The Power of the Indigenous: Native Success in Education and in Life


Special Events
Monday, April 29, 2013

Speakers | Agenda

This one day Professional Development Institute for Native educators offers pioneering international information and training regarding four highly successful facets of Indigenous/Hawaiian education, and provides practical advice on how to create and maintain quality Native-based public school options.

Outcome: Sharing, Growing and Articulating Indigenous Best Practices in Education.

Colloquium Topics:

  • Native Values Inform Modern Instruction
  • Pedagogy of Place Drives 21st Century Curriculum
  • Traditional Practices Shape Modern Assessments
  • Local Communities Impart Global Skills and Responsibility

Each 90-Minute Colloquium is moderated by a facilitator and involves four 15-minute speaker presentations, followed by a 15-minute small group discussion on the same topic, with the final 15 minutes to be used for small group discussion summaries and comments from the audience.

Presenter Biographies

Photo: Mary Jiron Belgarde

Mary Jiron Belgarde (Isleta / Ohkay Owingeh Pueblos) is Faculty Emerita of American Indian Education at the University of New Mexico—College of Education. She worked many years among Native students as a school counselor, administrator, and researcher in urban and rural Native communities. As a graduate of Stanford University, Dr. Belgarde Co-Founded a non-profit organization, Native American Alliance for Charter Schools, Co-Coordinates annual national conferences for Native Charter and Self-Determined Schools, and does educational consulting regarding Native Charter Schools and Indigenous Evaluation.


Photo: Shane Edwards


Shane Edwards (Maori: Waikato & Ngati Maniapoto)—Born and raised in Auckland, much of Dr. Edwards’ early and teenage years were spent in the vibrant spaces of the Auckland Bus Terminal, Ponsonby Pool Hall and Grafton Bridge where he quickly developed a love for critical thinking and strategic survival. These skills were informed by the theoretical writings and vibrations of Bob Marley that accompanied him and his friends in the “Ghetto Blaster” of the day. Today, Dr. Edwards holds the position of Kaihautau Marautanga—Executive Director, Quality Improvement and Research, for Te Wananga o Aotearoa. Areas of interest focus on Indigenous Research, including Coloniality and Post-Colonial Studies in discourse with a particular interest in Indigenous health and well-being; and Indigenous Epistemologies. He has worked in higher education for over 15 years in Polytechnics, University and Wananga sectors. Dr. Edwards has 5 children with his partner Niki. Any spare time is spent fishing; growing and propagating native trees; enjoying rugby, and having a good a laugh with people.


Photo: Richard  LoRé




Richard LoRé (Southern Cheyenne Gourd Society) Dr. Rick LoRé is a retired educator from the University of New Mexico. He taught classes in Liberal Arts, Adult Basic Education, Art, and the Social Sciences at Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, Albuquerque. He also taught the GED Program there where he employed creative, imagistic and meditative exercises to stimulate students and did so with great success. He has served as teacher and administrator in Indian Education employing Indigenous philosophy and holistic growth and development theory for over twenty years. He studied, worked with and has been mentored by prominent Indian educators and elders from Nevada and New Mexico.


Photo: Manulani Meyer


Manulani Aluli Meyer is the fifth daughter of Emma Aluli and Harry Meyer. From a large family with roots in Hilo and Wailuku, she grew up on the beach of Kailua, O‘ahu. Ms. Meyer is an outdoor experiential educator and coach who entered philosophy and teacher-education because of the needs of our time. She earned her doctorate from Harvard, researching Hawaiian epistemology, or an indigenous philosophy of knowledge.


She is dedicated to transforming ideas of intelligence, research, and life to better address the needs and honor the unique contributions of all people. A former Associate Professor of Education at the University of Hawai‘i in Hilo, Meyer works with more than 35,000 students in New Zealand for Te Wananga o Aotearoa, the largest Maori tertiary provider in the country.

Ms. Meyer’s book: Ho‘oulu: Our Time of Becoming, is in its second printing.


Photo: Rosa Kalauni


Rosa Kalauni is an educator, born on Niue Island and raised in the Pacific, is married with two beautiful children and 2 adorable mokopuna (grandchildren). She is currently teaching English to Learners of English and is the Head of Faculty of Languages and English for Academic Purposes at Papatoetoe High School. Despite having the biggest department nationally she is best known in educational circles in Niue and New Zealand as the creator of the youth leadership program for Pasifika students in secondary schools (Auckland). The program was innovative, value based and culturally-driven, offering seminars designed to create a forum in which young Pasifika students in the 21st century could demonstrate their abilities and reach their potential.


