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Look out for Edith Kanakaʻole quarters in your next handful of coins

Courtesy Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation and the Kanakaʻole Family/U.S. Mint

Soon you can flip a coin, call tails and, if luck is on your side, see renowned kumu hula, composer and chanter Edith Kanaka’ole.

She is one of five women to appear on the U.S. quarter as part of the 2023 American Women Quarters Program.

The U.S. Mint announced last week that Kanakaʻole's coins have shipped from their manufacturers in Philadelphia and Denver.

The quarter shows the face of Kanakaʻole adorned with lei poʻo, morphing into a landscape. It represents her work to preserve the natural land and Hawaiian culture.

U.S. Mint

It also has the phrase “E hō mai ka ʻike,” meaning “granting the wisdom.” Those are words from "E Hō Mai," an oli she composed requesting knowledge and wisdom from ancestral deities.

Kanakaʻole's legacy is found not only in hula, but her original oli. She began composing oli in 1946 and choreographed hula to go with her chants. She toured internationally to perform her hula.

She was a key figure in the Hawaiian Renaissance movement of the 1970s and played a major role in revitalizing the Hawaiian language.

Among her many achievements, she is recognized for developing the first Hawaiian language program for public school students at Keaukaha School on Hawaiʻi Island.

From 1971 to 1979, she also taught classes on Polynesian history at Hawaiʻi Community College and the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.

Kanakaʻole died on Oct. 3, 1979. Her legacy continues through her hālau, Halau O Kekuhi, and the nonprofit Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation.

Edith and Luka Kanakaʻole
Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation/Kanaka‘ole Family
Edith and Luka Kanakaʻole

The other four women to appear on the coin in 2023 are Bessie Coleman, the first African American and first Native American woman pilot; Eleanor Roosevelt, first lady and author; Jovita Idár, the Mexican American journalist and activist; and Maria Tallchief, who was America’s first prima ballerina.

Additionally, quarters with former U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink will be released in 2024.

Zoe Dym was a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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