For nearly 50 years, a group of Hawaiians have been sailing on traditional voyaging canoes using the methods that early Polynesian explorers relied on to navigate the Pacific Ocean—without maps and modern instruments, and relying on the stars, ocean waves, birds, and other natural elements to guide them. We meet National Geographic Explorer Lehua Kamalu, the first woman to captain a long-distance voyage on Hōkūleʻa, a double-hulled Polynesian canoe that was built in Hawaii in the 1970s. She describes what it’s like to navigate in incredibly rough waters, what it means to keep Polynesian navigation alive in the 21st century, and about her next big adventure: a four-year circumnavigation of the Pacific Ocean.
For more information on this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard.
Learn about the Polynesian Voyaging Society and their upcoming voyage, Moananuiākea, a 47-month circumnavigation of the Pacific.
Read about Hōkūleʻa’s 2022 journey to Tahiti, which involved traveling 3,000 miles over three weeks.
A small number of people speak ‘ōlelo, Hawaii’s native language, which teetered on extinction during the mid-20th century. Learn about how some young Hawaiians are using TikTok and Instagram to make the language more accessible.
Hear Nat Geo Explorer Keolu Fox on a previous Overheard episode share how he’s working with Polynesian and Indigenous communities to study how their genomes have been shaped by history and colonialism, and how that data can help them reclaim land and improve health outcomes for their communities.
Visit National Geographic for more stories throughout Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
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