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Opening Plenary

  • Event
    • Jun 6, 2018

    Setting Course on the Future While Staying Rooted in the Past

    In 2016, three native Hawaiian college students hit the road with Roadtrip Nation to explore the global impact being made in their own backyards in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math (STEAM). Throughout their journey, they realized that as long as they remain steered by their interests and driven by their love for Hawai‘i, they will never be led astray—no matter which career path they choose to take.

    Join Roadtrip Nation Creative Director, Willie Witte, and the Hawaii roadtrippers to view Setting Course clips and for an engaging panel discussion around the important lessons learned on the open road, the challenges they have faced in pursuing their degrees, and their thoughts about what educators can do to help Native/Indigenous students succeed.

    • 9–10 a.m.

Opening Plenary

Willie Witte

Willie Witte

Creative Director
Director for the Hawaii Roadtrip, Setting Course

Willie Witte’s business card reads “Professional Roadtripper.” Seriously, it does. With over 60,000 miles clocked in Roadtrip Nation’s Green RV, he has now set foot in 49 of the 50 United States (someday he’ll make it to North Dakota!). More important, as Creative Director of the Roadtrip Nation television series and associated products, he’s been behind the lens for nearly 200 interviews with inspiring people from all walks of life. He also recently co-authored the New York Times best-selling book Roadmap: The Get-It-Together Guide for Figuring Out What To Do with Your Life.

Keakealani Pacheco

Keakealani Pacheco

From Hilo, Hawai‘i

When Keakealani Pacheco was in high school, she was chosen to attend an international technology conference—and once she’d interacted with other members of the tech community, her curiosity about the industry was solidified into a passion. As someone who was raised with a strong focus on tradition, she’s excited to tackle a field that’s constantly looking to the future. However, while she wants to indulge her entrepreneurial spirit, there’s a part of her that feels she should focus on settling down and starting a family—values that aren’t always encouraged within the startup world. Now a freshman at Hawai‘i Community College in Hilo, she wants to see how she can use her interests to empower her community, while also staying true to her dreams. She’s ready to take this road trip as an opportunity to remove herself from all outside expectations and, instead, see where her heart will guide her.

TEHANI Louis-Perkins

Tehani Louis-Perkins

From Hale’iwa, O‘ahu

The daughter of a high school biology teacher, Tehani Louis-Perkins has always been drawn to the sciences. As a senior in high school, she enrolled in a maritime program that taught her how to sail the open ocean using traditional Hawaiian navigational practices—guided only by the wind, sea, and stars. After seeing this custom in practice, she knew her life’s passion would be combining ancestral Hawaiian sciences with contemporary methods and technology. Currently a junior at Whitman College—where she’s majoring in environmental studies and biology—she’s torn between staying in her home state after graduation to work at the local loko i‘a (a community fishpond) or leaving to attend law school in the hopes of affecting change through environmental law. She hopes this journey will introduce her to professionals from both spheres and provide her with the guidance she needs to confidently navigate this fork in her road.


Traven Apiki

From Hilo, Hawai‘i

Born on O‘ahu, Traven Apiki feels Hawaiian through and through. But after 18 years spent moving around the country, he lost touch with his roots and his Hawaiian mother tongue. Ultimately, most of his upbringing was spent in Homer, Alaska, where an experience volunteering for a nonprofit uncovered his passion for environmental science. But as he grew older, he started to feel something tugging him back toward Hawaii. He decided to return to his home state, where he reimmersed himself in the Hawaiian language and traditions, including the art of hula. Now, as he nears the end of his college experience as an environmental studies major at the University of Hawai‘i, he’s starting to feel the pressure of finding a steady job that he loves—but he hopes this road trip will strip away some of that stress to reveal the potential he has within.


