Published In

Projects in Parks, Archaeology Program, National Park Service

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2012


Fort Vancouver National Historic Site (Wash.), Fort Vancouver National Historic Site (Wash.) -- Antiquities


Fort Vancouver, as the colonial "Capital" of the Pacific Northwest in the 1820s-1840s, supported a multiethnic village of 600-1,000 occupants. A number of the villagers were Hawaiian men who worked in the agricultural fields and sawmills of the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) operations. Identification of Hawaiian residences and activities has been an important element of studies of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, Vancouver, Washington, since the 1960s.

Kauanui calls for a "broad research agenda that accounts for Hawaiian movements in their respective contexts of conditions, periods, reasons, and desires, to allow us to better account for Hawaiian presence on the North American continent.” Her call is to counter attempts to minimize or alter modern Hawaiian cultural identity and to better define the Hawaiian diaspora history. Research on fur trade Hawaiians dispels the notion that Hawaiian history is limited to Hawaii and allows us to better contextualize the broader issues of fur trade identity and social transition in the Pacific Northwest associated with indigenous, fur trade, and American immigrant eras (e.g., Philips 2008; Klimko 2004).

This paper discusses Native Hawaiians at Fort Vancouver, and explores the material evidence of their lives. In it, I raise questions regarding the identity of Hawaiians as revealed in the material culture and documentary record of the Fort Vancouver village. Further, I present the rationale for an expanded exploration of the village to better define the uses of the landscape to augment other ongoing studies of architecture, ceramics, tobacco pipes, glass vessels, and other archeological data.

Persistent Identifier