We Hoʻokupu (We Pay Tribute)

By Jill Westeyn
May 10, 2023

U.S. Mint Deputy Director Kristie McNally holds a shadowbox with a representative of the Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation.
U.S. Mint Deputy Director Kristie McNally presents an Edith Kanakaʻole Quarter shadowbox.

The U.S. Mint traveled to the Aloha State to celebrate the Edith Kanakaʻole Quarter during two events in Hilo, Hawaii on May 5-6, 2023. The Edith Kanakaʻole Quarter is the second release in 2023, and the seventh coin overall in the American Women Quarters™ Program (AWQ). Both events were made possible thanks to the work of our partners: Edith Kanaka’ole Foundation; University of Hawai’i at Hilo; Hawai’i Community College; and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum.

The E Hō Mai Ka ʻIke (granting the wisdom) Keaukaha Community School Event, on the grounds of the Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation (Pā Hoaka, Keaukaha, Hilo) held on May 5, was by invitation only. Approximately 120 students participated in various workshops, where they learned about the teachings of “Aunty Edith.”

These teachings included Hei—the skill of creating string figures; the Pala’ie—the loop and ball game; an original hulu and oli (composed by Edith Kanaka’ole), along with the choreograph; original instrumental song by Edith Kanaka’ole; coloring time with three of Edith’s great granddaughters; virtual trip through Keaukaha to learn about the places referenced in one of Edith’s songs. Additionally, the students learned about the Mint and designed their own versions of Edith Kanakaʻole quarters.

The public event on May 6 was held at the Performing Arts Center and Edith Kanakaʻole Hall, both on the campus of the University of Hawai’i at Hilo.

Speaking to a crowd of nearly 1,100 attendees, U.S. Mint Deputy Director Kristie McNally said:

Recognizing and honoring women on our Nation’s coinage is vital, because our coins tell the American story, reflecting who we are, and what matters to us. As we are gathered here today as a part of the Ho`okupu, or ceremonial gift-giving as a sign of honor and respect, our new quarter is a way for our nation to recognize Edith Kanakaʻole and share her legacy.

Highlights from the event included a proclamation by Governor Josh Green decreeing May 6 as Edith Kanakaʻole Day. Activities held in Edith Kanakaʻole Hall included: oli; hula; sharing hoʻokupu of lei, chants or dances with the ohana (family); community stories of Edith’s legacy; and activities presented by the Smithsonian. Attendees were given a 2023 American Women Quarters™ Collector Coin Board with the newest quarter inserted into it, and also had the opportunity to speak with Deputy Director McNally, Senior Advisor Betty Birdsong, and AWQ Program Lead Michele Thompson.

U.S. Mint Deputy Director Kristie McNally holding a coin
Deputy Director McNally holds an Edith Kanakaʻole Silver Proof Coin.

After the events in Hawaii, Deputy Director McNally traveled to the San Francisco Mint and took part in striking an Edith Kanakaʻole silver proof coin as a final activity in a successful celebration of the Edith Kanakaʻole Quarter.

Edith Kanakaʻole was an indigenous Hawaiian composer, chanter, kumu hula, and a custodian of native culture, traditions, and the natural land. Her moʻolelo, or stories, served to rescue aspects of Hawaiian history, customs, and traditions that were disappearing due to the cultural bigotry of the time. Kanakaʻole assisted in the development of the first Hawaiian language program for public school students at the Keaukaha School. Her life philosophy was, “Teach all who come.”

The reverse of the Edith Kanakaʻole Quarter was designed by U.S. Mint Artistic Infusion Program Designer Emily Damstra and sculpted by U.S. Mint Medallic Artist Renata Gordon. As of May 1, the Mint has shipped 209,400,000 Edith Kanakaʻole Quarters to the Federal Reserve Bank. The coin initially released into circulation on March 27, 2023.

U.S. Mint staff stand in front of a group of children
Students at the Keaukaha Community School Event learn about the Mint.

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