Hawaiians - Settlements

In precontact times Hawaiians lived in dispersed settlements along the coasts and in windward valleys. Inland and Mountain areas were sparsely populated. Hawaiian houses were thatched from ground to roof ridge with native grass or sugarcane leaves. Commoner houses were low and sparsely furnished with coarse floor mats. The dwellings of the chiefs were more spacious, with floors and walls covered thickly with fine mats and bark cloth. Because of taboos mandating the separation of men and women in certain contexts, a Household compound consisted of several dwellings for sleeping and eating. The most important developments affecting Hawaiians since the mid-nineteenth century have been land alienation and urbanization. Small Hawaiian subsistence Communities practicing fishing and farming persist in isolated rural areas of Maui, Moloka'i, and Hawai'i. On O'ahu, the leeward Waianae coast is a center of Hawaiian settlement. Significant numbers of Hawaiians also live on leased house lots in government-sponsored Hawaiian Home Lands Communities within the city of Honolulu. Dwellings in the style of plantation housing predominate in working-class Communities and neighborhoods throughout Hawai'i, and Hawaiian settlements are no exception to this pattern. In most Hawaiian villages and neighborhoods the houses are of singlewalled wood construction, sometimes raised off the ground on pilings, with corrugated iron roofs. Rural Hawaiians may have small houses for cooking and bathing behind the main dwelling, a pattern that appears to be a holdover from Polynesian culture.

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