In her lifetime, Edith Kanakaole was a renowned kumu hula, dancer, chanter and teacher. Now Kanakaole will take her place among great American women memorialized on the U.S. quarter.
The U.S. Mint released the official designs of its second set of five sets of coins representing the accomplishments and contributions of trailblazing American women, including Kanakaole, on Monday.
“These beautiful designs honor the achievements of these amazing women and add to the Mint’s rich history of rendering the history of our Nation in enduring examples of numismatic art,” said mint director Ventris Gibson.
The American Women Quarters Program, which began last year and will continue though 2025, issues five new quarter designs each year that feature “ethnically, racially and geographically diverse” women from a wide range of backgrounds, fields and causes.
In addition to Kanakaole, the 2023 coins feature aviator Bessie Coleman; journalist Jovita Idar; former U.S. first lady and activist Eleanor Roosevelt, and ballerina Maria Tallchief.
The Kanakaole quarter was designed by Emily Damstra and sculpted by Renata Gordon. It depicts a portrait of Kanakaole with her hair and lei po`o morphing into elements of the Hawaiian landscape, a nod to her work in preserving traditional Hawaiian culture and the natural environment.
The quarter is inscribed with “E ho mai ka ike,” or “grant us knowledge.”
“Edith Kanakaole was a prominent leader in the revitalization of Hawaiian language and culture—notably as a renowned kumu hula,” said U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, in a statement posted to her Facebook page. She helped preserve and spread Hawaiian language, traditions, and history, contributing so much to the Native Hawaiian community, Hawaii and our nation. It is fitting that she be honored with this special recognition. I’m pleased to see the design for her commemorative quarter today, and I look forward to seeing these quarters put into circulation, so that people in every corner of our country can learn more about Edith Kanakaole and her remarkable life.”
Michael Tsai covers local and state politics for Spectrum News Hawaii.