Photo: Mark W. Sorensen


Mark W. Sorensen has been an educational leader of schools serving Navajo students for thirty-six years. His work as Principal, Superintendent, Advisor and Mentor of indigenous schools has focused on improving the quality of Native American and Native Hawaiian education, and on supporting Native American tribes and communities in developing full service, culturally relevant and ecologically sensitive schools. He has a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University, and is currently the co-founder, Governing Board President, and CEO of The STAR School, the first off-grid solar and wind powered charter school in the U.S.


Photo: Meleanna Meyer


Meleanna Aluli Meyer (Native Hawaiian)—Meleanna’s passion is for the arts, creating, teaching and championing all art forms. Her commitment to the arts and keiki of her one hānau are a driving force in her life. Meleanna’s kumu have always offered great training and mentoring. While at Stanford she was mentored by Nathan Oliveira and Leo Holub. Her kumu in mana‘o Hawai‘i was respected educator, Mr. Keola Lake. Her MA in Educational Foundations from the U.H. Manoa, was under Dr. Royal Fruehling. An East West Center grantee, APAWLI and Salzberg Fellow, Meleanna has been able to lend her many talents to a wide range of arts, culture and educational collaborations. As a practicing artist, educator and filmmaker, she has taught in a wide range of educational settings both public and private, at the University level, in the charter schools, and as an artist in residence. As a documentary filmmaker she has three films to her credit.


Photo: Dr. Ku Kahakalau




Dr. Kū Kahakalau is a native Hawaiian educator, researcher, song-writer, expert in Hawaiian language, history and culture and co-founder of Kū-A-Kanaka Indigenous Institute for Language and Culture. As Project Director of Basic Hawaiian, Dr. Kahakalau is currently developing an anytime, anywhere digital Hawaiian language program designed to transition thousands of Hawaiians into Hawaiian language speakers. The first person in the world to earn a Ph.D. in Indigenous Education, Dr. Kahakalau is best known in educational circles as the designer of Pedagogy of Aloha, an innovative, values- and place-based, culturally-driven, academically rigorous way of education designed to prepare young Hawaiians for 21st century cultural steward- and global citizenship. Between 1997and 2010 Dr. Kahakalau tested this educational theory via the creation, oversight and evaluation of an innovative family of Hawaiian-focused programs and services including Hawai‘i’s first bi-lingual early childhood program, Hawai‘i’s first fully-accredited Hawaiian-focused charter school, Hawai‘i’s first Indigenous teacher licensing program and Hawai‘i’s oldest cultural immersion in the environment program. This research clearly indicates that—when resourced appropriately— Pedagogy of Aloha can result in unprecedented success for native Hawaiians in education and in life.


Photo: Marcos Aguilar




Marcos Aguilar has been an educational leader for over two decades, first as a prominent student activist in the nineties, then as a history teacher in LAUSD & throughout his adult life, as a traditional Aztec dancer & community organizer. In 2000, Marcos & his wife Minnie Ferguson co-founded the community-based organization that eventually founded Xinaxcalmecac Academia Semillas del Pueblo. In 2008, based upon parent, student & community demand, Marcos helped design & initiate a second IB World School, Anahuacalmecac International High School. In 2012, on behalf of Semillas Community Schools, Marcos accepted the ‘Firekeepers’ Award from the Seventh Generation Fund.


Photo: Mahina Duarte




Mahina Paishon Duarte (Native Hawaiian) hails from O‘ahu a Lua and currently serves as Head of School for Hālau Kū Māna New Century Public Charter School, a Hawaiian culture focused secondary school, serving underserved minorities within the urban Honolulu core. Mahina is a cultural practitioner, an educator and a social entrepreneur who is passionate about Hawaiian academic, cultural, economic, and political advancement. At Hālau Kū Māna, Mahina is part of a talented and capable community of professionals that has re-imagined a native 21st century educational model that is closing significant achievement gaps, including college acceptance rates.


Photo: Iinimaikalani Kealiikuaina Kahakalau


‘I‘inimaikalani Keali‘ikua‘āina Kahakalau (Native Hawaiian) is a Chancellor Scholar at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, majoring in Liberal Studies, where she blends her interest in Hawaiian Language and Culture, Digital Media, Educational Technology and E-commerce. Employed part-time at INPEACE as Associate Project Director of Basic Hawaiian, ‘I‘ini is assisting in the development of innovative Hawaiian language apps, games, and videos, building on her expertise in Hawaiian language and culture acquired since birth. ‘I‘ini was raised in Waipi‘o Valley where she grew up speaking Hawaiian, living off the ‘āina, and living a Hawaiian lifestyle. As a cultural practitioner ‘I‘ini Kahakalau has been involved in Hawaiian ceremonies and cultural events for many years. As the next generation of Hawaiian educators, she believes in the potential of Indigenous Education to fundamentally improve education.


