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Native Hawaiian Convention to be held in Las Vegas for the first time

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Isaac Brekken
FILE - In this Oct. 20, 2009 file photo, casinos are pictured on the Las Vegas Strip. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken, File)

The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement announced that for the first time ever, it will hold a regional convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The inaugural Western Regional Native Hawaiian Convention will be held at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino in June, and will feature discussions on cultural perpetuation, housing and tourism.

For the past two decades, the annual CNHA convention held on Oʻahu has served as the largest gathering of Native Hawaiians to discuss issues facing the Hawaiian community.

Kūhiō Lewis, CEO of CNHA, said it's about time the organization reconnects with Native Hawaiian ʻohana living on the continent.

"This has been an ongoing conversation about how do we keep our families, our ʻohana, our cultural connection to one another — how do we keep that alive?" Lewis told HPR.

Las Vegas is home to the third largest population of Native Hawaiians in the country, behind Hawaiʻi and Sacramento, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

"We know... more than half of our population have moved away from the islands. We’re still an ʻohana. We’re still a lāhui. So we see our presence expanding to the continent as a means to keeping our community together, keeping that spirit and that culture alive and thriving into the future," Lewis said.

For more information about the convention (June 19-22) and to register, visit HawaiianCouncil.org/convention.

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at khiraishi@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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