  • Event
    • Jun 6, 2018

    Coming Up for Air Native Knowledge and Our Collective Role in World Transformation

    Hawai’i is a beloved place surrounded by the blue ocean and  blue sky. Like a number of populations  around the world, Hawaiians believe that land and water are our highest priorities and the source of our greatest aspirations. How does this idea help our work with native peoples in higher education? How does it instruct us in our own lives? How does aloha ‘āina and ʻike kupuna inspire our Institutions to better address the needs of our time? This plenary talk will focus on the creation and usage of knowledge that will give us a glimpse of the future. It is a place our elders have known, and thus it remains an important element for our studies of science and the humanities. Ulu aʻe ke welina a ke aloha. Loving is the practice of an awake mind.

    • 12:30–1:30 p.m.
Manulani Aluli-Meyer

Manulani Aluli-Meyer

Manulani Aluli Meyer is the fifth daughter of Emma Aluli and Harry Meyer. The Aluli ohana is a large and diverse group of scholar-activists devoted to Hawaiian education, justice, land reclamation, law, health, cultural revitalization, arts, prison reform, transformational economics, food sovereignty, Hawaiian philosophy, and most of all, music. She works in the field of indigenous epistemology and its role in worldwide awakening. Professor Aluli-Meyer obtained her doctorate from Harvard (EdD, 1998) by studying Hawaiian epistemology via language, history, and the clear insights of beloved Hawaiian mentors. She has published on the topic of native intelligence and its synergistic linkages to postquantum sciences, simultaneity, spirituality, whole thinking, and to liberating evaluation and reflective pedagogy. Aluli-Meyer’s background is in wilderness education and experiential learning within cultural settings. She has been an instructor for Outward Bound and Hawai‘i Bound schools, along with coaching at high school and national levels in volleyball, track and field, and Special Olympics. Aluli-Meyer was an associate professor of Education at University of Hawai‘i, Hilo. She also worked five years at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, the largest Maori university in New Zealand, and created their first master’s in Applied Indigenous Knowledge. She is currently the Konohiki (to invite willingness) of Kūlana o Kapolei, a Hawaiian Place of Learning at the University of Hawai‘i, West Oahu campus.

Culture-Based Education Field Experiences

  • Event
    • Thu, Jun 7, 2018

    Culture-Based Education Field Experiences

    NASAI is proud to add a new and exciting option to our offerings—a set of full-day, off-site learning programs focused on indigenous cultural traditions.

    For NASAI 2018, these workshops, demonstrations, tours, and hands-on experiences  offer a deep dive into various aspects of Hawaiian culture.

    • 8:45 a.m.–5 p.m.

Explore the state’s largest museum to view collections that tell a special story of Hawai‘i and tour the restored palace of Hawai‘i’s last reigning monarchs.

Visit a Hawaiian nature preserve and explore how the health of the land connects to the health of the people.

Learn about Hawaiian arts and culture by participating in hands-on projects in an outdoor environment.

Help restore the banks of a stream while learning about traditional Hawaiian perspectives on water management and food sustainability.

Tour a 400-year-old Hawaiian fishpond and participate in activities related to the traditions of Hawaiian aquaculture.

Visit a historic and cultural site for a cultural tour and demonstration that will deepen your understanding of Hawaiian history and traditions.

Go to Program for more details.

Closing Plenary

  • Event

    The Future of Native Education

    Join us as we learn about the future of Native education from an esteemed group of panelists who will address indigenous worldviews and learning needs, college affordability, creating change, supporting educators, and inspiring students from both secondary and postsecondary educational systems. Policies and partnerships that support the educational outcomes of indigenous students will be deliberated with an eye toward creating sustainable change. These community leaders and education experts will also discuss challenges and solutions to clearing a path for all students to own their future.



Walter Kahumoku III headshot

Walter Kahumoku III
Director, Pueo Scholars
University of Hawai‘i–West O‘ahu

Walter Kahumoku III is the director of the Pueo Scholars Title III Project at UH West Oʻahu and the former director of the Kauhale Kīpaipai (Educator Professional Development) department of the Kamehameha Schools. A former school administrator, writing specialist, high school teacher, and director of forensics, Kahumoku has dedicated his life’s work to improving the educational wellbeing of Hawaiian learners. His publications and presentations advocate for cultural, linguistic, and indigenous educational approaches that advance meaningful, relevant, rigorous, relationship-based, and responsibility-focused leading, teaching, and learning. With a career spanning 30 years in education, he has experience in teacher and administrator education, curriculum development, instructional strategies and assessment, professional development, and educational policy.


