Human Biology Open Access Pre-Prints

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Kanaka maoli (Indigenous Hawaiians) are blessed with a written literature that documents observations and relationships with our environment in the form of chants, stories, and genealogies passed down orally for centuries. These literatures connect us to our ancestral knowledge and highlight species, places, and processes of importance. Sayings, such as this one from the Kumulipo (our creation story) Pua ka wiliwili, nanahu ka manō, is an example of the place of nature, man, and a specific creature the shark in ecological phenology. We chose to focus on sharks or manō because of the availability of historic references, and their importance in Hawaiian culture in contrast to the relatively little available scientific knowledge. Manō are understood through Hawaiian Indigenous Science in their roles as ʻaumakua and as unique individuals. By using manō as a lens in which to recognize the uniqueness of the Hawaiian worldview we highlight the classification system developed and apply this framework when analyzing management scenarios. Using the Indigenous Science of Kanaka maoli we can adapt new ways in which to classify our environmental interactions and relationships that will bring us closer to our living relatives. Management decisions regarding culturally important species need not be based solely on the most current Western Science data, but the much longer dataset of knowledge stored in our oral literature.