On November 18, 2021, Ahtna Global and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USF&WS) held a traditional site blessing at our Repair Existing Intake Construction at Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge project in Kauai County, Hawaii. In accordance with Hawaiian culture, these blessings are traditionally held prior to commencing any building project. In this case it was especially important as the ridgeline that overlooks the Hanalei Valley where the project was built is believed to be an old “Heiau.” Heiau is a sacred site sometimes used for human sacrifices, or rituals to ask the gods for improved fishing, favor in war times, etc. The blessing was performed by a local Hula Master. Hula Masters share and pass down all things related to Hawaiian culture— history, language, and of course dance. The date of the blessing was significant as the calendar is heavily influenced by the moon cycle. It was a full moon, which is the best time to provide offerings to the gods. Offerings were wrapped in tea leaves at the direction of the Hula Master and consisted of: taro (a local crop, similar to a potato, grown in the Hanalei valley and thought to be the plant which Hawaiians were sprouted from), water (it rains all the time in this area and water is considered sacred), and words.
The Hawaiian and Ahtna people have a connection as indigenous people who are deeply tied to their environment. Ahtna Board member Grant Rebne represented Ahtna. He spoke a few words in Ahtna Athabascan, offering a thank you from Ahtna and its people. He then repeated it in English.
After the chanting, drums, and offerings, the Ahtna and USF&WS staff enjoyed local Hawaiian food and cammaraderie. Grant brought some delicious smoked Copper River salmon to share.