Navigation in the Information Age:
Potential Use of GIS for Sustainability and Self-Determination in Hawai`i
Cogswell and Schiøtz, 1996



4.0   History and Context

In this chapter, we examine several relevant historical andcontextual dimensions of this research. Through this exploration of Westernmaps, Hawaiian history, and GIS on a general level, we hope to lay a foundationfor the reader to better understand and evaluate our ethnographic findings onthese subjects in the specific context of Hawai`i, which appear in the chapterwhich follows.


4.1   Western Maps and Hawai`i

This section discusses several important developments in the origin andevolution of the Western written map, and then looks at the tradition ofPolynesian navigation over the same period. Through this historical andcross-cultural exploration, we hope to shed light on the dynamic relationshipbetween culture, technology, and maps, and provide a significant foundation for the exploration of computer assisted mapping.

We begin in antiquity with the emergence and importance of geometry andthe coordinate system. We then describe how the advent of perspective paintingof the Renaissance, in combination with the rediscovery of the coordinatesystem, fostered the beginning of a new era of the "objective map," spatialdefinition, "the grid," and colonialization and exploitation on anunprecedented scale. From Italy we then move to the other side of the planetwhere Polynesians had been navigating across vast spaces without any printedmap, yet with great accuracy and skill, for centuries: we consider how oceannavigation has been an integral part of Polynesian culture. With these twodifferent knowledge systems in mind we briefly describe the impact of theEuropean map on Hawai`i's land and culture, as Hawai`i became a point on globalmaps used by growing numbers of people. The "discovery" and mapping of Hawai`iwere a prelude to more than two centuries of European colonization andinfluence whose effects have recently culminated in a Hawaiian sovereigntymovement, in which the Nation of Hawai`i offers one model in a context of othersovereignty groups and models.

4.1.1   The Invention of "Space" and the Western Map

Basic to the understanding of the importance of the discoveriesthat underlie the scientific, neutral Western map is the notion of spatiality,which is described by Robinson:

As we experience space, and construct representations of it, we know that itwill be continuos. Everything is somewhere, and no matter what othercharacteristics objects do not share, they always share relative location, thatis, spatiality; hence the desirability of equating knowledge with space, anintellectual space. This assures an organization and a basis forpredictability, which are shared by absolutely everyone. This propositionappears to be so fundamental that apparently it is simply adopted a priori.(Robinson, 1976: 4)

It was the Greek civilization that systematized the concept of space as wehave come to perceive in the West. In Alexandria around 300 BC., we canoriginate the birth of the Western map in the concept of the coordinate system,which came to be a central element of most later mapping efforts. At this timethe Greek mathematician Euclid developed the first science of space, which hecalled "geometry." Euclid organized space as a coherent system of straightlines, supported by terms that he postulated as immutable truths. One of thesepostulates, which most children in the Western educational system stillrepeating in their homework today, is that parallel lines will never cross.Leonard Schlain writes about Euclid, who "...organized space as if its pointscould be connected by an imaginary web of straight lines that in fact do notexist in nature. Geometry was an entire system based on a mental abstraction"(Schlain, 1991: 30-31).

The creation of geometry made it possible for thinkers to represent threedimensional concepts of motion, time or space on a one dimensional planeintersected by a horizontal abscissa and a vertical ordinate. This new abilityto represent abstract thoughts and concepts visually on a piece of paper wasthe beginning of the several centuries of scientific discoveries (Schlain,1991: 52).

Around 150 A.D., Ptolemy, who was schooled in astronomy, physics,mathematics and optics as well as geography, created what is thought to be thefirst map coordinate system. He showed the location of 8000 places in relationto longitude measured from a prime meridian through the Fortune Islands, andlatitude measured from the equator (Whitfield, 1994: 8). But according toTurnbull, "the use of grids originated in China, probably with the work ofChang Heng in the first century A.D." (Turnbull, 1994: 26). His work has onlybeen noted by his biographer Tshai Yung; unfortunately none of his map and gridwork has survived to the present.

Over a thousand years later these discoveries were reintroduced as artistsof Europe began to experiment with "perspective," which was based onfundamental principles of geometry. In 1435 Leon Battista Alberti publishedhis thoughts on perspective, which influenced painters of the Renaissance intheir attempts to represent the world with more and more "accuracy." Schlainwrites about the development of this technique, which was perceived by mostpeople of the time as enthusiastically as computer technology is today.

The beginning development of perspective by Giotto and its elaboration byAlberti and other artists was a revolutionary milestone in the history of art.By painting a scene from one stationary point of view, an artist could nowarrange three axes of the geometry of space in their proper relationships.Perspective, which literally means "clear-seeing," made possible a new thirddimension of depth. Using perspective to project a scene upon a twodimensional surface made the flat canvas become a window that opened upon anillusory world of stereo vision. Literally and compositionally, art camedown to earth as the horizon line became, for the renaissance artist as for theseaman exploring the globe, the most crucial orienting straight line.(Schlain, 1991: 53; emphasis added)

It was in this context that Ptolemy reemerged and won wide recognitionwith the republication of his work, after more than a thousand years ofobscurity. Representing the culmination of six centuries of geographicalobservation and theory from the Greek civilization, Ptolemy had quite an impacton European cultures at the dawn of the Renaissance. Whitfield writes aboutthis formidable figure.

Ptolemy appeared to have cast a transparent net over the earth's surface, everystrand of which was precisely measured and placed. He had defined his subject- one quarter of the earth's surface - and within a geometric framework he hadcalculated each element of his composition ... This sense of ordered space wasprecisely the ideal towards which the artists of fifteenth century Italy werestriving, and this identity of interest explains Ptolemy's appeal. (Whitfield,1994: 10)

Harley sums up the enormous impacts of the coordinate system, which eventhe world's most remote regions would come to experience in the years followingthe Renaissance.

The rediscovery of the Ptolemaic system of co-ordinate geometry in thefifteenth century was a critical cartographic event privileging a 'Euclideansyntax' which structured European territorial control. Indeed, the graphicnature of the map gave its imperial users an arbitrary power that was easilydivorced from the social responsibilities and consequences of its exercise.The world would be carved up on paper. (Cosgrove, 1988: 282)

With these developments in art and physics, a new kind of consciousnesswas forming out of which came the Western map, with its claim to objectivelydescribe nature, or, more generally, space itself. Just as the development ofthe alphabet emerged out of a context in which there was a need to keep trackof, and record, excess production piled up in storage, so did the map evolveout of a certain context and need. Maps were "... a similar invention in thecontrol of space and facilitated the geographical expansion of social systems"(Ibid: 280). Harley adds to this point when he writes, "just as the clock, asa graphic symbol of centralized political authority, brought 'time discipline'into the rhythms of ... workers, so too the lines on maps, ... introduced adimension of 'space discipline'" (Ibid: 285).

With this newly developed understanding of spatial knowledge theEuropean powers were equipped with a new tool for the maritime exploration ofthe world that facilitated an aggressive expansion of European territorialdominance. Harley writes about the development of worldwide imperialism, andits relation to the map:

The "very lines on the map exhibited this imperial power and process becausethey had been imposed on the continent with little reference to indigenouspeoples, and indeed many places with little reference to the land itself. Theinvaders parceled the continent among themselves in designs reflective of theirown complex rivalries and relative power. (Ibid: 282)

As the European maritime powers were moving further and further away fromtheir home territory, their navigational skills were increasing. However, itwas not until the second half of the eighteenth century that navigationalpractices included all the necessary tools such as the sextant, lunar positionand distance, star charts etc., to locate a point in relation to the two linesof latitude and longitude. These tools enabled European explorers to navigatethrough uncharted oceans such as the Pacific, and to map island systemsencountered, adding them to the global atlases enabled by the grid.