Photo:Nalei Kahakalau



Nālei Kahakalau (Native Hawaiian) who resides with his family in Kukuihaele on Hawai‘i Island, is one of the founders of Kanu o ka ‘Āina New Century Public Charter School and has been intricately involved with the development of Education with Aloha since the early 1990s. From 2003 to 2011, Uncle NĀlei led the 6-12 Waipi‘o Project, a highly successful residential historic stream restoration study, which set new standards in Indigenous education. As a cultural practitioner, Uncle Nalei has facilitated ceremonial activities for many years and is always looking for ways to learn, teach, and practice his Hawaiian culture. This includes being involved with Nā Papa Kanaka o Pu‘uhoholā Heiau, Hale Mua o Hāloa, Pā Ku‘i A Holo, Aha Kāne Moku o Keawe, and the Hawai‘i Island Burial Council. A 1977 graduate of Roosevelt High School, Uncle Nālei earned a Bachelor‘s in Political Science and a Certificate in Hawaiian Studies from UH Hilo and was part of the first cohort to complete the Hālau Wānana Teacher Licensing Program.


Photo: Vanelle Maunalei Love


Vanelle Maunalei Love (Native Hawaiian) is one of the founders of Hawaii’s charter school system and has been involved with the local and national charter school movement for over 19 years. Co-founder of the Hawaii Association of Charter Schools, now known as the Hawai‘i Charter School Network, Maunalei has served as co-chair of Kamehameha’s Proposal Development Team for Charter Schools, and well as as Executive Director of the Charter School Administrative Office (CSAO).

Maunalei is currently working with Hakipu‘u Learning Center, a Hawaiian Culture-Based charter school, serving grades four through twelve. In addition, her consulting business EO... Education Opportunities assists schools and organizations with organizational and systems management. Maunalei was taught in the tradition of the hula and Hawaiian arts from birth and became a Kumu Hula of Halau O Ku‘ulei at the age of 21. Maunalei’s vision is to assist with creating a system of support for innovation and educational excellence in Hawai‘i and globally, while actively engaging our larger community.


Photo: Manu Meyer



Dr. Manulani Aluli Meyer (Native Hawaiian) is the fifth daughter of Emma Aluli and Harry Meyer. She is from the larger Aluli ‘ohana dedicated to the rejuvination of all things Hawaiian in art, education, land care, justice, food, music and thinking. Manu earned her doctorate from Harvard researching Hawaiian epistemology, or an indigenous philosophy of knowledge. Manu is currently involved in He Waka Hiringa, Te Wananga o Aotearoa’s Masters in Applied Indigenous Knowledge. She is also dedicated to food sovereignty with the mentoring of MA‘O Farms in Waianae, O‘ahu. Her work and scholarship is in the application of Indigenous epistemology in all facets of society.


Photo: June Nagasawa


June Nagasawa (Japanese-American) was born and raised in Honolulu. An educator for 44 years, June he taught for the Hawai‘i Department of Education for 33 years. In 2001, she left the state school system to join the Hawai‘i charter school movement in an effort to provide true choices in education for Hawai‘i students. For the last eleven years, she has worked, learned and grown with Hālau Lōkahi Public Charter School, one of Hawai‘i’s two urban Hawaiian-focused charter schools. As chair of the Local School Board, June provides expert guidance to the school, building on her wealth of experiences, her unconditional aloha for all students and her unwavering commitment to academic rigor and educational success.


Photo: Ipo Kauhane


A Native of Kaua‘i, Ipo Torio-Ka‘uhane (Native Hawaiian) is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kanuikapono Learning Center. The vision of the Learning Center is to cultivate the 21st century learning community grounded in native education and community renewal. The educational program model is grounded in Hawaiian culture, place, and project-based learning. Ipo Torio has over 25 years of experience in Hawaiian education leadership and community development. She is a graduate of Kamehameha School, holds a B.A. from the University of Hawai‘i Mānoa, earned a Masters degree in Business Administration from Chaminade University, and is currently pursuing a second Masters degree in Educational Leadership.


Photo: Puanani Wilhelm


Puanani Wilhelm (Native Hawaiian) has an over 20 year history of being on the forefront of Hawaiian Education. She was the first Hawaiian Language Immersion teacher at Keaukaha Elementary School, then continued her work in the Hawaiian language at Kapa‘a Elementary. She then went on to become the State Specialist for Hawaiian Immersion and the statewide Hawaiian Studies Program. She served as principal at Ke Ana La‘ahana and is currently the Education Director at Kua o ka Lā in Puala‘a, Puna, Hawai‘i. She also serves as the administrator for Kua o ka Lā’s Hipu‘u online learning program which is in its second year.