Crew Blog | Michelle Knoetgen: Dockside Engagement at Martha’s Vineyard
Leading up to Hōkūleʻa’s landfall in Martha’s Vineyard, I’d been receiving frequent emails from Sam Low, Hōkūleʻa crewmember, and author of Hawaiki Rising, about ways our crew could engage with the community. Sam started planning this momentous event in September of 2015 and educated the East Coast community about Hōkūleʻa, creating a buzz of excitement through radio segments, news articles, book tours, and social media.
The long anticipated arrival of Hōkūleʻa in Martha’s Vineyard included two sunny days, full of dockside engagement at Vineyard Haven harbor. Volunteers set up Tisbury Wharf with huge white tents, including a stage and microphone for sharing music, hula, and moʻolelo (stories) and various tables for exhibits about sustainable agriculture, protecting the ocean, and native wisdom.
At the Wampanoag cultural exchange table, Aquinnah historian Bettina Washington and others from her tribe shared information about their home land of Noepe (also known as Martha’s Vineyard) and the connection the Aquinnah have to water and whaling. The Aquinnah Wampanoag’s newly carved 26 foot mishoon (canoe), was on display, proudly tied to the dock in front of Hōkūleʻa’s bow. Hōkūleʻa’s presence at Noepe created an overwhelming and unexplainable feeling for the Wampanoag and the crew. We all felt the presence of our ancestors, and saw the healing power of Hōkūleʻa in action. What is being accomplished through this connection is transformation and strengthening of indigenous culture.
For the outreach, Hōkūleʻa crew were “all hands on deck,” with everyone at different stations: aloha ʻāina flags, science at sea, star compass, a voyaging exhibit including ʻumeke and traditional fish hooks, in addition to the sharing tent where Faith Ako, and brothers Leo and Keiki Lindsay played Hawaiian music. I got to hear the Cunningham brothers, Mike and Tom, answer questions about their experiences at sea. Since everyone wants to hear the most harrowing tales, Mike told the audience about crossing the Tasman Sea with Captain Bruce in inclement weather, being wet for days with 25 foot seas with 30 knot winds, temperatures at 50 degrees with driving rain.
Over 1,000 people boarded Hōkūleʻa for canoe tours, asking everything from basic to technical and spiritual questions, and showing strong support for the mission of Mālama Honua.
Help fund the Voyage as we sail the East Coast
Hōkūle‘a’s visit to the eastern United States is a historic milestone in her 40 years of voyaging.
Celebrate with us by pledging your support to the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.