Skip Navigation Bar
NLM logo
Exhibition Program
The ancient arts of navigation and voyaging that brought the people of Hawai‘i to their island homes are being revived. As part of a wider movement to reintroduce traditional ways, Native Hawaiians are mastering the knowledge and skills of their elders. By restoring their heritage, this new generation of voyagers seeks to heal the people.
A canoe with 2 yellow sails travels across a dark blue ocean. A mountain and sky appear in the background.
Migrating voyagers from the South Pacific began to settle on Kanaloa Kaho‘olawe, named after Kanaloa, the god of the ocean, around the year 1,000. Over the centuries, the island became home to families of farmers and fishers and developed into a natural observatory for keeping the solar and lunar…
CONTINUE to JOURNEYS THROUGH HISTORY People on a canoe are in the middle of the sea. A small section of the sky can be seen above.
Much of the valuable knowledge of voyaging was lost as a consequence of the suppression of traditional ways by American colonizers and missionaries, and by the invasion, claimed annexation, and occupation of Hawai‘i by the United States government.
CONTINUE to ASSAULT ON KANALOA KAHO‘OLAWE Ceremony marking the annexation of Hawai‘i by the United States dated 1898
In January 1976, Native Hawaiians staged an occupation of Kanaloa Kaho‘olawe to draw national attention to injustices suffered by Native Hawaiians because of the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy by U.S. Naval forces on January 17, 1893. They later formed the Protect…
CONTINUE to RECLAIMING THE ISLAND Black and white photograph of  Hawaiian protesters at Kanaloa Kaho‘olawe.
Kanaloa Kaho‘olawe served as the unexpected catalyst of a Native Hawaiian cultural renaissance. By rallying around protection of the island, Native Hawaiians asserted the traditional value of Aloha ‘Āina (love of the land) as both a cultural and spiritual practice…
CONTINUE to ALOHA ‘ĀINA: LOVE OF THE LAND Black and white photograph of man with palm fronds around his neck blows into a conch shell during the Makahiki.
In 1976, in an effort to reintroduce the lost art of Native Hawaiian voyaging, Nainoa Thompson began his search for a master navigator to learn from. He eventually persuaded Mau Piailug of Satawal, Federated States of Micronesia, to break with custom and teach an outsider the tradition of wayfinding…
CONTINUE to THE LEGACY CONTINUES Nainoa Thompson of the Polynesian Voyaging Society stands next to Micronesian wayfinder, Mau Piailug.