin at Keaukaha Elementary in Hilo and Waiau Elementary in Pearl City.

Pūnana Leo O Kekaha reopens in Puhi as Pūnana Leo O Kaua‘i after a period of financial instability due to small enrollment and parents’ inability to pay tuition.

Pūnana Leo O Maui opens in Wailuku.

With a F.I.P.S.E. grant from the federal government to ‘Aha Pūnana Leo president Larry Kimura, ‘Aha Pūnana Leo board members begin teacher training and continue materials development for the immersion program.

The Board of Education reviews the immersion program and deems it successful. It is allowed to continue another year.

The first Leo Ola in-service training for immersion teachers through F.I.P.S.E. grant organized by Kimura takes place at U.H. Mānoa.

The Native American Language Issues Institute (NALI), the largest organization for Native American languages, passes a resolution calling for legal rights and support for Native American languages including Hawaiian. The resolution is based on the 1987 resolution from the Hawai‘i State Legislature.

The passing of the Native Hawaiian Education Act (NHEA) draws attention to the high literacy rates of Hawaiians at the time of annexation and the sharp drop in such literacy during the period of American control. The NHEA serves as a means to fund revitalization of Hawaiian as a means to restore both the linguistic integrity and educational excellence that were lost to Native Hawaiians during the long territorial period when federal government policy denied the right of Native Hawaiians to a public education through the medium of Hawaiian.

The first ‘Aha Kāko‘o Kula Hawai‘i conference is held in Hilo to bring together immersion, Pūnana Leo, and D.O.E. staff and parents to discuss issues and to strengthen the immersion program.

The legislature establishes the Hale Kuamo‘o Hawaiian Language Center at U.H. Hilo to produce curriculum.

‘Aha Pūnana Leo receives funding under Title IV: Education for Native Hawaiians through the U.S. Department of Education. The Hale Kāko‘o Pūnana Leo Support Office is established to strengthen the preschool program. Hale Kāko‘o focuses on four areas: curriculum and materials development; family programs; staff support and training; and new sites expansion.

The U.S.D.A. Food program begins at Pūnana Leo preschools.

The second ‘Aha Kāko‘o Kula Hawai‘i conference is held on Kaua‘i and focuses on state and private agencies’ involvement in Hawaiian medium education.

1990-2005 - Hawaiian entities including the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, and the Kamehameha Schools are accused of violating racial discrimination laws in providing services only to those who can demonstrate Native Hawaiian ancestry. These suits seriously endanger the resource base of the Native Hawaiian people. These attacks provide an impetus to further public support for federal recognition of Hawaiians as a unique indigenous people of the United States. The claim of indigenous status brings the maintenance and strengthening of the Hawaiian language and culture to the forefront.

The President signs the Native American Languages Act sponsored by Hawai‘i’s Senator Daniel Inouye which was modeled in considerable part on the 1987 Native American languages resolution of the Hawai‘i State Legislature.

The ‘Aha Kauleo Hawaiian Immersion Advisory Council is established by DOE to gather program input from all Kula Kaiapuni Hawai‘i sites and agencies.

The Kula Kaiapuni Hawai‘i program at Pū‘ōhala Elementary in Kāne‘ohe opens.

The first ‘Aha Leo Mohala retreat is held at Ke‘anae, Maui, for Kula Kaiapuni Hawai‘i families statewide to share Hawaiian language and cultural experiences.

The third ‘Aha Kāko‘o Kula Hawai‘i conference is held on O‘ahu and focuses on expansion of Hawaiian medium education through high school.

The Board of Education approves continuation of the Kula Kaiapuni Hawai‘i program through grade 12 with one hour of English a day at all levels beginning at fifth grade.

Pūnana Leo O Moloka‘i opens.

Ho‘olauna Pūnua begins on Kaua‘i as an ‘Aha Pūnana Leo summer program conducted entirely in Hawaiian for fourth graders in the Kula Kaiapuni Hawai‘i program and Ni‘ihau community. It is hosted by Ni‘ihau families.

The fourth ‘Aha Kāko‘o Kula Hawai‘i conference is held on Maui and focuses on kūpuna and community involvement.

Ha‘awina Kālā Hele Kula, a scholarship program, is established by the ‘Aha Pūnana Leo to assist immersion family members who wish to become immersion teachers.

Māla ‘ōlelo begins on Kaua‘i as an ‘Aha Pūnana Leo summer program to afford university students an opportunity to work with Ni‘ihau community members and associate with Ni‘ihau families.

