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Origins and Migrations   Tags: hawaii, history, migration, pacific  

A guide to researching Pacific origins, settlements and movements.
Last Updated: Jan 16, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Online Film Resources

The photo above is from the film Made in Taiwan, which can be accessed via Films On Demand. Mouse over links for description -- items marked with an asterisk (*) are only available to UH-Manoa students, faculty and staff, with log-in required.


Some Basic Definitions

For Hawaiian and Pacific research, all of the same tools exist as for any other kind of study. There are region- and subject-specific dictionaries, encyclopedias, bibliographies, histories, newspapers, academic journals and etc. In the box below this one, you will find some useful reference works that deal with origins and migrations. However, it may also be useful to keep some definitions in mind when searching for materials, because origin stories in particular are often found in the library's online catalog under one of these terms:

  • Folklore: A broad term used to refer to the traditional beliefs, myths, tales, and practices of a people, which have been passed down orally (or via other non-written means such as dance, theater and etc.)

  • Myth / Mythology: The particular category of narrative deals with the point where the human world blends with the supernatural; the stories often feature interactions between gods and human beings. In oral cultures, these narratives often speak of the origin of things -- the creation of the world, the creation of the things in the world, the ways in which human beings came to live in specific places, the ways in which human beings came to possess techologies like fire. The main characters are often gods or demi-gods.

  • Legend: A traditional narrative that is believed to have an historical basis.

  • Fable: A story with a moral point. Often includes animals that speak or act as humans.

  • Tales: The term "tales" is sometimes used seemingly interchangeably with "legend," "myth" or "folklore."
  • Cosmogony: Theories specifically about the origins of the universe. 

  • Cosmology: Theories more generally about the universe, throughout its existence, rather than specifically about its origins.

  • Antiquities: Generally refers to scholarly works that discuss "pre-history" (the era before written histories of a place are available).

  • Ethnology: A branch of anthropology that deals with the division of human beings into races and their origin, distribution, relations, and characteristics.

  • Juvenile literature: Use this term to look for children's books, which often include origin stories.

Basic Reference Books

Click on the highlighted titles below to see where you can find copies of these books in the Library. Check Locations! Items in the Voyager catalog marked UH Manoa: Hamilton Pacific Reference or UH Manoa: Hamilton Hawaiian Reference can be pulled directly off the reference shelves in the Hawaiian & Pacific reading room. For items marked UH Manoa Hawaiian Collection or UH Manoa Pacific Collection, request retrieval through the "Get This Item" link in Voyager. (Click here for instructions on how to request books using "Get This Item."Note that many of these books are also available in the main Hamilton Library collections, either on the first floor (in the reference area near the elevator) or the second floor, in the open stacks. (Books on the second floor can be checked out of the library; books on the first floor must be used in the library.)

A motif-index of Polynesian, Melanesian, and Micronesian narratives - Kirtley, Bacil Flemming
Call Number: GR380 .K49 1980
Publication Date: 1980
Provides citations to books and journal articles covering such topics as "Cosmogony and Cosmology" (that is the creation of the universe and the earth), "Creation and ordering of human life" and so forth.

Dictionary of Polynesian mythology - Craig, Robert D.
Call Number: BL2620.P6 C7 1989
Publication Date: 1989
See page 331, "Appendix: Categories of Gods and Goddesses" for a list of major Creation Deities from throughout Polynesia. (This list refers back to entries on each god/goddess in the dictionary.) An online version of this book is also available.

Handbook of Polynesian Mythology - Craig, Robert D.
Call Number: BL2620.P6 C72 2004
Publication Date: 2004
A good companion to the Dictionary of Polynesian Mythology. Includes more general entries on creation/origin stories for various Polynesian island groups.

Indigenous Navigation and Voyaging in the Pacific: A Reference Guide - Goetzfridt, Nicholas J.
Call Number: GN440 .I53 1992
Publication Date: 1992
Provides citations to books and journal articles on navigation. See in particular the index for items under heading of "Traditional Accounts of Voyagers and Navigators."

Micronesian Histories: An Analytical Bibliography and Guide to Interpretations - Goetzfridt, Nicholas J. and Karen M. Peacock
Call Number: DU500 .G64 2002
Publication Date: 2002
This bibliography provides citations and descriptions to books and journal articles on Micronesia. See subject index on page 331 for citations that deal with "Mythology, use in history."

Micronesian religion and lore: a guide to sources, 1526-1990 - Haynes, Douglas and William L. Wuerch
Call Number: BL2620.M625 H39 1995
Publication Date: 1995
A collection of citations to books and journal articles relating to Micronesia. See index at back of book for listings under "Creation myths," "Deities," "Genealogical legends," "Geographical myths," "Myths and legends" and so forth.

Sailors and traders : a maritime history of the Pacific peoples - Cooper, Alistair
Call Number: GN662 .C68 2009
Publication Date: 2009
Includes chapters on "Sailors, myths and traditions," "The first pacific seafarers," "Settlements, territories and trade," among others.

The Far East and Australasia - Europa Publications
Call Number: DS 502 .F37
Annual publication with detailed overview information (history, geography, population and economic statistics) for every country in the Pacific, including U.S. affiliated (Hawaii, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa). A good first stop when researching an unfamiliar region or country of the Pacific. Most recent editions are located in the 1st floor reference section and in the Asia reference collection on the 4th floor, as well as in Hawaiian and Pacific Collections reference shelves.

The Pacific Islands: An Encyclopedia - Lal, Brij V. and Kate Fortune, eds.
Call Number: DU17 .P3 2000
A very good source for a wide variety of information on all aspects of life in the Pacific, from pre-contact to present day. See pages 53-63 for an account of the initial settlement of the Pacific; pages 106-188 provide an overview of the modern Pacific diaspora.


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