Ke Kukui Foundation

What we do

The Foundation receives and distributes funds for annual events such as:

  • A Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival - 300 in attendance
  • Hula and Craft Workshop - 300 attendees from across the US and Canada
  • Hapa Haole Hula Competition - entries from across the United States
  • Ho'ike & Hawaiian Festival CLICK HERE for more information - Over 10,000 in attendance
  • Dev Yamashiro Aloha 5K Fun Run
  • May Day is Lei Day - 1,000 in attendance

We also offer programs to members and the community at large

  • Hawaiian `Olelo Language Classes
  • Hula Classes for all genders and ages
  • Hawaiian history courses
  • Cooking "local" foods
  • Kupuna Elder gatherings
  • Visiting artisans teaching cultural crafts
  • Cultivating plants found in Hawai'i and their uses
  • Music Workshops for all levels and ages
  • Monthly Kanikapila (Jam style) gatherings

As well as senior outreach and academic programs throughout the PNW community. The importance of `ohana (family) is emphasized in frequent gatherings and most recently with growing our Kaleinani Gardens.  The majority of our events are free and open to the community and we invite all to attend.  Ke Kukui Foundation promotes local economy through partnerships with area businesses as well as organizations who have similar goals.  We strive to be a Green organization and implement the "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" way of living in as many ways possible, such as reducing plastic bags and bottles, choosing eco-friendly products and recycled papers, and utilizing American or locally made products and local businesses. 

Why it's Important

Ke Kukui Foundation is a mainland based Polynesian group. You may be asking yourself, why we do what we do and why should you think it's important?


The End of a Culture? Hawaiian Population Decreases

More than half a million native Hawaiians were living in the islands at the time of European contact in 1778. Within 50 years, that population was cut in half as Western diseases claimed thousands of lives.

A series of events followed:  the Kapu system ended, Missionaries forbade many traditions including hula, foreign owned plantations absorbed local farmlands; waves of immigrant workers arrived - making Hawaiians a minority in their own land, the queen was illegally removed by force and the monarchy dissolved; and WWII brought a lasting military presence. By 1900, there were only 30,000 pure Hawaiians left.  University of Hawaii sociologists estimate that the extinction of full-blooded Hawaiians could come within the next 45 years…

With the cost of living in Hawai`i skyrocketing, many of the Hawaiian born have moved to the mainland to seek a better life for their families and children.  Ke Kukui Foundation's goals are to celebrate the Hawaiian culture by sharing the language, traditions, music and dances with the children who have never known their culture and the adults who are displaced from their home.


An Amazing History in the Pacific Northwest

website_kanakavillage.jpgOregon and Washington has a unique history with Hawaiians arriving in 1811. Hundreds lived in and around Kanaka Village at Fort Vancouver in Washington during the fur trade in the late 1830s. In fact, the Hawaiian dish, lomilomi salmon came about thanks to the salmon from the PNW. William Kaulehelehe was sent to preach to the Hawaiian men working in the fur trade, and ended up staying in the Pacific Northwest the remainder of his days.

Kalama, Owyhee River, Kanaka Creek, and even a Waikiki Beach are all named by or for Hawaiians in the Oregon and Washington areas.  Kanaka Village image courtesy of National Parks Service.

Hawaiians were highly skilled workers and contributed greatly to the lumber and fur trade. Some arrived as indentured servants traded by KIng Kamehameha III, others to make a living in the new world after the end of the Kapu system.  After the end of the fur trade, some stayed and intermarried into area Native tribes. Many Hawaiians died when Oregon pioneers brought diseases.  When Oregon and Washington declined to observe them as US citizens with rights to own land, many returned home to Hawai`i or moved to Canada where they were able to buy land.

Follow the link to listen to Crossing East: Hawaiians in the Pacific Northwest on National Public Radio.  To learn more about how Captain Vancouver helped return Hawaiian girls to Hawaii.





Ke Kukui Foundation 
is registered in Washington & Oregon


Ke Kukui Foundation
PO Box 821792
Vancouver, WA 98682 

Phone:  (503) 967-5868

email:  [email protected]


Who we are

Ke Kukui Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization.  With the hula halau (Hawaiian dance school) — Kaleinani o ke Kukui, the Foundation is able to cultivate our goals.  We consist of members in Oregon and Washington who volunteer our time and talents to this cause.

The Board

Executive Director   Kaloku Holt

President   Michelle Buss

Vice President   Shanon Casey

Secretary   Janie Chang  

Treasurer    Traci Feder

Sergeant-at-Arms  Hugh Casey

Directors and Resource/Advisory Council

Tulafaleali`i Alaovae

Amy J Kapuanani Antonio

Layne Kanani Yacapin