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UH anthropologist awarded grant to study Kamehameha the Great on the Big Isle

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Michael Graves, (808) 956-8415
Department of Anthropology
Posted: Oct 31, 2005

Michael Graves, professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology at UH Mānoa, is part of a research team that has been awarded a $100,000 grant to conduct archeological research on Kamehameha the Great. Graves and KÁhaunani Cachola-Abad, a graduate affiliate faculty and cultural specialist at Kamehameha Schools, have been awarded a three-year $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The grant is part of a special program called "We the People," which promotes the knowledge and understanding of American history and culture.

Graves and Cachola-Abad's award for "An Integrative Historical and Archaeological Study of the Rise to Leadership of Kamehameha the Great, Hawaiʻi" will involve archival and archaeological research, documenting sources associated with North Kohala on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. This is the area where Kamehameha was born, spent much of his youth, and established himself as innovative and effective leader during his rise to power.

Cachola-Abad will focus on collecting oral traditions and other historical accounts detailing the practices and strategies employed by Kamehameha. This work builds on her dissertation research in anthropology at UH, where she employed oral traditions to study the development of socio-political complexity across the Hawaiian archipelago.

Graves has worked for several years in Kohala, most recently in a National Science Foundation- funded biocomplexity grant with archaeologists and natural scientists from several universities in the United States and New Zealand. Their work has focused on the large dry land agricultural system in the uplands of North Kohala that once stretched from Hāwī to the South Kohala boundary.

Graves will extend this research to include agricultural developments in the smaller valleys of windward Kohala, few of which have had previous archaeological investigation. According to oral traditions, several of the wetland agricultural developments in this area are associated with Kamehameha, the Great.