Noelani M. Arista

Noelani M. Arista is Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) born in Honolulu, Oʻahu. She is the Director of the Indigenous Studies Program at McGill University and an Associate Professor in the History and Classical Studies Department. Her research interests include Hawaiian governance and law; Hawaiian intellectual history and historiography; colonialism and missionization; Indigenous language archives; traditional knowledge organization; and information literacy. Arista seeks to utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning to apply traditional modes of organizing Hawaiian knowledge in Hawaiian language textual and oral sources to increase community access to ʻike Hawaiʻi, and to provide useful models for scholars working in their own indigenous language source base.

Arista is the author of the award-winning book, The Kingdom and the Republic: Sovereign Hawaiʻi and the Early United States (2019), which details Native Hawaiians’ experience of encounter and colonialism in the early nineteenth century. Drawing upon previously unused Hawaiian language documents, this history addresses native political formation, the creation of published indigenous law, and supplies Hawaiian accounts of encounters with missionaries and traders, The Kingdom and the Republic reconfigures familiar colonial histories of trade, proselytization, and negotiations over law and governance in Hawai’i.

Currently, Arista seeks to create pathways into digital territory, considering questions about how to secure traditional Hawaiian systems of knowledge—and further moʻo ʻōlelo through various digital mediums, including game play and archives organization. She is the creator of the Facebook group 365 days of aloha, which supplies followers with a Hawaiian word, translations of songs or chants, and images to facilitate encounters with deeper Hawaiian currents of knowledge, which was reinvigorated in 2020.

Contact Information:


Lei Ānuenue, Episode 28 Research in Online Hawaiian Language Nūpepa

He Lau Nā Moʻolelo: The Challenge and Promise of Hawaiian Language Textual Archives

Hua Kiʻi : A Prototype for Developing Ethical Indigenous AI

Some Recent Works:

Lewis, Jason Edward Lewis, Noelani Arista, Archer Pechawis, and Suzanne Kite. “Making Kin with the Machines.” In Against Reduction: Designing a Human Future with Machines. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2021. 

Arista, Noelani Arista. “Ka Waihona Palapala Maneleo: Research in a Time of Plenty. Colonialism and the Hawaiian-Language Archives.” In Indigenous Textual CulturesReading and Writing in the Age of Global Empireedited by Tony Ballantyne, Lachy Paterson, and Angela Wanhalla. Durham: Duke University Press, 2020. 

Arista, Noelani. The Kingdom and the Republic: Sovereign Hawai’i and the Early United States. America in the Nineteenth Century. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018.

Arista, Noelani. “’Mo’olelo and Mana: The Transmission of Hawaiian History from Hawai’i to the United States, 1836–1843.” Journal of the Early Republic 38, no. 3 (2018): 415–43.

Arista, Noelani. Histories of Unequal Measure: Euro-American Encounters with Hawaiian Governance and Law, 1796-1827. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016.

Arista, Noelani. “Captive Women in Paradise, 1796-1826: The Kapu on Prostitution in Hawaiian Historical Legal Context.” American Indian Culture and Research Journal 35, no. 4 (2011): 39-55.

Arista, Noelani. “Navigating Uncharted Oceans of Meaning: Kaona as Historical and Interpretive Method.” PMLA 125, no. 3 (May 2010).

Arista, Noelani. “Listening to Leoiki: Engaging Sources in Hawaiian History.” Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly32, no. 1 (Winter 2009).