Winona Kapuailohiamanonokalani Desha Beamer (August 15, 1923 – April
10, 2008) was a champion of authentic and ancient Hawaiian culture,
publishing many books, musical scores, as well as audio and video
recordings on the subject. In her home state, she was known as Auntie
Nona. She was an early proponent of the ancient form of the hula being
perpetuated through teaching and public performances. Beamer was the
granddaughter of Helen Desha Beamer. A cousin to Hawaiian Music Hall
of Fame inductee Mahi Beamer, she teamed with him and her brother
Keola to form a touring North American troupe performing ancient hula
and the Hawaiian art of storytelling. She was a teacher at
Kamehameha Schools for almost 40 years, but had been expelled from
that same school as a student in 1937 for dancing the standing
hula. Beamer's sons Keola and Kapono are established performers in
the Hawaiian music scene. Her grandson Kamanamaikalani Beamer is a
professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and CEO of the Kohala
Center. She ran a
Waikiki hula studio for three decades. In
1997—indignant at proposals to cut Hawaiian curriculum from
Kamehameha Schools—Beamer became the catalyst for public protest and
legal investigation into Bishop Estate management, which eventually
led to the removal or resignation of the trustees.
1 Early life and background
Hula and Hawaiian storytelling
Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate
4 Death and legacy
5 Author bibliography, discography and filmography
5.2 Musical scores
6 Family tree
Early life and background
She was born Winona Kapuailohiamanonokalani Desha Beamer to Pono and
Louise Beamer on August 15, 1923, in Honolulu, United States
Territory of Hawaii
Territory of Hawaii (a state since 1959). Much of her early life was
spent on the island of Hawaii, under the guidance and tutelage of her
grandmother, Helen Desha Beamer, who taught her hula at about the age
As the cultural influence of the
United States began to be felt on the
territory, Beamer began to get more intensely involved in Hawaii's
cultural heritage. Before she was a teenager, Beamer was composing
meles by adding melodies to ancient chants. She attended Colorado
Women's College, Barnard College, and Columbia University, studying
Beamer is credited with coining the term "Hawaiiana" as early as 1948.
In 1949, she became a high school instructor of Hawaiian culture at
Kamehameha Schools, and served in that position for almost 40
Hula and Hawaiian storytelling
Beamer was briefly expelled in 1937 from the
Kamehameha Schools for
performing a standing hula. When
Kamehameha Schools was established
through the 1883 will of Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the original
trustees of the Bishop Estate were Charles R. Bishop, Charles McEwen
Hyde, Samuel M. Damon, Charles Montague Cooke, and William Owen Smith,
who were either missionaries, or had ties to those in the profession.
They found the hula too suggestive and had banned it from being
performed at the school. The standing hula was not allowed to be
performed on campus until the 1960s.
Beamer was a pivotal influence in reviving the art of the ancient
hula, in the face of a more commercialized version invented for the
tourism trade in Hawaii. Beamer, her cousin Mahi Beamer, and her
brother, Keola, formed their own touring North American dance troupe
to promote the authentic ancient hula and the Hawaiian art of
storytelling. She ran her mother Louise's
Waikiki hula studio for
three decades. The storytelling culture of Hawaii was expressed as
entertainment in the royal courts and the private homes of the ancient
Hawaiians. It came in an era before the written word was used as a
method of preserving the histories, genealogies, and mythologies of
the Hawaiian people.
Winona Beamer brought international attention
to the hula and other forms of Hawaiian storytelling through music and
the Native Hawaiian arts.
Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate
Further information: Kamehameha_Schools § Reorganization
Winona Beamer had been the Hawaiian culture instructor at the
Kamehameha Schools when the curriculum became in danger of being
cut. She wrote a May 1997 letter to the Hawaii Supreme Court,
expressing her concerns, and asking for the resignation of trustee
Lokelani Lindsey. Beamer became the catalyst for a groundswell that
led to an investigation of the
Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate trust.
Her letter resulted in a public outcry over the management of the
In November 1997, Beamer joined Isabella Aiona Abbott, Gladys A.
