In February 2019, a group of Chugach Alaska Corporation (Chugach) employees and dignitaries, including CEO Gabriel Kompkoff and Chairman of the Board Sheri Buretta, paid a visit to Heidi & Cook (H&C), Chugach’s Hawaiian subsidiary. The group was greeted with a warm welcome at the H&C headquarters, which included opening remarks delivered by H&C President Todd Williams and a traditional Hawaiian song and dance performed by three H&C employees who were of Native Hawaiian heritage.
The song and dance was a Ha’a, which was choreographed to an Oli or chant. The Oli described a community effort to work together, and specifically depicted the harvesting of a log, or a koa, to build a canoe. The significance of the Oli is meant to foster collaboration, cooperation, and spiritual oneness in pursuit of a singular, collective goal.
Two of the H&C performers supported the third employee who served as the ceremonial ‘task master.’ As touched on, the Oli was performed to honor the coming together of two indigenous cultures, the Chugach and the Native Hawaiian culture. To this end, the event was also a cultural exchange or a “He A Lo A He Alo,” which means a Face-to-Face.
After the song and dance, the task master performed a “Pikai,’ a Native Hawaiian traditional blessing, which consecrated the H&C facility and the meeting of cultures. After the blessing, a Pa’ina (party) gave everyone a chance to interact and get to know each other.
Chugach would like to extend a huge thank you to the H&C leadership and the H&C events committee for orchestrating this heartfelt event. We’d also like to thank the students at James B. Castle High School for putting together an amazing video that captured the coming together of our two cultures.