Ancestral Places: Understanding Kanaka Geographies
Katrina-Ann R. Kapaʻanaokalaokeola Nakoa Oliveria
Softcover, 216 pp.
Ancestral Places explores the deep connections that ancestral Kanaka (Native Hawaiians) enjoyed with their environment. It honors the mo‘olelo (historical accounts) of the ancestral places of our kupuna (ancestors), and reveals how these mo‘olelo and our relationships with the ‘āina (land) inform a Kanaka sense of place.
Katrina-Ann R. Kapa‘anaokalaokeola Nakoa Oliveira elucidates a Kanaka geography and provides contemporary scholars with insights regarding traditional culture—including the ways in which Kanaka utilize cartographic performances to map our ancestral places and retain our mo‘olelo, such as reciting creation accounts, utilizing nuances embedded in language, and dancing hula.
A Kanaka by birth, a kumu ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i (language teacher) by profession, and a geographer by training, Oliveira’s interests intersect at the boundary where words and place-making meet her ancestral land. Thus, Ancestral Places imbues the theoretical with sensual practice. The book’s language moves fluidly between Hawaiian and English, terms are nimbly defined, and the work of the field is embodied: geographic layers are enacted within the text, new understandings created—not just among lexica, but amidst illustrations, charts, terms, and poetry.
Ancestral Places, Oliveira reasserts both the validity of ancestral knowledge systems and their impact in modernity. Her discussion of Kanaka geographies encompasses the entire archipelago, offering a new framework in Kanaka epistemology.