Brandt, Roderick F. McPhee, and Winona Ellis Rubin in releasing a
public statement calling for the removal of Lindsey from the
Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate. The statement was published in the
Honolulu Star-Bulletin as part of its coverage of the investigation
into the management of the trust. The investigation led to an
investigation by the Hawaii attorney general, a reorganization of the
trust, and the resignation of Lindsey.
Death and legacy
She became known as Auntie Nona in Hawaii, and was a champion of
teaching authentic Hawaiian culture. In the course of her life, she
published multiple books, music scores, and audio and video
recordings. In 1983, she and Richard Towill formed Ka Himeni Ana to
encourage participation in authentic Hawaiian music. Beamer moved
to Lahaina, on the island of Maui, in 2006. On April 10, 2008, she
died in her sleep in Lahaina. She was survived by her musician sons
Keola and Kapono, her only grandchild, Kamanamaikalani Beamer, and two
Hānai (adopted, extended family) children: a daughter, Maile Loo
Beamer, and a son, Kaliko Beamer-Trapp.
Author bibliography, discography and filmography
Beamer, Winona (1976). Nā
Hula O Hawaiʻi : the songs and dances
of the Beamer family. Norfolk Island, Australia: Island
Heritage. , OCLC 7115723
Beamer, Winona Desha; Kahalewai, Marilyn (1984). Talking Story with
Nona Beamer : Stories of a Hawaiian Family. Bess Press.
ISBN 978-0-935848-20-5. , OCLC 11505946
Beamer, Winona Desha (1985). Hawaiian
Hula Chants. Beamer
Hawaiīana. , OCLC 19666351
Beamer, Winona Desha (1987). Nā Mele Hula : a Collection of
Hula Chants. Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young
University—Hawaii Campus. ISBN 978-0-939154-42-5.
Beamer, Winona D. (1987). Nā Mele
Hula 1. Inst. for Polynesian
Studies, Brigham Young Univ. ISBN 978-0-939154-42-5.
Beamer, Winona Desha; Chu, Leona (1988).
Hula ʻauana Index : as
Taught by the Beamer Family. OCLC 63704078.
Beamer, Winona; Ching, Patrick (1990). Helu Papa : Counting in
Hawaiian, with Pī'a pā Alphabet. Hawaiian Resources Co.
ISBN 978-0-9627294-0-9. OCLC 24567417.
Beamer, Winona Desha; Cook, Mauliola; Trapp, S. Kaliko Beamer;
Hewetson, Roy; Nishimitsu, Pōhaku (2001). Nā Mele Hula. Volume
2 : Hawaiian
Hula Rituals and Chants. Institute for Polynesian
Studies. ISBN 978-0-939154-57-9. OCLC 51862208.
Beamer, Winona Desha; Loebel-Fried, Caren; Beamer-Trapp, Kaliko
(2005). Pua Polū, the Pretty Blue Flower. Kamahoi Press.
ISBN 978-1-58178-041-3. OCLC 60589985.
Beamer, Nona; Caren Loebel-Fried; Kaliko Beamer-Trapp; Keola Beamer
(2008). Naupaka. Kamahoi Press. ISBN 978-1-58178-089-5.
Songs for Hawaiʻi's Sunbeamers (1980–1981) Beamer Hawaiʻiana,
Winona Desha Beamer, OCLC 16413868
Traditional Chants and Hulas (1982) Beamer Hawaiʻiana, Winona Desha
Beamer, Keʻala Brunke OCLC 8804499
Na Mele Hula. : a Collection of 33
Hula Chants (1987) Institute
for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young University, Hawaiʻi
Campus ; Honolulu, Hawaii : Distributed for the Institute
for Polynesian Studies by the University of Hawaii Press, Winona Desha
Beamer ISBN 978-0-939154-57-9 OCLC 15656909
"Songs for keikis (children)" (date unknown)
Waikiki Records, 45 RPM,
Winona Desha Beamer, Pauline Kekahuna, Hauoli Girls,
Nona Beamer (1972) Custom Fidelity, LP, Winona Desha Beamer,
The Menehune of Hawaii : the little people of Hawaiian legend
(1982) Kalmar Records, LP, Winona Desha Beamer, Doug Hodge,
Ancient Hawaiian Musical Instruments (1982) Kalmar Records, LP, Winona
Desha Beamer OCLC 17312777
Na Mele Hula. : Volume 1 a Collection of 33
Hula Chants (1987)
Beamer Hawaiʻiana, Audio cassette tape, Winona Desha Beamer,
Beamer, Winona Desha (1996). "The Golden Lehua Tree : Stories and
Music from the Heart of Hawaii's Beamer Family" (Audio book).
