Languages of Water: Arapaho and Hawaiian

Reference work entry


What are the parallels between language and water? Both erode and deposit. They shape landscapes. Both have power and are shaped by power, positioned at the center of life. The bridges between internal and external landscapes of two Indigenous languages, Arapaho and Hawaiian, are examined by considering the ways in which language connects to water. How do the Hawaiian and Arapaho languages position water both linguistically and geographically? How have representations of water changed linguistically through colonization and water infrastructure shifts? How have past ideas, knowledge, and experiences associated with language and water been deployed in contemporary initiatives to build Indigenous communities? As centers of cultural vitality and source of life, water and language endure change because of their fluid nature; their essence is to transform. This paper presents observations about the ways in which water and language have been connected to resilience for both Hawaiian and Arapaho peoples.


Water Indigenous languages Hawaiian language Arapaho language 


  1. Akana, C., & Gonzalez, K. (2015). Hānau ka ua: Hawaiian rain names. Honolulu: Kamehameha Publishing.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, J. (2001). The four hills of life: Northern Arapaho knowledge and life movement. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  3. Anderson, J. (2003). 100 years of Old Man Sage: An Arapaho life. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  4. Anderson, J. (2009). Contradictions across space-time and language ideologies in Northern Arapaho language shift. In P. Kroskrity & M. Field (Eds.), Native American language ideologies: Beliefs, practices, and struggles in Indian country (pp. 48–76). Tucson: University of Arizona Press.Google Scholar
  5. Berry, K. (2002). The ahupua’a and water allocation in Hawai’i: A study of cultural values and water law, In: Proceedings of the conference on allocating and managing water for a sustainable future, University of Colorado Natural Resources Law Center, Boulder, Colorado.
  6. Berry, K. (2006a). Water in the life of American Indians. In J. Kleczek (Ed.), Velka kniha o vode (Great book of water). Prague: Czech Republic Academia Press of the Czech Academy of Sciences.Google Scholar
  7. Berry, K. (2006b). Changing narratives of water control in Hawai’i. In T. Tvedt & T. Oestigaard (Eds.), A history of water, 3: The world of water (pp. 38–48). London: I.B. Tauris Press.Google Scholar
  8. Berry, K. (2014). Actor-network theory and traditional cultural properties: Exploring irrigation as a hybrid network in 19th century Hawai’i. Human Geography, 7(2), 73–87.Google Scholar
  9. Chang, W. (1989). Testimony on Hawaiian water rights to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs. Moloka’i, HI. 9 August 1989.Google Scholar
  10. Chang, D. (2016). The world and all the things upon it: Native Hawaiian geographies of exploration. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cowell, A., & Moss, A., Sr. (2008). The Arapaho language. Boulder: University Press of Colorado.Google Scholar
  12. Cowell, A., Moss, A., & William, J. (2014). Arapaho stories, songs, and prayers: A bilingual anthology. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.Google Scholar
  13. Derrickson, S., Robotham, M., Olive, S., & Evensen, C. (2002). Watershed management and policy in Hawai’i: Coming full circle. Journal of American Water Resources Association, 38(2), 563–577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. DiGuilio, D., Wilkin, R., Miller, C., & Oberley, G. (2011). Investigation of ground water contamination near Pavillion, Wyoming. Draft report. Washington, DC: US Environmental Protection Agency. Scholar
  15. Dorsey, G., & Kroeber, A. (1903). Traditions of the Arapaho: Collected under the auspices of the Field Columbian museum and of the American museum of natural history (Anthropological Series Vol. V. pp. 475). Chicago, IL: Field Columbian Museum.Google Scholar
  16. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). (2012). Decision document: Approval of application submitted by the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and Northern Arapaho Tribe for treatment in a similar manner as a state for purposes of Clean Air Act. Washington, DC: Environmental Protection Agency.Google Scholar
  17. Fowler, L. (1982). Arapaho politics: 1851–1978. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  18. Greymorning, S. (1997). Going beyond words: The Arapaho immersion program. In J. Reyhner (Ed.), Teaching indigenous languages (pp. 22–30). Flagstaff: Northern Arizona University Center for Excellence in Education.Google Scholar
  19. Greymorning, N. (2011). A language warrior’s eighteen years of running a gauntlet for Indigenous languages. Canadian Journal of Native Studies, 31(1), 193.Google Scholar
