Decolonizing Heritage Management in Hawai‘i


Hawai‘i struggles with many issues confronting heritage management programs globally. While some State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) regularly engage in long-term planning and public outreach, the Hawai‘i SHPO often struggles with regulatory backlogs, staff reductions, and frequent staff turn-over. Nevertheless, grass roots efforts to better manage Hawaiian cultural sites are becoming more prevalent. We summarize key trends that have affected Cultural Resource Management (CRM) in Hawai‘i since the 1960s and address how the relationships between CRM professionals and indigenous communities have transformed over that time. One of the largest obstacles to the decolonization of heritage management in Hawai‘i has been the under-representation of CRM professionals from descendant communities. A contributing factor is a common perception that CRM (as it is often manifested in archaeological studies prior to development) is antithetical to Hawaiian values. A second factor is that state regulations require principal investigators in CRM firms to obtain graduate degrees in anthropology or closely related fields, but opportunities for graduate training in Hawai‘i are limited. Here, we make the case that community-based archaeology is a vital aspect of Hawaiian cultural revitalization, and that the extension of graduate programs in heritage management to predominantly indigenous communities is essential to decolonization efforts.

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Mills, P. & Kawelu, K. (2013). Decolonizing Heritage Management in Hawai‘i. Advances in Anthropology, 3, 127-132. doi: 10.4236/aa.2013.33017.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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