4.1.2   Polynesian "Mapping"

While the Greeks were developing "geometry," Italians exploringperspective painting, and European seafarers traveling along the coastal zones,afraid of losing sight of land as their means of orientation, people ofPolynesia navigated with accuracy and precision from one remote island toanother, without the use of any onboard written map, or any tools ortechnologies Europeans associate with navigation. When the Micronesianstraveled from the Marshall Islands to Hawai`i around 100 AD., probably justbefore Ptolemy was born, they were already seasoned navigators on the largestocean on the planet.

While voyaging through vast distances, Pacific navigators had no drawnmaps, books or journals with the recorded knowledge of a specific region: howwas this possible? The navigators instead carried with them a highly evolvednavigational knowledge system that allowed them to visit the more than 10,000islands in the Pacific long before the European explorers arrived in the regiona few centuries ago (Witt-Miller, 1991: 64). Their method of orientingthemselves spatially was based on an intimate experiential perception of theirlived reality, stored in their memory and transmitted orally from generation togeneration. A long and arduous process had to be gone through to acquire thevast knowledge necessary to cross vast distances on the ocean out of sight fromland. The training or apprenticeship would begin around the age of 12 andoften was not completed until the early thirties. Farrall describes part ofthe training a navigator must go through.

In the course of his training a navigator has to memorize large amounts ofinformation about the positions and movements of the stars; the relativepositions of islands, reefs and other geographical features; the patterns ofwinds, waves, and ocean currents; and the kinds and habits of the sea birds.He has to learn the theories associated with understanding all thisinformation. He also has to learn the theory of hatag (or etak) used tokeep track of where a canoe is during a journey, and then put the theory topractice. The navigator must also be familiar from personal experience withthe handling of sea-going canoes and how to keep on course at all times of theday and night. (Farrall, 1979: 48, 52)

The knowledge of the navigator was not readily available, but was rathersomething the student was initiated into by a master navigator, whenappropriate understanding and maturity had been gained. "There was much magicand esoteric knowledge which could be known only by the privileged few.... Inaddition the navigational skills were and still are valuable property,willingly passed on to relatives but taught to non relatives at a steep price"(Ibid: 34).

All knowledge was communicated orally or through direct experience utilizingall senses, stick and pebble maps to illustrate wave patterns, and the starcompass to learn about the sky. Seen in this perspective mapping becomes anart of reading the environment; the territory becomes the map.

There are several reasons why the islanders were interested incommunicating with others in distant islands. Those who could safely navigateand often also built the canoes made it possible for the rest of the society toovercome the barrier to communication imposed by the open sea. Farrallelaborates on other reasons in a Micronesian context.

"There are features ofthe natural environmental setting of the Western Carolines which encourage thedevelopment of a system of inter island social ties. Among such environmentalcharacteristics are (a) the restricted land areas of the Western CarolineIslands, (b) the limited range of agricultural staples available, (c) thehazards and uncertainties of marine exploitation, and most important, (d) thedestructive effects of tropical storms" (Ibid: 8).

Without oceangoing canoes and navigational knowledge Micronesians could nothave engaged in the exchange of goods, marriage partners and ideas; ultimatelythe survival of the people was at stake. This reality gave the masternavigator a highly respected and influential status among the people. Withsuch concentration of knowledge among a very limited group of people, complexissues of power arose which in Polynesia were dealt with in many ways. Farralldescribes the situation of the Puluwatans.

...navigational knowledge enabled Puluwatans to communicate with otherMicronesians but it did not mean that there was necessarily a relationship ofpower between the groups thus brought into contact. Without the knowledge itwould have been impossible for the Puluwatans to have dominated over groups,but the possession of the knowledge did not give the Puluwatans power overother peoples. In modern industrial societies it is clear that certain kindsof scientific knowledge are crucial in the provision of military power. (Ibid:13)

The Micronesian navigators are an excellent example of how navigationalexpertise can grow out of a specific context as opposed to a European,non-local method of navigational knowledge. The knowledge carrier is anintegral part of the society's well-being through his close connection to theplace where he lives. "The wayfinder concentrates 100 percent of his attentionon his place in the sea and sky. With his one-pointedness, he processes all ofhis data on his course, speed and current, etc. His point of concentration ishis navel, called the piko in Hawaiian. This is considered the centerof the one's body and being, so that it - not the brain - is the point fromwhich to live" (Witt-Miller, 1991: 65). As a last note in this brief section,we would like to quote Witt-Miller on how the epistemology of Polynesiannavigation differs from that of Western science.

The radical technology of wayfinding shocks us with its independence of ourtechnology. But what really threatens our view of the universe is the complexarray of totally unrelated inputs - just about everything from stars to pigsnouts to testicles - that the wayfinder weaves into a picture of his position.Most of these inputs are from phenomena that don't lend themselves to precisemeasurement and, because they're of different orders, don't allow like-to-likecomparison. Yet measurement of comparable things is essential to classicalscience. (Ibid: 69)

Surrounded by a vast ocean in all directions, Hawai`i was protected fromcolonization, exploitation and foreign control longer than most places onEarth. Prior to 1778, Hawai`i was not yet "discovered" - it was not on the mapin the Western sense, and therefore was still mapped according to theHawaiians' own integral sense of the land and the sea. Dudley tries todescribe what this would have looked like:

Since the islands are roughly circular, the ahupua'a...traditional landdivisions in Hawai`i...the subdivisions of a district, can be pictured as thinslices of a pie. The narrow end of the ahupua'a is at the thin slice ofthe pie...the narrow end of the ahupua`a is at a central or inlandmountain top, and it broadens out as it progresses towards the shore and outinto the sea. Each ahupua`a was for the most part self-sufficient,producing everything needed by the people living within the boundaries. Peopledid not live in the villages: their homes were scattered over the area of theahupua`a. Hawaiians had no money and did not barter. But those whofished in the sea needed to fill their diets with the crops that others raisedin the uplands, and the uplands needed fish. Society was based on generosityand communal concern. Fishermen gave freely, and farmers gave freely. And allflourished. A konohiki, or overseer, assured that a constant flow ofproducts moved through the ahupua`a , meeting everybody's needs.(Dudley, 1990: 65)

When the Hawaiians, having existed on the most isolated land mass on theplanet, saw giant white sails in their harbors for the first time, it is hardto imagine what they might have thought.

4.1.3   The First Maps of Hawai`i

When the British Commander, surveyor and cartographer James Cookset out for his third voyage in the Pacific it was to investigate the westerncoast of North America in the "hope that he would discover the Northwestpassage, the long sought-for connection between the Atlantic and the Pacificocean" (Fitzpatrick, 1990: 14).

Cook's travels were made feasible by instruments and technologieswhich had only recently been invented: he was able to place himself squarelyon the world grid at any point in his journey. "Cook was fortunate enough tobe living in a time when science and technology combined to produce not one buttwo reliable methods of determining longitude, a problem which had plagued mansince the days of the Greeks" (Ibid: 14).

For his third journey in the Pacific, Cook was given the followinginstructions, as quoted by Healy:

At whatever places you may touch in the sources of your voyage, whereaccurate observations of the nature hereafter mentioned have not already beenmade, you are, as far as your time will allow, very carefully to observe thetrue situation of such places, both in the latitude and longitude; thevariation of the needle; bearings on headlands; height, direction, and ofcourse of the tides and currents; depth and soundings of the sea; shoals,rocks, etc.; and also to survey, make charts of the coast, and to makenotations thereon, as may be useful either to navigation or commerce. (Healy1959: 9)

While captaining two ships, "Resolution" and "Discovery," bound from Tahitito the Northwest coast of America, Cook noted the following in his diary,

Friday, 2nd January, 1778 .... We continued to see birds every day of thesorts last mentioned, sometimes in greater numbers than others: and between thelatitude of 10 and a 11 we saw several turtles. All these are looked upon assigns of the vicinity of land; we however saw none till day break in themorning of the 18th when an island was discovered bearing NEBE and soon afterwe saw more land bearing North and entirety detached from the first; both hadthe appearance of being high land.... (Price 1969: 215-6)

When we are looking at the first map by Cook's crew (Figure 4.6) we see amap of the Hawaiian islands that has a high degree of accuracy.

