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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Patriarchy/Matriarchy versus Blood Quantum Cultural Significance as Evidenced in Hawaii Land Commission Grants

  • Author(s): Takahashi, Lois M.
  • et al.

During the land division of 1848 (Great Mahele), both Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians were given the ability to make a formal claim to land in the Hawaiian Islands, 1 seemingly regardless of gender. While the West was a predominantly patriarchal society at this time, lineage purity and ‘godliness’ were the markers of Hawaiian society. While many scholars have pointed to the Mahele as a major turning point in the land distribution system (that is, land was taken from the Hawaiian people and ‘redistributed’ to non-Hawaiians), it may have also been an unusual opportunity for gendered resource distribution: namely formal, governmentally- recognized land ownership by women. Hawaiian society, while predominantly classbased within a patriarchal system, did allow females positions of power.

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