Kū a Puni ka Honua: Tracing Hawaiian-ness around the World

By: Travis Chai Andrade

What does the journey of a Hawaiian god reveal about Indigeneity today?


This project is born out of a visit to the Bishop Museum in December 2022. I was drawn to the mana (power) of Kū in the Hawaiian Hall and his counterparts around the world. Seeking to understand the presence of Kū at home and abroad, this project maps the journey Kū has taken from his various homes throughout Oceania. This project will also form the basis of my senior thesis research which will investigate how the curation of Indigenous objects influences Indigenous communities and identities. In the summer of 2023, I will be working in exhibition planning at the Peabody Essex Museum—an opportunity I found through investigating the story of Kū—to learn how exhibition, curation, and museum worlds operate first-hand as a Native American Summer Fellow.

Visit the final project on ArcGIS StoryMaps.


About the Map-maker:

Born and raised on Hawaiʻi Island, Travis Kanoa Chai Andrade is guided by ʻŌiwi Edge (a strong ancestral foundation) in ensuring that Native and Indigenous communities have a voice in determining the preservation, protection, and curation of their own material past. He studies anthropology and archaeology in Princeton’s class of 2024 and is interested in exploring more non-textual ways of sharing stories through his senior thesis. He recently produced a short film, “El Tránsito Entre Nosotros,” which follows the connections between two sisters—one in Guatemala and one in New Jersey—during the time of Lent and Easter through their small business.



Cover Image of Kū in the Bishop Museum by Wally Gobetz, May 26, 2010, used through Creative Commons license