Ka ‘Āina Paiālewa I Ke Kai: Kanaka Hawai‘i Gold-Mining Communities in Oregon and California

Gonrowski, Drew
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2015]
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This dissertation explores the ways Kānaka Hawaiʻi (Hawaiians) living in California and Oregon in the nineteenth century incorporated western North America into Kanaka conceptions of ‘āina (land) by looking at gold-mining communities, families, and the ways Kānaka maintained connections with the Hawaiian Islands. It shows that Kānaka included western North America within concepts of ‘āina by viewing the ocean as an extension of the ‘āina, defining physical spaces, working the land, establishing social and familial relationships, and linking experiences and stories to specific sites. It also shows that Kānaka maintained and formed new connections with the Hawaiian Islands through family relationships, travel, cultural practices, communication, and the reach of the Hawaiian Kingdom. This study examines the writings of Kānaka living in gold-mining communities to begin to uncover their experiences in western North America as well as their views of the region. Their writings and compositions show that Kānaka developed knowledge of and formed intimate relationships with the ‘āina of the gold-mining regions. By studying these sources, this dissertation also shows that Kānaka viewed western North America as an ‘āina malihini (strange, unfamiliar land) lacking the genealogical connections of their ‘āina hānau (land of one’s birth, homeland) and emphasizing the importance of the ‘āina of the Hawaiian Islands. Although there are numerous kanikau (grief chants) and other writings composed by Kānaka living in gold-mining communities and published in Hawaiian-language newspapers, these sources often only provide glimpses into the composers’ lives and experiences. This dissertation combines research from various archives and sources, especially Hawaiian-language newspapers, to begin to uncover these often neglected histories. This study provides a different approach to studying western North American histories by reorienting the focus of the region to Kanaka Hawaiʻi concepts of ‘āina and how Kānaka, an immigrant population that was neither European nor American, lived within this diverse, contested region by imposing their understandings of place on the land and by forming relationships and communities with American Indians while being challenged by the increasing White American population.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2015.
Includes bibliographical references.
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). History
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