Dr. Peter Mills

Peter R. Mills

Professor of Anthropology

Peter Mills at the Mauna Kea Adze QuarryPeter R. Mills Peter Mills has been teaching at UH Hilo since 1997, and he received the Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2001. He started his anthropological training at the University of Vermont (B.A. 1984), where he wrote an honor's thesis on stone tools found in the Champlain Valley. He completed his M.A. at Washington State University (1987), studying use-wear on stone axes from Sand Canyon Pueblo Ruin in southwestern Colorado. After that, he spent several years working in professional positions including fieldwork conducted as part of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), and for the Massachusetts Historical Commission (State Historic Preservation Office).

His first fieldwork in Hawaiʻi was with the Bishop Museum in the winter of 1990/91 just before he entered a Ph.D. program in anthropology at U.C. Berkeley. His dissertation focused on a fort on Kauaʻi built by Hawaiians (Pā ʻulaʻula/Fort Elisabeth), in association with fur-traders from the Russian-American Company. The dissertation formed the foundation for Mills’s 2002 book Hawaiʻi's Russian Adventure: a new look at old history (UH Press). A 2020 online lecture is also available from the Historic Hawaiʻi Foundation.

Peter served as president of the Society for Hawaiian Archaeology from 2010-2012, and received the Society for Hawaiian Archaeology's 2022 Public Archaeology Award. He has held board positions with the Paniolo Preservation Society , Laupāhoehoe Train Museum , Hawaiʻi Historic Places Review Board , and the Laupāhoehoe Advisory Council for the Hawaiʻi Experimental Tropical Forest . He also works closely with the Honokaʻa Heritage Center.

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MA in Heritage Management

Faculty and Graduate Students in the MA in Heritage ManagementFaculty and Graduate Students in the MA in Heritage Management

UH Hilo initiated a provisional Master's degree program in Heritage Management in the Fall of 2015 directed by Dr. Mills, and the program was granted permenant status by the UH Board of Regents in the summer of 2022. The main purpose of this program is to provide affordable, localized, and regionally-focused graduate training to members of Hawaiʻi's descendant communities, with specializations in applied archaeology and cultural impact assessment. In Hawaiʻi, there is a State requirement for graduate degrees in various Heritage Management positions. For example, Hawaiʻi Administrative Rules (Title 13, Subtitle 13, Chapter 281) require that principal investigators working for one of the two-dozen firms licensed to conduct archaeological research possess a graduate degree from an accredited institution in archaeology, or anthropology, with a specialization in archaeology, or an equivalent field. Without providing local opportunities to achieve these degrees, many UH Hilo students hit 'glass ceilings' in their careers with their B.A. degrees. For information on applying to the program, visit the UH Hilo Graduate website. If you wish to support this program, please see the donation link above and visit our Facebook page.

Non-Destructive Sourcing of Polynesian Stone Tools

Adze debitage and hammerstones, Mauna Kea Adze QuarryAdze debitage and hammerstones, Mauna Kea Adze Quarry

In the Spring of 2004 Dr. Mills began a long-term geoarchaeology project facilitated through a Major Research Instrumentation Grant from the National Science Foundation (BCS-0317528). Mills works in collaboration with Dr. Steve Lundblad (UH Hilo Dept. of Geology), using non-destructive Energy-Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence (EDXRF) to analyze basalt and volcanic glass artifacts (see the Geoarchaeology Laboratory at UH Hilo).

Historical Archaeology of Hawaiian Ranching Sites

Stone Corral Complex at Keanakolu

Beginning in 2001, Mills began an historical archaeology project at UH Hilo to investigate the development of ranching traditions in Hawaii in the ahupuaʻa of Humuʻula on the eastern slopes of Mauna Kea. This project led to a collaborative relationship with Dr. Carolyn White and her students at the University of Nevada, Reno. Field Schools in 2009 and 2011 have focused on two ranching stations at Laumaiʻa. The earliest station appears to have been in use in the 1860s and abandoned shortly thereafter.

For additional information on previous field school work, check out the Stone Corral Complex at Keanakolu (50-10-15-24250)

Selected Publications (# = UH Hilo student co-authors)

Mills, P. R. 2024. The Archaeology of Multiethnicity in Hawaiian Ranching Sites, in Inclusion, Transformation, and Humility in North American Archaeology, edited by S. Mallios, S. L. Gonzalez, M. Grone, K. L. Hull, P. Nelson, and S. W. Silliman, pp. 190-202. Berghahn Books, Oxford and New York.

