In addition to Christianizing the Hawaiian people, another signifcant project of the ABCFmʻs Sandwich Islands Mission was to teach the palapala, reading and writing. This essay examines the production of the first two histories of Hawaiʻi, Ka Mooolelo Hawaiʻi (1838) composed by Hawaiians in the Hawaiian langauge, and The History of the Sandwich Islands 91843) published by their missionary teacher the Rev. Sheldon Dibble, in order to locate the introduction of the idea in Hawaiʻi of the superiority of writing and printing over an aural / oral practice of maintaining history. Dibble also held the culturally charged conviction that written history is the only kind of legitimate and authentic kind of history that could be produced. Highlighting this moment in Hawaiian print culture also illuminates the branching off of two distinct scholarly trajectories: one that continues to rely strictly on an English language only textual source base from which to work out its findings, and another which draws upon the largest indigenous language textual source base in Native North America and the Polynesian Pacific in the Hawaiian language and English language sources in order to understand the past. The essay suggests an ethical imperative that scholars should consider, namely decolonizing our intellectual practice with respect to the writing of native and indigenous histories intertwined with American colonialism and empire.


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pp. 415-443
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