This presentation is part of the Proceedings of the Maritime Cultural Landscape Symposium, October 14-15, 2015, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Daina Penkiunas: Okay, our next presenter is Hans Van Tilburg, who has worked as a carpenter, a sports diving instructor, commercial diver, and science diver in California, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Wisconsin. He earned a BA in Geography from UC Berkeley, and MA in Maritime History and Nautical Archeology from East Carolina University, and PhD in History from the University of Hawaii, where he also ran the graduate program in Maritime Archeology and History under the Marine Option Program. Hans has taught numerous university courses in World History, and Maritime History. He has published over 30 articles and book reviews, as well as several books. He has served as a consultant for UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Program, as well as been a co-instructor for Underwater Cultural Heritage Foundation courses, in Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. He is currently the Maritime Heritage Coordinator for the Maritime Heritage Program in the Pacific Islands region, and the unit diving supervisor for NOAA’s National Ocean Service in Hawaii. Welcome.
Hans Van Tilburg: Thank you for having me here. It’s really been an interesting day for me to hear these fantastic presentations and I look forward to tomorrow. I’ll offer my apology and caveat, now, this is going to be a very informal presentation. I just felt like, you know, what I had to offer was just some thoughts, and questions, and look at some assumptions on potential Maritime Cultural Landscapes in Hawaii.
We don’t actually have any nominated shipwreck sites in Hawaii, with the exception of the Arizona and the Utah inside Pearl Harbor as part of that park, which is now called Valor in the Pacific National Monument. It’s not that, you know, cultural resources are not important in the islands. It’s exactly the opposite. They have been so important that the topic of shipwrecks is simply the new resource at the table, because those are properties, and Hawaii has not been focused on properties. They have been focused on relationships and cultural landscapes, relationships to marine areas, and use of resources, but it’s a very interesting environment in which to work.
This is timely for me as well, and for folks in Hawaii, because, of course we have the National Marine Monument, Papahanaumokuakea, there will be a test on how to pronounce that at the end of this talk. That’s also UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a mixed site, cultural and natural resources, but submerged maritime elements were not part of that nomination. And then, we have a sanctuary in the main Hawaiian Islands, the Humpback Whale Sanctuary, which unlike the rest of our sites, is a single species sanctuary right now. It does not directly manage or engage cultural properties, per say. Now, that site is in transition and review to expand its mandate, become ecosystem-based, include properties, and cultural resources, shipwrecks, et cetera. That review’s in process and it’s a very interesting process.
But what I want to emphasize throughout this talk is the multicultural and multilayered nature of elements for landscapes in the islands, and here if you can make out the different colors on the map, it’s simply an overlay of waves of history. In this case, one being the Pacific voyaging migration eastwards into the Pacific, the Lapita culture migration, eventually achieving the discovery of Hawaii. Another one being maybe whaling exploits, historic whaling beginning in the 19th century, and whaling areas in the third being activities in World War II, the bulk of the activities, many of the battles, and their overlays that wrap around each other and sometimes are related to each other. So, it’s a complicated area. There’s not one single maritime cultural landscape. There are multiple landscapes to talk about.
I’ll mention the whaling landscape though, the potential for one, because this is something for us that’s very important for our system because most if not all, of our sanctuary sites include historic whaling elements. And so discussing a landscape like this can unite, and does unite, our efforts in various ways, and in fact, ways beyond individual sanctuaries. We’ve been doing work in Alaska, certainly in the East Coast, and then for West Coast sanctuaries, Nelton, Hawaii historically owned the period. We have ten recorded whalers lost in national monument, three national monuments, five of which have been discovered.
And I thought, “Well, that’s obviously a maritime cultural landscape.”, and then I thought, “Is it a whaling landscape?.” Now I believe it is, but I think it’s important for someone to ask the question, because they’re not actually whaling in those atolls. They’re transiting to whaling areas. And there are about 50 or 60 other shipwrecks in the monument. So they’re a vessel that wrecks, it’s a shipwreck cultural landscape. Is it a whaling landscape? We claim it is, but someone could probably look at that assumption.
Whaling as a theme has importance for a landscape analysis, of course, is, I think, fairly obvious. Huge impacts for the Pacific and Hawaii. You know, sailing in the wake of old Captain Cook, trickles of vessels came in a few, maybe one or two a year. The whalers started coming out in 1819 to the Hawaiian Islands. Then it quickly ran right up to mid-19th century six or 700 whalers a year.