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands commissioners approve site on Hawaiian Homes Land at Waimea, Hawai‘i, for Pūnana Leo O Waimea.

Hui Hi‘i Pēpē, a mother-infant play group, begins at the future Pūnana Leo O Kona site.

Pūnana Leo O Wai‘anae opens.

Ni‘ihau families on Kaua‘i form Hui Ho‘ona‘auao O Nā Mākua and request Hawaiian medium education for their children through sixth grade at Kekaha School. Parents boycott the public schools when request is denied.

Ka ‘Umeke Kā‘eo, the first statewide Hawaiian language speech competition for immersion students, is held in Hilo.

Pūnana Leo O Kona expands to a full-day preschool.

The ‘Aha Pūnana Leo receives funding from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to initiate a public kindergarten through sixth grade Hawaiian medium program for Ni‘ihau children at Kekaha Elementary to be called Ke Kula Ni‘ihau O Kekaha.

The first computer bulletin board system operating in a Polynesian or Native American language is established, it is named Leokī.

Kualono, the website of the Hale Kuamo‘o, debuts on the World-Wide Web. It features an innovative “dual-language” interface that allows users to view nearly every document in either English or Hawaiian.

The Ho‘olaukoa summer program is sponsored by the ‘Aha Pūnana Leo at Hāna, Maui, for girls in grades 5-8 of the Kula Kaiapuni Hawai‘i program.

‘Aha Pūnana Leo assists Kula Kaiapuni Hawai‘i families of Hilo children in the sixth through eighth grades with renting a building to provide classroom space for an intermediate/high school program to be named after the noted Hawaiian scholar and politician, Joseph Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs provides a grant of $2,100,000 to the ‘Aha Pūnana Leo to purchase a permanent site near Hilo to house the Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u program. Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u becomes the first of three model school programs administered by the ‘Aha Pūnana Leo in partnership with DOE and Ka Haka ‘Ula o Ke‘elikōlani.

Pūnana Leo O Waimea, Hawai‘i, and Pūnana Leo O Kawaiaha‘o open.

‘Aha Pūnana Leo establishes the Lamakū¸ scholarship program with Federal funding for Native Hawaiian Higher Education.

The Board of Education approves āuenue Elementary on O‘ahu as the state’s first kindergarten to high school total immersion site.

The ‘Aha Kāko‘o Ho‘onā‘auao ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i, sponsored by the ‘Aha Pūnana Leo, brings together delegates from Hawaiian language programs throughout Hawai‘i to discuss future plans for the Kula Kaiapuni Hawai‘i.

Governor Benjamin Cayetano proclaims 1996 to be the “Year of the Hawaiian Language.”

The lead classes of Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u and Ānuenue immersion schools travel to Aotearoa for the first part of an educational and language exchange program sponsored by the ‘Aha Pūnana Leo with the Kura Kaupapa Māori language immersion program.

Legislation is signed at the Native Hawaiian Education Summit that establishes the College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani. It is the first college in the United States administered and conducted entirely in an indigenous language.

Pūnana Leo O Ko‘olauloa opens in Kahuku, O‘ahu.

E Ola Ka ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i, a video produced by the ‘Aha Pūnana Leo documenting the founding of the ‘Aha Pūnana Leo and the growth of the Hawaiian language movement, wins the Golden Maile and the People’s Choice Awards at the Hawai‘i International Film Festival. Also wins two Canadian awards for best documentary.

Students from the Kura Kaupapa o Rākaumanga are accompanied by the Māori Queen and travel from Aotearoa to Hawai‘i to visit the lead classes at both Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u and Ānuenue immersion schools.

An ‘Aha Pūnana Leo K-8 school for Ni‘ihau children living on Kaua‘i officially opens its new site with a formal blessing. Ke Kula Ni‘ihau O Kekaha is the second model school site run by the ‘Aha Pūnana Leo in coordination with the state D.O.E.

‘Aha Pūnana Leo funds translation of the popular Netscape web browser into Hawaiian, the first indigenous language to be used and only the second non-English translation completed independently of Netscape Communications.

First edition of Māmaka Kaiao: A Modern Hawaiian Vocabulary is published by the Hawaiian Lexicon Committee.

Pūnana Leo O Lahaina opens on Maui.

Alana I Kai Hikina, a Hawaiian language radio show sponsored by the ‘Aha Pūnana Leo, begins broadcasting from KWXX radio station in Hilo.

Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College begins its MA in Hawaiian Language and Literature, the first MA program focusing on, and taught entirely in, a Native American language. Partial support comes from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Kula Kaiapuni O Ko‘olauloa opens in Hau‘ula, O‘ahu.

With support from the ‘Aha Pūnana Leo, the Kahuawaiola Hawaiian Medium Teacher Certification Program becomes an official part of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College. It is the first teacher certification program conducted entirely in a Native American language.

After a visit in February, the Lannan Foundation provides funds in 2000 to begin an endowment for the ‘Aha Pūnana Leo, to protect it from over dependence on government funding. The ‘Aha Pūnana Leo board predicts that it will be twenty years before the endowment can serve its intended purpose, but beginning the process is part of long term planning for the organization.

In December, after 2 1/2 years of controversy, the last Kamehameha trustee resigns and ends the difficult period characterized by dissension among its Hawai‘i State Supreme Court appointed trustees. This period is also characterized by hostility toward the Hawaiian language and Hawaiian immersion schools in particular. Community classes in Hawaiian sponsored by Kamehameha and attended by Pūnana Leo and Kula Kaiapuni Hawai‘i parents are canceled. A Kamehameha School campus-wide ban is placed on the use of any modern Hawaiian terms such as those being used in the revitalization of Hawaiian in the Pūnana Leo and Kula Kaiapuni Hawai‘i. Hawaiian language teachers at Kamehameha led demonstrations by faculty, alumni and students to remove the ban.

For the first time in over 100 years, a class of students educated entirely in Hawaiian from kindergarten to 12th grade graduates. Five seniors graduate at Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u and six at Ānuenue. ‘Aha Pūnana Leo’s Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u school seniors graduate with three college courses each taken under a concurrent admittance program due to the early completion of their high school credits. All Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u seniors also pass a university English composition placement examination.

Three ‘Aha Pūnana Leo supported Hawaiian language medium programs apply for, and receive, charter school status as laboratory schools of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani. These are Ke Kula Ni‘ihau O Kekaha, Ke Kula ‘O Samuel M. Kamakau, and a new elementary branch of Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u called Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u Iki. The former Kula Kaiapuni O Keaukaha is also chartered as Ka ‘Umeke Kā‘eo, the only charter sharing a public school campus. Several other schools focusing on Hawaiian culture through English are also chartered.

The Kamehameha Schools, under a new board of trustees, establish a strategic plan. Among the goals and priorities is the cultivation, nurturing, perpetuation, and practice of ‘ike Hawai‘i which is to include the Hawaiian language. Plans begin to require that all Kamehameha students learn some Hawaiian.

Maui graduates its first immersion senior class from Ke Kula Kaiapuni Ki‘eki‘e ‘O King Kekaulike.

‘APL holds its strategic planning meeting in August, with its Board of Directors, community members, teachers, and kupuna.

The first M.A. degree in Hawaiian Language and Literature was awarded at UH-Hilo, to Hiapo Perreira, marking the first time in the nation a student receives an MA in a Hawaiian studies field or in any Native American language.

Kaua‘i graduates its first immersion senior class from Ke Kula Kaiapuni Ki‘eki‘e ‘O Kapa‘a

Apple Computer introduces Hawaiian language support into Macintosh OS X 10.2 (“Panther”), which includes a Hawaiian keyboard in all of their new computers.

The first Hawaiian language classes ever offered via the Internet are taught by Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani to 14 students in seven states. Subsequent classes included students from over 20 states, Japan, Switzerland and Germany.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin publishes Kauakūkalahale, the first Hawaiian language column in a mainstream daily newspaper since 1949.

The ‘Aha Pūnana Leo celebrates it’s 20th anniversary of Hawaiian language revitalization with its first high profile community support dinner, Ne‘epapa I Ke ō Mau, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Ulukau, the Hawaiian Language Digital Library project goes online making available over 100,000 pages of searchable newspaper archives, books, dictionaries, the Hawaiian Bible, Ka Ho‘olina academic journal, and other source material in the Hawaiian language.

The University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents approves UH-Hilo’s first doctoral program, Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani’s PhD. in Indigenous Language and Cultural Revitalization.

The first-ever Grammy for “Best Hawaiian Music Album” was awarded to Slack Key Guitar, Vol. 2 at the 47th Annual Grammy Awards held in Los Angeles. The category stipulates that a predominance of vocal tracks (greater than 50%) must be in the Hawaiian language.

