It was so lovely meeting Leilani and Puanani Alama for this current Hana Hou! Magazine cover story. The legendary Alama sisters are incredibly sweet and their passion for teaching hula is an inspiration. Puanani and Leilani are two of the oldest active kumu hula alive today, teaching hula for the past 70 years and still weekly at each of their Oahu studios.
Leilani playing ukulele for her hula students as they dance.
Puanani and Leilani Alama in Leilani's studio with her hula students who have studied devotedly with her for many years.
The sisters dancing at the Queen Emma Summer Palace grounds.
Leilani, 87, still teaches hula five days a week at her Kaimuki studio she opened in 1943 when she was just 18 years old.
Puanani, 82, in her studio holding the 1950's 'Lovely Hula Hands' album cover - that's her on the cover and the image behind.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
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Wednesday, May 22, 2013
It was fascinating learning from Sam ‘Ohu Gon III, Senior Scientist and Cultural Advisor for the Nature Conservancy, about the ecological impact the Native Hawaiian footprint had on Oahu versus today. It's truly eye opening how much the islands have changed since we've inhabited them.
In 1998 Sam Gon started creating maps that would show the ecosystems of the Hawaiian Islands as they existed before humans arrived, the rainforest, lowland forest, desert, etc. He put those maps up against modern-day maps to illustrate the changes that have occurred since. But he was always haunted by the prospect of the 'in between' maps. What would a comprehensive map of the Hawaiian Islands’ ecosystems have looked like when the Hawaiians were living on and using the land, at the heyday of Hawaiian civilization? What was their footprint like? Where were their roads, their housing settlements, the fields for their crops, their gathering sites, their fishing grounds? How much of the original native ecosystem did they displace and for what purposes? Gon decided to try to create such a map and began with the island of O‘ahu. He relied on a number of sources to do it: Old writings and newspapers, old maps, archeological evidence, chants, soil samples, rainfall patterns. And he succeeded in creating a comprehensive map of what O‘ahu would have looked like in pre-contact times.
I photographed Sam at a native restoration complex, Papahana Kuaola in Haiku valley, Kaneohe to illustrate what a Native Hawaiian habitat might have looked like for Hana Hou! The Hawaiian Airlines Magazine.
Sam chants before spreading stones at the Heiau he helped create at Papahana Kuaola
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