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Kahana: How the Land Was Lost

Robert H. Stauffer

Hardcover, 256 pp.

This volume is the most detailed case study of land tenure in Hawaii. Focusing on kuleana (homestead land) in Kahana, Oʻahu, from 1846 to 1920, the author challenges commonly held views concerning the Great Māhele (Division) of 1846-1855 and its aftermath.

Using land-tenure documents recently made available in the Hawaii State Archives' Foster Collection, the author presents the most complete picture of land transfer to date. The Kahana database reveals that after the 1846 division, large-scale losses did not occur until a hitherto forgotten mortgage and foreclosure law was passed in 1874. Hawaiians fought to keep their land and livelihoods, using legal and other, more innovative, means, including the creation of hui shares. Contrary to popular belief, many of the investors and speculators who benefited from the sale of absentee-owned lands awarded to aliʻi (rulers) were not Haole but Pākē (Chinese).

Kahana: How the Land Was Lost explains how Hawaiians of a century ago were divested of their land--and how the past continues to shape the Island's present as Hawaiians today debate the structure of land-claim settlements.

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