This isthe first time the islands were placed in their "correct" geographic, spatialrelationship in the world view originally proposed by Ptolemy. The archipelagoof Hawai`i would no longer be the same, now becoming part of a mapping gridthat connected all observed geography into one central framework. This was inmany ways a huge breakthrough for the charting of the world, initiated by theimperial powers of Europe.

The Hawaiian islands became part of a shared knowledge system, which allnavigators who could measure their position in accordance with longitude andlatitude could visit by choice. The knowledge of the indigenous Pacificnavigators was thereby challenged by people who had absolutely no localknowledge or experience with the particular places they visited.

The specific location of the Hawaiian islands was noted by Captain Cook in hisjournal on Friday the 30th, 1778, a year which forever changed the course oflife on the Hawaiian islands. Cook wrote:

Friday, 30th January, 1778 .... These five islands Atoui, Eneeheeou, Orrehoua,Otaoora and Wouahoo, names by which they are known to the Natives. I namedthem Sandwich Islands, in honor of the Earl of Sandwich. They are situatedbetween the Latitude of 21o 30' and 22o15' N and betweenthe Longitude of 199o 20' and 201o 30' East. Wouahoo,which is the Easternmost and lies in the Latitude of 21o 36' we knewno more of that than it is high land and inhabited.... (Ibid: 221)

Thus charted, the Hawaiian archipelago was subject to the influence of the restof the world.

In this section, we have taken a journey through time and space, from theGreeks' invention of geometry to placing Hawai`i reliably on thelongitude/latitude grid, though this merely marks the beginning of a largerjourney we are taking toward understanding the long-term implications of thisgrid, written and computerized maps, and local and "universal" knowledge. Inthe next section, we give a very brief history of Hawaiian exploitation by theWest, which again, is made possible by the newly acquired ability to find thisremote land mass by map.


4.2   Hawai`i - Consequences of Being "On The Map"

While the actual history of the last 200 years in Hawai`i is verycomplex and cannot be reduced to "good Hawaiians, bad Europeans," followingEuropean contact, the highly productive, complex and sustainable culturalsystems of the indigenous people of Hawai`i, the Kanaka Maoli, were seriouslydisrupted. In a series of major changes, missionaries, business people,imported laborers, new technologies, exotic species, and new ideas wouldtransform this remote archipelago which had remained hidden to non-Pacificislanders for millennia.

Aided by Europeans, King Kamehameha I was able to unify the previouslypolitically separated islands under one rule, ending the continuous wars amongthe islands by 1820. An absolute monarchy was created which put total controlof the land under the King. In time, King Kamehameha III put the control ofthe land and the power of the Kingdom under a constitution, creating aconstitutional monarchy.

The first major ecological and economic impact after the arrival ofthe Europeans was the exploitation and annihilation of the sandalwood forests,in the early 1800's. Sandalwood was exchanged for the first western weapons,clothes, and tableware the Hawaiians had ever seen.

After the exhaustion of the sandalwood forests the extensive whalingindustry followed, which brought many more ships to Hawai`i than had ever beenthere before. Between 1840 and 1870 when whaling was at its peak, thisindustry became the basis for the money economy of Hawai`i and established townlife on the islands, with intensive commercial exchange: "For the firsttime the Hawaiian masses were drawn into the cash economy as workers andproducers on a regular basis" (Kent, 1983: 22). These developments wouldprovide the foundations for what later would become the metropolitan center ofHonolulu. By the 1840's six hundred whalers were appearing every year. After1860 the whaling industry began to decline first because whales became morescarce and voyages thus more costly and secondly because the petroleum wasdisplacing the whale oil market.

Due to the increasing demands of visiting ships, the next wave ofmapmaking, after the maps of the islands and surrounding waters created firstby Cook and followed by La Perouse and Vancouver, was focused on harbors. The Russian navigator Kotzebue made the earliest known map of Honolulu in1817, as shown in Figure 4.7.

Following Cook, subsequent mapping efforts for navigationalpurposes, harbor locations, natural resources, property surveys forprivatization of land were all done by Europeans, since they introduced andpracticed the skills involved. The "Europeans made maps for their own use, notfor the Hawaiians" (Fitzpatrick, 1990: 13).

Sugar came in with whaling after sandalwood as the economic engine of theislands. In 1835 the first Western style sugar plantation was established,which was very labor intensive, a factor which led to the subsequentimportation of Chinese and Japanese workers. This industry was extremelyinfluential in the social, economic, and political life of Hawai`i through muchof the last two centuries.

Perhaps the most dramatic impact on the people and land of Hawai`i cameabout through the land reform called the "Great Mahele," in 1848.Before the reform no one owned land in the Western sense nor was theland bought or sold; instead the land was regarded as a sacred entity governedby the chiefs and the king, and was divided up between the king, the chiefs andthe government. Two years after this law was passed another law made itpossible for foreigners to buy and sell land; the importance of this law forthe changes that followed cannot be overstated. The Great Mahele fundamentallydisrupted the native Hawaiians' ability to sustain themselves on the land andthereby their ability to lead sustainable lives. Lilikala Kame`eleihiwa(1994) comments that the privatization of land was perhaps the biggestmistake the Hawaiians had ever made because it allowed foreigners to buyHawai`i (Kame`eleihiwa, 1994: 114). Writing about the Mahele, Marion Kelly(1994) maintains that the Mahele "turned out not to be an act of generosity,but an act of genocide" (Kelly, 1994: 105). Dudley writes about this pivotalpoint in Hawaiian history:

While Native Hawaiians may have been unaware of the great value of a clear landtitle, the white people in the islands, familiar with the capitalist system,were very aware of its value. The used their store of wealth to buy up everypiece of land they could. By the end of 1850, the same year the law was passedallowing purchasing of lands by anyone, thousands of acres of land had beensold to whites. Within two more years, the acres sold would be in the hundredof thousands. Before the monarchy came to an end forty years later, most ofthe chiefs' lands and vast parts of the crown lands had been sold to whites.(Dudley, 1990: 20)

That the Mahele was a mistake or an act of genocide without any benefitsfor Hawaiians has been challenged recently, though it is true that the Maheledramatically changed the relationship between people and land in Hawai`i. Thisno doubt led to new and very different maps of island territory than anythingthe native Hawaiians would have imagined. The islands were no longer arrangedfor integration and sustainability, but rather for exploitation by foreigninterests.

Another important event relating to maps in Hawai`i's history is thearrival of the Christian missionaries. In their work over the last 200 yearstoward 'enlightening the natives,' "education" played a central role. Theiractivities were aimed at making the Hawaiians proficient at reading the Bible:toward this end they built schools, trained teachers, and established printingpresses. Fitzpatrick (1990) writes, "With the development of the educationalprogram of the missionaries there arose a need for maps. Acquainting theHawaiians with the geography of the Bible requires maps, as did pointing outthe relationship of Hawai`i to the various components of the Christian and'heathen' worlds" (Fitzpatrick, 1990: 105). The missionaries then werealso catalysts in the making and distribution of maps and the obliteration ofindigenous knowledge through Westernization.

Suddenly the indigenous people of the land were shunned, their knowledgeof living with and caring for the land was dismissed, and children were taughtthe English language, English and European Literature, US Politics, WorldHistory, and (Christian) Religion.

While the impact may be difficult to quantify precisely, one might expect thatsuch education and foreign influence and knowledge maps had significant effectson indigenous people.

