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Our Powwow History

American Indian Veterans have the highest record of military service at five times the national average and have served with distinction in every major conflict over the last 200 years. Through this trend we know that countless indigenous relatives from Turtle Island have been stationed throughout Hawaii since the US military occupation began here in 1898. During that time some portion of American Indian soldiers started families here. But the relationship between Native Americans and indigenous Hawaiians stretch beyond time immemorial according to some oral histories. 

In 1971 a Native American woman stationed in Hawaii posted an ad in the local newspaper seeking other Native Americans in the islands. She was far from her reservation home and longed to connect with other First Nations in the community. By 1974 the first ever Honolulu Intertribal Powwow was held at Ala Moana beach park with drummers, round dancing and a picnic potluck. The powwow has since evolved over the last 45+ years with hundreds of participants, drummers, dancers, and vendors from Turtle Island, Hawaii and Canada.

Honolulu's powwow was supported through generous donations from local community organizations, community members and through the Hawaii Council of American Indian Nations (HCAIN). This group was formed to provide alcohol / drug counseling, cultural education and job training to the local Native community. In addition, the American Indian Powwow Association (AIPA) was formed in the early '80's to organize, support and fund all future powwows.​ Both organizations have since gone through several transitions, as the original elders have passed on and the broader Native American military and student populations are generally transient to Hawaii. At present, the Honolulu Intertribal Powwow is supported through the local efforts of the Oahu Intertribal Council (OIC) 501(c)(3), descendants of founding members, and various supportive friends of the council.

 

As a small grassroots group with no major tribal affiliated presence or reservation for diverse First Nations to gather in Hawaii, the Oahu Inter-tribal Council continues to foster indigenous connections and support community needs. We honor and respect the host Kanaka Maoli culture and continue to encourage all visitors including First Nations relatives to do the same.