For a cultural group at California State Prison, Solano (SOL), the voices of ancestors are still heard today, preserved through music, kinship and tradition.
The Asian and Pacific Islander (API) Cultural Group is one of many at SOL as well as prisons statewide. The groups are devoted to celebrating cultural traditions.
At SOL, the API group meets regularly under the guidance of Chaplain Yisroel Zaetz and Siu Laulea, who travels from the Bay Area each week to give her time and experience. If she is unfamiliar with a particular tradition or practice, she researches it to share new information with the class.
The class holds various ceremonies and traditional dances, and shares their work with the rest of SOL by performing at special events such as graduations. Their beloved haka is a sure way to rev up a crowd, as the dancers don traditional garb and display the fierce war dance, complete with foot stomping, body slapping, and chanting.
While the haka is described a war dance, the SOL class explained that its true meaning is rooted in pride, strength, and unity as a team.
Video by Dave Novick, TV Specialist
Office of Public and Employee Communications
Read more rehabilitation stories.