4.2.1   Sovereignty Lost

One hundred and fifteen years after the arrival of Cook, the Hawaiianislands were governed by a Queen, in a monarchy recognized through Treaties ofFriendship, Commerce, and Navigation with the major sovereign powers existingat that time (Laenui, 1993: 81). Although the United States was one of thecountries with treaties to Hawai`i, the US military supported the overthrow ofthe Hawaiian government in 1893 by a small group of Western businessmen.

In understanding Hawaiian history and the current Hawaiian sovereigntymovement we have found it helpful to be especially aware of several historicalissues and developments. First, in 1887 the "Bayonet Constitution" was draftedat the initiative and under the influence of Westerners, and extended the voteto American and European males, reduced the King to a ceremonial position, andraised property qualifications to a level where many native Hawaiians wereprevented from voting, among other constitutional changes. While it was a verysignificant step in enabling more than a century of foreign influence inHawai`i, the Bayonet Constitution was never ratified by the legislature of thetime.

Second, the role of the sugar industry in the overthrow of the Hawaiiangovernment was significant. In 1891 a sugar tariff was levied by the UnitedStates on Hawaiian imports, and it took a major toll on the local sugarindustry. "While sympathetic to annexation, the Harrison administration wasnot sympathetic to lifting the tariff. It appeared to some that the only wayHawaiian sugar could be guaranteed a portion of the American market was forHawai`i to become part of the United States" (MacKenzie, 1991: 12).

Third, Queen Lili`uokalani took the throne upon Kalakaua's death in 1892,and was in the process of drafting another constitution to limit the influenceof Westerners when she was deposed. However, it is important to note thatthough removed from office she did not abdicate her throne, instead yieldingher authority at gunpoint while making the following statement:

I, Lili'uokalani by the grace of God and under the constitution of the HawaiianKingdom, Queen, do hereby solemnly protest against any and all acts doneagainst myself and the constitutional Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom bycertain persons claiming to have established a Provisional Government of andfor this Kingdom. Now, to avoid any collision of armed forces and perhaps theloss of life, I do, under this protest, and impelled by said force, yield myauthority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, uponthe facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representatives andreinstate me and the authority which I claim as the constitutional sovereign ofthe Hawaiian Islands. (Lili'uokalani, 1893)

It is significant to consider that the Queen did not know whether suchreinstating would happen in a day, a year, or a century.

Next, Grover Cleveland, the American president at the time, was quiteopposed to the U.S. military-sanctioned overthrow in Hawai`i. In an extensiveand passionate speech to the U.S. congress on December 18, 1893, Clevelandidentified that in the overthrow of the Queen, a "substantial wrong" had beendone to U.S. national character and to native Hawaiians, and demanded that itbe repaired by the restoration of the monarchy. The following key excerpts ofhis speech are illuminating:

By an act of war, committed with the participation of a diplomaticrepresentative of the United States, and without authority of Congress, theGovernment of a feeble but friendly and confiding people has beenoverthrown.... A substantial wrong has thus been done which a due regard forour national character as well as the rights of the injured people requiresthat we should endeavor to repair.... I instructed Minister Willis to advisethe Queen and her supporters of my desire to aid in the restoration of thestatus existing before the lawless landing of the United States forces atHonolulu on the 16th of January last.... (Cleveland,1893)

Unfortunately for native Hawaiians, the less sympathetic William McKinleywas elected president before Cleveland could move to reverse the overthrow.Even after Cleveland had clearly recognized this situation to be an illegaloccupation, the next president, William McKinley ignored his position and madethe decision to allow the occupational force to remain in control of Hawai`i.This force and its associates claimed all the "Government Lands" at the time ofthe overthrow. It is poignant to note that Sanford P. Dole, a businessman (andgrandfather of 1996 US presidential candidate Robert Dole), was installed asthe first president of what became known as the "republic of Hawai`i."

After a lengthy debate in the US between anti-expansionists andannexationists, Hawai`i was annexed by the federal government of the UnitedStates, in 1898. Following annexation the "Organic Act" of 1900 was passed,which established a territorial government with a structure like most states inthe U.S., except that the primary officials were appointed by the federalgovernment, which had ultimate authority, rather than the people of Hawai`i.In addition, 1.75 million acres of Hawaiian public lands were ceded to theUnited States from the republic, which had "acquired" the lands from themonarchy. It is important to note that while the U.S. had "legal title" to theland, "the beneficial title rested with the inhabitants of Hawai`i... Section73 of the Organic Act stated that the proceeds from the territory's sale,lease, or other disposition of these ceded lands should be deposited in theterritory's treasury for "such uses and purposes for the benefit of theinhabitants of the Territory of Hawai`i as are consistent with the jointresolution of annexation... Nevertheless, the federal government also reservedthe right to withdraw lands for its own use" (MacKenzie, 1991: 15, 16).

Devaluation of Hawaiian culture, overthrow of the Hawaiian government,loss of land and control over personal, cultural, and economicself-determination all had significant impacts on the indigenous people ofHawai`i, which were evident early in this century. Some of these impacts aredescribed in a 1964 report which is quoted by MacKenzie,

Available social statistics indicate that as of 1920 the position of theHawaiian community had deteriorated seriously. The general crime rate forpeople of Hawaiian ancestry was significantly higher than that of other groups.The rate of juvenile delinquency was also higher, an ominous omen for thefuture. Economically depressed, internally disorganized and politicallythreatened, it was evident that the remnant of Hawaiians required assistance tostem their precipitous decline. (Ibid: 17)

As a response to this decline, the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act waspassed in 1921. "Under the act, about 188,000 acres of public lands weredesignated as "available lands" and put under the jurisdiction of the HawaiianHomes Commission to be leased out to Native Hawaiians, those with 50 percent ormore native blood, at a nominal fee for 99 years" (Ibid: 17). Conceived as away to benefit native Hawaiians and as an agricultural initiative andexperiment, the Act was quickly coopted by sugar interests so that littleagriculturally productive land would be leased out, and arranged to limit thosewho could apply by setting a "blood quantum" (prerequisite) of Hawaiianancestry at 50 percent. Bureaucracy and other factors led to the slowdispersal of leases, and tens of thousands of Hawaiians have waited decades onlists to receive land, or are still waiting today. In 1989, just under 6,000native Hawaiians leased 32,713 acres of Hawaiian Homestead land (Ibid: 18).

The development of the tourist industry after World War II pushed many ofthe remaining native Hawaiians and their culture further toward the edge ofannihilation. Land speculation drove up prices so that native Hawaiians weredriven away to marginal property, and then often to their cars and the beaches.With the influx of new people, ideas, and "modernizing" plans for the Islands,Hawaiian culture was considered truly "backward" and devalued: "progress" hadcome to Hawai`i.

Waikiki, the primary tourist center in Hawai`i, provides perhaps the mostextreme example of the transformation exacted upon the people and land ofHawai`i by foreigners, and by tourism. Barry Nakamura (1979) writes in greatdetail about the radical changes in land use that occurred at Waikiki in theearly 20th century, in his Master's Thesis The Story of Waikiki and the"Reclamation" Project. "As early as in the 15th century, the NativeHawaiian people engineered and developed at Waikiki, extensive taro pond fieldsand an irrigation system which decentralized the water resources of themountain streams which flowed into the Waikiki hinterland" (Nakamura, 1979:vi). When Europeans arrived, what is now called Waikiki was the bottom of ahighly productive ahupua`a , which fed many people with taro, fish andother foodstuffs through an intricate, highly developed system of streams,terraces, and ponds. A complex series of interrelated developments anddeliberate planning by government business alliances led to the transformationof Waikiki from its role in supporting indigenous people in sophisticatedsubsistence lifestyles, to increasingly being populated to non-Hawaiians, andfilled with hotels and streets (John Kelly, personal communication). In thefollowing excerpt, Nakamura describes the official motive for destroying thisonce "most extensive area of wet-taro cultivation on Oahu" (Handy, 1972:480).

