Feb 28, 2023

For Immediate Release

February 28, 2023



Manu Tupper or Mike Inacay (Schatz) at press@indian.senate.gov

George Flynn (Hirono) at George_Flynn@hirono.senate.gov

Carly Sylva Gabrielson (Tokuda) at 202-374-3738

Nestor Garcia (Case) at Nestor.Garcia@mail.house.gov




WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai‘i) and U.S. Representatives Jill Tokuda (D-Hawai‘i) and Ed Case (D-Hawai‘i) introduced a resolution recognizing February 2023 as Hawaiian Language Month, or Mahina ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi.


“ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi’s ongoing revitalization is a story of perseverance, leadership, and grassroots action by the Native Hawaiian community and its allies,” said Chairman Schatz. “Those efforts inspired a reversal of harmful federal policy towards Native languages and led to passage of the landmark Native American Languages Act. With this resolution, Congress is acknowledging the significance of ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi’s legacy for Native languages across the country.”


“For centuries, people across the Hawaiian Islands spoke ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, but after being banned from schools and government in 1896, ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi nearly went extinct,” said Senator Hirono. “In recent decades we have made progress in reviving the Hawaiian language, but ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi is still considered ‘severely endangered’ today and there is more work to do to protect it. This resolution recognizes the importance of preserving ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi—a critical part of Hawaiian culture—and continuing to promote its revitalization. I am glad to join my colleagues from the Hawaiʻi delegation in celebrating Mahina ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi.”


“I am proud to introduce this resolution designating February as “‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i Month” and I urge Americans everywhere to join us in recognizing the significance of this occasion,” said Rep. Jill Tokuda. “Prior to the illegal overthrow, the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi was once one of the most literate nations in the world. Tragically, decades of policies banning the teaching of ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i led to the near extinction of the language in the 1980s. While we have come a long way, more must be done to preserve and promote the Hawaiian Language for future generations. Everyone deserves the right to learn and use their ancestral language. I will fight to protect that right for Native Hawaiians."


“Aloha mai kākou, Aloha Mahina `Ōlelo Hawai`i! The language of a people connects them in many ways – to their past, their culture, their very identity, and when the language is at risk so is the connective tissue of a people,” said Congressman Ed Case (HI-01). “The philosopher Noam Chomsky said ‘language embodies the world view of a culture and is unique to the culture that created it’. This resolution seeks not only to promote and perpetuate awareness of the Native Hawaiian language, but of everything that forms the essence of the indigenous peoples of Hawai’i – Na Kānaka Maoli.”


The full text of the resolution is available here.