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May 2007

Pacific Northwest News

An Invitation for Pacific Island Women

By Maile Taualii

The 2000 United States census reported that the State of Washington has the third-largest Pacific Islander population in the United States. Although little is published locally or nationally about this population, organizations, schools and government departments have identified Pacific Islanders as having some of the greatest health, economic and education disparities in this country. For example, National Vital Health Statistics data documents clear disparities in mortality rates and the United States census reports wide disparities in poverty and income levels for Pacific Islanders when compared with other racial groups. Exacerbating these grim economic and health realities, education partners in the Northwest, such as the University of Washington, report Pacific Islanders as having the highest drop out rates per capita of all ethnic groups.

Alarmed by these devastating statistics, Puget Sound Pacific Island women began to gather to discuss issues and concerns facing their community. A communal desire to address shared concerns through an action plan inspired the women to form an organization. Thus, the Pacific Island Women’s Association (PIWA) was established in May 2004. Recognizing that there are few organizations that advocate on behalf of Pacific Islanders, PIWA led an effort to identify and address critical issues facing the Pacific Islander community in the Northwest. PIWA determined that the best way to identify the concerns of the broader community was to convene a community forum to gather the voices into a report that could be used to educate policy makers, agencies and organizations.

On April 8, 2006, over 200 Pacific Island women attended the historic, first-ever Pacific Island Women’s Association Community Forum. Held at Tyee High School in Sea Tac, Washington, the community forum offered a resource fair, food and entertainment. Initially, the outreach team drew upon their friendships, community networks and churches to recruit families to participate in the event. Many nations answered the call, including women representing the Chamorran, Fijian, Hawaiian, Marshallese, Niuean, Palauan, Tahitian, Tokelauan, Tongan and Samoan communities.

Pacific Island women gather at PIWA Community Forum to discuss critical issues facing their communities.

Photo by Maile Taualii

The forums’ goals and objectives were to provide an opportunity for Pacific Island women to identify their concerns, voice their thoughts regarding many important issues, and to ensure those voices were represented in a report. The purpose of the report was to educate the greater public around the issues facing Pacific Islanders and why it is critical to the survival of the Pacific Islander community that it attains racial distinctiveness in reporting and measuring at all levels of community and government.

The report is titled; “Voices of Pacific Island Women Residing in the Pacific Northwest. Reflections on Health, Economics, Education and More.. ” It is designed to play a significant role in creating awareness of Pacific Islander issues and contains three important areas of focus: background information on the Pacific Island community in the State of Washington; information gathered at the community forum; and the successes and recommendations for further work in the Pacific Island community. Funding for the report was made possible by the Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy.

This coming May 11th, the PIWA is holding a community celebration to release this powerful report. From 2pm to 4pm at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Seattle, the Pacific Island community will host a special celebration to announce the report and encourage participation for the next steps ahead. All are invited to join the Pacific Island community in celebration. Directions and more information can be found at the Pacific Island Women’s Association website: www.pacificislandwomen.org.

Maile Taualii (MPH) is the Associate Director for the Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI).The UIHI is a Indigenous epidemiology and research center designed with a national focus to provide leadership in health information to increase recognition of the health status deficiencies affecting urban American Indians and Alaska Natives through a central point of focus for health surveillance, research and policy considerations.

Outside of her work, Maile is actively involved in the Pacific Islander community. Her community activities include reporting the health and wellness of Pacific Islanders, coordinating conferences to gather the health concerns of the Pacific Northwest Native Hawaiian community, and working with the American Indian/Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian American Public Health Association caucus. Maile is also pursuing a PhD in Health Services at the University of Washington, School of Public Health and Community Medicine. She is a National Library of Medicine, Public Health Informatics Fellow.