The Sanitary Commission of 1912 estimated that, of the total amount of land inthe district of Honolulu located below the foothills, one third was wet land.This wet land, which was used for agriculture and aquaculture, represented,then, a considerable amount of urban real estate if filled in.

Such laws as Chapter 83, R.L. 1905 already existed to deal with filling inwet land. The justification for such actions would be sanitation, that is, ifwet lands were allowed to exist within the district of Honolulu, the publichealth would be endangered, for mosquitoes, carriers of dangerous diseases,would continue to breed... Thus sanitation was presented as the primary motivein the destruction of wet agriculture and aquaculture while the profitabilityof reclaimed was hardly mentioned at all. (Nakamura, 1979: 67)

In 1959, following a plebiscite process which was at the time, and hasbeen subsequently deplored by many native Hawaiians, Hawai`i became thefiftieth state of the United States of America through the unprecedented"Admission Act." This Act not only gave control of most of the ceded landsheld by the federal government to the state, but provided a requirement for thestate to hold these lands "as a public trust for the support of the publicschools and other public educational institutions, for the betterment of theconditions of native Hawaiians..." (MacKenzie, 1991: 19). However, almosttwenty years passed before actions were taken per the Act's trust languagetoward the "betterment of the conditions of native Hawaiians."

In 1964, Holt published On Being Hawaiian, a book that contributedto the advent of a cultural renaissance which has increased in intensity in theface of a dominant culture which has held that Hawaiian culture is antiquatedand without worth, and that the American hegemony over the islands is a part of"Manifest Destiny" of inevitable control. Against many odds, native people ofHawai`i are again learning their original language, their history, theirtraditional spirituality, their ancient livelihood practices, and arechallenging the legitimacy of the Anglo-Japanese socio-political hegemony inthe region. A systematic exploration of the effects of Euro-American trade andexploitation, the illegal coup de 'etat, annexation, land appropriation,statehood, militarization, standard western education, tourism, and ecologicaldevastation has only begun. Essential literature relating to this nativeculture renewal include Kame`eleihiwa's (1992) Native Land and ForeignDesires, Dudley's (1990) A Hawaiian Nation series, Hasager's (1994)Return to Nationhood, Trask's (1993) From a NativeDaughter, and Handy's (1972) Native Planters. These works attemptto give the history of Hawai`i from a native perspective, and offer significantadditions and revisions to the previously written version.

This reemergence of Hawaiian cultural values and pride led in 1978 to theconvening of a Constitutional Convention at which the language of the AdmissionAct was clarified and expanded to establish native Hawaiians and the generalpublic as the two beneficiaries of the lands ceded to the state by the Act. Inaddition, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) was created to administer twentypercent of the ceded land revenues to benefit native Hawaiians. Why OHA onlyadministrates the revenues derived from ceded land leases and sales and notfrom the revenue generated from businesses on ceded land is

... [one of] many unresolved issues relative to the public land trust and itsproceeds and income [which] remained. Disputes over the classification ofspecific parcels of land as ceded or non-ceded, questions as to whether section5 (f) contemplates gross or net income, and problems in defining "proceeds,"have plagued the state and hampered OHA in effectively carrying out itsresponsibilities to native Hawaiians. (MacKenzie, 1991: 20)

The story of OHA is an intricate and complex one that we will not tacklehere in any detail. It is enough to point out that OHA is set up as a separatestate agency outside of the control of the executive branch with a statedintention to provide a vehicle for native Hawaiian self-government andself-determination, and to point to the many unresolved problematics andtensions with the state, within OHA, and among its trustees in fulfilling OHA'smission.

As this thesis goes to press, an article in the Honolulu paper suggeststhat for many native Hawaiians, life is not easy in 1996.

Native Hawaiians face some of the worst housing conditions in the UnitedStates, says U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye. Their plight has been hidden becausedata on native Hawaiian housing needs were incomplete, Inouye said. New studiesbear "astonishing findings and statistics - findings which are shocking even tothose who may consider themselves well-informed on these matters," he said.

Among the findings: Nearly half of Hawaiian households - and 67 percentof those on the waiting list for Hawaiian Home lands - experience housingproblems related to affordability, overcrowding or structural inadequacy. Thatcompares with 44 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives living ontribal lands and 27 percent of all U.S. households. The rate of homelessnessamong Hawaiians, at 12.2 "households" per 1,000, is double that ofnon-Hawaiians.

"It's at a point where I don't think it could get any worse," said JimDannemiller of SMS Research, which helped compile data. (Christensen, July 4,1996, Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

To summarize the main points of this section, Hawai`i provides a dramaticexample of the effects on a specific bioregion of colonialism and mass-marketcapitalism; of being introduced to "the grid" of global maps and economy. Itcannot be restated too often that from being a "highly organized, selfsufficient, subsistent social system based on communal land tenure with asophisticated language, culture, and religion" (U.S. 103rd Congress, 1993) before the arrival of missionaries and trades people in 1778 led by CaptainCook, Native Hawaiians have almost been annihilated from the face of the earth.In a little more than a century after Cook's arrival, the indigenous populationdecreased from an estimated one million inhabitants to approximately 40,000.Today as the Hawaiian people are finally gaining recognition for the many yearsof genocide against their people, less than 8,000 full-blood Hawaiians areleft. The remaining Kanaka Maoli, the native people of the islands, are widelyregarded as some of the most disadvantaged, oppressed, and unhealthy people inwhat is called the United States.

Hawai`i is the most geographically isolated archipelago in the world, andoriginally had a tremendous diversity of microclimates, life forms, and naturalrenewable energy sources. Despite its natural wealth, Hawai`i now imports50-75% of its own foodstuffs, and over 75% of its energy (Department ofGeography, U. Hawai`i, 1983: 159). Ecological degradation over the lastcentury, caused by development and ignorance, has caused many species of lifeto become extinct, and still threatens many more. The transformation of theIslands from a series of rich, dynamic and interconnected ecosystems andcultural systems to its present state is one of many factors that hasintensified a movement toward reclaiming Hawaiian sovereignty.

4.2.2   Sovereignty Regained?

It is among the remaining full-blooded Hawaiians, the 220,000mixed-blooded Hawaiians, and empathetic haoles that different scenarios ofHawaiian sovereignty are being formed. Hawaiian history has given birth toseveral attempts at the creation of a sovereign state. In 1996, sovereignty insome form has moral support at the highest levels of state government, asSenator Inouye and former Governor Waihee suggest.

It is my sincere hope that the sovereignty of the Hawaiian people will be restored in my lifetime,' says US Senator Daniel Inouye (D) of Hawai`i. 'I stand ready and willing to act on ... legislation at the request of and on behalf of the American people.'

`There are few today who doubt that sovereignty will happen,' Governor Waihee adds. 'It's a matter of how, when, and in what form.'

Close observers say most vocal proponents of sovereignty fall into threecategories: 1) Those demanding complete separation from the US and a return to independent, internationally recognized status; 2) Those desiring nation-within-a-nation status with federal recognition as a new, native-American nation; 3) Those wanting to maintain the political status quo while forging ahead for both reparations and full control of Hawaiian trust assets by Hawaiians. (Wood, 1994: 10)

On November 23, 1993, the United States Congress and President Clintonformally apologized to the native people of Hawai`i for the overthrow of theHawaiian Queen Lili`uokalani in 1893, by passing US Public Law 103-150. InPublic Law 103-150, the United States government states its officialrecognition of its own complicity, its apology, and its commitment toreconciliation, without any ambiguity:

Whereas, in pursuance of the conspiracy to overthrow the Government of Hawaii,the United States Minister and the naval representatives of the United Statescaused armed naval forces of the United States to invade the sovereign Hawaiiannation on January 16, 1893, and to position themselves near the HawaiianGovernment buildings and the Iolani Palace to intimidate Queen Lili`uokalaniand her Government...

