Archaeology in Hawaiâi has reached the century mark, and public perception of the discipline as a marginal esoteric pursuit has changed to one that associates the practice with land development and colonialism. The sociopolitical climate surrounding archaeology in the Hawaiian Islands is charged, and controversial events have contributed to present-day tensions. However, to understand these tensions we must go beyond anecdotes. This article presents narratives about the sociopolitical history of Hawaiian archaeology as conveyed in ethnographic interviews with Native Hawaiians and archaeologists. Themes brought forth in these narratives include discussion about the persistence of a living Hawaiian culture and the varying degrees of archaeological commitment to that culture. Ultimately an approach is sought that emphasizes Native Hawaiian people and culture and reframes archaeology in a supporting role. Through such reframing, issues of the practical application of archaeologically constructed knowledge for descendant communities are addressed, and the capacity of the discipline to advocate for Native Hawaiian communities is increased. Changing the current trajectory of historic preservation in Hawaiâi to encompass a collaborative approach to cultural stewardship is necessary for the viability of the discipline as well as for the perpetuation of Hawaiian culture.
The Contemporary Pacific – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Mar 12, 2014