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Hawaiian dancing is a beautiful and meaningful part of Hawaiian culture. The names of famous Hawaiian dancers like Edith Kanaka’ole have profound history behind them. Keep reading to learn more about the story behind hawaiian dancer names.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Some of the most well-known hawaiian dancers include Edith Kanaka’ole and Maiki Aiu Lake. Their names connect back to Hawaiian language and identity.

The Meaning Behind Edith Kanaka’ole’s Name

Edith Kanaka’ole is a renowned Hawaiian dancer whose name holds deep cultural significance. Understanding the meaning behind her name provides a glimpse into the rich history and traditions of Hawaiian naming conventions.

Kanaka’ole Connects to Common Hawaiian Names

The name “Kanaka’ole” is rooted in the Hawaiian language and is not uncommon among the native people of Hawaii. The word “Kanaka” itself means “human” or “person” in Hawaiian. It is a term that has been used to refer to the indigenous people of the islands for centuries. By incorporating “Kanaka” into her name, Edith Kanaka’ole proudly identifies with her Hawaiian heritage and acknowledges her place within the native community.

It is worth noting that many Hawaiian names are deeply connected to the natural world, with each name often having a specific meaning or association. For example, the name “Leilani” means “heavenly lei” or “royal child.” Similarly, “Kanaka’ole” may have additional layers of meaning that are not immediately apparent to those unfamiliar with the Hawaiian language and culture.

’Ole Refers to a Royal Hawaiian Bloodline

The second part of Edith Kanaka’ole’s name, “’Ole,” is another significant component. In the Hawaiian language, “’Ole” means “without” or “lacking.” However, in this context, it does not imply any deficiency or negative connotation. Instead, it refers to a specific bloodline of Hawaiian nobility.

In ancient Hawaii, the term “’Ole” was used to designate individuals who were descendants of the highest-ranking chiefs and members of the royal family. These individuals were considered to possess a sacred and revered lineage. By incorporating “’Ole” into her name, Edith Kanaka’ole proudly highlights her connection to this distinguished royal bloodline.

The significance of Edith Kanaka’ole’s name extends beyond its literal meaning. It serves as a powerful symbol of cultural identity, ancestral heritage, and a reminder of the rich history of the Hawaiian people. Through her name, Edith Kanaka’ole carries on the traditions and legacy of her ancestors, while also representing the beauty and resilience of the Hawaiian culture.

Other Significant Hawaiian Dancers and Their Names

Maiki Aiu Lake

Maiki Aiu Lake was a legendary Hawaiian hula dancer who left an indelible mark on the cultural heritage of Hawaii. Born in 1917, she dedicated her life to preserving and promoting the traditional art of hula. Maiki Aiu Lake was not only a dancer but also a choreographer, educator, and cultural ambassador. Her passion for hula led her to establish the Hula Preservation Society, an organization committed to the preservation and perpetuation of hula and Hawaiian culture.

Maiki Aiu Lake’s talent and dedication earned her numerous accolades throughout her career. She was honored with the prestigious title of “Living Treasure of Hawai’i” in 1983, recognizing her invaluable contributions to the preservation of hula. Her name became synonymous with excellence in hula, and she continues to inspire generations of dancers.

To learn more about Maiki Aiu Lake and her contributions to the world of hula, you can visit the official website of the Hula Preservation Society:

’Iolani Luahine

’Iolani Luahine was another influential figure in the realm of Hawaiian hula. Born in 1915, she was renowned for her grace, elegance, and mastery of the ancient dance form. ’Iolani Luahine dedicated her life to the preservation and promotion of hula, earning her a place among the most revered Hawaiian dancers.

’Iolani Luahine was not only a performer but also a teacher and mentor to many aspiring dancers. Her commitment to passing on the knowledge and traditions of hula ensured the continuity of this cherished art form. She played a significant role in the revival of hula during the cultural renaissance of the 1970s, which saw a renewed interest in Hawaiian traditions.

Today, ’Iolani Luahine’s legacy lives on through the dancers she taught and inspired. Her name is etched in the annals of Hawaiian history, and her contributions to hula continue to be celebrated. If you want to delve deeper into ’Iolani Luahine’s life and achievements, you can visit the official website of the ’Iolani Luahine Foundation:

The Revival of Hawaiian Names and Identity

Hawaiian Names: A Rich Cultural Tradition

Hawaiian names have a deep cultural significance within the Hawaiian community. Traditionally, names were chosen to reflect important aspects of the individual’s life, such as their birthplace, family connections, or personal attributes. These names served as a way to honor ancestors and connect individuals to their Hawaiian heritage. However, over time, the use of Hawaiian names declined as Western naming conventions became more prevalent.

The Impact of Western Influence

During the era of Western colonization, the use of Hawaiian names was discouraged and even actively suppressed. This had a profound impact on Hawaiian identity as individuals were forced to adopt Western names or anglicize their existing Hawaiian names. As a result, many traditional Hawaiian names were lost and the connection to their cultural roots weakened.

A Cultural Renaissance

In recent years, there has been a significant revival of Hawaiian names as a way to reclaim and celebrate Hawaiian identity. This resurgence can be attributed to a renewed interest in Hawaiian culture and a desire to preserve and honor traditional practices. Many parents are now choosing to give their children Hawaiian names, contributing to the revitalization of the Hawaiian language and cultural traditions.

