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Mary Kawena Pukui #AsianPacificAmericanHeritageMonth

Today we celebrate bacteriologist and biochemist Mary Kawena Pukui is a Hawaiian scholar, dancer, composer, and educator. She educated extensively in the folk tales and languages of Hawaii, as well as providing sourcework and ethnographical studies for theHawaiian islands.

From the University of Hawai’i at Manoa Library:

Mary Kawena Pukui’s published work spans over 50 years, and her contribution to Hawaiian knowledge and preservation make her a giant in both the fields of Hawaiian language and Hawaiian studies. It is not much of a leap to say that were it not for Tūtū Pukui much of the information and texts we take for granted would either have remained lost, or would have been translated much later. Kamakau, I‘i, and Kepelino became known due to her efforts. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau, chants, mele – much of which we owe to Pukui, it is not too far-fetched to say that before her death no other living Hawaiian had worked as hard to preserve the knowledge and culture of the Hawaiian people. Pukui’s translations and authorship span a variety of Native Hawaiian topics: kinship, life cycles, religion, material culture, language, mele – the gamut of Native Hawaiian expression. Of the 19th century Hawaiian scholars who make up the translated canon of Hawaiian history, Pukui translated three – Kamkau, I‘i, and Kepelino. While, Martha Beckwith usually gets the credit for translating Kepelino’s Traditions of Hawaii, I have taken the cue from Rubellite Kawena Johnson who lists Tūtū Pukui as the translator of Kepelino’s Traditions. Today the full extent of Pukui’s work and scholarship is evident not only in her published work, but also in the vast repository of notes and manuscripts held at the Bishop Museum in the Hawaiian Ethnographic Notes (HEN).

Pukui’s translations and authorship span a variety of Native Hawaiian topics: kinship, life cycles, religion, material culture, language, mele – the gamut of Native Hawaiian expression. Of the 19th century Hawaiian scholars who make up the translated canon of Hawaiian history, Pukui translated three – Kamkau, I‘i, and Kepelino. While, Martha Beckwith usually gets the credit for translating Kepelino’s Traditions of Hawaii, I have taken the cue from Rubellite Kawena Johnson who lists Tūtū Pukui as the translator of Kepelino’s Traditions. Today the full extent of Pukui’s work and scholarship is evident not only in her published work, but also in the vast repository of notes and manuscripts held at the Bishop Museum in the Hawaiian Ethnographic Notes (HEN).

 

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