Edith Kanakaole Quarter

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Edith Kanaka’ole Quarter

In celebrating diversity and cultural richness, the United States Mint has embarked on a transformative initiative known as the American Women Quarters Program. This innovative program represents a significant departure from tradition, aiming to redress historical imbalances by commemorating the invaluable contributions of women who have played pivotal roles in shaping the nation. 

By featuring their portraits on the reverse side of the iconic Washington Quarter, the United States Mint seeks to elevate these remarkable women to a place of prominence, ensuring their legacies become an integral part of the nation’s numismatic history.

Among the distinguished women selected for this program is Edith Kanaka’ole, a revered figure in preserving Hawaiian culture and heritage. Her inclusion highlights the American Women Quarters Program’s commitment to acknowledging the diverse mosaic of American history, recognizing nationally known figures and those who have made lasting impacts within specific cultural spheres.

Edith Kanaka'ole Quarter

Edith Kanaka’ole’s story represents the resilience and richness of indigenous Hawaiian traditions, emphasizing the program’s dedication to ensuring a comprehensive and inclusive representation of the country’s history. Aunty Edith’s legacy as a cultural practitioner, hula teacher, and composer proves her ability to preserve and celebrate the diversity of cultures that make up the American experience.

The American Women Quarters Program

The American Women Quarters Program is a tribute to the extraordinary achievements of women who have significantly impacted American history and society. By recognizing their contributions across diverse fields, the program not only celebrates individual accomplishments but also underscores the collective strength of women from various backgrounds.

These 2023 quarters highlight how women have contributed to the nation’s development, from suffrage and civil rights to government, the humanities, science, space, and the arts. In addition, the women commemorated represent a broad spectrum of ethnic, racial, and geographical backgrounds.

As the program progresses, the spotlight on different trailblazers each year ensures a comprehensive representation of women’s accomplishments. In the 2023 quarters lineup, these five women are depicted on the coins:

  • Bessie Coleman: The inclusion of Bessie Coleman, the first African American and Native-American woman to obtain a pilot’s license, showcases her pioneering spirit and contribution to aviation history.
  • Edith Kanakaʻole: As an indigenous Hawaiian composer, she symbolizes the dedication to preserving native culture, emphasizing the importance of recognizing and maintaining diverse cultural heritages.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt: A powerhouse leader, reformer, author, and former first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt left a lasting legacy on American society.
  • Jovita Idar: Jovita Idar, a Mexican-American journalist, suffragist, teacher, and activist, represents the intersectionality of identity and advocacy. Her pivotal role in various fields contributes to the broader narrative of women’s struggles and triumphs.
  • Maria Tallchief: America’s first prima ballerina, Maria Tallchief, exemplifies excellence in the arts and breaking barriers in traditionally exclusive domains.

The diversity of this group of trailblazers reflects the rich tapestry of American history and the massive role women have played in it. Together, these remarkable women show how women have enhanced the country’s development in every field through their tenacity, inventiveness, and transforming influence.

About Edith Kanaka’ole

Edith Kanaka’ole’s profound impact on Hawaiian culture and the arts is profound and enduring; it is a legacy that continues to resonate deeply. Born in 1913 on the island of Hawaii, she began her immersion in the rich hula traditions within a family steeped in Hawaiian customs. This early exposure laid the foundation for her journey as a cultural practitioner, hula teacher, and composer.

Affectionately known as “Aunty Edith,” she played a pivotal role in the cultural renaissance of the 1970s. During this transformative period, she revived hula and elevated it into a vibrant expression of Hawaiian heritage, breathing new life into ancient traditions.

Aunty Edith’s artistic contributions, including several hula chants, songs, and dances, remain integral to Hawaiian cultural practices. Through her teachings and compositions, she was a guardian of traditional arts, ensuring their preservation and passing her knowledge to future generations.

Beyond her artistic accomplishments, Edith Kanaka’ole’s commitment to education and community leadership further solidifies her place in Hawaiian history. Her tenure as a teacher at Hawaiʻi Community College and the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo from 1971 to 1979 demonstrates her dedication to sharing the Hawaiian language and fostering an understanding of the island’s rich heritage.

Her academic contributions are equally noteworthy, as she pioneered courses on ethnobotany, Polynesian history, genealogy, and Hawaiian chant and mythology. Edith Kanaka’ole’s commitment to education extended beyond the classroom, embodying a holistic approach to preserving and disseminating Hawaiian knowledge.

Edith Kanaka’ole Gets Recognized

In recognition of her significant impact, the Governor of Hawaii honored her with the Award of Distinction for Cultural Leadership. In 1979, she was recognized as one of the Living Treasures of Hawai’i, further evidence of her respected position within the Hawaiian community’s culture.

This dual recognition not only underscores Aunty Edith’s profound influence on cultural leadership but also solidifies her status as a revered figure among the Living Treasures, indicative of her enduring impact on the Hawaiian cultural landscape.

The establishment of the Edith Kanaka’ole Foundation is evidence of the continuing impact of her teachings. Serving as a beacon for those interested in Hawaiian culture, the foundation tirelessly promotes traditional practices, ensuring that Aunty Edith’s wisdom and contributions continue to inspire and resonate for future generations.