  20. Gross, F. (1951). Language and value changes among the Arapaho. International Journal of American Linguistics, 17(1), 10–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Handy, E., & Handy, E. (1991). Native planters in old Hawai`i: Their life, lore, and environment (2nd ed.). Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press.Google Scholar
  22. Herman, D. (1999). The Aloha state: Place names and the anti-conquest of Hawai‘i. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 89(1), 76–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kappler, C. e. (1904). Indian affairs: Laws and treaties (Vol. 1). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  24. Krause, F., & Strang, V. (2016). Thinking relationships through water. Society & Natural Resources, 29(6), 633–638.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. MacLeod, J. (2013). Water and material imagination. In C. Chen, J. Macleod, & A. Neimanis (Eds.), Thinking with water: Reading the sea of memory against the flows of capital (pp. 40–60). Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Nakuina, E. (1893). Ancient Hawaiian water rights. Thrum’s Hawaiian Almanac and annual for 1894 (pp. 79–84). Honolulu: Honolulu Press.Google Scholar
  27. O’Gara, G. (2000). What you see in clear water: Life on the Wind River Reservation. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
  28. Oliveira, K. (2014). Ancestral places: Understanding kanaka geographies. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Palmer, L. (2016). Subterranean waters and the ‘curation’ of underground histories in Timor Leste. Water History, 8(4), 431–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pevar, S. (2002). The rights of Indians and Tribes (3rd ed.). Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Pisani, D. (2002). Water and American government: The Reclamation Bureau, national water policy, and the West 1902–1935. Berkeley: University of California Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pukui, M., Haertig, E., & Lee, C. (1972). Nānā i ke kumu (look to the source) (Vol. I). Honolulu: Hui Hānai.Google Scholar
  33. Ranalli, A., & Naftz, D. (2014). Assessment of the quality of groundwater and the little wind river in the area of a former uranium processing facility on the Wind River Reservation, Wyoming, 1987 through 2010 (U.S. Geological Survey report no. 2013-5218). Washington, DC: U.S. Geological Survey.Google Scholar
  34. Robison, J. (2015). Wyoming’s Big Horn general stream adjudication. Wyoming Law Review, 15(2), 243–312.Google Scholar
  35. Salzmann, Z. (1951). Contrastive field experience with language and values of the Arapaho. International Journal of American Linguistics, 17(2), 98–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Salzmann, Z. (1983). Dictionary of contemporary Arapaho usage. Ethete: Northern Arapaho Tribe.Google Scholar
  37. Schneiders, R. (1999). Unruly river. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.Google Scholar
  38. Shoshone Homelands Project. (1991). Warm Valley historical project.
  39. The Arapaho Language Project. (undated). University of Colorado, Boulder. Available at Accessed 18 May 2018.
  40. Trask, H. (1987). From a native daughter. In C. Martin (Ed.), The American Indian and the problem of history (pp. 171–179). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  41. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. (1951). Annual project history, Boysen Unit, Missouri River Basin Program. Thermopolis: Department of the Interior.Google Scholar
  42. U.S. Reclamation Service. (1917). Report of the reclamation service on the Wind River Project Wyoming. Washington, DC: Department of the Interior.Google Scholar
  43. Warschauer, M., Donaghy, K., & Kuamoyo, H. (1997). Leoki: A powerful voice of Hawaiian language revitalization. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 10(4), 349–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wilson, W. (1998). I ka ‘olelo Hawai’i ke ola, life is found in the Hawaiian language. International Journal of the Society on Language, 132, 123–137.Google Scholar
  45. Wind River Mountaineer. (1981). Opening of the Shoshoni Indian Reservation, August 15th 1906. In Riverton: the early years. Riverton: Riverton Historical Research Committee.Google Scholar
  46. Wyoming Central Irrigation Company. (1907). A 160-acre farm can be obtained cheap on 10-years’ time – Just like a Building Association on the Shoshone Reservation Wyoming. Riverton News.Google Scholar
  47. Wyoming State Engineer. (1905–1906). 8th Biennial Report of the State Engineer. Laramie.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of NevadaRenoUSA
  2. 2.University of IdahoMcCallUSA
  3. 3.University of Hawai`iMānoaUSA
  4. 4.Arapaho Middle SchoolArapahoeUSA

Personalised recommendations