Native Hawaiian Musician And Hula Teacher Will Appear On US Quarters

Native Hawaiian Edith Kanaka’ole, who died in 1979, was an award-winning composer and instructor at Hawai’i Community College and University of Hawai’i at Hilo. The U.S. Mint has announced that Kanaka’ole will be one of five American women minted on new quarters in 2023.

Representatives of the Hawaiian cultural-based nonprofit Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation, which was established on the traditions and cultural heritage of Edith and her late husband Luka Kanakaʻole, said that the organization is grateful for the honor.

In a March 30 Facebook post, the foundation shared the news.

“The U.S. Mint has just announced that Aunty Edith Kanaka’ole will be featured on the U.S. quarter in 2023 as part of the American Women Quarters Program which celebrates culturally significant women and their achievements; women who’s groundbreaking contributions had lasting impact on society,” they wrote.

Kanaka’ole’s family was pleased by the news, as well.

“This is an unbelievable honor for our family, for our body of work at the Edith Kanaka’ole Foundation in carrying on her legacy and her teachings, for our home and for our people,” said in a statement.

A post by Territorial Airwaves on the anniversary of her birthday shared that Kanaka’ole was born on Oct. 30, 1913, married her husband in 1933 and had six children.

“Edith’s first professional engagement as an entertainer was in 1954,” Territorial Airwaves wrote. “About the same time, she began teaching, following her mother’s stroke. She began composing oli in 1946 and songs in 1947. She founded her halau in 1953, teaching ancient and modern hula as well as other Polynesian dance. She was a noted scholar & teacher of Hawaiian language, ethnobotany, chant, mythology, genealogy, land ownership, Polynesian history.”

The U.S. Mint named four other women to appear on the coin next year: Bessie Coleman, the first African American and first Native American woman pilot; Eleanor Roosevelt, first lady, activist and author; Jovita Idár, Mexican American journalist, activist, teacher and suffragist; and Maria Tallchief, America’s first prima ballerina, who was also Native American.

“The range of accomplishments and experiences of these extraordinary women speak to the contributions women have always made in the history of our country,” U.S. Mint Deputy Director Ventris C. Gibson said in a statement. “I am proud that the Mint continues to connect America through coins by honoring these pioneering women and their groundbreaking contributions to our society.”

This year the mint honored five other American women, including Maya Angelou and Sally Ride.