Hawaiian culture shared

Members of the Native Hawaiian Organizations offer a pule (prayer) as a sign of respect and acknowledgement to the ancestors buried at the Hickam burial vault.

Members of the Native Hawaiian Organizations offer a pule (prayer) as a sign of respect and acknowledgement to the ancestors buried at the Hickam burial vault.

Navy Public Affairs Support Element Detachment Hawaii

The Department of Defense (DoD) along with Native Hawaiian Organizations (NHO) held a three-day DoD Native Hawaiian Cultural Communications and Consultation Course (NHCCCC) at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam beginning Feb 7.

The course focused on how to provide DoD employees awareness of Hawaiian history and culture, as well as laws and regulations to build the foundation for successful working relationships with Native Hawaiians.

“We strive to help our personnel learn how to move forward and build long-lasting partnerships and relationships with the communities that are surrounding the installations here,” said Joe

Sarcinella, senior advisor and liaison for Native American Affairs for the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Capt. Scott King, the NAVFAC Hawaii operations officer, listens to Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie, a professor of law at the University of Hawaii, at Historic Hickam Officers' Club, Feb. 7.

Capt. Scott King, the NAVFAC Hawaii operations officer, listens to Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie, a professor of law at the University of Hawaii, at Historic Hickam Officers’ Club, Feb. 7.

The NHCCCC opened with an executive session geared at DoD senior management, and U.S. armed forces commander-level representatives whose work may have an effect on Native Hawaiians, and for those already working with the local community and NHO.

“This course builds support and encourages us to appreciate the importance of cultural resources, so we may honor and protect resources for future generations,” said Rear Adm. John V. Fuller commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific.

“Communications and consultations are critical if we are to sustain cooperative relationships for the U.S. to remain ready to meet the current challenges abroad.”

The course taught a variety of subjects, including U.S. and Hawaiian history, Native Hawaiian perspective on federal law, and honoring Hawaiian culture.

Sarcinella commented on the extent of knowledge provided by instructors and said “These are the people who wrote the book on Native Hawaiian Affairs.”

“We are trying to present a point of view coming from Native Hawaiians and our community, on how we see the world, our history and culture, and what our values are,” said Kai Markell, the compliance enforcement manager of Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and presenter at this year’s NHCCCC.

“Our hope is that when branches of DoD engage with the community, they understand our connection with the land and our ancestors and attempt to see things through our eyes, on how we view this special place.”

Throughout the course, there were exercises between DoD personnel and members of the NHO, in which both parties were encouraged to share their beliefs and values with each other.

” We grow through these one-on-one connections. They help develop deep understandings for one another and give us a foundation of trust to build upon,” Markell said.

That foundation of trust is essential to strengthen the Navy’s partnership with the local Hawaiian community, according to Fuller.

“I’m intrigued by what we have in common. We share a warrior’s ethos. We know the best way to sustain peace is through strength, courage and mutual understanding,” Fuller said.

“Having that understanding allows us to do our job more effectively, while further building the trust and partnership between our installations and the indigenous people of Hawaii.”

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