Inspiration from Nature and Mythology

Hawaiian names often draw inspiration from the natural world and the rich mythology of the islands. Names like “Leilani” (heavenly flower) and “Kai” (ocean) evoke the beauty and power of the Hawaiian landscape. Others are derived from Hawaiian gods and goddesses, such as “Kamakana” (gift from the gods) or “Kaleo” (voice).

A Symbol of Pride and Connection

For many individuals, having a Hawaiian name is a source of pride and a way to connect with their cultural heritage. It serves as a reminder of their roots and a way to honor their ancestors. Hawaiian names also contribute to a sense of belonging within the Hawaiian community, fostering a stronger sense of identity and cultural cohesion.

Preserving and Promoting Hawaiian Names

Efforts are being made to preserve and promote Hawaiian names, ensuring that they continue to be passed down through generations. Organizations such as the Hawaiian Names Project are dedicated to researching and documenting traditional Hawaiian names, helping individuals discover the meaning and significance behind their own names.

How Missionaries Changed Hawaiian Naming Conventions

When discussing the history and significance of Hawaiian dancer names, it is impossible to overlook the role of Christian missionaries in the 19th century. Prior to the arrival of missionaries, Hawaiian names were deeply rooted in the culture and traditions of the islands. Names were often chosen based on various factors such as family lineage, personal characteristics, and even the time of day or year in which a child was born.

The Influence of Christian Missionaries

With the arrival of Christian missionaries in the early 1800s, there was a concerted effort to convert the Hawaiian people to Christianity, which included changing their cultural practices. One of the ways in which this was done was by discouraging traditional naming conventions and promoting biblical names instead.

The missionaries believed that Hawaiian names were pagan and needed to be replaced with Christian names to align with their religious teachings. They encouraged Hawaiians to choose names from the Bible, often using English translations. This led to a significant shift in naming conventions, with many Hawaiians adopting Western names that were unfamiliar to them.

The Impact on Hawaiian Dancers

The influence of missionaries on Hawaiian naming conventions had a profound impact on the hula community, and specifically on the names of hula dancers. Hula is an ancient Hawaiian dance form that is deeply intertwined with Hawaiian culture and traditions. Traditionally, hula dancers were given names that reflected their connection to the land, their ancestors, and the stories they told through their dances.

However, with the introduction of Western naming conventions, hula dancers started adopting Christian names that were often unrelated to their Hawaiian heritage. This shift not only disconnected hula dancers from their cultural roots but also contributed to the erasure of traditional Hawaiian naming practices.

Preserving Hawaiian Cultural Identity

Today, efforts are being made to preserve and revive traditional Hawaiian naming conventions. Many Hawaiians are reclaiming their ancestral names and embracing the cultural significance behind them. This includes hula dancers who are choosing names that reflect their connection to their Hawaiian heritage and the stories they share through their dances.

By reclaiming and celebrating their traditional names, hula dancers are not only honoring their ancestors but also contributing to the preservation of Hawaiian cultural identity. This serves as a powerful reminder of the resilience and strength of the Hawaiian people and their commitment to preserving their cultural heritage in the face of historical challenges.

For more information on Hawaiian naming conventions and the impact of missionaries, you can visit the following websites:

The Importance of Perpetuating Hawaiian Names

Hawaiian names hold a deep cultural significance and are an integral part of Hawaiian identity. They reflect the rich history, traditions, and values of the Hawaiian people. The importance of perpetuating Hawaiian names cannot be overstated, as they contribute to the preservation and revitalization of the Hawaiian language and culture. Through the use of these names, we honor the ancestors and pay tribute to the land and natural elements that have shaped the Hawaiian way of life.

Preserving Hawaiian Language and Culture

One of the main reasons for perpetuating Hawaiian names is to preserve the Hawaiian language and culture. The Hawaiian language, also known as ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, is an official language of the state of Hawaii. However, it has faced significant challenges in recent years, with the number of fluent speakers declining. By using Hawaiian names, we keep the language alive and encourage its continued use and learning. This helps to ensure that future generations can connect with their heritage and maintain a strong sense of cultural identity.

Honoring Ancestry and Heritage

Hawaiian names often have deep ancestral roots and reflect the lineage and heritage of individuals. They serve as a connection to the past and provide a sense of belonging and identity. By perpetuating these names, we honor the ancestors who came before us and acknowledge their contributions to Hawaiian society. It is a way of paying homage to their wisdom, values, and traditions, and ensuring that their legacy lives on.

Respecting the Land and Natural Elements

Hawaiian names often have a close connection to the land, nature, and natural elements. They reflect the deep respect and reverence that the Hawaiian people have for their environment. By using these names, we acknowledge and celebrate the unique beauty and significance of the Hawaiian islands and their natural wonders. It is a way of recognizing the interconnectedness between humans and the land, and fostering a sense of stewardship and responsibility towards the environment.


Hawaiian dancer names like Kanaka’ole and Aiu Lake carry deep cultural meaning and history. Understanding the story behind the names allows us to honor Hawaiian identity and connect with the past. The resurgence of Hawaiian names today ties back to a renewed sense of cultural pride and self-determination.

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