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Tomorrow, June 28, Waimea Middle School teachers Pua Case, Barbara Haight and Kathy Foster, with principal Matt Horne, will fly east to serve as presenters at the National Charter School Conference in Washington, D.C. Exactly one month later, on July 28, about 400 Native American horseback riders and canoe rowers will begin travels of their own — a Unity Ride — from Albany, N.Y., south along the Hudson River Valley. These journeys will intersect, as their stories already have.
The real journey for Case and Haight will begin on July 6, after their conference, when they travel to New York to meet with Unity Ride coordinator Father John Nelson (Chante Wah Nah GHe in the Dakota language), organizer of Live Peace International from the Woodstock Council for World Peace. As a show of their unity with the riders and rowers, the Hawaii Island teachers will present Nelson with 400 “adornments” for them to wear during their journey. The woven bracelets of kukui nut and hau cordage were made by staff and students of WMS and Kanu o Ka Aina New Century Public Charter School, guided by Case and artist Keanuenue Roldan.
“This is taking that aloha message and expanding it all over the world,” said Case, who has already helped guide students through two previous global-minded projects with Native Americans in eighth grade social studies classes, assisted by Foster, Amanda Rieux and Catherine Shafer.
Pua’s daughter Kapulei will photograph their travels for WMS’ Ike Hawaii website page and Case’s daily Facebook updates. Haight’s daughter Mariah will document the experience on video, as a senior project for Hawaii Preparatory Academy. When complete, the documentary film will be presented to WMS students at their back-to-school assembly.
“It helps focus on the purpose of what we are doing,” said Haight, a Grade 6 language arts teacher. “With our themes of unity, peace and healing, we can go and bring back a global connection to our story.”
A journey of peace
This year, while planning for their East Coast trip and creating the adornments, Case connected with Nelson through Facebook and through the bridge of music, in the form of Tom Pacheco’s song “Why Can’t There Be Peace?”
“I have been working on a project called Live Peace, which began with John Lennon in 1969 at Live Peace Toronto. It has been a magical journey of music and creativity,” said Nelson. “A songwriter for President Obama gave me a song to promote and produce. So I began sending this song to many peoples all over the world and Pua was one of those who came on the radar.”
With the help of Case, Sonny Lim, Paul Buckley, Chadd Paishon, Pomai Bertelmann, Kanoa Castro, Hawane Rios, Keali’i Bertelmann, and many others, a very special Hawaii Island version of the song was created and performed by 150 students and teachers from WMS and Kanu. Their performance evolved into a high quality video on the Live Peace You Tube channel.
“We have incredible spiritual support and when someone like Pua comes along, it takes our energy and multiplies what we all are doing for the earth by a hundred fold,” said Nelson. “Many other countries are working on their own versions and it is Pua’s production that has helped to light that fire. We are meeting in New York City in July as she brings her gifts to the Dakotas and Iroquois peoples.”
“This shows the importance of ‘Ike Hawaii,’ to make history relevant,” said Case, “to make it come alive.” As part of WMS’ curriculum, students learn many subjects in the context of themes. In the same way that the four-year worldwide sail of Hokule’a (Ike Hawaii’s current, ongoing theme) has direct educational relevance to sciences, geography, Hawaiian studies, world cultures and more, the Unity Ride works in the classroom.
“As an English teacher, working with ‘common core’ curriculum, we can talk about comparisons, and connections … even though we are very different and distant from each other. Students can compare why it is that people will journey to share a message—like a pilgrimage or crusade,” said Haight. “Throughout history, in many cultures, people travel from Point A to Point B for a very deep, personal reasons.”
On their pilgrimage or crusade, horses and riders of the Dakota Nation led by Chief Gus High Eagle will travel from their homes in Manitoba, Canada, and elsewhere to join the East Coast Nations and the canoes of Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign headed by Hickory Edwards of the Onondaga Nation. Their reason, as they travel down the Hudson Valley on land and river, is to spread messages of peace and healing—over thousands of miles and to millions of people.
The canoe voyage pays tribute to the 400th anniversary of the Two Row Wampum treaty between Native Haudenosaunee and Europeans, signed in 1613, allowing for peaceful coexistence on the same land. The Unity Ride is an outgrowth of the annual 300-mile journey to Menkato, Minn., where 38 Dakota men were hanged by President Abraham Lincoln’s executive order in 1862.
Rowers and riders will intersect at various locations for public events and celebratory interaction with local communities in the spirit of peace. Their end goal is the United Nations in New York City, where they will present the “International Code for Sacred Sites.”
A journey of healing
For Case, with ancestral ties on the East Coast, her journey is more personal, as it continues north to Nantucket Island, Mass. Case’s distant relative, Christopher Hussey, was one of 10 original purchasers of the island in 1659. Later, he gained notoriety as the first whaler to discover and harpoon a sperm whale, helping Nantucket grow into a whaling industry capital, with direct and permanent impact on Hawaii. Along the way, many of the original residents, native hunters, farmers and fisher-folk of the Wampanaog tribe were disseminated and displaced.
“My ancestor was Christopher Hussey. I acknowledge the part he may have played in terms of the Wampanoag, and hope to meet with them and present them with gifts representing us, his family members,” Case said.
“His descendant Alexander Hussey sailed here and married my great-great grandmother, a Hawaiian woman descended from the peoples of Awini who had guarded the stronghold for the baby Pai’ea,” said Case. (Pai’ea is the birth name of King Kamehameha I). “For that reason my family members were invited to represent the descendants of Kamehameha at this year’s Kamehameha Day Parade in Kohala. Like many others, I represent the ties that exist between early voyagers to Hawaii and the native people who were of this place.”
When WMS classes study whaling in Hawaii, the American westward expansion or the Indian Relocation Act, Case often presents her family story, allowing students to relate to history through someone they know.
“I want them to know there’s a full circle,” said Case. “We are connected to voyages from the past and we are also connected to present day voyages, such as the Hokule’a world-wide voyage and the Unity Ride.”
“Our Ike mission is to teach students that this is their history, their journey, their voyage and that history is real, alive—and they are all connected to it, no matter where they are.”
“My hope is that students would be inspired to do what I am doing, to know who and where they came from, to retrace their own historical journeys,” said Case. “And, to learn the stories of the impact our ancestors had on history and thus the impact we will have on the history of the generations to come. Let us leave a proud history for the next generation to inherit or we will find ourselves searching for ways to make amends.”
To follow the intersecting journeys, please visit the WMS website http://waimeamiddleschool.org/ and see the “Ike Hawaii” tab on left.