To call them cultural ambassadors would be nice, probably not our best example. But the impact on the islands socially, economically, and in every way is quite significant as a trans-shipment port. Now, there were shore whaling stations that were established, a handful of them, we don’t have the remains of those, they haven’t been identified on land yet, but a number of whalers were lost in the main islands, and up in the north westerns. And the elements of whaling resources then include those shipwrecks, include whaling museums, include the archival materials, a number of other things that can be included in a landscape, or go beyond landscape. The most significant impacts of those whalers was for the local population of course. The number of Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders that were involved with the American whaling industry is staggering. At times, one-fifth of the entire fleet: Pacific Islanders and Hawaiian whalers. When the fleets were crushed up there in the Chukchi Sea, about half of the survivors of the 1871 incident, had crushed about 33 vessels in the ice, were Pacific Islanders and Hawaiians, and no one lost a life with that incident.
Significant impacts. Obvious one for cultural landscape. Whaling cultural landscape. But, these are a little small, but these maps simply show the one on the left, the fact that the located populations of whales didn’t include the islands of Hawaii. They’re south of the groups where they were looking. So it’s trans-shipment rest and recreation port. They’re going to the whaling grounds, for instance in the lower right map, the Japan grounds or off the Japan grounds. Further to the west of Midway and Kure. That’s the business end of whaling. That’s the significant areas the whalers would have identified. And there’s nothing there. Say nothing there, it’s not a bounded area. It wouldn’t be included as a cultural landscape element. So I have interesting questions about that, but I think it’s clear that we’ll continue with a look at the whaling landscape in many ways.
Marine transportation would be another obvious one. Especially for the islands. And especially with the advent of harbors. Now, here’s another example of interaction between environment and cultural practice and effect to the environment, cultural footprints. I’m reminded of Honolulu itself, Honolulu harbor. That’s not where the ships began to come in, they were on roadstead off of Waikiki. But the freshwater stream from Nu’-u-anu that ran down to the shore, prevented the coral growing in one area, which lead to a kind of natural alcove underwater, and the whalers and the ships started going over there. And so all the merchants shifted to what is now Honolulu harbor; established the whole city out of that natural footprint. This is an important one for us as well because we’re engaged in an island-wide inventory as part of our bone funded project. Maritime resource studies in preparation for understanding the impacts of off shore energy development as Dave Ball will talk about. And we get accumulations of shipwrecks around these harbors. It’s not a random distribution at all.
So the harbors themselves, besides the hundreds of shipwrecks that have been reported in Hawaii, the many that have been found, although we have a very high energy environment, would be elements of a transportation Maritime Cultural Landscape. Here’s an image of one. The traditional harbor up in Mahukona on the big island, once the formal entry point for the kingdom of Hawaii. And then a number of resources left there. What are we talking about? Mooring systems, wharves, piers, landings, anchorages, anchors, chains, all kinds of implements dropped over the side, in addition to the harbor itself. This is the conjunction point or transit node of the railways. And if you think back on your history, with folks like Isambard Kingdom Brunel, He kind of saw those steamship lines a simply an extension of a railway, although you could think of it in the other way, as well.
This raises the question for me of, you know, how much are we going to nominate as a Maritime Cultural Landscape or an element? We have ships bringing railway equipment and cargo in, we have rail ties and we have wheels on the bottom of the harbor, then we have the rails leading right down to the harbor, and then the elements of the railways themselves. I’m not sure what the answer is to that one.
It’s a pattern distribution if you look at the distribution of shipwrecks. Not a random one. And these give you an idea of where the plantation landings were, servicing all of those steamship vessels. Beginning in the 1850s, 1860s. So you get an idea of the landscape, the altered landscape for many of these landings. There are only a couple really safe harbors. It’s a very high energy environment, right? Many others are actually wire rope landings. So a landing would be simply anchors, boring systems on the bottom of the little bay. We call them dog-hole ports there. And then fixed infrastructure in the cliffs, and they would run a wire hawser down over the mooring area the vessel would come in and they would run the cargo down the wire and drop it right down into the hold. Wire-rope landings. Very rough. Treacherous. Vessels would have to come in close to the cliffs.
So, if you look at an older map, for instance, the more sites we know of now, but where were the known shipwreck sites are. Remember, this is a little bit misleading because there’s been no comprehensive directed survey for all of these underwater cultural resources. It’s simply the ones we know about. And you flip back and forth between where the landings are you begin to see patterns of distribution in the landscape for predicting and modeling wreck sites. And here, also, you see the outlines in lighter blue of the Humpback Whale Sanctuary itself.
