Native Hawaiian Political History

Patrick Vinton Kirch

in How Chiefs Became Kings

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780520267251
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947849 | DOI:
Native Hawaiian Political History

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This chapter summarizes the rise of the Hawaiian polities through an “insider” or emic perspective. These historical accounts provide important clues to the power strategies employed by the Hawaiian elites. The traditional histories offer a perspective that privileges agency over long-term process. The mo'olelo do not offer historically reliable information regarding the initial colonization of the Hawaiian archipelago by Polynesians. Furthermore, the historical significance of voyaging traditions for Hawaiian cultural history is reported. The mo'olelo of the fifteenth to mid-sixteenth centuries exhibit a consistent pattern of social and political changes following the cessation of contact with Kahiki. The Hawaiian mo'olelo and the genealogies that provide their chronological framework open a marvelous window into the social and political history of the islands, over a period of four to five centuries. The Hawaiian mo'olelo can only improve the efforts to understand how Hawaiian chiefs ultimately became kings.

Keywords: Hawaiian polities; mo'olelo; voyaging; Hawaiian cultural history; Kahiki; genealogies; Hawaiian chiefs; kings

Chapter.  18139 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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