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Carolyn Kehaunani Cachola-Abad, from the U of Hawai'i at Manoa, Received AAA's first Minority Dissertation Fellowship. Cachola-Abad's dissertation, "An Evolutionary Analysis of the Oral Traditions of the Hawaiian Islands," focused on the sociopolitical evolution in the Hawaiian Islands utilizing oral traditions recorded by Hawaiians and Westerners in the mid-1800s. The temporal dimension of her analysis is provided by detailed genealogical data on the chiefly families studied from around 1200 AD to the reign of the last chief, Kemehameha Pai'ea. Cachola-Abad has created a database containing information on each generation of paramount chiefs of the major islands (Kaua'i, O'ahu, Maui and Hawai'i).
Encouraged by the results of a smaller-scale trial dissertation to investigate the explanatory potential of ethnohistoric records for the island of Hawai'I, Cachola- Abad expanded her research to include the oral histories of the other major islands. Her dissertation contains comprehensive analysis of all the islands. She observes that this research is important in several ways: 1) The research is cumulative and refines models offered for Hawai'i, Oceanic islands and other regions of the world; 2) it provides an independent test of models drawn from evidence in the archaeological records; 3) conclusions drawn may be tested by additional archaeological research; 4) application of oral traditions in a rigorous analysis establishes the research value of her database; 5) systematic recordation and summary of the voluminous Hawaiian oral traditions provide an overview of the evolution of Hawaiian society not available anywhere else; and 6) it combines Hawaiian and anthropological perspectives in a unique manner which makes it of interest to both anthropological and Hawaiian audiences.
Cachola-Abad is a native Hawaiian who has taught Hawaiian history at Kemehemeha High School since 1993, in addition to having been a cultural researcher of the Hawai'i La'ieikawai Association and serving as a teaching assistant for the U of Hawai'i Ethnic Studies program. She has also served on the Native Hawaiian Culture and Arts Program and the Committee for the Preservation of Hawaiian Language, Arts and Culture and received a National Science Foundation Pre-doctoral Research Fellowship.