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Rubellite Kawena Johnson


Rubellite Kawena Kinney Johnson is a Historian of Hawaii.

Her father was Ernest Kaipoleimanu Kinney (1906–1987) and mother was Esther Kauikeaulani Ka’ulili (1913–1979). Her maternal grandparents were Solomon Kamaha Ka’ulili and Kawena Ah Chong. Her paternal grandparents were William Kihapi’ilani Kinney (1868–1953) and Mary Francesca Vierra (c. 1879–1915). Her paternal great-grandfather was William Kinney (1832–1915) who came to the Hawaiian Islands from Nova Scotia. She was named for the mineral rubellite which is more commonly called tourmaline. Her grandfather was also known as K. W. Kinney to avoid confusion with his half-brother William Ansel Kinney who became a prominent lawyer.Another of her grandfather's half-brothers, Ray Kinney (1900–1979), became a popular Hawaiian musician. She was born on the island of Kaua’i.She married geophysicist Rockne H. Johnson, and had at least one daughter Kaleihanamau Johnson.

From 1967 to 1993 she was on the faculty of the University of Hawaii, where she helped establish its Hawaiian studies program. She then became Professor Emeritus of Hawaiian Language and Literature and continued to publish. She researched the history of the Kumulipo, a sacred chant of Hawaiian mythology, and early newspapers in the Hawaiian language.

Johnson was named one of the Living Treasures of Hawai'i in 1983 by the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawai'i. She was selected as an advisory committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights for Hawaiian sovereignty issues.

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