Recognize and celebrate La Ho‘iho‘i Ea, Hawaiian Independence Day, by attending July 31 the online world premiere of “Language of a Nation,” a historical docuseries produced by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.
Hosted by Kona Historical Society, a Smithsonian Affiliate, this special online event helps share the important connections to Hawaii’s rich cultural and political history — a history that is largely ignored or left out of public school curricula and even public discussion. This honest, mesmerizing and profound docuseries may even make you question everything you think you know about Hawaii’s past.
“This historical docuseries was originally conceived two years ago during the UN’s year of Indigenous Language. The purpose was to show that ‘olelo Hawaii was not just an aboriginal Hawaiian language, but the language of a nation where all ethnicities in Hawaii spoke that language,” said Smithsonian Curator of Hawaii and the Pacific Kalewa Correa. “Why this film is important is that it presents Hawaii’s history from a Hawaiian National perspective. Generally, the history of Hawaii has been presented through an external lens, this film remedies those perspectives. I hope that viewers will take away a new understanding of Hawaiian history, one that they may have never been exposed to because of dominant external narratives.”
Following the screening, Hawaiian filmmaker Conrad Lihilihi and Correa will discuss the compelling four-part docuseries, which examines the Hawaiian Language ban that occurred after the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom by U.S. forces.
“The Hawaiian language was the national language of communication in the Hawaiian Kingdom. It was a language spoken by a vibrant and multiethnic citizenry, not just the aboriginal population of the Hawaiian archipelago,” Correa said. “The 1896 ban of the Hawaiian language from the Department of Education in Hawaii not only affected the aboriginal population, but it also affected the national consciousness and the true understanding of what the Hawaiian Kingdom was prior to the overthrow.”
Raised on Hawaii Island, Lihilihi began creating worlds and stories at a young age through music. He fell in love with visual storytelling and created his own comic books. In high school, he discovered a joy and talent for filmmaking. He graduated from the University of Washington, where he created his own major and earned a degree in Ethnic Identities in Film. He’s worked on project for NBCUniversal, E! Entertainment, Sony, FOX, MTV, SpikeTV and Gametrailers.
More recently Lihilihi was a video editor for Warner Bros. subsidiary, Telepictures, on the true crime show, “Crime Watch Daily hosted by Chris Hansen,” which recently won an Emmy Award for Best Multi-Cam Editing. In an industry where Polynesians are greatly underrepresented, Lihilihi looks to be one of the few Polynesian directors in Hollywood and strives to bring the stories of the South Pacific to a mainstream audience. He continues to work with various musicians shooting music videos and his short film, “The Device,” made its rounds in the film festival circuit, including becoming a semi-finalist in NBCUniversal’s Short Circuit Film Festival and earned him a nomination for Best New Filmmaker.
Correa is a graduate of the University of Hawaii at Manoa Kamakaku‘okalani Center for Hawaiian Studies with a focus on Hawaiian traditional society and politics. Additionally, he also holds advanced degrees in the information science and education technology disciplines. Correa is curator of Hawaii and the Pacific with the Smithsonian Institution’s Asian Pacific American Center. His primary program at the center is on the Digital Storytelling Initiative, “Our Stories” that presents and elevates the voices of Pacific Islanders on the national and international stage through mixed media formats.
“Episode 1: Birth of a Literate Nation” will be shown at noon July 31 on Zoom. This is an exclusive screening and virtual discussion only for Kona Historical Society members, who will be admitted for free and sent this event’s link via email. Membership must be current and is required to attend. Anyone can become a member of the Kona Historical Society. New and returning members can join online at https://konahistorical.org/membership.
Annual membership fees are $35 for individuals and $55 for families. For an additional $20, Kona Historical Society members can add on a Smithsonian Affiliate membership, which includes subscription to the Smithsonian Magazine and access to all Smithsonian Affiliate Museums.
Kona Historical Society, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is a community-based, nonprofit organization that has spent the past four decades collecting, preserving and sharing the history of the Kona districts and their rich cultural heritage within Hawaii.
For more information, call Kona Historical Society at (808) 323-3222 or visit www.konahistorical.org.