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Ancestry of Experience: A Journey Into Hawaiian Ways of Knowing

Leilani Holmes

Softcover, 234 pp.

As Hawaiians continue to recover their language and culture, the voices of kupuna (elders) are heard once again in urban and rural settings, both in Hawaiʻi and elsewhere. How do kupuna create knowledge and tell history? What do they tell us about being Hawaiian? Adopted by a Midwestern couple in the 1950s as an infant, Leilani Holmes spent much of her early life in settings that offered no clues about her Hawaiian past images of which continued to haunt her even as she completed a masters thesis on Hawaiian music and identity in southern California. Ancestry of Experience documents Holmes quest to reclaim and understand her own origin story.

Holmes' experience has special relevance for indigenous adoptees and indigenous scholars: Both are distanced from the knowledge agendas and strategies of their communities and are tasked to speak in languages ill-suited to the telling of their own stories and those of their ancestors. In addition to those with an interest in Hawaiian knowledge and culture, Ancestry of Experience will appeal to readers of memoirs of identity, academic and personal accounts of racial identity formation, and works of indigenous epistemologies.

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