Starscape Music. OCLC 37274417. Missing or empty url=
Hawaii 98 (1998) MGC Record, Compilation CD, Winona Desha Beamer and
various artists OCLC 663113430
Beamer, Winona Desha (2001). Nā Mele Hula. : Volume 2 :
Hula Rituals and Chants (Audio book). Institute for
Polynesian Studies. ISBN 978-0-939154-57-9.
Island dreams (2004) Koto World, LP, Winona Desha Beamer, Dragonfly
We are ʻohana : Songs of Hope (2004) Winona Desha Beamer, Kaliko
Beamer-Trapp, James McWhinney, Bruddah Kuz, Damon Williams, Faith
Rivera, Rupert Tripp, Jr, Keola Beamer, Glynn Motoishi, Howard Shapiro
Beamer, Winona Desha; Vaughan, Palani ; Zinn, Elaine; Tibbetts
Jr., Richard J.(Director, writer, editor) (1986). "The Hawaiian
Quilt : a Cherished Tradition" (VHS). Hawaii Craftsmen.
OCLC 25320697. Missing or empty url= (help)
Beamer, Winona Desha; Glaser, Gaye; Hamasaki, Doug (Producer); Hewitt,
Jim (Director) (1987). "Hoʻolako 1987 : Celebrate the Hawaiian"
(VHS). Oceanic Cable Community Programming Center.
OCLC 663660700. Missing or empty url= (help)
Beamer, Winona; Lindsey, Joan; Roes, Carol; Danuser, B. Kamaile
(Host); Thompson, Sammie (Director); Fujimoto, Keoho (Script) (1987).
"Songs That Teach" (VHS). Hawaiian Professional Songwriters' Society.
OCLC 663146342. Missing or empty url= (help)
Beamer, Winona Desha (Narrator); Kenney, Ed (Narrator); Wentzel, Stan
(Director and Writer); Arnone, Phil (Exec. Producer); Pennybacker,
Robert (Director) (1988). "Pele : the Fire Within" (VHS). Lee
Enterprises; KGMB (Television station : Honolulu, Hawaii).
OCLC 663112608. Missing or empty url= (help)
Beamer, Winona Desha (1991). "Ke Ao nani (instruments)" (VHS). Beamer
Hawaiʻiana. OCLC 663148741. Missing or empty url= (help)
Beamer, Winona Desha (1991). "Laupāhoehoe" (VHS). Beamer Hawaiʻiana.
OCLC 28819562. Missing or empty url= (help)
Beamer, Winona Desha (1991). "Molokaʻi Trilogy : Three Hulas of
Molokaʻi" (VHS). Beamer Hawaiʻiana. OCLC 663146822.
Missing or empty url= (help)
Beamer, Winona Desha; Beamer, Louise Leiomalama (1991). "Hawaiʻian
Storytelling with the Beamer Family" (VHS). Beamer Hawaiʻiana.
OCLC 28822579. Missing or empty url= (help)
Beamer, Winona Desha; Beamer, Myrtle Kaʻuinohea (1991). "Mi nei"
(VHS). Beamer Hawaiʻiana. OCLC 663146910. Missing or empty
Beamer, Winona Desha (1991). "Liliʻu e (Queen's hula) : he inoa
nō Liliʻu" (VHS). Beamer Hawaiʻiana. OCLC 663147805.
