Major Department

Art History


College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


BA (Bachelor of Arts)

Session and Year of Graduation

Spring 2017

Honors Major Advisor

Christopher Roy

Thesis Mentor

Christopher Roy


This honors thesis explores both the legal and cultural consequences of counterfeit Hawaiian antiquities. Ki'i, more commonly known as tiki, were once sacred objects used to perform rituals, and have since been commercialized and sold in the tourism industry. Originated during the time Native Hawaiians migrated from the Marquesas and the Society Islands, these cult statues were used by kahuna, or priests, and were believed to be inhabited by both Hawaiian gods and ancestors. This work uses both statutes and past lawsuits filed against the United States government as precedent for why the issue should be addressed. The imitation of ki'i, at present, does not violate the United Constitution, but does threaten cultural pride. Both the Native American Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and the rectification of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, were enacted to protect antiquities and artifacts of ancient Native civilizations; NAGPRA was created to preserve Native American, Native Alaskan and Native Hawaiian cultures, and the Indian Arts and Crafts Act was meant to ban the reproduction of profiting of counterfeit Native Indian objects. Issues Regarding Hawaiian 'Ki'i': An Analysis of the Commercialization and Mass Production of Ancient Sacred Hawaiian Objects discusses the many issues of counterfeit ki'i and suggests that they be removed from the Hawaiian art market under NAGPRA with an exception. This exception would allow for the Polynesian Cultural Center, a public educating institution that creates opportunity for Polynesian college students, to continue producing ki'i replicas.


Hawaiian Art, Commercialzation, Mass Production, Sacred Native Objects

Total Pages

25 pages


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