Maile is the proud mother of two little girls, Lemao (almost 2) and Malia (5 months)


The Kamehameha Schools Orchestra in the Northwest

By Kiha Kinney  

What a treat! The Kamehameha Schools Kapalama String Orchestra will be touring British Columbia, Canada and stopping over in Seattle on their return trip to Honolulu. The Orchestra’s itinerary while in Seattle will include a Mariner’s baseball game, sightseeing and a musical exchange at Garfield High School. There will be 19 students in the orchestra playing classical pieces, show tunes, Hawaiian songs and accompanying hula dancers. The entourage will also include 20 family members. Nani Dudoit, Administration Assistant, Literacy Instruction & Support and Coordinator, looks forward to having the orchestra perform for the Alumni, the greater Hawaiian community and the general public. The string Orchestra will be at the Dumas Bay Centre, Knutzen Family Theater 3200 SW Dash Point Road, Federal Way, on Tuesday June 5, 2007. The performance is free; no admission charge!! Donations will be accepted. The program for the evening will be:

5:00 to 7:00PM Student rehearsals, refreshments, snacks
7:00 to 8:00PM Welcome, Introductions and Performance
8:00 to 9:00PM Talk Story and Clean-up

Students in the Kamehameha Schools Kapalama String Orchestra perform at the Blaisdell Concert Hall in Honolulu.

Photo from the Kamehameha Schools

Kiha Kinney is a graduate of the Kamehameha Schools and active in the Kamehameha Schools Alumni Association in the Pacific Northwest.



Local Youth Commemorate National Kick Butts Day

Photo by Melissa Ponder

By Eric Mose and Melissa Ponder


Several Kikaha O Ke Kai Outrigger Canoe Club Junior paddlers and other members of the Coalition of Youth Against Tobacco (COYAT) recently joined youth across the country to commemorate the annual “Kick Butts Day.” Twenty-one youth from Seattle, Bellevue, Federal Way, Puyallup, and Tacoma “dropped dead” on the sidewalks in front of Bellevue City Hall. COYAT wants to raise awareness … 21 lives are lost each day in Washington State from tobacco related diseases.

There is a health crisis in this country with over 435,000 Americans dying each year in the United States from tobacco-related causes such as heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Communities of color, youth, the lesbian/gay/bi-sexual/transgender community, and the poor, are disproportionately represented in that one statistic, as a result of the tobacco industry’s aggressive targeting. So our youth are doing something about it.

Tobacco is the number one preventable cause of death, killing 1,200 Americans everyday, 21 lives in Washington State. Tobacco contains over 4,000 chemicals, 40 plus are cancer-causing agents, everything from cadmium (also known as battery acid), to polonium 210 (radioactive ingredient found in nuclear waste). The tobacco industry spends over $11.5 billion a year to get the American people hooked on their deadly product.

The “drop dead” activity provided a visual representation of the impact tobacco has on the State of Washington … it is estimated that smoking-related diseases and conditions account for $651 million of the State’s Medicaid program. Additionally, smoking-related productivity loss amounts to nearly $1.74 billion a year.

COYAT planned the 3/28 event in downtown Bellevue, just a few blocks away from Philip Morris USA’s regional sales offices. Philip Morris USA is the country’s largest tobacco company.

Kikaha O Ke Kai Outrigger Canoe Club received an APICAT Community grant to provide tobacco education and youth leadership development focused on the effects of smoking, secondhand smoke, as well as the deliberate marketing by big tobacco companies targeting youth, communities of color, LGBTQ communities, and low-income communities. COYAT is the youth component of the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition Against Tobacco (APICAT) of Washington State. APICAT’s mission is to “develop community leadership for outreach, education, policy, and advocacy in tobacco control” in the Asian and Pacific Islander American community.

Members of the Coalition of Youth Against Tobacco (COYAT)

Photos by Melissa Ponder

COYAT holds monthly branch meetings: South Branch meets in the Federal Way area and North Branch in Seattle. In addition to planning activities for World No Tobacco Day on May 31, 2007, COYAT is planning their annual 2007 Youth Training Retreat. For more information or to get involved with COYAT, please call Eric Mose at (206) 223-9578 ext. 12 or e-mail him at eric@apicat.org

Eric Mose is an Asian and Pacific Islander Coalition Against Tobacco staff member and coordinates the Coalition of Youth Against Tobacco. He became involved with the anti-tobacco movement as a Tacoma high school student after the loss of several family members to smoking-related causes. Eric is a student at the University of Washington. He can be reached at (206) 223-9578 ext. 12 or eric@apicat.org

Melissa Ponder has been a supporting/spectating member of Kikaha O Ke Kai OCC since 1995 and has been involved with APICAT in various capacities since 2005. After 25+ years, Melissa is almost a former smoker. She is also owner of Mel Ponder Photography (www.melponder.com). She can be reached through at 206-419-0717 or melissa@melponder.com

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