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Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī Taps JABSOM Doctor for Hawaiian History Month

Date: September 26th, 2022 in Collaboration, Community Outreach, JABSOM News, Native Hawaiian, Native Hawaiian Health    Print or PDF


September is Hawaiian History month, and JABSOM has partnered with the Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī Coalition to produce a vessel for education about Hawai’i’s history and culture that offers a vivid spectrum of programs to celebrate Native Hawaiian history.

One week is traditionally dedicated to health.

“If you’re talking about the Hawaiian community, and where we were and where we want to go, health is very integral to that,” says Dr. Martina Kamaka, Associate Professor in the Department of Native Hawaiian Health at the John A. Burns School of Medicine.

Papa Ola Lōkahi, a non-profit focused on Native Hawaiian Health, ‘Ahahui o nā Kauka, the Association of Native Hawaiian Physicians, and the John A. Burns School of Medicine Department of Native Hawaiian Health all play a role in developing themes for Hawaiian History Month.

With roles at ‘Ahahui o nā Kauka and at JABSOM, Dr. Kamaka was tapped to help design parts of the health or Hoʻola program..

“This has been a vehicle to highlight our indigenous perspective and Hawaiian values.” Health topics since 2020 included:

Traditional food and food systems.
Traditional healing practices.
Impacts and approaches toward addressing infectious diseases in the past and plantation era healthcare systems.
Featured presenters have been scholars, traditional healers, and cultural practitioners, both kūpuna and those from younger generations.

Child raising, the re-emergence of traditional birthing practices, and an overview of the illnesses of our aliʻi (monarchs, chiefs) were the dedicated health topics for this year’s Hawaiian History month.

Dr. Carol Titcomb, M.D., a pediatric clinical faculty member at JABSOM, drove the child-raising discussion.

“Dr. Titcomb did this wonderful study interviewing kūpuna on how they were raised and their thoughts on child raising, and it certainly made you think about how we could use those traditional practices and cultural values to help this next generation of parents,” Kamaka says.

The online Hawaiian History Month series began during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Kamaka was pleased to see how it could reach a larger audience. Storing presentations on YouTube has also allowed Kamaka to use the Hawaiian History Month presentations as teaching tools.

“These videos live on, and as an example, I send my JABSOM students to these videos, saying, ‘you should check out some of the programming in 2021 about the impact of infectious disease because this is relevant to the research project you’re interested in.'” she says.

Kamaka says she would love to see future programming address chronic disease and care for kūpuna past and present. “We use a very holistic lens to deliver lessons from the past that will hopefully make things better going forward.”

You can check out 2022’s Ho’ola topics on child raising and childbirth here:

I Ulu nō ka Lālā i ke Kumu: Child-Rearing Traditions Recalled by Native Hawaiian Kūpuna
“He Lālā Ulu: Maoli Traditions of Pregnancy and Childbirth Can Influence the Development of a Srong Lāhui

Past programming can be found at: www.hawaiianhistorymonth.org.

Matthew Campbell, Director of Communications


2017 photo of Dr. Martina Kamaka. Amanda Shell photo.

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