Whereas, it is proper and timely for the Congress on the occasion of theimpending one hundredth anniversary of the event, to acknowledge the historicsignificance of the illegal overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, to express itsdeep regret to the Native Hawaiian people, and to support the reconciliationefforts of the State of Hawaii and the United Church of Christ with NativeHawaiians.... (U.S. 103rd Congress, 1993)

Professor Francis Boyle, an international law expert and Professor at theUniversity of Illinois at Champaign, has represented the Palestinians in theirsuccessful struggle for sovereignty, is currently giving legal advice in theSerbian-Croat conflict in the Balkans and is also giving advice to the Nationof Hawai'i. Professor Boyle has made public statements regarding thelegitimacy of the Nation of Hawai'i which have illuminated the issue ofsovereignty in light of U.S. Public Law 103-150. In Honolulu, on December 28,1993, Professor Boyle stated the following:

Through 103-150 they (The United States of America) are admitting that theinvasion, overthrow, occupation, annexation, starting in 1893, on up, violatedall the treaties, violated basic norms of international law, and the UnitedStates Constitution... (it was) the overthrow of a lawful government... Underinternational law when you have a violation of treaties of this magnitude, theWorld Court has ruled that the only appropriate remedy is restitution.

Whose land is it? Well, from what the Congress seems to be saying, it'sthe land of the Native Hawaiians. The Native Hawaiian people still havesovereignty... You can't trespass on your own land. The trespassers thenbecome the State of Hawai'i, and the land developers, and the golf courses, andthe resorts. You are simply the Native Hawaiians asserting your rights underinternational law... This reversal of positions, between who is the criminaland who is the victim, who is asserting their rights and who is violating theirrights, has been effectively conceded by Congress. (Boyle, 1993)

Today, the sovereignty movements of Hawai`i are gaining greater prominenceas conferences, media attention, and international sympathy build toward someform of reconciliation. There have been several socio-political manifestationsof the native sovereignty movements; we will allude here to two of them, andthe establishment of their own constitution. First, the movement fornation-within-a-nation status:

Although the initial efforts of the Ho 'ala Kanawai movement were curtailed bythe state, native advocates continued to meet and develop a strategy forself-determination. From 1983 to 1987, a coalition of native leaders calledthe Native Hawaiian Land Trust Task Force began workshops in all nativecommunities throughout the Islands which focused on the right ofself-determination of the Hawaiian people. This movement grew through severalsuccessive political and educational undertakings which reviewed native historyprior and subsequent to the overthrow, native efforts to regain sovereignty andthe inherent cultural and political rights of native people. These effortsculminated in a native Constitutional Convention which was held in January1987. What emerged was a new nation - Ka Lahui Hawai`i (The Gathering ofHawai`i). (Hasager, 1994: 82)

Another group is pressing for full Hawaiian sovereignty as an independentnation and has only recently declared its independence and created aconstitution following the passage of U.S. Public Law 103-150, and after legaladvice and encouragement from Professor Boyle. On January 16, 1994, 101 yearsafter the US-backed overthrow, 400 people gathered at the Iolani Palace, theformer residence of the deposed Queen Lili`uokalani. At this meeting arepresentative from the Kanaka Maoli declared in accordance with Article 1 ofthe United Nations charter, "We hereby reestablish our independent andsovereign nation of Hawai`i that was illegally taken from the Kanaka Maoli."This proclamation empowered a council of elders to establish a provisionalgovernment of Hawai`i, called "The Nation of Hawai`i."

A few months later, 200 kupuna (elders) gathered on Maui for thefirst plenary session of the provisional government. At this meeting Mr.Pu`uhonua Kanahele was selected as the Head of State for the provisionalgovernment, and the work to establish a new constitution was begun. In Octoberof 1994 the revised constitution was completed by an all-island gathering ofHawaiian elders: it was written in the Hawaiian language and served as theonly official document of the Nation of Hawai`i.

Francis Boyle's advice to the Nation of Hawai`i has been essentialin helping to chart its course; however recent developments may lead the Nationto rest on older foundations, and navigate in new directions.

One of these recent developments is a movement to challenge landtitles that cannot be traced back to the constitution of Kamehameha III. Todaysome native Hawaiians are maintaining that the original Hawaiian law based onthe constitution of 1840 is in fact still the law of the land, given that the"Bayonet Constitution" of 1887 was never ratified. Certain individuals havehad title searches done through "Perfect Title Company," and have now stoppedpaying their mortgages to their bank, instead paying mortgage into an escrowaccount (based on guidelines from the 1840 constitution) set up as a vehicle tosupport an independent Hawaiian government. How this development will affectthe sovereignty movement is unclear, but it will likely be an important issueto watch in the future.

Another important development is the publication of, and distribution ofballots by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), for an upcoming "Hawaiianvote" to determine whether people of Hawaiian ancestry desire to formallyexplore the creation of a Hawaiian nation of some kind. Some groups, like KaLahui Hawai`i, urge active opposition and even sabotage of the vote, calling it"controlled by the State," and suggesting that it is a lose-lose situation forHawaiians. Others, including the Nation of Hawai`i, are encouragingparticipation as a way to bring Hawaiians together and discuss (among otherthings) the importance and continuing relevance of the original constitution of1840. Bumpy Kanahele of the Nation of Hawai`i has stated that sincesovereignty groups have been unable to reach really broad audiences thus far,he sees this event as a rare opportunity to gather mainstream Hawaiians to talkand learn about sovereignty.

In general, we have found that there is much going on in Hawai`iwith regard to sovereignty which is not written about or covered by the media:it is often difficult to learn about what is actually happening in the present,and even more so what has actually happened in the past. Our historical andcontemporary overview should be seen in this light - as a broad, surface sweepof main issues and events we are offering to help the reader to begin to betterunderstand this place and this people in light of research topics we areexploring. A deeper understanding and treatment of these issues would requiremuch more extensive research, and a much more ambitious paper.

Before discussing in some detail our work with GIS with Hawai`i and theNation of Hawai`i, it is important to first turn to some further considerationsof the history of GIS and the context in which it has developed.


4.3   Context and History of GIS

We begin here by acknowledging that any discussion of the history of GISmust be full of assumptions and theory. To try to relate an "objective"history of this technology's development would be both unrealistic and unwise;instead, we will give a succinct technological history based on specificmaterials we have read, and will situate this history in the context of largersocial forces, which may illumine a deeper understanding of GIS.

We have found that there are three issues that need to be considered withregard to the history of GIS: 1) this is not a subject that has beenextensively written about; 2) the histories that exist are written largely froma user or developer's perspective and not from a broader contextual and socialhistorical perspective; and 3) a more in depth and broader history is only justbeing initiated (Pickles et. al. 1996, in progress) that situates GIS in alarger intellectual and social context (Jon Goss, personal communication).

In this section we will first describe what we have learned of GIS'development that is relevant for this paper; second, we raise some questionsrelating to a social history of GIS, and third, we discuss what we have learnedof the use by indigenous peoples of GIS.

4.3.1   GIS Development

It is important to emphasize that with respect to GIS history, there arediffering interpretations and perspectives - there is not one source of"objective facts;" two useful sources of GIS historical interpretations areJoseph Berry, a writer for the magazine "GIS World," and Roger Tomlinson, whoheads a private Canadian GIS consulting firm.