Malia Villegas headshot

Malia Villegas 
Vice President of Corporate Affairs 
Afognak Native Corporation

Malia Villegas serves as vice president of corporate affairs for Afognak Native Corporation, where she oversees government relations, advocacy, public relations, marketing, and impact measurement. Villegas is an enrolled member of the Native village of Afognak in Alaska, where she also serves on the tribal council. Villegas is Sugpiaq/Alutiiq with family from Kodiak and Afognak Islands in Alaska and O’ahu and Lana’i in Hawai’i. Villegas served as the director of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Policy Research Center (2011–2016); co-chair of the National Institutes for Health (NIH) Tribal Consultation Advisory Committee (2014–2016). She received her doctorate and master’s degree in education from Harvard University.

Sylvia M. Hussey headshot

Sylvia M. Hussey
Executive Director
Native Hawaiian Education Council

Since 2014, Sylvia Hussey has overseen the design and implementation of the council’s strategic plan including its research, assessment, evaluation, and data strategies, in fulfillment of the council’s statutory responsibilities.  Previously, Hussey spent 12 years at Kamehameha Schools with operating responsibilities and oversight of the admission, financial aid, scholarship, ancestry verification, community resources, education and information technology, human resources, and project management functions.  Hussey received her doctorate of education in professional education practice and master of education from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa; she earned a bachelor of science in accounting from Brigham Young University–Hawai’i.


Cultural Event

  • Event
    • Jun 8, 2018

    ‘A’ohe pu’u ki’eki’e e ho’a’o ‘ia e pi’i: No cliff is so tall that it cannot be scaled

    The NASAI conference engages inspired perspectives from across the nation to consider action-oriented methods to improve equity for Native students.  What’s discovered is that no challenge is too difficult to solve, and that collective action drives the innovation needed to create change. Together we can make a difference.  In celebration of three days of learning, sharing and expanding horizons, join Jamaica Heolimeleikalani and Jonathan Osorio for thought provoking music, poetry and singing. Both have unique and powerful voices that examine and analyze indigenous ways of knowing, race, politics, social justice and education.  Their message is strong, clear, and we join our voices with theirs to say...Wela Ka Hao~do it now!

    • 1:15–2 p.m.
Jamaica Heolimeleikalani and Jonathan Osorio

Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio is a Kanaka Maoli wahine poet/activist/scholar born and raised in Pālolo Valley to parents Jonathan and Mary Osorio. Jamaica is a three-time national poetry champion, poetry mentor, and a published author. She is a proud past Kaiāpuni student and a graduate of Kamehameha, Stanford (BA), and New York University (MA). Jamaica is a PhD candidate in English (Hawaiian literature) where she is finishing her dissertation, “Pilina, A Kanaka Maoli Moʻolelo Beyond Queer Theory: Unsettling White Settler Logics and (Re)membering Indigenous Desires.” Currently, Jamaica is a Ford Dissertation Fellow and a Junior Faculty Specialist at Native Hawaiian Student Services at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

Jamaica Heolimeleikalani and Jonathan Osorio

Jonathan Osorio is a Hawaiian father, musician, activist, and scholar. He has a PhD in History from the University of Hawaiʻi, and has been teaching at the Kamakū’okalani Center for Hawaiian Studies for over 25 years. Jonathan is the author of Dismembering Lahui: A History of the Hawaiian Nation to 1887, which won “Excellence in Nonfiction” and “General Hawaiian Culture” at the 2003 Ka Palapala Po’okela Awards. He is currently the interim Dean of the Hawaiʻianuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa.

2018 in Pictures