‘Aha Pūnana Leo institutes a program to support the growing number of parents who are fluent in Hawaiian and using Hawaiian as the language of their homes before their child enters the Pūnana Leo. This new Hui Hi‘i Pēpē established at Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u takes children of Hawaiian speaking working parents as early as six weeks of age and cares for them entirely in Hawaiian.  Without this service the development of these children as first language speakers of Hawaiian will suffer due to the lack of highly fluent Hawaiian speaking baby sitters. An increase in first language speakers of Hawaiian from this program is seen as a means to further strengthen the Pūnana Leo preschools and Kula Kaiapuni Hawai‘i.

Moloka‘i graduates its first immersion senior class from Ke Kula Kaiapuni Ki‘eki‘e ‘O Hinaikamalama.

The University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents approves the offering of an M.A. in Hawaiian and an M.A. in Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.


The first doctoral dissertation written in the Hawaiian language completed at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

ʻImiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaiʻi, the first science center to deliver presentations and displays in both of Hawaiʻiʻs official languages, opens to the public. It soon becomes a community collaborator of the ʻAha Pūnana Leo.


Kona graduates its first class from Ke Kula ʻo ʻEhunuikaimalino.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo offers Doctor of Philosophy degree in Hawaiian and Indigenous Language and Culture Revitalization.  It is the first doctorate offered at UH-Hilo, the first doctorate in the United States in a Native American Language and the first doctorate in the world to revitalize an indigenous language.

Ka Papahana Kaiapuni Hawaiʻi Hawaiian Language Immersion Program celebrates 20 years of Hawaiian Medium Education in Hawaiʻi’s public school system.

The Hōkūalakaʻi of the ʻAha Pūnana Leo sets sail from Hilo to Niʻihau with crew of ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi navigators on board. The chosen route honors ʻIosepa Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu’s courageous journey a century earlier undertaken in the face of obstacles by this Hawaiian advocate determined to fulfill his legislative duties. Hōkūalakaʻi’s travels are followed by Pūnana Leo children and Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu students who participate online.

The ʻAha Pūnana Leo celebrates 25 years of education through the medium of Hawaiian language.

Television station KGMB, behind the initiative of the ʻAha Pūnana Leo and the technical expertise of Palikū Documentary Films, launches ʻĀhaʻi ʻŌlelo Ola (Messenger of a Living Language), the first newscast to be delivered entirely in Hawaiian.  It airs as a special segment on the morning show Sunrise on KGMB. ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi is on the airwaves!

Kula Kaiapuni ʻo Kawaikini Conversion Public Charter School is established in Līhuʻe, Kauaʻi, adjacent to Pūnana Leo o Kauaʻi.

The nation’s first news broadcast program in a native language, ʻĀhaʻi ʻŌlelo Ola, provides live coverage of the Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama. KGMB crew covering the inauguration delivers live satellite segment in both of Hawaiʻi’s official languages to one of the largest viewing audiences in Hawaiʻi television.

The ʻAha Pūnana Leo introduces Niuolahiki, a new delivery of online Hawaiian language learning, and enrolls over 900 learners worldwide during its inaugural year.

The Native Hawaiian television station, ʻŌiwi T.V., is established through a partnership with Oceanic Time Warner Cable, the Kamehameha Schools and the ʻAha Pūnana Leo. Native Hawaiian owned and operated, ʻŌiwi T.V.  promotes Na ka Hawaiʻi, No ka Hawaiʻi. 

Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, P-20 program, is awarded full accreditation by the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (WINHEC).  Its Teacher Preparation Program, Kahuawaiola, also receives full accreditation recognition from the Hawaiʻi Teacher Standard’s State Accreditation Teacher Education team. As laboratory schools of Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani, the ʻAha Pūnana Leo receives affiliation status from WINHEC.

Traditional Hawaiian language is introduced to 21st century technologies in large part to the work of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo’s Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language and its Hale Kuamoʻo Hawaiian Language Center. ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi is now available on the iphone and Google.

Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo awards its first doctorate in Hawaiian and Indigenous Language and Culture Revitalization.

Makauila, a Native Hawaiian educational multimedia corporation focused on production and distribution of Native Hawaiian educational, language, and cultural multimedia content, is formed. Makauila immediately produces the official State of Hawaiʻi airline greeting in the two official languages of Hawaiʻi.

Pūnana Leo o Hilo graduate and Hawaiian Medium Education student pursues higher education and receives Doctor of Philosphy in Linguistics from the University of Oxford.