Tomlinson (1984) suggests several points to be considered in understandingthe original emergence in the 1960's of what has come to be called geographicinformation systems. The realization that Canada's seemingly endless naturalresources were actually limited and the subject of fierce competition, createdan awareness in the Canadian government of the need for new data to helpunderstand and inventory these resources. However, while Canada was a"relatively wealthy country at the time ... (and) it could afford to gather thedata and make the maps, the manual techniques of map analysis requiredthereafter were extremely labor intensive and time consuming ... Quite simply,Canada did not have the trained people needed to make use of an extensive landsurvey" (Tomlinson 1984: 19). Thus, the very first GIS was developed for theCanadian government as a cost-effective and practical solution for the analysisof its land survey, though technological limitations were to dictate what waspossible and impossible. Despite an important technological development - thesupercession of the cumbersome vacuum tube by the much faster and smallertransistor - computing power in the 1960's was still relatively slow, computerswere prohibitively expensive, and computer memory was small.

Tomlinson maintains that given these points, the central challenge ofthat time was "...the direct translation of traditional, manually-orientedtechniques into the computer..." (Ibid: 6). Mirroring the compiling oftraditional maps by the grid of longitude and latitude into atlases (see theorysection), now a new challenge emerged: to compile and link maps in a digitalform, forming a "complete picture of the natural resources of a region or of anation or a continent" (Ibid: 19), to be analyzed by computer in order toprovide useful and comprehensive information.

In understanding GIS history and more fully grasping the present state ofthe technology, it is helpful to understand how different the technologicallandscape of the past has been from that of today:

Certain technological constraints had to be overcome. No efficient way existedfor converting large numbers of maps to numerical form. Computers still hadsmall storage capacities and slow processing speeds by today's standards. Thelargest machine available for early work on GIS was the IBM 1401 with 16K ofBCD memory; it processed approximately 1,000 instructions per second, cost$600,000, and weighed more than 8,000 pounds.... In April 1964, the IBM 360/65was introduced. This was a major step forward. It had a maximum of 512K bytesof memory and processed 400,000 instructions per second. It cost $3-4 millionand weighed 10,000 pounds. Tape was the preferred storage medium. Disks werenot in widespread use in the early 1960s; the ones that existed were too smallin capacity and access was too slow. (Ibid: 20) (I think about this everytime I curse my Apple "Powerbook" when it is running slowly under the weight offour big software applications! With 24,000K bytes of RAM memory, 250,000Kbytes of hard drive memory, purchased for $2,000 in 1995, and weighing in at 5lbs, perhaps we all need to consistently take time to put things inperspective.... -Christopher).

Tomlinson suggests that the increasing involvement of Western governmentsin land management and environmental concerns in the 1970's expanded the needto manage vast amounts of data much more quickly than traditional map analysisallowed. Relevant computer developments included advances in "userfriendliness" and declining costs of computer equipment, which led to anincreasing number of user types, and therefore user needs, which were met withnew off-the-shelf software packages. Schools began to train people in GIS use.Technologies for digitization of information were little improved from the1960's, and Tomlinson calls the 1970's a "decade of consolidation rather thaninnovation ... of widely dispersed need for GIS capabilities met by ad hocsystem development" (Ibid: 23).

Joseph Berry (1993) has written a history of GIS that adds anotherinteresting angle. Here he discusses the limitations of written maps, andsuggests that the pre-GIS analysis of mapped natural resource data in the1960's led to a fundamental shift in the long history of Western map use, andset a trajectory toward an entirely new endeavor: prescriptive mapping.

Our historical perspective of maps is one of accurate location of physicalfeatures primarily for travel through unfamiliar areas. Early explorers usedthem to avoid angry serpents, alluring sirens, and even the edge of the earth.The mapping process evokes images of map sheets and drafting aids such as pens,rub-on shading, rulers, planimeters, dot grids, and acetate transparencies forlight-table overlays - sort of a Keystone Cops comedy of cartographicprocessing. From this perspective, maps are analog mediums composed of lines,colors, and symbols that are manually created and analyzed. Because manualanalysis is difficult and limited, the focus of the analog map and manualprocessing has been descriptive, recording the occurrence and distribution oflandscape features.

Most recently, the analysis of mapped data has become an integral part ofresource and land planning. By the 1960's manual procedures for overlayingmaps were common. These techniques marked a turning point in the use of maps,from techniques that emphasize the physical descriptors of geographical spaceto those that spatially characterize management actions. This movement fromdescriptive to prescriptive mapping sets the stage for computer-assisted mapanalysis. (Berry, 1993: 203, emphasis added)

Seen from this perspective, the potentially powerful cartographic map hasthe capacity to become even more powerful, as its information becomes subjectto an awesome analytical and integrative tool: the computer. Berry elaboratesfurther on the fundamental limitations of manual cartography on the one hand,and statistics on the other hand, which, combined with the increasing needs formore sophisticated analysis of map data, led to the breakthroughs in, andwidespread use of, GIS as we know it today.

Manual cartography techniques allow manipulation of these detailed data yetthey are fundamentally limited by their non digital nature. Traditionalstatistics and mathematics are digital, yet they are fundamentally limited bytheir generalization of data. Such was the dilemma a decade ago. Thisdichotomy has led to the revolutionary concepts of map structure, content, anduse that form the foundation of GIS technology. It radically changes ourperspective: maps move from analog images describing the distribution offeatures to geographically referenced digital data quantifying a physical,social, or economic system in prescriptive terms. (Ibid: 204)

While prescriptive modeling is just one of the potential applications ofGIS, the evolution beyond analog, descriptive images has changed forever thenature, power, and potential of maps. Berry stresses that to fully understandthe power of GIS is to understand the significance of information digitization:"This revolution is founded in the recognition of the digital nature ofcomputerized maps - maps as data, maps as numbers" (Ibid: 65, emphasis added).Computers are able to represent spatial data in the form we call a "map," butfundamentally, the computer holds and reads spatial data in digital form, whichallows it to analyze, manipulate, and coordinate data sets in ways that oftenwould take significantly longer done manually, if it could be so done at all.

The 1980's and 1990's have seen a dramatic expansion not only in thenumber of users of GIS, but also in the types of real-world applications forGIS. The advent of powerful personal computers and software packages designedfor the layperson have brought GIS from the realm of the researcher andgovernment to a variety of businesses, local communities, environmental, andindigenous groups. Planners, insurance companies, real estate agents,marketers, academic departments, and governments on many levels use GIS for awide range of purposes, expanding greatly on the original purpose for which GISwas created - to translate cartographic maps into a computer analyzable form.

One of the largest GIS software producers is Environmental SystemsResearch International, (ESRI), located in Redlands, California. Its ARC/INFOGIS software is used extensively in government, business, academia, and by manyindigenous peoples. Its software packages are a good example of thedistinctions in functionality and power that exist in the GIS world today. A workstation software license for ARC/INFO costs approximately $15,000 forthe first year, and less after that, and allows an enormous range of dataconversion, data manipulation, data coordination and data rendering options.This is a "top of the line" product, and is what is used by the City ofHonolulu, the State of Hawai`i, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. ARC/INFOrequires substantial training, and is said to be very complex and difficult tolearn. ARC/INFO for PC costs several thousand dollars per year, also requiressubstantial training, and allows the user to do less than at a fullworkstation, but is a formidable GIS program with a wide range of applications.ARC/VIEW has been touted as the embodiment of GIS democratization, as it costsless than $1,000, and can be run on most personal computers. However, it isprimarily a tool for rendering and displaying data layers, without a capacityfor the wide range of applications for which ARC/INFO was created.

"Democratization of GIS" rhetoric should not be taken as meaning thatsuddenly all groups have the GIS power that government agencies or manybusinesses have. There is significant variation in what GIS can actually meanand what it can be used for - from simple single layer map production andrendering, to interface and query of massive databases for policy, academic ormarketing research, to decision support modeling, to land management and otherforms of sophisticated data analysis. This variation in users and applicationsdepends on access to different tools and software designed for differentpurposes: ARC/INFO is on the expensive and training-intensive end; whileCISIG, (Conservation International's GIS) which runs in English, Spanish, andPortuguese, and the program known as IDRISI are designed for basic GISapplications, user-friendliness, and minimal overall cost. The larger contextand dynamics of GIS development for different groups and different purposes isan important subject that deserves more research, for it lies at the heart ofthe social history, social construction, social uses, and social implicationsof GIS.

