Meet the People Preserving the Native Cultures of Alaska and Hawaii: Let’s Go Together Episode 11 of Travel + Leisure’s New Podcast
Over the course of the last few weeks, Kellee Edwards, pilot, adventurer, and host-extraordinaire of Let's Go Together, the first podcast from Travel + leisure, has introduced us to the people redefining what it means to be a traveler. And this week, on the 11th installment, Edwards is bringing it back stateside to hear two people share their love and understanding of two of America's most treasured states: Hawaii and Alaska.
In this episode, Edwards introduces us to two cultural ambassadors for their states: Kumu Micah Kamohoali'i, from the Waimea on Hawaii's Big Island, and Alyssa London, a TV producer and author who is a member of the Tlingit Tribe from Angoon, Alaska. Both Kamohoali'i and London have traveled across the world sharing their own distinct cultures while also connecting with other native people along the way.
For London, preserving and sharing her culture has been part of her story for as long as she can remember. "One of my earliest memories of trying to communicate to other people, my classmates, about my culture was when I did a show-and-tell about the Tlingit creation story in about second grade," she told Edwards.
After graduating, London carried her story to Stanford University, where she doubled down on her mission after learning that many people didn't think Native culture existed anymore. "I felt that it was one of my goals or purposes in life to help people understand the origins of the people of these lands — and also to not let our cultures be forgotten," she said.
In Hawaii, Kamohoali'i is also on a mission to help preserve the islands' Native history, culture, and nearly lost language. "I am a native Hawaiian and I'm an educator here, teaching Hawaiian language, Hawaiian chant and dance, and many different things," he told Edwards. "So I sit on different boards throughout our state that [promote] Hawaiian culture and sustainability and Hawaiian traditions."
During the discussion, Kamohoali'i explains the complex history of Hawaii that most mainland Americans never learn in school, including how businessmen backed by U.S. armed forces essentially took over the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893 and banned the Hawaiian language. "By the time [of the] '60s and '70s there [were] only about 50 people that spoke [the] Hawaiian language."
Throughout the episode the trio have a heartfelt discussion about the people and traditions that make their homes so special — and break down the complexities of what it's like living in a country that knows so little about the people who have always called Hawaii and Alaska home.
They also introduce Edwards to their native languages. "Let's go together," Kamohoali'i translated, "literally we would say, let's all go: e hele kāua."