In the last two days of May in 1980, fifty-three kūpuna from across the state of Hawaiʻi gathered for a conference, produced by Alu Like at Kamehameha Schools, with the intent of collectively addressing issues of vital concern to the Hawaiian community, including recording cultural practices, but also discussing the socio-economic burdens that particularly concerned kānaka ōiwi.
This conference forum was the culmination of discussion that began in 1979 with Kupuna Gregory Kalahikiola Naliielua, Kupuna Adelaide Frenchy DeSoto, Kupuna Papua Stevens Poire, and Kupuna Abraham Piianaia. This group planned Ka Leo o Nā Kūpuna because they recognized that Hawaiian elders often held positions of power and stabilization within their homes and could affect positive change within their communities.
Of these fifty-three attendees, the youngest attendee was fifty years old and the eldest was nearly ninety, and all were relatively fluent in the Hawaiian language. Forty years ago, we were the Hawaii Committee for the Humanities, rather than the Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities and we are proud to say this conference was supported in part by a grant from our organization.
You can read the proceedings booklet of this historic conference HERE.