National Museum of the American Indian Celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

May 7, 2009
News Release
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The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian will host a variety of free public programs to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, including a Hawaiian cultural festival, a play, concerts, art demonstrations, films and more.

Native Films
Throughout May, three Hawaiian films will be screened in the Rasmuson Theater. “Hawaiian Sting” (1997, 9 min.) features a satiric commentary of the “invasion” of the islands by non-Natives and “Stolen Water” (1996, 27 min.) documents the efforts of Native Hawaiians on Oahu who work to restore natural stream water that was dominated by the pineapple-growing industry at the turn of the century. Both films will be screened at 12:30 p.m. daily, except Wednesdays. “The Voyage Home” (1996, 56 min.) is a powerful film that documents the sea voyage to the Pacific Northwest Coast of the first Hawaiian double-hulled wooden canoe to be made in centuries, and it will be shown at 3:30 p.m., except Wednesdays; schedules are at the Welcome Desk.

Native Writers Series
Award-winning author, Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl (Native Hawaiian/Samoan), will discuss and read from her recent publications “Hawai’i Nei,” an anthology of three plays, and “Murder Casts a Shadow,” a mystery set in 1930s Honolulu Wednesday, May 13, at 6:30 p.m. Kneubuhl is a recipient of the Hawai’i Award for Literature, and has produced 12 plays, several of which have toured Britain, America, the Pacific and Asia.

Native Theater
The museum presents its first self-produced Native play, “The Conversion of Ka’ahumanu” Friday, May 15, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 16, at 2 p.m. The play by Kneubuhl is set in Hawai’i during the early 19th century; this poignant play explores the complex relationships among Christian missionaries and indigenous women 40 years after the islands’ first contact with the West.

Special Screening
In honor of The Brothers Cazimero’s performance at this year’s Indian Summer Showcase there will be a special screening of “NA KAMALEI: The Men of Hula” (2006, 57 min.) Friday, June 12, at 7 p.m. The film reveals the stories of hula dancers participating in an all-male hula school in Hawaii. The program will feature master hula instructor, Robert Cazimero; director, Lisette Marie Flanary; and a special performance by Na Kamalei. The Mitsitam Cafe will feature a special Hawaiian menu including pork and fish dishes available at 5 p.m. before the screening.

Hawaiian Festival
The museum’s third annual Hawaiian festival, “Celebrate: Hawai’i,” brings the best of Hawaii to Washington, D.C., Saturday and Sunday, June 13-14. The weekend’s festivities include an array of family friendly activities and entertainment that honor the music, dance and history of Hawaiian culture. The highlight event will be the kick-off concert for the museum’s Indian Summer Showcase outdoor concert series by The Brothers Cazimero at 5 p.m. on the Welcome Plaza. Their unique music style has been incorporated into the fabric of Hawaiian history and is the standard by which all other Hawaiian entertainers are measured.

Demonstrations include the traditional art of weaving, including helmets, fish traps and basketry; kapa (bark) preparation, dyeing techniques and stamping; and the creation of traditional and contemporary leis, including lei history and lore. Additional activities include a Hawaiian fashion show illustrating various adornments and fashion styles and how they relate to different phases of the hula. Food demonstrations by Daniel Kaniala Anthony at the outside fire pit will show visitors the traditional preparation of poi, which comes from the taro root. Storytellers in the Resource Center on the third level will engage audiences with tales of Hawaiian life and experiences. Outside the museum in the cropland section on the south side, a “canoe garden” showcases bananas, yams, coconut, paper mulberry, ginger and turmeric, to illustrate the food that traveled across the Pacific to Hawaii. The program will also include daily dance demonstrations by a local halau (Hawaiian school of dance), a talk by a noted Hawaiian plant expert, special film screenings and family activities.

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