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New Guidance to Honor ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi  

Following Mahina ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi (February's Hawaiian Language Month), the U.S. Department of the Interior announced new guidance to preserve and also elevate knowledge and...
HomenewsIndigenousFebruary Marks the tenth anniversary of Hawaiian Language Month

February Marks the tenth anniversary of Hawaiian Language Month

For the tenth consecutive year, February marks Mahina ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi or Hawaiian Language Month.

Established by the University of Hawaii in 2013, each February commemorates the native language of Hawaii – its preservation, Hawaiian culture and learning efforts to strengthen the language.

The allocation of Hawaiian language month came after Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed Act 28 and was the first of its kind to be transliterated in both Hawaiian and English and states:

“Mahina Olelo Hawaii. E ike mau a e kapa ia ana ae ka mahina o Pepeluali o ia ka ‘Mahina Olelo Hawaii’ i mea e hoomaikai a e paipai aku ai i ka Olelo ana o ua Olelo makuahine nei la.

Translation: Olelo Hawaii Month. The month of February shall be known and designated as ‘Olelo Hawaii Month’ to celebrate and encourage the use of Hawaiian language.”

‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i – the Hawaiian language, was officially banned from public school systems three years after the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893, leaving the language facing extinction. Many native people were forced into assimilation into a newly colonized nation.

In the 1970s, a revitalization of Hawaiian culture reignited interest in language learning efforts and ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i was reintroduced into public school curriculums in 1978, after the language became officially recognized in the state of Hawai‘i.

As of 2023, Hawai‘i’s public education system offers K-12 Hawaiian language immersion programs and students of the University of Hawai‘i Mānoa can choose ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i as a major.

The celebratory events – largely hosted by different faculties and student groups at the University of Hawaii, offer everything from language classes, yoga sessions, swing dance classes, historical lectures and games.

Malia Nobrega, director of strategic partnerships at UH Mānoa Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge reflects ““Mahina ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi is a time for our community to pause, reflect and assess where we are and where we are going.” She adds “We celebrate our successes and progress and we fortify ourselves to normalize and strengthen Hawaiian language for all the generations to come.”
Many of the events are free and some will also be offered online.

The Hawaii State Public Library System is also an active participant in Hawaiian Language Month, and various locations host their own celebrations in addition to year-round services.

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