If you want to be more specific, if you want to change the scale of a landscape discussion, you can look at the steamship landings, because, it would be a subset obviously of marine transportation. Why would you do that though, why would you change the scale? There is all kinds of marine transportation going on. It’s a fairly broad category. But the steamship landings are tied to the plantation era. And the plantation era shapes the demography, and social, and economic, and political realities of Hawaii for a long, long time. So it’s not until you have a reason, the treaty in 1870, to ship the agricultural products to the mainland that you then have the boom in plantations, which then support economically, the steamships, the small mosquito fleet coming out to the islands. And plantation heritage is a recognizable resource heritage onshore. So, we have a number of these steamship wreck sites, and heavier material of course, stands up very well underwater, in our energy environment, the lighter stuff, the wood, simply all gone.
There’s a specific area on one island, the Lanai Island, which is the disposal site for many of those steamships. So now we’re talking about a ship abandonment paradigm, a subset of another cultural landscape. Shipwreck Beach on Lanai, where dozens of these vessels were run up onto the beach. Where is the intersection between, the question was earlier, the intersection between environmental feature and wreck sites? This is one of them. It’s a ship trap. Due to the configuration of the islands, due to the prevailing trade winds, the fact of these reefs, and due to the private nature of Lanai Island, it was dull plantation, nobody was going to complain when those ship owners took their vessels over there and abandoned them on the reef and let them drift right up. We get dozens of wreck sites there that are in a useful form. Finding survey sites for the annual survey class.
So there are a couple of different ways to go with the marine transportation. You have a couple different scales you can discuss. It’s interesting to decide, you know, which one you want to focus on. I’m glad to see the image of surf sites that came up earlier today, because this is something that’s of course, a huge matter in Hawaii. Not a shipwreck site, not a property site, but we’re talking about the connection between heritage and traditional practice and modern practice and environment, surf sites are specific to bottom topography and prevailing swells et cetera, et cetera. And this image shows you named surf sites along one portion of Oahu’s south shore.
Surfing of course is a heritage activity that goes back to pre-Western contact days. Obviously, I think the Hawaiians had six different types of traditional surfing. And some interesting books have been written recently about the heritage of surfing. My talk today is on historic types or potentials for landscapes. Tomorrow we’ll hear from Tau Watson on the native Hawaiian multicultural landscapes perspectives. So, we’ve broke it up a little bit, to have one talk today, one talk tomorrow. This was traditional practice which has become now, such a modern competitive sport, that in this way, we begin to lose sight of the Heritage Cultural Landscape.
Okay, I’m sorry. The military landscape is the most important one in Hawaii. And I can’t overstress this enough. It’s the one I wanted to get to. There’s no other example of such potential to talk about all of these military sites in Hawaii. These are air bases across the islands. These are the coastal defense structures simply on Oahu Island which play a big role in heritage interpretation. Pill boxes used on onshore, remnants of pill boxes underwater, now for artificial barriers, there’s a picture of an airfield, lots of airfields. There’s some eighty plus U.S. Navy ships and submarines in the waters around the islands and over 1400 naval aircraft.
Large-scale exercises done in the past leaving traces on the bottom of landing craft and aircraft exercise areas. Not combat, you know, not battles, but losses during massive exercises, amphibious training.
The questions I have about that kind of military landscape are many, but one is simply of scale. Where do you stop? The reason I show you this image is because you can’t understand the landscape of military activities and resources in Hawaii today, why the military does what it does, unless you realize that half of the world is controlled from Pearl Harbor. The Pacific fleet goes right into the Indian Ocean, and so we have to have some kind of artificial limitation, fifty-year, one hundred-year, landscape of this size, landscape of that size, but to understand those landscapes and elements there’s a question of scale that I’m interested in and don’t have the answer for myself.
Finally, I would simply say that the reason for looking at whaling, transportation, surfing, or even these military landscapes for me becomes more one of engaging the public in something that they’ll understand has relevance. Greater relevance. Unexploited ordinance is my best example of that. We’re talking about the paradigm, the assumption, and a good assumption that, this effort in cultural landscapes is done to protect and preserve properties, that’s a good one. But it can’t be just an assumption, it has to be an intentional decision. Because we’re a preservation program and a marine resource agency and so we’ve talked about underwater ordinance, exploitive ordinance, where is our responsibility for adding those to our landscape studies and that ordinance would not be part of an outstanding universal value or something like that in a preservation objective landscape. But it’s a huge topic for Hawaii. So I have questions about those objectives and those goals.
Thank you very much.