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National Museum of the American Indian to host Hawaiian cultural festival

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian will host a two-day Hawaiian cultural festival in commemoration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, which will include demonstrations, discussions, films and more.

On Saturday and Sunday, May 26-27, at 10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m.–3:30 p.m. and 4:15 –5 p.m. in the Potomac Atrium, the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health shares information from its current exhibit “Native Voice: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness.” From May 20 through May 25, the museum hosts Tom “Pohaku” Stone, a Native Hawaiian carver from O’ahum, Hawai’i, who will carve a traditional Hawaiian surfboard (papa he’enalu) and create a traditional Hawaiian sled (papa holua) in the museum’s Potomac Atrium. In the outdoor amphitheater area, educator and artist Dalani Tanahy works with modern tools and ancient traditions to produce kapa, or bark cloth. Also located in the outdoor firepit area, Umi Kai creates and demonstrates traditional implements, such as those used for games, food preparation, kapa making, weapons and adornment. Also in the outdoor firepit area, weaver Leinaala Kai shares her artistry and skills in the craft of lauhala weaving. Outside in the amphitheater, healers and lomi lomi (Hawaiian massagers) practitioners, Lehua and Wesley Sen, share their knowledge and experience in traditional healing arts, medicinal herbs and diet.

At 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., join Melissa (Mokihana) Scalph in the imagiNATIONS Activity Center to learn about traditional hula dancing (all ages are welcome). At 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., in the croplands area, located outside on the south side of the museum, Doug Herman, the museum’s geographer, discusses what constitutes a Hawaiian canoe garden and its history. At 12 p.m. and 3 p.m., on the fourth level of the museum in rooms 4018-4019, some of our featured Hawaiian culture bearers share what it means to live a life of aloha.

At 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., in the Potomac Atrium, visitors can watch a traditional hula dancing with Halau Ho’omau Ika Wai Ola O Hawai’i (Saturday) and Halau O ‘Aulani (Sunday). At 1:30 p.m., Herman will be in the Group Orientation Room and read stories for the whole family. At 2 p.m., in the Rasmuson Theater, on the first level of the museum, Wes and Lehua Sen share their knowledge of lomi lomi, ho’oponopono, aloha (the loving touch), ho’oma’ema’e, medicinal herbs and diet.

On Friday, May 25, at 7 p.m., a special screening of Sons of Hawai’i: A Sound, A Band, A Legend (2000, 80 min). Directed by Eddie and Myrna Kamae, the documentary tells the story of the charismatic band, Sons of Hawaii, that helped launch the Hawaiian cultural renaissance. Following the screening, Eddie Kamae will be doing a Q-and-A session via video conference. Cuisine from the museum’s Zagat-rated Mitsitam Cafe will be available for purchase from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Seats in the theater are limited; the public may register online at

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