We feel it important to emphasize the importance of the social historyand social construction of GIS, and in doing so, we situate our research in thelarger context of ontology, economy, and society, and the multiple voices thathave something to say on the issue. By viewing a larger level of society andeconomy, more of GIS' origins and influences are revealed. The social andintellectual history of GIS is a history that needs to be told, though it iscurrently only in its early stages. A full social history requires originalresearch that is beyond the scope of this thesis, and is currently beingproposed by a whole team of scholars. (Jon Goss, personal communication)

Addressing social history in this paper we raise three questions, which weaddress to some extent in our theory, findings, and conclusion sections.

  1. In what ways does GIS reflect and incorporate the particular biases andassumptions of Western scientific-industrial society?

  2. How is the emergenceof GIS related to the crises and transformation of capitalist economy andliberal state? To what extent can GIS be seen as an evolution of the tendencytoward the computerization and automation of Western society?

  3. What othervoices and perspectives can be invoked to foster a more thorough understandingof the origin, history, and current context of GIS?

4.3.2   Indigenous Peoples' Use of GIS

In this section we describe several relevant examples of indigenous use ofGIS, and issues that indigenous people face in choosing and implementing GIS.

Peter Poole is a champion of empowering indigenous people to createsolutions for their mapping and resource management needs with the mostappropriate, inexpensive technologies available. Poole suggests that "GIS areuseful at two levels: (1) as computer-based mapping programs capable ofproducing maps from locally acquired geocoded data; and (2) as advanced,analytical systems more appropriate for community umbrella or supportassociations." (Ibid: viii) Poole's survey (1995a), under the auspicesof the Biodiversity Support Program (BSP) documents 63 indigenous initiativesthat involve some form of low- or high-tech mapping, which are under localmanagement. Poole focuses on six categories of indigenous mapping projects:1) gaining recognition of land rights; 2) demarcation of traditionalterritories; 3) protection of demarcated lands; 4) gathering and guardingtraditional knowledge; 5) management of traditional lands and resources; and 6)community awareness, mobilization, and conflict resolution.

GIS are being used to support tribes under duress, who find themselves inprotracted legal battles over land and water rights. Addressing both tribesand lawyers, Brian Marozas (1991) writes about the use of GIS to support suchtribes; how GIS has and may be used in indigenous groups' litigation,negotiation, and management of subsequent resources, based upon the inventory,analysis, and management of lands and resources.

One such indigenous group which has made extensive use of GIS in itsrecent and extensive land and financial settlement with the Canadian governmentis the Nisga'a. Tony Pearse writes about their process of negotiation inAberley's Futures By Design.

Early in 1993 a team of Nisga'a land negotiators from northern British Columbiawalked into an information exchange session with government officials inVictoria carrying only a black box the size of a shoeshine kit and a notebookcomputer. The box was a high-tech, interactive computer display device bywhich the operator could query a Geographic Information System (GIS) databaseand project the graphic results on a wall screen for immediate viewing. In atwo-hour presentation, the Nisga'a team proceeded to dazzle their counterpartswith a series of computer-generated slides that portrayed a variety of land andresource issues throughout different parts of their traditional territory.When the time for the government's presentation finally arrived, a ratherbeleaguered individual abashedly made his way to the wall and taped up asingle, hand-drafted map for discussion. The contradiction was powerful, andits significance was not lost on the participants of the meeting. Probably forthe first time in Canada, a local government, and in this case an aboriginalone, had challenged centralized government agencies in the "information game,"and had come out on top. To get here, however, has been a long road for theNisga'a. (Aberley, 1994: 112)

Pearse writes that the Nisga'a started mapping the resource potential ofthe land in question in 1979, acquired a GIS in 1984, digitized their mappeddata in 1990, and began utilizing satellite imagery with GIS in 1991. "[These]projects represent a natural evolution of an initial vision by Nisga'a leaderswho foresaw that graphic representation and computing ability would beessential ingredients in dealing effectively with provincial governmentofficials and private industrial developers" (Aberley, 1994: 115).

Eventual success aside, a major realization drives many of these effortstoward re-mapping: that the maps which exist often merely delineate the powerand political abstractions of capitalist, consumerist, colonial forms ofgovernment, and thus most current maps are not very relevant to people who aremore interested in wildlife, rainfall, watersheds, and opportunities forreinhabitation and sustainable management of the land. Modern maps, by whatthey reveal and what they hide, can conceal the fact that modern society'sbuilt environment is out of alignment with the patterns and cycles of thenon-human world, and Turnbull (1993: 59) has pointed out that the power of mapsis such that often the only thing that can challenge a map is another map.

The importance of maps to indigenous peoples is made clear in theintroduction to the January 1995 Cultural Survival Quarterly "Geomatics"mapping issue, where Peter Poole (1995b: 1) writes that "More indigenousterritory has been lost through maps than by guns." Bernard Nietschmann (1995:37) suggests in the same issue that "This assertion has its corollary: moreindigenous territory can be reclaimed and defended by maps than by guns."Poole (1995b: 1) states that "This collection of articles reflects how peoplefrom land based communities are using Geomatics in imaginative ways to addressthe question: how can we live off this land and keep it well?"

Some other titles in this issue include:

As the titles suggest, many native peoples are using mappingtechnologies to define, steward, and defend their territories. Certainly thosementioned are just a few examples of a growing trend of native people usingtechnology to serve their needs, instead of the other way around. Groups inCanada are using GIS to ready for land claims, for tracking environmentalcontaminants, and to assess distribution of natural resources in service oflong-range planning (Bird 1995: 24).

Canada's Assembly of First Nations states that, "An ultimate goal is toassist communities in taking control of their own data management bydemonstrating and teaching them how to use technology (contemporary tools)while maintaining traditional knowledge (thus maintaining and/or re-learningthe traditional way of life)" (Ibid: 24).

Poole suggests, however, that while indigenous groups are oftenenthusiastic about GIS when introduced to it, their eventual systems arefrequently underutilized.

The study found wide interest in GIS, but only a few groups have so far usedthis technology to its fullest extent. There are accounts of technologicaloverkill; vendors at a recent GIS conference in Vancouver estimated that 80% ofthe systems obtained by First Nations groups are not being properly utilized.Various reasons were cited for this -- lack of follow-up service, lack ofinitial training, and hidden and incremental costs. Many of the First Nationsgroups who are successfully applying the more sophisticated GIS have had toaccept the cost of hiring full-time operators. Evidently, there are oftenmismatches between GIS capabilities and local capacities. (Poole, 1995a: 9,11)

Jhon Goes In Center, of "Innovative GIS Solutions, Inc.," has told us thathe has been working through his consulting practice and through seminars andworkshops to educate indigenous peoples of the importance of culturalintegration of GIS, and of not being technologically oversold. He assertedthat his round table discussions on such subjects for indigenous people at theannual "GIS World" conference in Vancouver have been a success, and are growingsignificantly each year (Goes in Center, personal communication).

The use of GIS by indigenous people is not a subject that has receivedextensive treatment in any body of literature, and it is understandable thatindigenous groups might be reticent about publishing extensively on theirproprietary systems and databases. More informal networks of communication andinformation exchange exist, we have heard and have surmised, (Jhon Goes inCenter, personal communication), however since we have not had a chance toexplore or been invited to these networks, we do not have extensive knowledgeof further examples of GIS use by indigenous peoples.

With this background of theory and literature context, methodology, andhistorical and contextual overview, we are now ready to describe ourethnographic findings. In the following section we relate our experiencesfirst with the Nation of Hawai`i, then with GIS at two levels of Hawaiiangovernment, and finally from interviews with three initiatives concerned withpublic access to GIS.