In The Wake of Our Ancestors

In The Wake of Our Ancestors follows a group of dedicated Hawaiians, who embark on a journey to rediscover their past by building a voyaging canoe out of traditional natural materials. An extensive search fails to produce koa trees large enough for the hulls. The once plentiful forests on the island of Hawai’i have been depleted, and the unique koa ecosystem virtually destroyed.

In order to continue with the project, another source of timber had to be located. Native Alaskans offer them two enormous Sitka spruce trees. After a dramatic tree felling ceremony in the forests of Southeast Alaska, the logs arrive in Hawai‘i, and builders begin shaping the canoe’s hulls. The generous gift from the Tlingit and Haida Indians of Southeast Alaska brings new hope for the canoe project and leads to discovery of strong cultural connections.

The new awareness about the endangered forests shifts the project’s mission — and the film’s focus — from the search for koa trees to the commitment to replant them.  This story of an indigenous people’s frustrated search for trees that are endemic to their islands represents a microcosm of the threats facing diminishing native cultures and natural environments in the modern world.

Written, Produced and Directed by
Gail K. Evenari

Yasha Aginsky

Robert Elfstrom, Robert Hillmann

Sound Recordists
Ray Day, Curtis Choy

Musical Score
Randy Craig

Aloha Hawaiki Theme
Ku‘i Ka‘o Iho and Aloha Tahiti Hula
Written by Randie Fong
Performed by Kamehameha Schools

Paintings by
Herb Kawainui Kane