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Education: Higher Education

The Healing Elements: A Native Hawaiian Perspective

About the Module


Dr. Davianna Pōmaika‘i McGregor, Professor and founding member of Ethnic Studies at the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa, is a historian of Hawai‘i and the Pacific. Her ongoing research endeavors have focused on documenting the persistence of traditional Hawaiian cultural customs, beliefs, and practices in rural Hawaiian communities, including the island of Moloka‘i; the districts of Puna and Ka‘ū on Hawai‘i; Ke‘anae-Wailuanui on Maui and Waiāhole-Waikāne on O‘ahu. This work is featured in her 2007 UH Press book, Kua‘aina: Living Hawaiian Culture, which won the Kenneth W. Baldridge Prize for best book in any field of history written by a resident of Hawai‘i from 2005-2007. She is the author of journal articles and book chapters on topics ranging from Native Hawaiian sovereignty and land rights to the role of women in Hawaiian history. She lives in Kaiwi‘ula on the island of O‘ahu and in Ho‘olehua on the island of Moloka‘i. She is a member of the Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana, and was appointed to the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission in 2010-2011. Dr. McGregor received her PhD, from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, in Hawaiian/Pacific History in 1989. She also has an MA, from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Pacific Islands Studies, 1979.

suggested use

The Healing Elements: A Native Hawaiian Perspective module examines Native Hawaiian concepts of health and healing in general and through case studies. It also explores complementary medical practices employed by Native Hawaiians which are rooted in traditional practices.

The themes in this module complement the A Voyage to Health online exhibition with additional readings. Each of the six classes in the module contains a brief overview, a list of primary and secondary resources, and activities for students to engage with the material, including questions to consider for discussions in class. Classes in Anthropology, Ethnic Studies, American Studies, Social Work, Political Science, Health Policy, and Hawaiian Studies may find this module of direct relevance. The module is also relevant for classes in Geography, Ethnobotany, and Hawaiian language.


At the conclusion of the entire module, students are expected to demonstrate:

  • A basic understanding of the cultural, spiritual, and natural elements which contribute to the health and well-being of a community, from a Native Hawaiian perspective and in relation to their own community.
  • An insight into the importance of natural resources and places of healing in the health and well-being of Native Hawaiian and other communities, and the challenges of protecting such resources and places.
  • A consciousness of the role of diet in a healthy lifestyle.
  • A basic understanding of the general benefits of complementary healing practices to overall health and well-being.
  • An awareness and respect for the Hawaiian art of healing.

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