Taking indigenous theory seriously
Taking indigenous theory seriously means treating indigenous theory as theory, not data. Doing so will enhance its power to expand our understanding of archaeological objects and of archaeology more generally. This paper explores and employs the Maori concept of whakapapa, a concept both superficially similar to, yet fundamentally different from the genealogical and evolutionary concepts so prevalent in archaeological thinking and writing. Importantly, whakapapa offers a more open approach to connectedness than Western genealogical approaches. In addition, because the telling of any whakapapa takes place in response to a specific context and objective, it is intrinsically ethically and morally engaged. Using the concept of whakapapa the chapter explores eighteen Maori rei niho, chevron whalebone pendants, about which little conventional archaeological information is available.