Through the foundation’s efforts, her legacy remains a part of history and a living, dynamic force in the ongoing narrative of Hawaiian cultural preservation and revitalization.

The Coin Design

The Edith Kanaka’ole Quarter not only commemorates the legacy of a remarkable Hawaiian cultural icon but also contributes to the broader narrative of the American Women Quarters Program. This initiative by the United States Mint signifies a commitment to recognizing and celebrating the diverse contributions of women across various fields, offering a platform to honor those who have left an indelible mark on the United States.

The Edith Kanaka’ole Quarter is a microcosm of this commitment, capturing the essence of her life and contributions in every American’s hand. Beyond numismatics, this coin becomes a tangible representation of the United States Mint’s dedication to fostering inclusivity and diversity in historical commemoration. 

As we delve into the intricacies of its design, examining both obverse and reverse sides, we uncover not just a tribute to a singular cultural icon but a testament to the broader acknowledgment of women’s multifaceted roles in shaping the narrative of American history and culture.

The Obverse Side

Expert sculptor Laura Gardin Fraser created the recognizable George Washington face on the obverse side (sometimes called “heads”) of the Edith Kanaka’ole Quarter. Remarkably, the initial purpose of this rendition was to honor George Washington’s 200th birthday, a crucial turning point in American history. Having been meticulously crafted by Fraser, the portrait bears a timeless appeal, making it the perfect choice for the American 2023 quarters. 

As a symbol of continuity and tradition, the depiction of George Washington on the Edith Kanaka’ole Quarter connects the present to the past, combining historical milestones with modern appreciation of extraordinary women. 

The Edith Kanaka’ole Quarter’s obverse side has the standard inscriptions found on quarters, including:

  • “LIBERTY”
  • “IN GOD WE TRUST”
  • “2023”

The inscriptions serve as lasting reminders of the values and principles that underlie the country and are seamlessly integrated with American numismatic symbols.

The Reverse Side

The Edith Kanaka’ole Quarter is a visual celebration of her life and contributions. On the reverse side (also referred to as “tails”) of the Edith Kanaka’ole Quarter, Renata Gordon, a talented sculptor and medallic artist, brings Edith Kanaka’ole to life. The depiction features Kanaka’ole with her hair and lei poʻo changing into components of a Hawaiian landscape. This is a perfect way to show her unwavering commitment to protecting the islands’ natural beauty.

On the reverse, in addition to the portrayal of Edith Kanaka’ole, the Edith Kanaka’ole Quarter proudly displays the inscriptions:

  • “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”
  • “E PLURIBUS UNUM”
  • “25¢”
  • “EDITH KANAKAʻOLE”
  • “E hō mai ka ʻike,” which translates as “granting the wisdom,” serves as a reminder of the cultural significance embedded in every movement and lyric of hula, as passed down by Edith Kanaka’ole.

The phrase “E hō mai ka ʻike” on the Edith Kanaka’ole Quarter reminds us of the crucial part chants and hula play in maintaining Hawaiian culture.

Emily Damstra’s creative vision, as an integral part of the Artistic Infusion Program, adds another layer of artistic brilliance to the coin. The Edith Kanaka’ole Quarter’s overall design is evidence of the teamwork in paying tribute to this remarkable woman.

Conclusion

In honoring Edith Kanaka’ole through the American Women Quarters Program, the United States Mint pays tribute to a remarkable woman and champions the acknowledgment of diverse and vibrant cultures that have shaped the country. The Edith Kanaka’ole Quarter is a tribute to the United States Mint’s dedication to highlighting the various achievements of women from different backgrounds, with its detailed design and symbolic meaning.

By immortalizing Aunty Edith’s heritage on a widely circulated coin, the United States Mint commemorates an individual. It also catalyzes a broader cultural conversation, fostering a collective appreciation for the rich tapestry of American history and the unique contributions of its diverse population.

Quarter Obverse Inscriptions

In God We Trust
Liberty
2023

Quarter Reverse Inscriptions

Edith Kanakaʻole

United States of America
E Pluribus Unum
25¢
E hō mai ka ʻike” translates as “granting the wisdom”

Mint & Quarter Mint Marks

Denver, Philadelphia, and San Francisco (P, D & S)

Mintage

Denver

368,600,000

Philadelphia

372,800,000

San Francisco

502,760

Available Quarter Mint Strikes

Business & Proof

American Women Quarter Specifications

Composition in Proof & Business Strike:  91.67% Copper & 8.33% Nickel
Composition in Silver Proof: 99.9 Fine Silver
Clad Weight: 5.670 grams
Silver Weight:  5.641 grams

Thickness: 1.75mm
Edge: Reeded & Number of Reeds: 119
Diameter: 24.26mm

American Women Quarter Artist Information

Obverse Design: Laura Gardin Fraser (1889-1966)
Reverse Design:  Sculptor Renata Gordon, Medallic Artist
Designer: Emily Damstra, Artistic Infusion Program

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