Students hunt for history and culture at heiau
A group of anthropology and archaeology students from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa are spending every Saturday of the spring 2013 semester participating in the UH Mānoa North Shore Archaeological Field School, a partnership with Kamehameha Schools. The students are learning first-hand, techniques in low impact archaeology at one of the most culturally significant sites on Oʻahu, the Kupopolo Heiau.
“We teach them survey, mapping, excavation, GPS, field photography, a lot of the different components that an archaeologist needs to know,” said Windy McElroy, an assistant professor in the UH Mānoa Department of Anthropology.
“Classroom work is super important but you also need the field time and experience, and to actually get your hands doing the things that your mind knows,” said Samuel Plunkett, a UH Mānoa student taking part in the program.
By the end of the semester, the group will have surveyed and mapped the heiau, along with some limited excavation to determine when it was built. And the field school is an equal combination of archaeology and cultural anthropology.
“Learning the history and the culture specific to this area and I think that’s a really important component and a good marriage,” said Plunkett.
It is all woven in with the community aspect of the program. Local residents are welcome to participate and students spend half of the Saturdays doing fieldwork, the other half, connecting with the community.
“They teach what is pono, they teach you what is being mālama, respectful, of the area,” said Robin Keliʻi, a UH Mānoa graduate student. “And they teach also to get involved with your community. That it’s important, not just academically, but to get involved with the people who actually live here.”
“If we give them a sense that it is not only the technical skills we need, but also that sense of personal and social and cultural responsibility, then we’ve done our job,” said Ty P. Kāwika Tengan, an associate professor in the UH Mānoa anthropology and ethnic studies departments.