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A Chosen People, a Promised Land

Mormonism and Race in Hawai’i

2012
Author:

Hokulani K. Aikau

A Chosen People, a Promised Land

How Native Hawaiians’ experience of Mormonism intersects with their cultural and ethnic identities and traditions

A Chosen People, a Promised Land explores how Native Hawaiian members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints negotiate their place in this quintessentially American religion. Using the words of Native Hawaiian Latter-Day Saints to illuminate the intersections of race, colonization, and religion, this book examines Polynesian Mormon faith and identity within a larger political context of self-determination.

A Chosen People, a Promised Land is a fascinating book. Attending to fraught and revealing episodes in Hawaiian-Mormon history, Hokulani K. Aikau opens up new terrain for historical analysis in a manner that is theoretically engaged yet accessible.

Greg Johnson, author of Sacred Claims: Repatriation and Living Tradition

Christianity figured prominently in the imperial and colonial exploitation and dispossession of indigenous peoples worldwide, yet many indigenous people embrace Christian faith as part of their cultural and ethnic identities. A Chosen People, a Promised Land gets to the heart of this contradiction by exploring how Native Hawaiian members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (more commonly known as Mormons) understand and negotiate their place in this quintessentially American religion.

Mormon missionaries arrived in Hawai‘i in 1850, a mere twenty years after Joseph Smith founded the church. Hokulani K. Aikau traces how Native Hawaiians became integrated into the religious doctrine of the church as a “chosen people”—even at a time when exclusionary racial policies regarding black members of the church were being codified. Aikau shows how Hawaiians and other Polynesian saints came to be considered chosen and how they were able to use their venerated status toward their own spiritual, cultural, and pragmatic ends.

Using the words of Native Hawaiian Latter-Day Saints to illuminate the intersections of race, colonization, and religion, A Chosen People, a Promised Land examines Polynesian Mormon articulations of faith and identity within a larger political context of self-determination.

A Chosen People, a Promised Land

Hokulani K. Aikau is associate professor of indigenous and Native Hawaiian politics at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. She is coeditor of Feminist Waves, Feminist Generations: Life Stories from the Academy (Minnesota, 2007).

A Chosen People, a Promised Land

A Chosen People, a Promised Land is a fascinating book. Attending to fraught and revealing episodes in Hawaiian-Mormon history, Hokulani K. Aikau opens up new terrain for historical analysis in a manner that is theoretically engaged yet accessible.

Greg Johnson, author of Sacred Claims: Repatriation and Living Tradition

More than finding an eager audience, this pathbreaking book will add convincingly to the growing body of work inside and outside the continental United States and the Pacific Islands region that compels critical audiences in the studies of American culture and Native Pacific struggles of the absolute need to read work coming out of the other.

Vicente M. Diaz, author of Repositioning the Missionary

An excellent examination of the complex intersection of race, religion, and culture in Hawaii.

Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources

Aikau's personal experiences, her interviews with LDS members in the islands, the inclusion of oral history and journal entires and her storytelling skills provide fresh and valuable insight into a fascinating segment of Hawaii's people and history.

Honolulu Civil Beat

A Chosen People, a Promised Land

Contents


Preface

Introduction: Negotiating Faithfulness

1. Mormonism, Race, and Lineage: The Making of a Chosen People

2. Lā‘ie, a Promised Land, and Pu’uhonua: Spatial Struggles for Land and Identity

3. Called to Serve: Labor Missionary Work and Modernity

4. In the Service of the Lord: Religion, Race, and the Polynesian Cultural Center

5. Voyages of Faith: Contemporary Kanaka Maoli Struggles for Sustainable Self-Determination

Conclusion: Holo Mua, Moving Forward


Acknowledgments
Notes
Glossary
Bibliography
Index

A Chosen People, a Promised Land

UMP blog - The "I'm a Mormon" Campaign: Reconfiguring the myth of an American melting pot

If you live in New York City, Atlanta, Minneapolis or any of the other 20 cities in which “I’m a Mormon” ads have appeared, you might be familiar with the billboards and commercials. The “I’m a Mormon” Campaign is a marketing strategy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The Mormons) intended to disrupt the dominant image of young white male missionaries riding bikes and knocking on doors with a new, multicultural image of the church. Indeed, the multimillion-dollar campaign – and the Mormon Church – has captured national attention due in no small part to Mitt Romney’s bid for the Republican Party nomination. A Church spokesperson assured an NPR reporter that the ads have nothing to do with Romney’s bid for the White House. However, these ads have everything to do with the Church trying to forget its racist past by creating a multicultural present.

Read the full article.