Accepted Paper:

Divided by blood quantum: socioeconomic disparity in indigenous Hawaiian society  


Masaya Shijo (Tokyo Metropolitan)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will talk about the socioeconomic disparity in Hawaiian homesteads. Hawaiian homesteads appeared in the 1920’s to provide Hawaiians with land. To acquire the land, the residents must meet a blood quantum rule which now divides the Hawaiian society and causes socioeconomic disparity.

Paper long abstract:

This paper throws light upon the current socioeconomic disparity observed in indigenous Hawaiian society, in particular, Hawaiian Homesteads. Hawaiian Homesteads are the neighborhoods designated especially for indigenous Hawaiians. The program started in the 1920's for the purpose of providing Hawaiians with residential and agricultural land. Since the western arrival in 1778, many of the Hawaiians had been detached from their native land and lived in slum areas.

In order to acquire the right of "a-dollar-land-lease-a-year", the Hawaiian Homestead applicants must meet a 50% indigenous Hawaiian blood requirement, and the rule was defined by the United States government. This rule somehow came to divide the native Hawaiian society and caused socioeconomic disparity today.

Hawaiian Homesteads offer not only land but also several economic benefits such as local tax exemptions to the residents. However, since the program just allows land, only those who are fortunate to have a decent blood quantum and have stable economic backgrounds for the mortgage loans can take on the land. And those who cannot clear the Hawaiian blood ratio or have enough blood but didn't satisfy the economic requirement are to live outside the program. Recent statistics show that the poverty rate of Hawaiian is lower than those of other ethnic groups in Hawaii, such as Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Korean and White.

Based on a 2-year fieldwork conducted in several Hawaiian Homesteads in the Wai'anae district, the west coast of O'ahu, I will analyze what lies behind the socioeconomic disparity in indigenous Hawaiian society.

Panel P140
Ethnographies of (dis)connection: marriage, families, households and homesteads in contemporary communities