See how Hawai'i's native dance, hula, has become a source of identity and pride.


5 - 12


Arts and Music, Social Studies, U.S. History, World History

Hula is a native Hawaiian dance. In this video from the National Geographic Channel, dancers and historians explain the origins and development of hula.


  • Birth of the Hula (start-0:45)
  • Hula is Banned (0:46-1:10)
  • Rebirth of Hula (1:11-1:45)
  • Making Hula Relevant to a Modern Audience (1:46-2:08)
  • Merrie Monarch Festival (2:09-2:50)

Use our “Vocabulary” tab to help you learn Native Hawaiian hula terms!

Teaching Strategies

The following tabs offer suggestions for using this video as a learning tool. 

Use “Fast Facts” to understand the history of hula.

Use “Questions” to help students develop a greater appreciation of this important part of Hawaiian culture.

Use “Vocabulary” to identify language associated with hula.

Fast Fact

Hula instructor Emily Kau’i Zuttermeister tells a story about the birth of hula. (0:30) The woman Zuttermeister mentions, who went down to the beach and imitated the motion of the waves, was Hi’iaka. Hi’iaka was no ordinary woman—she was the sister of Hawaii’s legendary fire goddess, Pele. Hi’iaka is the goddess of the stormy clouds produced by her sister’s volcanoes.

Fast Fact

Hula master Kumano Palani Kuala encourages his students to make a connection between hula and indigenous spirituality. (1:48) Ancient Hawaiians also held hula sacred. The traditional goddess of the hula is Laka, and many ancient hulas were performed in her honor.

Fast Fact

The video spotlights the Merrie Monarch Festival, which honors a legendary king who returned hula to “its rightful place at the center of Hawaiian culture.” (2:20) This was King David Kalakaua, who encouraged a revival of many Hawaiian cultural traditions, including surfing and the martial art of lua, during his reign from 1874-1891. King David Kalakaua’s nickname was “the merry (or merrie) monarch.”

Media Credits

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National Geographic Society
Elena Takaki, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Last Updated

May 2, 2024

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