Hawaiian Blood Quantum

The history of kanaka maoli in Hawaii is one full of struggle and perseverance. Since first contact with the west, kanaka maoli have had to cope with the dissemination of population by diseases; banning of their cultural practices, the overthrow of their sovereign government and the ongoing occupation of their land by the United States government. In 1920 the US government passed the Hawaiian Homestead Commission Act, which grants Hawaiian’s of no less than fifty percent Hawaiian blood quantum the rights to land set aside by the federal government.

In reality, the Hawaiian Homestead Commission Act was plot set up by the United States to permanently seize land ownership from kanaka maoli. Knowing full well the ethnic diversity of the islands, the federal government banked on the eventual interbreeding of kanaka maoli with other ethnicities, resulting in the inevitable decrease of the Hawaiian blood quantum to below fifty percent. In essence, it is a systematic genocide by procreation recognized by the United States Government and passed into law with the intention of permanent acquisition of Hawaiian land.

This project documents this phenomenon, as it unfolds right before our eyes. Each image includes a portrait in which kanaka hold a signifier of their Hawaiian blood quantum. They are then awkwardly placed into the landscape of the island in areas occupied by institutions that have or have had a hand in the continued displacement of kanaka maoli. We are cast as witnesses and participants to the extinction of kanaka maoli by a law enacted by the government and people of the United States.