FHH invited by the Smithsonian National Museum of American Indian (NMAI)

NMAI – Mall Museum, Washington, DC and Community Resources Center, Suitland, MD. Coordinated by Melissa Bisagni, Visitor Services Specialist, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institute.

FHH was invited by the Smithsonian National Museum of American Indian (NMAI) to lead and participate in the repairs of Au Hou, gifted to NMAI by FHH during the opening events for the Washington, DC museum in 2004. William “Billy” Richards, Tay Perry, and Ryan Olivares represented FHH to demonstrate for their staff and visitors, the process by which the waa was constructed, and teaching Visitor Services staff how to best take care of it (malama the waa kaukahi and create a video to document knot tying and lashing).

Our intended goals for this trip are:

  • The refurbishment of the wa’a, Au Hou, including:
    o … unlashing of the ‘iako and ama assembly.
    o … possible sanding and revarnishing of the hull.
    o … replacement of the ropes and re-lashing of the outrigger assembly.
  • Basic training for Interpretive Services staff on the materials and tools used to build the wa’a.
  • Sharing of Hawaiian language used in relationship with the canoe.
  • Advice on the creation of a new cradle, stand and transportation system for the canoe.
  • Viewing of collection items in the NMAI and the National Museum of Natural History collections.
  • Listening sessions with to hear from museum staff about the work done to represent the community from
    which the wa’a originates from and guidance on how to enhance these interactions.
  • Discussing how the Friends of Hokule’a and Hawai’iloa and NMAI can strengthen and build our relationships.
  • Meet and interact with the Inuit kayak builders, Pauli Illuitok and Apprentices Wesley and Troy Aglukka,
    who are repairing the museum’s netsiligmeot kayak, who will also be on site performing repairs and
    teaching staff.

Au Hou, as you know, is one of four boats that have been living in our Museum’s Potomac Atrium, greeting visitors, teaching, and participating in celebrations for the past 19 years. Over that time, all the boats have sustained some damage and we realized they need some knowledgeable caretakers. From time to time there have been staff members with that knowledge, but most have left the museum over the years. Thank you for coming to the museum to support our learning how to take better care of Au Hou.

We learned so much from you in all forms, from your workmanship and specialized knowledge, but also your patience, gratitude, and humility. I hope we see you all again very soon and I hope getting back to your daily life in Hawai’i hasn’t been too hard!

FHH donated Au Hou in September 2004 to NMAI and held a launch ceremony in the Potomac River in 2005. View the flyer.