“Education for the nation”: Forging indigenous Hawaiian identity in higher education
The very mention of Hawai'i conjures up images of sultry, lazy days spent on iridescent beaches under brilliant azure skies. Missing from this seemingly benign tourist view of Hawai'i is the indigenous people. Native Hawaiians occupy the lowest rung of the socio-economic ladder in their own homeland. One particular way in which many Hawaiians are problematizing this unfavorable status is through education.
Part asserting Native self-determination is the development of Native-centered or culturally-centered educational contexts like Hawaiian Language Immersion and Native Hawaiian Charter Schools. These schools transform traditional K–12 educational structures into culturally-relevant educational systems by actively incorporating traditional knowledge, cultural norms, and contemporary culture into its pedagogy and curriculum. Consequently, central to this educational process involves the deliberate cultivation of students' individual and collective indigenous cultural identities. The challenge for current education research is to understand how this culturally-centered educational process influences students and, in turn, how this understanding can be used to improve, expand, and even further transform educational processes for Hawaiians.
Research discerning the interplay between higher education and Hawaiian identity is non-existent. Despite this gap in the academic discourse, though, there is a rich body of literature chronicling the experiences of other students of color attending same ethnicity higher education institutions (like American Indian Tribal Colleges) and its positive influences on cultural identity formation. As such, this qualitative study explores the complex and multidimensional relationship between Native Hawaiian identity and Native Hawaiian higher education, as defined and experienced by 10 graduates of the Center for Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa.
Minority & ethnic groups;
0631: Minority & ethnic groups
0282: Bilingual education
0282: Multicultural education