Halau Nohona Hawai’i presents its annual celebration of Native Hawaiian culture Saturday. Credit: Provided by Kaimana Chee

Have you ever seen a real hula? Not grass skirts and coconut shell bikinis, but authentic dancing from the 50th state?

You’ll have a chance on Saturday, as performers about 50 performers with Halau Nohona Hawai’i hold its annual Hawaiian celebration, or ho’ike, at Northwood High School.

The non-profit, which draws its name from living the Hawaiian way, has a goal to cultivate and protect the practices, knowledge and traditions of Hawaiian culture through the teachings of hula, language, chant, protocols, music and history.

The organization was founded in 2014 by Kaimana Chee who said he felt the need to teach people about Hawaiian culture and keep it thriving.

“I’ve always felt this inherited responsibility to be a cultural practitioner to help preserve and perpetuate and educate people,” he said. “It’s sort of been part of my DNA since I was really young.”

The group provides weekly classes that teaches Hawaiian language hula, music, singing and Native Hawaiian culture at the White Oak Community Recreation Center in Silver Spring. Proceeds from the event’s ticket sales will benefit the group’s weekly culture classes and give the students a chance to show off what they’ve been learning.


“You learn early on that it’s your kuleana, or your responsibility as a Hawaiian to perpetuate the culture to teach people about the culture to share your aloha,” said Napua Kamakele, administrative director of the organization, who grew up and attended school in Hawaii. “Regardless of where I am in the world, I always take those core values with me.”

As the event will highlight many aspects of Hawaiian culture, it is important to Kamakele to educate people that her home is more than pretty beaches and beautiful sunsets.

“There’s native Hawaiian land right issues, native Hawaiian sovereignty issues, the issue of repatriation when it comes to native bones, remains and artifacts that have been scattered around the world that continues to be an issue,” she said. “The fact that in our islands, indigenous people, we are a minority, we are usually in the lower socioeconomic classes, there’s usually health issues that native Hawaiians face.”


Most members of the organization have ties to Hawaii, some of which aren’t cultural ties and just have admiration for the culture and wanted to learn more, according to Kamakele, who said that it’s open to everyone.

Guests can also taste the islands at the event. Delicacies include Spam musubi, a seared teriyaki marinated Spam rolled with rice and nori; a salted plum powder to top candy and fruits; and popcorn.

Although there will be hula dancing at the event, Chee said there are often misconceptions about the popular dance and that it “doesn’t have a vision.”.


And although there will be hula dancing at the event, Chee said there are often misconceptions about the popular dance and that it “doesn’t have a vision.”

“It’s about storytelling and being able to pass down our stories or our history, from generation to generation through chanting music and dance,” he said. “The Hawaiian language was only oral language until missionaries came in the 1800s. So, in order for us to perpetuate our culture, we had to pass down information through an oral history and through hula.”



The event will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Northwood High School, 919 University Blvd. W in Silver Spring. Tickets can be ordered online through Eventbrite at $20, $10 for children. At the door, prices are $25, $20 for children.