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Glimpses Into An Island History

The history of Lāna‘i is rich and diverse and provides many lessons in  attempts, both successful and not successful, in living sustainably. 

Image by Brandon Cormier


Archaeological  evidence indicates that Hawaiians have lived on the island of Lāna‘i for the past 800 to 1,000 years.

Native Hawaiians lived within the wealth and limitations of the bio-cultural landscape. The culture, beliefs, and practices of Hawaiians mirrored the natural environment around them. Their material culture reflected the resources found naturally on and around the island, and these material goods were made from available resources: stone, wood, bone, fibers/plants, shells and feathers. Knowledge was handed down orally in traditional times and often animated through oli/mele (chants) and hula (dances).

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Through the early 1800s foreign influences grew. Meanwhile, across Hawaiʻi, the native population was decimated due to introduced disease. The first major western economic industry on Lānaʻi was ranching, which began in 1850 and spanned the next hundred years.

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Image by Esteban Benites

Plantation Era

Did you know that Lānaʻi at one point in history was home to 75% of the world’s pineapple produce? Large portions of land on Lānaʻi was purchased by the Dole Corporation in 1922 for use as a pineapple plantation. Pineapple production became a main factor in the island’s economy and at one point was the largest pineapple plantation in the United States.

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Digital Archives

Lāna‘i Culture & Heritage Center maintains a growing collection of more than 40,000 items which help tell the story of Lāna‘i and the many people who have called the island home. The collections are still being catalogued with indices and finding aids being developed. In 2017-2019 The Hawai‘i State Legislature Grant-in-Aid program provided funding to engage in a major conservation program, including providing online access to many of our archival resources.

History of Lānaʻi

History of Lānaʻi

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