Hawaiian culture custodian on new quarter


24 April 2023
The indigenous Hawaiian composer, custodian of native culture and traditions, Edith Kanaka’ole, is the latest subject to be honoured on a US coin as part of the American Women Quarters Program.

The Edith Kanaka’ole quarter is the seventh coin in the four-year series that celebrates the accomplishments and contributions made by women who have shaped our the USA’s history and helped pave the way for generations who followed. 

The reverse (tails) of the coin, designed by Emily Damstra, features a portrait of Edith Kanaka’ole with her hair and lei po’o (head lei) morphing into the elements of a Hawaiian landscape, symbolising Edith Kanaka’ole’s life’s work of preserving the natural land and traditional Hawaiian culture.

The inscription ‘E hō mai ka ‘ike’ translates as ‘granting the wisdom,’ and is a reference to the intertwined role hula and chants play in this preservation. Additional inscriptions are ‘UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,’ ‘E PLURIBUS UNUM,’ ‘25¢,’ and ‘EDITH KANAKA’OLE.’

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Begun in 2022, and continuing through 2025, the Mint is issuing five new quarter dollar reverse designs each year. For 2023 the subjects are Bessie Coleman, the first African American and first Native American woman pilot; Edith Kanaka’ole, indigenous Hawaiian composer, custodian of native culture and traditions; Eleanor Roosevelt, first lady, author, and civil liberties advocate; Jovita Idar, Mexican-American journalist, activist, teacher, and suffragist; and Maria Tallchief, America’s first prima ballerina.

Each coin in this series features a common obverse (heads) design depicting a portrait of George Washington.

This design was originally composed and sculpted by Laura Gardin Fraser as a candidate entry for the 1932 quarter, which honoured the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth.