Mokuola Honua


Our Purpose

Reestablish prominence for indigenous perspective

The GCILE’s mission is to reestablish the prominence of our indigenous perspectives in modern contexts, both in our homelands and globally; doing so from a strong foundation of fluency in our mother tongues.

Where we are

A gathering place for all (in Hilo)

The Center will be a gathering place – both physical and virtual – fostering collaborations on a wide range of indigenous issues and strategies, all of which are grounded in strong language fluency.

Started as a grassroots effort in the mid-1980s, the Hawaiian language movement - namely the consortium of the ʻAha Pūnana Leo, Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu K-12 Hawaiian-medium school, and the Hawaiian Language College of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo - has become a local, national and international model for indigenous language revitalization. The consortium has developed strong relationships with other indigenous communities engaged in language revitalization efforts for the last three decades. These informal collaborative efforts were born out of necessity due to the limited resources that are typically available to indigenous language efforts as well as the small numbers of those actively pursuing such initiatives.

The Center is providing structure, purpose and space to create a stronger global network supporting indigenous language revitalization globally and is housed in the Hawaiian Language College of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.

How we think

Sharing our strengths

The Center’s collaborations will bring together those from indigenous communities that have achieved considerable progress in revitalizing and normalizing languages and perspectives, but will pay particular attention to budding community initiatives as well.

Our intent is to perpetuate a traditional understanding of alaka‘i a hahai, leading and following, and kaikaina a kaikua‘ana, older siblings nurturing younger siblings. As we achieve progress individually and have insight that can be of benefit to others, we have the ability and responsibility to lead and follow in the dynamic of this collective in a manner that promotes efficacious learning and growth, and that capitalizes on our collective strengths.

An official partner of UNESCO’s IYIL

Given the direct alignment of the International Year initiative with the Center’s global indigenous language work, Mokuola Honua is excited to be partnering with UNESCO on the 2019 IYIL and is dedicated to contributing in meaningful ways throughout the year.

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL) in order to raise awareness for indigenous languages and to mobilize different stakeholders and resources towards coordinated action around the world by preserving, supporting and promoting indigenous languages at national, regional and international level.

Our Inoa

The meaning of our name

Island of Life and Healing

Mokuola Honua Global Center For Indigenous Language Excellence is named for the small island in Hilo Bay called Mokuola. Literally, an “island of life and healing,” Mokuola is a traditional healing site for Native Hawaiians.

Mokuola is traditionally said to be a piece of the neighboring island of Maui that was dislodged by the hook of the cultural hero Māui. This happened as part of a process by which Māui was seeking to bring the Hawaiian Islands completely together. The Center is envisioned as providing a venue to bring the Indigenous World together to seek life and healing for – and through – indigenous languages.

In striving to bring the world’s indigenous peoples together in Hilo, the Center does not seek to homogenize indigenous peoples into a single approach or philosophy. The story of Māui and Mokuola shows that a more appropriate goal is closer relationships while maintaining distinctiveness. The addition of the word Honua after Mokuola represents the world and also a safe and protected space.

The full name Mokuola Honua represents the aspirations of the host Hawaiian language college to offer its small but embracing home as a safe place of healing and life for the world’s indigenous peoples.

Our ‘Ohana

of Indigenous Language Advocates