News & Events


April 28, 2016

Native Hawaiian Children’s Welfare Visitors at IWRI

On January 6, 2016, IWRI had the honor of hosting Native Hawaiian visitors from the Queen Liliu’okalani Children’s Center, a social agency created to fulfill the Queen’s mission to care for and support orphan and destitute children throughout the State of Hawai‘i. The cohort from the Children’s Center travelled through Seattle and Portland to visit sites conducting work similar to theirs and learn about innovative social programs which serve all families, regardless of ethnicity. Robin Makapagal, one of visitors and a licensed social worker at the Center, shared that their specific interest in IWRI was to learn about what is being done to uplift indigenous peoples of this region.

As one customarily does in many indigenous cultures, we opened the gathering with an exchange of song, dance and prayer. Snohomish Tribe Chairman Mike Evans, along with other community members, opened with a prayer and song to welcome our honored guests. Evans also presented the guests with hand-carved wooden feathers as a token of remembrance. In return, the Hawaiian visitors offered an oli (chant) asking permission to enter the sacred grounds and a song, “E Alu Like Mai Kakou,” which Makapagal explained is a song that instructs “us, natives of Hawaii, to pull together.” This exchange of offerings speaks volumes to the mutual respect and appreciation shared between the cultures.

During the gathering, IWRI faculty and staff shared the history, mission, research and community engagement efforts of the institute. Dr. Tessa Evans Campbell emphasized IWRI’s commitment to community-driven health research, supporting and nurturing indigenous youth and integrating indigenous students and faculty into higher education institutions. Dr. Bonnie Duran delved deeper into the importance of authentic community engagement in effectively addressing the root of social and historical determinants of indigenous health disparities. Anjulie Ganti, Project Director of the Māhina Indigenous Health Research Training, highlighted the immense need for such interdisciplinary opportunities specifically provided for indigenous students. Māhina is particularly unique in its partnership of principal investigators and institutions located in Seattle, Hawaii and New Zealand. Chris Charles, IWRI Media and Technology Division Director, elaborated on the process and creation of digital stories which were a central part of Māhina.

In reflecting on our time together, Makapagal recalled key topics that resonated with the Children’s Center visitors: indigenous research methodology, ownership of research vested in those who are subjects of the research, transparency in working with our own people, and most inspiring, hope.

In closing, the Hawaiian visitors showed warm gratitude through an oli mahalo – a chant of thanks. “It talks about our time together, and how we ate and shared. We thanked God and our ancestors and ended with thinking you,” said Makapagal. Along with the oli, the Hawaiians gifted IWRI a feather lei. “The gifts offered were part of telling you about us. We gave a feather lei, which is precious to us, and is indicative of the high honor you paid us by allowing us to visit.” IWRI was honored to host our Hawaiian brothers and sisters and strives to continue nurturing the meaningful, shared relationship.