Historical Local Knowledge and Cartography:Within GIS: Kaua`i, Hawai`i
AuthorKing, Howatt Peter
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There is no easy way to get historic data and maps into Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Maps remain an important and convenient source, snapshots in time that portray landscapes of the past, containing information that has been compiled, filtered and summarized. Maps as historic documents are sources for local knowledge, serving to illuminate cultural history, not accurate or complete in every detail but they may be all that remain of an oral historic record. Traditional Hawaiian local knowledge (HLK) within island-scale maps of the Hawaiian Islands of the 19th and 20th century has been captured as place-names and boundaries of ahupua`a, socio-economic land divisions used to govern Hawaiian polity. GIS may provide a platform to combine disparate datasets in the interest of gaining new insight but at the same time, raises questions about the way information is acquired, interpreted and maintained. Transferring Hawaiian local knowledge from historic maps into GIS involves a separate set of tasks, in some respects as challenging as when the maps were first compiled. Researchers should be concerned with questions about provenance and purpose of maps. Incorporating historic maps, as a data source of HLK within a GIS should be coupled with an appreciation of honoring the historic origins and purpose HLK originally served so that it can be accurately understood and interpreted as part of the historic record.