Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity

Duke University Press
Free sample

In the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA) of 1921, the U.S. Congress defined “native Hawaiians” as those people “with at least one-half blood quantum of individuals inhabiting the Hawaiian Islands prior to 1778.” This “blood logic” has since become an entrenched part of the legal system in Hawai‘i. Hawaiian Blood is the first comprehensive history and analysis of this federal law that equates Hawaiian cultural identity with a quantifiable amount of blood. J. Kēhaulani Kauanui explains how blood quantum classification emerged as a way to undermine Native Hawaiian (Kanaka Maoli) sovereignty. Within the framework of the 50-percent rule, intermarriage “dilutes” the number of state-recognized Native Hawaiians. Thus, rather than support Native claims to the Hawaiian islands, blood quantum reduces Hawaiians to a racial minority, reinforcing a system of white racial privilege bound to property ownership.

Kauanui provides an impassioned assessment of how the arbitrary correlation of ancestry and race imposed by the U.S. government on the indigenous people of Hawai‘i has had far-reaching legal and cultural effects. With the HHCA, the federal government explicitly limited the number of Hawaiians included in land provisions, and it recast Hawaiians’ land claims in terms of colonial welfare rather than collective entitlement. Moreover, the exclusionary logic of blood quantum has profoundly affected cultural definitions of indigeneity by undermining more inclusive Kanaka Maoli notions of kinship and belonging. Kauanui also addresses the ongoing significance of the 50-percent rule: Its criteria underlie recent court decisions that have subverted the Hawaiian sovereignty movement and brought to the fore charged questions about who counts as Hawaiian.

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About the author

J. Kēhaulani Kauanui is Associate Professor of Anthropology and American Studies at Wesleyan University.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Nov 7, 2008
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Pages
258
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ISBN
9780822391494
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Native American
History / United States / 20th Century
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / Native American Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A Nation Rising chronicles the political struggles and grassroots initiatives collectively known as the Hawaiian sovereignty movement. Scholars, community organizers, journalists, and filmmakers contribute essays that explore Native Hawaiian resistance and resurgence from the 1970s to the early 2010s. Photographs and vignettes about particular activists further bring Hawaiian social movements to life. The stories and analyses of efforts to protect land and natural resources, resist community dispossession, and advance claims for sovereignty and self-determination reveal the diverse objectives and strategies, as well as the inevitable tensions, of the broad-tent sovereignty movement. The collection explores the Hawaiian political ethic of ea, which both includes and exceeds dominant notions of state-based sovereignty. A Nation Rising raises issues that resonate far beyond the Hawaiian archipelago, issues such as Indigenous cultural revitalization, environmental justice, and demilitarization.

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“A lesson in how to practice recognizing the fundamental truth that every inch of the Americas is Indigenous territory” —Robert Warrior, from the Foreword

Many people learn about Indigenous politics only through the most controversial and confrontational news: the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s efforts to block the Dakota Access Pipeline, for instance, or the battle to protect Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, a site sacred to Native peoples. But most Indigenous activism remains unseen in the mainstream—and so, of course, does its significance. J. Kēhaulani Kauanui set out to change that with her radio program Indigenous Politics. Issue by issue, she interviewed people who talked candidly and in an engaging way about how settler colonialism depends on erasing Native peoples and about how Native peoples can and do resist. Collected here, these conversations speak with clear and compelling voices about a range of Indigenous politics that shape everyday life.

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Contributors: Jessie Little Doe Baird (Mashpee Wampanoag), Omar Barghouti, Lisa Brooks (Abenaki), Kathleen A. Brown-Pérez (Brothertown Indian Nation), Margaret “Marge” Bruchac (Abenaki), Jessica Cattelino, David Cornsilk (Cherokee Nation), Sarah Deer (Muskogee Creek Nation), Philip J. Deloria (Dakota), Tonya Gonnella Frichner (Onondaga Nation), Hone Harawira (Ngapuhi Nui Tonu), Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee), Rashid Khalidi, Winona LaDuke (White Earth Ojibwe), Maria LaHood, James Luna (Luiseño), Aileen Moreton-Robinson (Quandamooka), Chief Mutáwi Mutáhash (Many Hearts) Marilynn “Lynn” Malerba (Mohegan), Steven Newcomb (Shawnee/Lenape), Jean M. O’Brien (White Earth Ojibwe), Jonathan Kamakawiwo‘ole Osorio (Kanaka Maoli), Steven Salaita, Paul Chaat Smith (Comanche), Circe Sturm (Mississippi Choctaw descendant), Margo Taméz (Lipan Apache), Chief Richard Velky (Schaghticoke), Patrick Wolfe. 

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From New Yorker staff writer David Grann, #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Lost City of Z, a twisting, haunting true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history
       
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