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Prehistory: First Inhabitants
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Hawaii Early History
First Early Inhabitants of Hawaii
Early history examines the archaeological record that tells the story of the first inhabitants of Hawaii. Learn about the prehistory and culture of the first early inhabitants, and what lessons it might teach us about the early history of Hawaii.
Hawaii First Early Inhabitants Timeline
Early History of Native Americans in Hawaii
The Indigenous People of Hawaii
The exact date is unknown and probably will remain so forever. But sometime after the beginning of the Christian era, Polynesians first set foot on these islands. Linguistic and cultural evidence suggest that the first inhabitants came from the Marquesas Group, to the north of Tahiti.
The language of Hawaii and archaeological discoveries indicate that Hawaii was settled by two distinct waves of Polynesian migration. Cook himself knew that the original Polynesian discoverers had come from the South Pacific hundreds of years before his time.
First, from the Marquesas, came a settlement as early as 600 or 700 AD, and then from the Society Islands, another migration about 1100 AD. Lacking instruments of navigation or charts or any kind, the Polynesians sailed into vast oceans. They staked their knowledge of the sky and its stars, the sea and its currents, the flight of birds and many other natural signs. They were superior seamen of their time.
These travelers came from the South Pacific, across 4,000 miles of open ocean, with only the stars and knowledge of the currents to guide them. They brought livestock, seeds, tools, food, and fresh water, along with a rich culture, lyrical language, and well-established way of life. As many as 300,00 Hawaiians may have lived on the islands when the first Europeans arrived in the 18th century.
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