Manawai Archaeological Project
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Kathy Kawelu
Archaeological Research Facility
2251 College Ave.
University of California, Berkeley Berkeley, CA 94720
Manawai, Moloka'i

Manawai Archaeological Project
by Kathy Kawelu
(in .pdf format)

Background on Moloka‘i Archaeology
The island of Moloka‘i has not received equal archaeological attention as other islands in the main Hawaiian group. O‘ahu and the Big Island have been the focus of archaeological studies conducted in Hawai‘i. The high proportion of work on these islands is in part due to the development of land, and the environmental impact assessments that development requires. Many cultural resource management (CRM) reports have been generated for Moloka‘i as well; these reports far outnumber the research-based investigations that have been carried out on the island. To date, three academically based archaeological studies have been undertaken using modern archaeological techniques (Bonk 1954, Kirch & Kelley 1975, Weisler & Kirch 1985). Pia Anderson, another member of the OAL also wrote her dissertation (House of the kama‘aina: historical anthropology in a rural Hawaiian valley, 2001) based on work she did in Halawa, Moloka‘i. These projects stand in contrast to the work of earlier scholars (Stokes 1909, Thrum 1909, Fowke 1922) who relied heavily on the knowledge of native Hawaiian informants.

Prior to Bonk's (1954) work at Mo‘omomi, anthropologists such as G. Fowke, J. F. G. Stokes, and amateur scholars like T. G. Thrum had done island wide investigations, involving the description and recording of heiau (temples). One of their goals was the accumulation of data regarding ancient Hawaiian remains, in an attempt to salvage such information before it was "lost" to advancing civilization or forgotten. Another goal was the collection of evidence for cross cultural comparisons, in order to develop sequences of island colonization throughout Polynesia. That is, the route and sequence by which the Polynesian islands were settled by people. Beginning with the Mo‘omomi study, the methods used and the research questions asked changed significantly. This involved systematic survey and excavation of the study areas, and research goals geared toward the cultural adaptation of the Hawaiians to their environment and the manner in which people organized themselves on the landscape.
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Manawai Valley
The projects discussed above have made important contributions to Moloka‘i archaeology, and Hawaiian archaeology in general. However, many other issues and regions needed investigating. Previous work was done on the northwest coast (Mo‘omomi), the north coast (Halawa Valley), and the south coast (Kawela). However, the southeastern shore of Moloka‘i was densely populated in prehistory and at contact (Kirch 1985), yet this area has not received archaeological attention, with the exception of the Kawela study (Kirch & Kelly 1975) and CRM initiated projects. My work entailed a settlement pattern analysis within Manawai ahupua'a (traditional land division) along the southeastern coast of Moloka‘i. Many cultural sites have been recorded in this area, and this data compiled by C. Summers in her 1971 volume, Molokai: A Site Survey. These site-specific investigations (the emphasis on individual sites) lacked spatial and temporal context, which provides a fragmentary view of the lives of people who lived in this area. By conducting a multiscalar settlement pattern analysis of Manawai Valley better reconstructions and interpretations could be produced.

In the summer of 1998 I directed a small crew (Steve Eminger, Kalei Nathaniel, Craig Stahl, and Tania Stellini), which carried out a month long survey of the lower portion of Manawai Valley. The survey involved a walking inspection of the land, using closely spaced transects. Sites encountered were recorded on a survey form, which included a formalized checklist of site features, a drawing of the site (generated from tape and compass measurements), and a verbal description. Global Positioning Station (GPS) points were also taken for each site. The Hawai‘i State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) was generous enough to loan a GPS receiver to the project, in exchange for the sharing of information. What we found, much like what researchers found in Halawa Valley, was a patchwork of sites connected by walls and terraces, essentially forming one continuous site. Some 50 sites were recorded, to a distance of roughly 1 km inland from and 60 m above the coast. Much of the coastal flat has undergone modern development, such as the building of a condominium, so the number of sites prehistorically was likely much higher than what we located. My research into the Mahele records places the majority of kuleana plots in this lower segment of the valley, so I'm fairly certain that we are not getting the full picture in this area of Manawai. In a month of work we made a small dent in the total survey area, which is approximately 5.5 km in length, and rises to a height of 1200 m.
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References Cited:

Anderson, Pia
2001 House of the kama‘aina: historical anthropology in a rural Hawaiian valley. Ph.D., University of California – Berkeley.

Bonk, William J.
1954 Archaeological excavations on west Molokai. M.A., University of Hawai‘i – Mänoa.

Fowke, Gerard
1922 Archaeological work in Hawaii. Bureau of American Ethnology. 76: 174–195.

Kirch, Patrick V., and Marion Kelly
1975 Prehistory and ecology in a Hawaiian windward valley: Halawa Valley, Moloka‘i. Pacific Anthropological Records No. 24. Honolulu: Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum Press.

Stokes, John F. G.
1909 Heiaus of Molokai. Honolulu: Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum Press.

Summers, Catherine
1971 Molokai: a site survey. Pacific Anthropological Records No. 14. Honolulu: Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum Press.

Thrum, Thomas G.
1909 Tales from the temples, part III. The Hawaiian Annual for 1909.
Pp. 44 – 54.

Weisler, Marshall, and Patrick V. Kirch
1985 The structure of settlement space in a Polynesian chiefdom: Kawela, Molokai, Hawaiian Islands. New Zealand Journal of Archaeology. 7: 129-158.
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Photo courtesy of Kathy Kawelu.