Aloha ‘Āina o Lāna‘i E ‘Ike Hou iā Lāna‘i

NOAA B-WET Award Number: NA17NOS4730195

View New: ‘Āina- and Place-Based Cultural Literacy Curriculum

Student Projects:

Modeling Our World (LHES Freshmen Watershed Project) 

Honuaola Reflections (LHES Elementary Student Watershed Learning)

‘Āina- or Place- based curricula are effective tools for engaging students and making learning relevant. Studies show that place-based activities and education positively impact a young person’s socio-emotional wellbeing, which in turn has a positive impact on their experiences in what is known as “traditional” education. The ‘Āina-based approach to education is also culture-based education. For Hawaiians and many other people, culture is a direct reflection of the living environment from which the people grew. The ‘āina-based education approach increases Hawaiian cultural affiliation, civic engagement and stronger relationships between youth, teachers, families, and their communities (cf. Kana‘iaupuni, Ledward, Jensen, 2010).



The Lāna‘i Culture & Heritage Center developed the “Aloha ‘Āina ‘o Lāna‘i Adaptive Curriculum for Cultural Literacy and Place-Based Learning” in partnership with practitioners, educators, resource managers, and granting organizations from across the state. The initiative included support from a NOAA B-WET Grant (Award Number: NA17NOS4730195), the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, Honua Consulting, the Pacific American Foundation (PAF), Kua‘āina Ulu ‘Auamo (KUA), Lāna‘i High & Elementary School and importantly support of Pūlama Lāna‘i which holds responsibility for stewardship of Lāna‘i Island.

Since 2013, Pūlama Lāna‘i, has supported all cultural literacy and place-based education initiatives making program sites accessible, providing transportation, with resource staff, funding supplies, through matching in-kind grants, and in all facets of program implementation. Pūlama Lāna‘i sees recognizes the value in this initiative as a way of building community capacity for stewardship and future leadership.

Since 2007, the Lāna‘i Culture & Heritage Center (CHC) has been engaged in sharing the biocultural legacy of Lāna‘i with island students, the community at large, and guests to the island. The first efforts in providing curriculum resource materials to Lāna‘i High & Elementary School (LHES) teachers was the result of a collaboration between Martha Haia Evans (then Vice Principal at the school) and Kepā Maly. In 2011, Lāna‘i CHC developed a fund to foster place-based/cultural literacy learning initiatives on Lāna‘i and received a three-year grant through the U.S. Department of Education-Native Hawaiian Education Act to implement programs. At the close of the grant in 2015, Lāna‘i CHC continued offering cultural literacy programs and developing curricula resource documents with the help of funding partners. 

In 2017, Lāna‘i CHC received a two-year grant from the Bay Watershed Education and Training Program-Hawai‘i, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (Grant No. NA17NOS4730195), to develop project-based learning opportunities as a part of an initiative to restore Waia‘ōpae Loko I‘a (Fishpond). The initiative included development of curricula that integrated the natural and cultural history of Lāna‘i into learning experiences for LHES students. We are committed to programs that promote awareness of the natural and cultural history of Lāna‘i and prepare future generations of students to become leaders in island stewardship.

The program continues to nurture and, more importantly, provide innovative educational opportunities to inspire generations now and in the future. Curriculum expertise was shared by the PAF, which developed the original Kāhea Loko (Call of the Pond) and the Aloha ‘Āina curricula in 2000 and 2003. These curricula are meant to be a seed or a catalyst for others throughout the Hawaiian archipelago to nurture, enrich, and add to the ‘ike Hawai‘i (Hawaiian knowledge) pertaining to the ancient Hawaiian loko i‘a and ahupua‘a (traditional Hawaiian land division) concepts island by island.

Our team worked through 2019 to incorporate Lanai-specific history, mo‘olelo, and traditions that would make the curriculum more relevant for our island youth. On April 13, 2019, we hosted a professional development workshop with Pacific American Foundation staff and Mikiala Lidstone of the Ulu Ae Learning Center to provide training on the new curriculum and ways to incorporate place-based learning into classrooms. After receiving feedback from teachers who attended the training, we finalized the curriculum and printed copies of the curriculum in the summer of 2019 and provided copies to Lanai High and Elementary School for use. The curriculum is not only aligned with Common Core Standards and Next Generation Science Standards but also with C3 Social Students framework. A hard copy of the curriculum has been mailed to Jim Foley.

Throughout our project, we offered professional development training for 50 educators on place-based learning resources and activities, and also engaged interested community members in programs. While we set out to provide training for 8 teachers, we ended up working with 154 educators from across Hawaii, showing how place-based learning on Lāna‘i can be a model for other communities as well. By providing students and educators with multiple avenues through which to learn about Lānai’s bio-cultural landscape, we have made place-based learning accessible and engaging for students of all ages.