The ʻAha Pūnana Leo is awarded a multi-year grant from the Kellogg Foundation to build Native Hawaiian preschoolers’ school readiness through innovations in academic rigor, teacher development, family resources and site accreditation.

The ʻAha Pūnana Leo receives funding from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs designed to increase access to early childhood education.

Hawaii Revised Statutes is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows: Mahina Olelo Hawaii.  E ike mau a e kapa ia ana ae ka mahina o Pepeluali o ia ka “Mahina Olelo Hawaii” i mea e hoomaikai a e paipai aku ai i ka Olelo ana o ua Olelo makuahine nei la.  Olelo Hawaii Month.  The month of February shall be known and designated as “Olelo Hawaii Month” to celebrate and encourage the use of Hawaiian language. SB409, SD1 (Act 28), codifies the month of February as “ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi Month” to celebrate and encourage the use of Hawaiian language. This measure is historic in that it is the first Act to be codified in Hawaiian and English. 

Pūnana Leo o Mānoa opens on Oʻahu.

ʻAha Pūnana Leo representative is appointed to the State of Hawaiʻi’s newly created Early Learning Advisory Board of the Executive Office of Early Learning.

Pūnana Leo o Honolulu greets the Dalai Lama with song during his visit to Hawaiʻi.  The Dalai Lama urges indigenous Native Hawaiians to preserve their culture and language.

The ʻAha Pūnana Leo receives acceptance as a candidate seeking accreditation under the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium P-12 authority, based in international accreditation principles, allowing Pūnana Leo preschools to be appropriately accredited.

Pūnana Leo o Koʻolau Poko opens in Kāneʻohe.

The ʻAha Pūnana Leo celebrates 30 years of education through the medium of Hawaiian language.  The State of Hawaiʻi proclaims March 16, 2013, as “ʻAha Pūnana Leo Day.”

The Hawaiian language is featured at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo receives the National Indian Education’s 2013 William Demmert Cultural Freedom Award.

Māʻilikūkahi, a satellite site of Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu Iki, is established in Waiʻanae through the initiatives of Pūnana Leo o Waiʻanae families.

KTA Super Stores begins displaying signage in Hawaiʻi’s two official languages on all major produce and products throughout their chain stores.

The ʻAha Pūnana Leo continues to promote and support its early childhood education staff development and training. With academic support from Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani and financial support from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Kamehameha Schools, the Kellogg Foundation and the Castle Foundation, over 245 hours of classwork and practicum are logged.

The 26th Legislature of the State of Hawaiʻi passes education legislation that, for the first time, includes the phrase “in Hawaiʻi’s two official languages.”

Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo unveils its new building, Haleʻōlelo. The dedication ceremony includes a tribute to those kūpuna who helped pave the path of the ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi revitalization journey.

The 21st Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium is hosted in Hilo through the collaborative efforts of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo and the ʻAha Pūnana Leo. Participants come from 17 states and 12 countries to learn about Hawaiian language revival through the successful Hawaiian Medium Education (HME) P-20 model observed at Pūnana Leo o Hilo (P), Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu (K-12) and Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language (Post High 20).

The ʻAha Pūnana Leo is awarded the world’s first accreditation of an early education program conducted through an endangered and indigenous language by the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (WINHEC). The accreditation review is conducted by a distinguished team of local, national and international educators from countries with records of high academic achievement in multiple languages. The new preschool through high school accreditation opens a pathway for distinctive accreditation of indigenous early education around the globe under international guidelines set by WINHEC. Governor Abercrombie proclaims October 24, 2014, “Aha Pūnana Leo Day” in recognition of this achievement.

The State of Hawaiʻi’s Board of Education reaffirms and strengthens its commitment to Hawaiian education and immersion programs in public schools through policies 2014 and 2015. These policies advance Hawaiian education as an integral part of public education. The ʻAha Pūnana Leo is named as a strategic partner.

Hawaiian Immersion fourth grade teacher at Pāʻia Elementary School is named Maui District Teacher of the Year. State legislature acknowledges that Hawaiian language lives on thanks to committed teachers who have dedicated their lives to the Hawaiian Immersion Program.

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan meets with Hawaiian Medium Education leaders and vows to look into Hawaiian language assessment concerns. The keiki of Pūnana Leo o Waiʻanae and Māʻilikūkahi greet Secretary Duncan with mele Hawaiʻi before the meeting begins.