Celebrated hula teacher Edith Kanaka’ole to be featured on US quarters | Hawaii Otesanya David April 2, 2022

Celebrated hula teacher Edith Kanaka’ole to be featured on US quarters | Hawaii

Celebrated hula teacher Edith Kanaka’ole to be featured on US quarters | Hawaii


The late Native Hawaiian hula teacher Edith Kanaka’ole is among five women who will be individually featured on US quarters in 2023 as part of a program that depicts notable women on the coins.

The US Mint described Kanaka’ole, who died in 1978, as a composer, chanter, dancer, teacher and entertainer.

“Her mo’olelo, or stories, served to rescue aspects of Hawaiian history, customs and traditions that were disappearing due to the cultural bigotry of the time,” it said in a news release.

The Edith Kanaka’ole Foundation in Hilo, established in 1990 to perpetuate her and her husband Luka Kanaka’ole’s teachings, said she had been recognized as “the pre-eminent practitioner of modern Hawaiian culture and language”.

In a statement to the New York Times, Kuhao Zane, one of Kanaka’ole’s grandchildren, praised the honor calling it “recognition at almost the highest level”.

“I felt like they were really trying to honor, alongside these women, some of the Indigenous knowledge America holds,” he added.

Edith Kanaka’ole and her husband, Luka Kanaka’ole, pose in a portrait
Edith Kanaka’ole and her husband, Luka Kanaka’ole. Photograph: AP

The US Mint said the other four women to appear on the coin next year were Bessie Coleman, the first African American and first Indigenous American female pilot; Eleanor Roosevelt, the first lady and author; Jovita Idar, the Mexican American journalist and activist; and Maria Tallchief, America’s first prima ballerina. Each quarter will carry the image of George Washington on the other side.

“The range of accomplishments and experiences of these extraordinary women speak to the contributions women have always made in the history of our country,” said the mint’s deputy director, Ventris C Gibson. “I am proud that the mint continues to connect America through coins by honoring these pioneering women and their groundbreaking contributions to our society.”

The secretary of the treasury selects the honorees, following consultation with the Smithsonian Institution’s American Women’s History Initiative, the National Women’s History Museum, and the Congressional Bipartisan Women’s Caucus, the mint said.

Women selected to be a part of the American Women Quarters Program are chosen for their contributions to a wide range of fields including suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, humanities, science, space, and the arts.

By law, all people featured in the coin designs must be deceased.

In 2022, the program is issuing coins featuring five other women, including the poet Maya Angelou and the astronaut Sally Ride.


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