American Indian Museum Plans Hawaii Aloha

Posted May 26, 2010 at 5:06pm

Bare feet sinking through warm, wet sand, deep blue waves tickling the ankles. Palm trees, a cool breeze, mai tais — ah, Hawaii.

The National Museum of the American Indian is gearing up to return D.C. residents to the paradise-like state for the weekend. Not literally, unfortunately. While there won’t be any sandy beaches or sunbathing, participants might find themselves equally enchanted by the colorful tropical flowers, the sound of racing drums and the scent of Huli-Huli chicken at the fourth annual Celebrate Hawai’i cultural festival.

The three-day event on Saturday, Sunday and Monday combines performances, games, foods, music and educational activities on Hawaiian culture at the museum on Fourth Street and Independence Avenue Southwest.

Loosen your hips for a little hula dancing, and see whether you can shimmy faster than the local hula dancers performing in grass skirts or banana leaves. Free lessons will follow the performances.

Not much of a dancer? Fill your belly with taro root chips, bok choy stir-fry and “haupia,” or coconut pudding. The museum’s executive chef also will demonstrate how to make Hawaiian barbecue-style meats and treats on the outdoor fire pit.

Several Hawaiian craftsmen will be flying in to assist with the festivities. Guests will learn the art of lei-making from Bill Char, a world-renowned lei crafter and finalist of Honolulu’s annual Lei Day Competition.

Samuel M. ‘Ohukani‘ōhi‘a Gon III, scientist and cultural adviser at the Hawai’i Nature Conservancy, will discuss Hawaiian botany and vegetation.

The weekend includes a complimentary dinner-and-a-movie night on Saturday. Although the film is free, participants must register for the 5 p.m. dinner and showing of “Heart of the Sea: Kapolioka’ehukai,” a movie about female surfer champion and Hawaiian legend Rell Kapolioka’ehukai. Hawaiian cuisine will be available for a fee before the movie.

Other short education movies about the gods of the islands and male hula dancing, for example, will run throughout the day.

The Hawaiian festival is the first in a series of festivals and concerts in the Indian Summer Showcase. The summer events feature dances, demonstrations, music and foods from different Native American cultures. Leonda Levchuk, public affairs specialist, said the collection actually spans the entire Western Hemisphere and brings indigenous people from across North and South America to the programs.

For a full schedule of Celebrate Hawai’i cultural festival or to register for Saturday’s dinner and a movie, visit americanindian.si.edu.