Missing or empty url= (help)
Beamer, Winona Desha (1991). "Liliʻuokalani (ʻōlapa chant hula)"
(VHA). Beamer Hawaiʻiana. OCLC 663147811. Missing or empty
Beamer, Winona Desha; Beamer, Keola; Beamer, Kapono; Beamer, Kamana;
Sorensen, Scott Eilif (Producer-Director) (1996). "Nona Beamer and Her
Family : a Century of Songs Celebrating Hawaiian Culture" (VHS).
Spectrum Hawaii-KHET TV, Honolulu. OCLC 663453272. Missing
or empty url= (help)
Beamer, Winona Desha and various others (1997). "Bishop Estate :
Promises to Keep" (VHS). KGMB. OCLC 663113482. Missing or
empty url= (help)
Beamer, Winona Desha; Beamer, Keola; Beamer, Moanalani (1991). "Keola
Beamer, Moanalani Beamer, Nona Beamer" (VHS). KHET-TV.
OCLC 663398886. Missing or empty url= (help)
Beamer, Winona Desha and other performers (2002). "Hiʻiaka, Lohiʻau
& the Five Maile Sisters" (DVD). Storybook Theatre of Hawaiʻi.
OCLC 754971845. Missing or empty url= (help)
Beamer, Winona Desha; Park, Puluʻelo; Loo, Maile; Loo, Maile (2001).
"Voices of our kūpuna : World Conference on Hula, Hilo,
Hawaiʻi, July 30, 2001" (VHS). Nā Maka o ka ʻĀina.
OCLC 54110238. Missing or empty url= (help)
Beamer, Winona Desha; Jeffers, Mark (Executive director);Zelkovsky,
Robert A. (editing) (2003). "Queen Emmalani : a Hawaiian Story"
(Videodisc). Storybook Theatre of Hawaiʻi,.
OCLC 253719215. Missing or empty url= (help)
Beamer, Winona Desha; Takamine, Vicky; Loo, Maile (2004). "Nona Beamer
and Maile Loo
Talk About Hula : March 9, 2004" (VHS). Hula
Preservation Society; UH Manoa Department of Theatre and Dance.
OCLC 318076932. Missing or empty url= (help)
Beamer, Winona et al. (2001). "Kona Hema = South Kona" (DVD). Nā Maka
o ka ʻĀina. OCLC 318076963. Missing or empty url= (help)
Beamer, Desha, Kāneakua, Miller family tree
Key- Subjects with bold titles and blue bold box=
Aliʻi line. Bold
title and grey bolded box= Lower ranking
Aliʻi line. Bold title and
un-bolded box= European nobility. Regular name and box= makaʻāinana
or untitled foreign subject.
Alexander P. Miller Jr.
Kapuailohia Wahine Kanuha Kaialiilii.[ii]
Sarah Kaʻili Miller
John Mahiʻai Miller/Kaneakua
(Oct. 9, 1860-Jan. 26, 1936)
County Clerk of Kaua‘i
Hui Hawaiian Aloha ʻĀina
Lucy Kaʻumealani Cummings
Samuel Kalimahana Kaialiilii Miller.[iv][v]
(1868-Nov. 24, 1933)
Daisy Amoe Ai[vi]
George Langhern Desha
Isabella Haleʻala Kaʻili Miller[vii][viii]
(1865-Feb. 28, 1949)
Annie Maikaʻi Miller
Charles Hoolulu Siemsen
Peter Carl Beamer
Helen Kapuailohia Desha
(Sept. 8, 1882–Sept. 25, 1952)
David Lester Desha
James Waichiro Miller
Milton Hoʻolulu Beamer
(October 18, 1903[ix] - )
Francis Kealiʻinohopono Beamer
Harriet Kekahiliokalani Beamer
Peter Carl Kaleikaʻapunihonua Beamer Jr.
Helen Elizabeth Kawohikukapulani Beamer
^ Kaʻanoʻi Walk writes in an article for the Hawaiian Cultral
Center: "..my great-grandfather
John Mahiʻai Kāneakua
John Mahiʻai Kāneakua was born in
Maui to his loving parents Alexander P. Miller and Kanuha
^ Kapuailohiawahine and her daughter Isabella, taught
Hula in secret,
hiding it after the ban by Kaʻahumanu.[β]
^ The son of Charles Makee (the son of James Makee, a wealthy sea
Captain) Charles Miller was the son of "Sarah Miller, written as "S.
