For future generations…
As National Park Week draws to a close, let us remember what it is all about. It is for the mission “The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.”
One of the future generations that has been visiting National Parks on an increasingly regular basis are the keiki (children) of Punana Leo Hawaiian language immersion preschools. These young preschoolers visit with their teachers and families to learn the stories of Hawaiian culture as related to these parks. What is exceptional about these visits is that all the information is communicated in the mother tongue of Hawaii, Hawaiian.
What are the stories for them? At Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site, the heiau is the story about Kamehameha the great. Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park has features such as fishponds that were one part of daily activities of Hawaiians living in a seemingly arid and inhospitable environment. In South Kona, Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park has the pu‘uhonua, the royal grounds and Hale o Keawe which illustrate the Hawaiian lifestyle and kapu system. And then there are the many stories of Pele and her interactions with the land, ocean and people at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. When they walk through these parks, they use the many ancient and historic trail segments of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail that their ancestors walked on and their families still use for similar purposes.
These and many more stories are for all of us. All National Parks were established because of significant stories and precious things that are found within each place. Parks are for people. For National Parks in Hawaii, having visitors that speak the Hawaiian language is becoming more and more common. These keiki are our future generation. We do all our work not just for us, but especially for them.
Visit a Park, Walk a Trail and have a Happy National Park Week!
For information about Punana Leo, call 323-8052 or 1-800-498-4979.