Posted by Kathryn Cruz on

The Ethnomath Symposium, celebrated its inaugural event with a focus on math that draws on local Indigenous ways of knowing in attempt to strengthen global networks. The four-day symposium featured leadership insights and expertise from Dr. Linda Furuto, Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and Education Specialist for the Polynesian Voyaging Society. Additional leaders and educators from the University of Hawaiʻi, Kamehameha Schools, Ka’iwakīloumoku knowledge bearers, Bishop Museum, the Polynesian Voyaging Society, Hālau Kū Māna, Indigenous Genuis, Hawai’i Community College, and Friends of Hōkūleʻa and Hawaiʻiloa came together to share knowledge and laughter with students and educators from Southeast Alaska, British Columbia, and Hawai’i.

Angoon High School of Angoon, Alaska has prioritized and created mathematical and cultural exchanges between Alaska and Hawaiʻi through two previous Ethnomath Institutes. With themes of canoe math and island food sovereignty, students and educators have experienced unifying, place-based learning. Angoon Principal Emma Demmert and School Counselor, Frank Coenraad, have now expanded the opportunity to the communities of Hoonah, Klukwan, Nisga’a, British Columbia, Oʻahu, and Hawaiʻi, bringing together over 70 people for the launch of this year’s symposium.

“The Ethnomath Symposium was such an awesome event for everyone involved. We had a lot of student engagement and the activities were driven by incorporating everyday life. This helps students and teachers when it comes to relevance and how we can bring math to everyday living. I really admire how community service and building relationships is a key component to ethnomath.” – Emma Demmert, Principal of Angoon High School

In 2022, Tlingit master carver and canoe builder Wayne Price joined the Institute, forming strong relationships with the crew of the Polynesian Voyaging Society as he met the Hawaiʻiloa canoe. This past June, The 30-ft dugout canoe that Wayne and students were able to build was successfully launched, making it the first traditional canoe to launch from the shores of Angoon in over 140 years with the crew of Hōkūleʻa standing alongside. Chʻa Tleíx Tí, meaning Unity, represents the resurgence of Indigenous watercrafts and the deep kinships between Indigenous peoples of the Pacific.

“The 2023 Ethnomathematics Symposium was an incredible experience. As a student of navigation, we are taught to share and teach because it’s the right thing to do. The star compass activities and star gazing was just one small part to the whole of this symposium! I truly cherish this connection with the students of Angoon and Hoonah; our family across Moananuiākea and the globe.”
– Kai Hoshijo, PVS Apprentice Navigator

Symposium highlights included:

  • An opening ceremony at Kaʻiwakīloumoku Cultural Center featuring middle school musicians
  • Keynote presentation by Dr. Linda Furuto on Beyond School Walls: Voyaging Toward Mathematical Unity through Ethnomathematics
  • Stargazing with PVS apprentice navigator Kai Hoshijo and barbeque with PVS crew
  • Ethnomath station rotations at the Marine Education Training Center including a tour of the Hikianalia
  • A youth-led evening of paddle making, dancing, singing, and sharing of food
  • Exploring algorithms of lauhala weaving and lei making
  • Volunteering at Paepae o Heʻeia historical fish pond
  • Wayfinder programming at the Bishop Museum featuring non-instrument navigation

About the Ethnomath Symposium

The Ethnomath Symposium strives to deepen connections across the Pacific between educators and learners committed to co-creating ecological and social justice oriented mathematical experiences within their communities and beyond as inspired by the Moananuiākea: A Voyage For Earth journey. The annual experiences are designed to cultivate new skills and perspectives to view local communities as mathematical hubs for continued Indigenous ingenuity and solutions. Previous learning experiences can be viewed HERE:

Media Contacts

This information is for readers who may want to reach out to learn more.

Kate Cruz, Coordinating Committee Representative

Tel.: +1 250.361.8671; Email: