On this page are images shared with us by Patrick Kirch, Patrick McCoy, and Earl (Buddy) Neller. They complement what will be found in the pages of Curve of the Hook. Below the images is a reflection on archaeology and its lessons by Buddy Neller.
Reflecting on the Archaeologist’s Life
by Buddy Neller
When I look at the photo of the Bishop Museum’s 1959 dig on the Na Pali coast of Kaua‘i, I’m reminded once again that archaeology is so much more than digging for artifacts. Those young people taking part in the Nualolo Kai excavations are learning the dance of scholarship. They are taking the first steps in a journey that will take them down the path of lifelong discovery. They are learning skills of observation and critical thinking. They are learning to wonder. They are learning to question. They are learning how to solve problems. They are learning to create proofs. They are experiencing intellectual growth. They are learning about that elusive commodity called the truth. They will add to our knowledge. They will write our textbooks.
Archaeological digs by the Bishop Museum were the nurturing influence that shaped the careers, and lives, of many notable scholars. Alison Kay went on to write the books Hawaiian Marine Shells and A Natural History of the Hawaiian Islands and was an excellent teacher of general science at the University of Hawai‘i. Joan Pratt was a teacher and coach at Punahou School, whose alumni have had a great impact on Hawai‘i and the world. She contributed to the study and preservation of Hawai‘i’s cultural and historical resources in so many ways. Pauline King was a notable professor of history at the University of Hawai‘i. She promoted the importance of Hawai‘i’s history in many ways, such as her service on the Hawai‘i Historic Places Review Board.
Lloyd Soehren became a notable Hawaiian archaeologist, working for the Bishop Museum, and later working as an archaeological consultant on the Big Island. Yosi Sinoto eventually became senior anthropologist at the Bishop Museum, succeeding Kenneth Emory. He is perhaps best known for his work in French Polynesia, excavating important sites like the waterlogged site at Huahine and reconstructing numerous ancient marae.
Richard Pearson became an expert in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean archaeology, writing numerous textbooks and articles for scholarly journals. He taught at the University of Hawai‘i for a few years, during which time he led important archaeological digs at Bellows Beach and Lapakahi. For most of his career, he has taught archaeology at the University of British Columbia. Says Pearson of Kenneth Emory, “I valued the mentorship of Dr. Emory, the one who made it all happen. He was an important role model for me. Part of this was his commitment to fieldwork, his empathy for Polynesians, his positive outlook, his ability to build teams of local people and scientists on every island he visited. They made his field work possible.”
While digging for the truth, an archaeological site becomes a home. The field crew develops a relationship with the land, with the spirit of the place, and with each other. There is a sense of place, and an attachment, that never ends. Archaeological fieldwork creates an environment that nurtures well-being. Archaeology is so much more than digging up artifacts. It is about people who have talked around a smoky fire at night. There is a Hawaiian saying:
Noho pu i ka uahi pohina.
(They sat together in the gray smoke.)