The I Ulu I Ke Kumu award is given for extraordinary commitment and excellence in Native Hawaiian education. The 2013 ceremony and awards dinner is the fourth annual event and generates scholarship funds for Hawaiʻinuiākea students. Senator Daniel Akaka, Richard Kekuni Blaisdell, Marvlee Naukana-Gilding and Eddie & Myrna Kamae, were honored on March 23, 2013 by U.H. Mānoa’s Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge at the Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies.
The first U.S. Senator of Native Hawaiian descent, Daniel Kahikina Akaka’s distinguished career began in 1976 when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for seven consecutive terms until appointed to the Senate in 1990 where he represented Hawaiʻi for 23 years until his retirement on January 3rd, 2013. While the Senator also championed many causes that stem from his military service and early work as an educator, he is most recognized for his passion for Native Hawaiian issues and for bringing true aloha to Capitol Hill.
Dr. Kekuni Blaisdell is recognized as a pillar of the medical profession in Hawaiʻi. Ground-breaking research in Hawaiian healing traditions, the founding of the U.H. Native Hawaiian School of Medicine, and his encouragement of students to become physicians are a few of his many contributions that have strengthened the tradition of medicine in Hawaiʻi and propelled it into the future by incorporating the best of western medical practices.
Marvlee Naukana-Gilding has served the Center for Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa since 1982. Former director Carlos Andrade says, “She is the living repository of what has transpired since the Kaʻū Report catalyzed the creation of Hawaiian Studies as a formally recognized discipline within the Academy, probably the first of its kind in the world.” Beginning as a secretary and continuing throughout the terms of several directors, she earned a Bachelor’s degree and later a Master’s degree in Library Science. Considered irreplaceable, she has, since her retirement, continued to work part-time for the center and its library.
Hawaiian musician, composer, and documentary director Eddie Kamae has, together with wife and producer Myrna Kamae, devoted more than fifty years to preserving authentic Hawaiian culture, history and music. From Waiʻanae to Washington, D.C., ten award-winning documentaries in the Hawaiian Legacy Series have reached more than 6 million people through nationwide primetime television, film festivals, and community events. More than 500,000 students have participated in their presentations and classroom discussions.