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S. Haunani Apoliona - Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial Award

Cultural Advocate to be Presented with NEA Human and Civil Rights Award


WASHINGTON - July 02, 2008 -

S. Haunani Apoliona, a trustee and the current chairperson of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, will receive the National Education Association's Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial Award as part of the Association's 42nd Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner on July 2, 2008, in Washington, D.C.

NEA's Onizuka Memorial Award is presented for distinguished leadership in education and honors an individual whose activities have made significant improvements in educational opportunities and advanced the achievement of equal opportunity for Asian and Pacific Islanders.

"S. Haunani Apoliona has dedicated her entire life to the Hawaiian people," says NEA President Reg Weaver. "Think how the lives of children would be improved if we all had the dedication and did the hard work on their behalf that S. Haunani Apoliona has provided through the years."

Apoliona has lobbied extensively for the passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (the Akaka Bill) in Congress. The legislation would recognize Native Hawaiians, much as American Indians and Alaska Natives have been recognized, as aboriginal, indigenous native people whose ancestors exercised sovereignty over the lands and areas that subsequently became part of the United States. The legislation has been approved by the House of Representatives, but awaits the approval of the Senate.

NEA's Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial Award honors the first Asian/Pacific Islander chosen by NASA for the astronaut program. Onizuka (1946-1986) was a Japanese American aerospace engineer and was serving as a mission specialist on the space shuttle Challenger when it exploded on January 28, 1986, killing all aboard.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

Contact: Samantha Kappalman  (202) 822-7823