U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

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Ship with orange sails on the waterA Voyage to Health: An exhibition about the revival of Native Hawaiian Traditions

A Voyage to Health explores the history of Kaho‘olawe and traditional voyaging, and how the resurgence of Native Hawaiian culture helped heal the soul of the community. Around the year 400, migrating voyagers from the South Pacific began to settle on the island of Kaho‘olawe. Over the centuries, the island became a navigational hub for the region and a sacred site. When European colonizers and missionaries invaded, they threatened the ecological balance of the island. Following World War II, the United States military seized Kaho‘olawe for bombing exercises.

In 1976, as part of a wider campaign by Native Hawaiians to reclaim their rights and traditions, members of the Hawaii Movement formed Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana (PKO) and recaptured the island. Soon after, Native Hawaiians reintroduced the lost art of long distance voyaging, leading to a revival of traditional voyaging arts in Hawai'i and Polynesia. Because of the success of these actions, voyaging now serves as a powerful model for other efforts to improve the health of Native Hawaiians through the revitalization of cultural traditions.

Beginning in October 2010, A Voyage to Health became available as a traveling exhibition free of charge to interested libraries and cultural centers. Please go to Book a Traveling Exhibition for more information.

Last Reviewed: May 23, 2019