About the NHC 2019 Banner

June 18, 2019

About the Banner: National Humanities Conference 2019

The 2019 National Humanities Conference banner is comprised of several images that explore the conference theme, “Roots and Routes: Navigation, Migration, and Exchange in the 21st Century.” The images were selected to represent the unique histories and cultures of each island by the co-hosts of this year’s conference: Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities, Humanities Guåhan, Northern Marianas Humanities Council, and Amerika Samoa Humanities Council.

Laso Fu’a or Fouha Rock, pictured at the far left of the banner, is a photograph by Jonathan Barber. Located in Fouha Bay on Guam’s southwest coast, Laso Fu’a is of physical and spiritual importance to the CHamoru, the indigenous people of the Marianas. According to oral tradition, Laso Fu’a is the remains of Fu’una and considered the “cradle of creation for the people of the Marianas Islands, and in some accounts, for all of humankind,” according to Guampedia. It is also the place where the CHamoru people first had contact with Spanish colonizers.

The middle image, Saina Sunset, is a painting by Ron Castro that depicts the traditional CHamoru voyaging canoe, or sakman, and its crew on their return voyage from Rota to Guam in 2009. Members of the Traditions About Seafaring Islands, Inc. (TASI), used historical records and blueprints with the expertise of the late master navigator and canoe builder Manny Sikau from Polowat, Chuuk, to construct and sail Saina, the sakman pictured. The 33-foot canoe was the first sakman to set sail from Guam in more than 200 years.

Etched into the blue background of the banner is yet another design calling back to the theme of the conference and to the island councils who are hosting. The tattoo, or “tatau,” is a source of pride in the Amerika Samoa heritage and culture. Each Samoan tatau has a different meaning and is applied using a stick, ink, and mallet. Common symbols used in tatau design are turtle shells, spearheads, lizards, fish, the ocean, and the sun.


The final image is of a simple lei made of tī leaf, or, in Hawaiian language: lāʻī. This plant is very important in Hawaiʻi, calling forth protection, cleansing, peace, and strength, and also used in medicine, cooking, and traditional ceremonies. This particular lei was made by Aiko Yamashiro, executive director of Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities, in the spirit of gratitude, sincere deep connections, and protection for our November gathering.

We are so grateful to the councils of Hawaiʻi, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and Amerika Samoa for hosting this year’s conference and are especially grateful to Humanities Guåhan and Mary Camacho of Mylo Design, for supporting the development and creation of this year’s conference banner. Follow the conversation online at #NHCOceania, check out the NHC 2019 Facebook event, or email connect@statehumanities.org to subscribe to the FSHC events newsletter to stay up-to-date with conference and other FSHC events.

Click here to go back to the NHC 2019 event site.

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