The Dole Map of the Hawaiian Islands

“The commodification of Hawaiian culture” about a decade prior to official statehood.

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In January of 1893, an unlawful coup d’etat, supported by business interests and military troops of the United States, took place against Queen Liliuokalani of the Hawaiian Islands. Shortly thereafter President Grover Cleveland’s stated “substantial wrong has thus been done which a due regard for our national character as well as the rights of the injured people requires we should endeavor to repair the monarchy”.

Despite this assurance, economic and strategic interests were paramount, and a heavily biased Committee of Safety declared Sanford Dole to be the provisional president. He won election the following year and would serve in that role until Hawaii was officially annexed in 1898. This was quite convenient for his cousin, James Dole, who arrived at the island the following year with an eye on the export market, now that agricultural products were no longer subject to U.S. tariffs. According to a condemnatory article by Mallory Huard,

“When James Dole arrived on the island of Oahu in 1899 with dreams making fortunes in the emerging fruit business, he did so in the wake of the destruction of the Hawaiian monarchy, the massive depopulation of the Native Hawaiians, and in the tradition of western industries extracting profit from Hawaiian soil and people. James Dole believed that the success of the business and industry depended upon product visibility, and that marketing pineapple required the commodification of Hawaiian culture. Hawaiian Nationalist activists Mililani and Haunani-Kay Trask explain that this includes “marketing native values and practices on haole terms. These talents, in Hawaiian terms, are the hula, the aloha—generosity and love—of our people, the u’i or youthful beauty of our men and women, and the continuing allure of our lands and waters.”

These very images feature prominently in Hawaiian Pineapple Company and Dole Company’s advertisements. By selling the pineapple as distinctly Hawaiian, “a label assumed by white usurpers of the kingdom for legitimacy,” professor Gary Okihiro explains, “the pineapple tendered the comforts of sun-kissed lands, soft ocean breezes, nature’s abundance, sensuality, and the sweet scent of paradise.”Early advertisements from the Hawaiian Pineapple Company in the 1910s and 1920s featured images of the fruit itself, emphasizing its ripeness and its exotic and other-worldly flavors by asking, “But have you tasted this most delicious fruit?” before proclaiming “It’s so different.” These same advertisements frequently emphasized domesticity, with scenes of mothers and children at the dinner table, and increasingly emphasized the palm trees and cliffs of the Hawaiian landscape, before eventually co opting Hawaiian bodies themselves. By the 1930s, Native Hawaiian people were depicted not only as harvesters of the product, but as part of the product itself, their bodies used to lend a certain authenticity to the fruit.”

This map, drawn by Joseph Feher and published by Dole’s Hawaiian Pineapple Company, Ltd. in 1950 certainly seems to follow the suggested pattern described in Mallory’s article above. All eight islands are depicted in a pictorial style that would deliberately appear exotic to a Western audience. Pineapples can be found on four, but are featured most prominently on Oahu and Lanai. The indigenous population is depicted in a variety of ‘traditional’ activities like surfing and fishing, as well as the majority of agricultural laborers. A Hawaiian noble can be seen with traditional regalia – a feather helmet (mahiole), cloak (`aha`ula), and banner (kāhili), hand resting placidly on the compass rose.

White characters are confined to the explorer James Cook, a missionary on Kauai, and sailors and nurses at Pearl Harbor. Recreational activities and modern conveniences juxtapose with faraway sights and tropical flora and fauna to present an idyllic paradise. Even the ships in the Pacific reflect the contrast – cargo vessels and cruise liners, barges of pineapples, and whalers sail alongside the double-hulled canoes known as wa‘a kaulua.

Sources: “In Hawaiʻi, Plantation Tourism Tastes Like Pineapple”; David Rumsey Map Center; The Royal Regalia of Hawaii;

Map Details

Publication Date: 1950

Author: Joseph Feher

Sheet Width (in): 40.75

Sheet Height (in): 23.75

Condition: B+

Condition Description: Moderate wear visible in the margins, including scattered soiling and a 2" tear on the left side (repaired on verso). Toning visible in the upper right margin, immediately above the sun. Creasing along a vertical fold line on the right side. Good to very good overall.

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