Mila" on the marriage record".[γ]
^ Hawaii State Archives lists Samuel Kaia Miller marrying Amoy Ai on
5-2-1903 in Honolulu, Hawaii.[δ]
^ The Marriage certificate of Samuel and Daisy Amoe Ai lists Alika
Miller and Kanuha as parents to Samuel, with Namakelele and Ai as
parent to Daisy.[ε]
^ Daisy Amoe and Samuel Kalimahana Miller had 12 children and resided
in Kalihi where Samuel workd as a painter.[ζ]
^ In a press release from the
Hula Preservation Society, they list
Isabella Hale`ala Miller Desha as Nona Beamer's great grandmother.[η]
^ The Desha Genealogy lists William Francis Desha as the son of
Isabella and George Desha.[θ]
^ Hawaii Births and Christenings, 1852-1933. Milton Hoolulu Desha
Beamer, 18 Oct 1903; citing Hilo, Hawaii, Hawaii, reference p 36; FHL
^ Walk, Kaʻanoʻi. "Kāneakua, John Mahiʻai". Hawaiian Cultural
Center. Kamehameha Schools. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
^ Barbara Bennett Peterson (1984). Notable Women of Hawaii. University
of Hawaii Press. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-8248-0820-4.
^ Chinese America, History and Perspectives. Chinese Historical
Society of America. 1988. p. 175.
^ "MARRIAGES: Oahu (1832-1910)". Hawaiian Genealogy indexes. Hawaiʻi
State Archives. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
^ State of Hawaii Department of Health, Office of Health Status
Monitoring, Certificate of Marriage, May 2, 1903
^ "No Race Suicide Here". The Garden Island. December 17, 1918.
Retrieved 14 May 2014.
Hula Preservation Society.
Society. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
^ DeWitt Collier Nogues (1983). Desha genealogy: a survey. ATEX Austin
Inc. p. 212.
^ Births, Kaʻanoʻi. "Milton Hoolulu Desha Beamer". Family Search.
Retrieved 4 September 2015.
^ a b c d e "
Winona Beamer dies at 84 on Maui". Pacific Business News.
April 10, 2008.
^ a b Gordon, Mike (July 2, 2006). "Winona Beamer". The Honolulu
^ "The Leaflet: January/February 2015 Newsletter". The Kohala Center.
^ "Hawai'inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge". manoa.hawaii.edu.
^ Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. Office of the Federal
Register, National Archives and Records Service, General Services
Administration. 1981. p. 964.
^ a b Cartwright, Garth (June 1, 2008). "Winona Beamer". The
^ "Ke Ali'i Bernice Pauahi Paki Bishop (1831–1884) Will and
Codicils". Kamehameha Schools. Retrieved July 19, 2012.
^ King, Samuel P.; Roth, Randall W. "Newfound Wealth Cultural Rebirth,
Seeds of Discontent". Broken Trust: Greed, Mismanagement, &
Political Manipulation at America's Largest Charitable Trust.
University of Hawaii Press. pp. 53–64.
ISBN 978-0-8248-3014-4. OCLC 62326686.
^ Beckwith, Martha Warren (1940). "Coming of the Gods". Hawaiian
Mythology. Yale University Press. pp. 5–14.
^ Ann Rayson (1 January 2004). Modern History of Hawai'i. Bess Press.
p. 257. ISBN 978-1-57306-209-1.
^ Paiva, Derek (April 10, 2008). "Entertainer and cultural leader
Winona Beamer dies". Hawaii Magazine.
^ Da Silva, Alexandra (April 11, 2008). "Educator's letter to high
court sped removal of school trustees".
^ "New Essay Rips Lindsey".
Honolulu Star-Bulletin. November 27,
^ Enomoto, Kekoa Catherine (April 11, 2008). "Towering figure in
Hawaiian culture is gone". The