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Hawai'iEight Hundred Years of Political and Economic Change$
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Sumner La Croix

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226592091

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226592121.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 25 June 2022

The Short History of Humans in Hawaiʻi

The Short History of Humans in Hawaiʻi

(p.1) Chapter One The Short History of Humans in Hawaiʻi

Sumner La Croix

University of Chicago Press

Humans have a very short history in Hawaiʻi. The Hawaiian archipelago was the last major land area on the planet to be settled when Polynesians traveled over 2,000 miles north to the islands about 750–850 years ago. This chapter provides an overview of the topics covered by the book and the linkages between the past and present in Hawai‘i’s political history. Small, resource-rich chiefdoms, each supported by a state religion, merged into larger states and competed with one another for the next 350–400 years to control more territory and people within the eight major Hawaiian islands. In these well-organized states, property rights in land were well specified and enforced, and a system of post-harvest taxation facilitated risk sharing and mobilization of state resources for war. We see these well-functioning institutions mirrored in today’s sophisticated political institutions and high living standards. Three more general features of Hawai‘i’s past political institutions have persisted into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries: relatively centralized political institutions, use of land redistribution as a mechanism to form and preserve ruling political coalitions, and pathways to establishing more independent societies.

Keywords:   archaic states, property rights, unification, statehood, overthrow, land redistribution, open-access political order, limited access political order, epidemics, native Hawaiians

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