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SRPMIC Representatives Meet Hawaiian Dance Group Before ASU Performance

Members of Halau O Kekuhi deliver a sneak peek performance on April 23 at ASU Gammage shortly after meeting SRPMIC representatives. The hula and oli group specializes in the aihaa style of hula.

As a way to pay respect to the Native American traditional homelands in the Valley, an Indigenous Hawaiian dance group set to perform at Arizona State University (ASU) on April 28 met with members of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community a few days before for a social gathering.

On April 23, SRPMIC Council member David Antone, Community Relations Director Janet Johnson, Red Mountain Eagle Pow-Wow Princess Diondria Pilger and others met with Hālau O Kekuhi, a hula (dance) and oli (chant) group specializing in the aihaa style of hula. The gathering, which also included representatives from ASU Gammage and ASU Tribal Relations, was an effort by the Native Hawaiian dancers to meet representatives of the tribe or Indigenous group closest to their performing venue, out of respect for being on their traditional homelands.

The 14-member group shared a preview of their routine by performing two songs as a gift to SRPMIC and ASU representatives. SRPMIC representatives presented the group with a wooden necklace etched with basket and tribal seal designs.

Antone thanked the group for reaching out to the Community and shared some of the history of the O’odham and Piipaash. He also invited the group to visit the Community if they had free time.

Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community representatives, including Council member David Antone, pose for a photo with Halau O Kekuhi, a Indigenous hula and oli group from Hawaii, ASU representatives a few days before the April 28 performance.
“I’m honored to be here among you,” he said. “I wish you the very best with your performance. I know you will do an outstanding job. In the O’odham language, there is no word for ‘goodbye.’ It’s always, ‘We’ll see you again.’”

On April 28, Hālau O Kekuhi performed at ASU Gammage to an enthusiastic crowd.

ASU Assistant Vice President of Tribal Relations Jacob Moore said the university currently has 2,600 Native students, and ASU programs related to Native Americans have been around since the 1960s. Moore also mentioned ASU’s recent acknowledgment of tribal homelands—on April 16, a plaque was unveiled in the lobby of the Student Pavilion at ASU stating that the building was built on the homelands of the Akimel O’odham and Piipaash peoples.

Hālau O Kekuhi performs across the world. For more information on the traveling dance group, visit www.edithkanakaolefoundation.org.