#Ciccone, D., A. Johnson, S. Lundblad, and P. Mills 2023. EDXRF Analysis of Lithics from Lapakahi State Historical Park, Kohala District, Hawaiʻi Island_Journal of Polynesian Archaeology and Research_ 1:47-65.

Quintus, S., T. Dye, P. Mills, S. Lundblad, #C. Balai, T. Rieth, D. Filimoehala, C. Filimoehala, A. Morrison, J. Tulchin, T. Duarte, M. McCoy, and J. Peng 2023. The patterning of volcanic glass transfer across eastern Oʻahu Island, Hawaiʻi_Journal of Archaeological Science 52. December https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2023.104282

Downs, D.T., F.A. Trusdell, K.J. Lynn, J. Schmith, J.M. Chang, C.A. Gansecki, S.P. Lundblad, N.I. Deligne, T.R. Orr, E. Gallant, P.J. Dotray, M.H. Zoeller, M.R. Patrick, C.E. Parcheta, B. McDade, and P.R. Mills 2023. Sample details and near-real-time ED-XRF, grain size, and grain shape data collected during the November – December 2022 eruption of Mauna Loa volcano, Island of Hawaiʻi USGS ScienceBase-Catalog, https://doi.org/10.5066/P9NA7GU3

Connecting the Kingdom Bookcover

Mills, P.R. 2023. Connecting the Kingdom: Sailing Vessels in the Early Hawaiian Monarchy, 1790-1840. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press. (296 pp.) 10: 0824893980; ISBN-13: 9780824893989.

Mills, P.R., S.P. Lundblad, #C. Cauley, D.S. Coleman, J.S. Field, A.L. Hafner, J.G. Kahn, J.M. Sinton, and P.V. Kirch 2022. Provenance, production, and distribution of basalt and volcanic glass artifacts in Leeward Kohala, Hawaiʻi Island. Geoarchaeology, 37 (5):733-749.

Quintus, S., P.R. Mills, J. Konter, S. Day, #D. Gilreath, N.K. Lincoln., S.P. Lundblad, D. Vonderhaar, and K. Yoo 2022. Trace Element and Pb isotope analyses highlight decentralized inter-island exchange in American Sāmoa (Polynesia). Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 14 (103) Springer Nature.

Molodin, A.V. and P.R. Mills 2021. Addressing Tensions between Colonial and Post-Colonial Histories: Modeling Hawaiian Fort Pā'ula'ula/Russian Fort Elizabeth, Kaua'i Island, Hawaiʻi. Asian Perspectives, 60 (1):2-31. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/asi.2020.0035.

Divito, Nathaniel J., T.S. Dye, K. Elington, J.L. Gunness, E. Hellebrande, E. Jourdane, S. Lundblad, #N. Mello, P.R. Mills, and J.M. Sinton 2020. Volcanic glass at Kualoa, O‘ahu, Hawaiian Islands: Paired technological and geochemical sourcing analyses of an expedient tool industry. Journal of Archaeological Science. Reports: 30(2020)102117.

Lee, R.L., C. Gansecki, S. Lundblad, P.R. Mills, D.T. Adams, R. Conrey, and L. Wagoner 2019. Whole-rock and glass chemistry of lava samples collected during the 2018 Lower East Rift Zone eruption of Kilauea: U.S. Geological Survey data release.

Mills, P.R., #P. Lima, #L. Brandt, J. Kahn, P. Kirch, and S. Lundblad 2017. Paired geochemical and technological analyses of basalt adze debitage at the Hālawa Dune Site, Molokaʻi Island, Hawaiʻi. Archaeology in Oceania. 53(2):78-91. DOI: 10.1002 / arco.5143.

Kahn, J.G., S.P. Lundblad, P.R., Mills, Y. Chan, K. Longenecker, and Y. Sinoto 2016. Settlement Chronologies and Shifting Resource Exploitation in Ka'ū District, Hawaiian Islands. Asian Perspectives 55(2):184-207.

Putzi, J.L., N.J. Divito, C.E. Sholin, P.R, Mills, S.P. Lundblad, B. Camara, and T.S. Dye 2015. Alternative Models of Volcanic Glass Quarrying and Exchange in Hawaiʻ. Journal of Archaeological Science Reports 2:341-352.

Kirch, P.V., G. Molle, C. Nickelsen, P. Mills, E. Dotte-Sarout, J. Swift, A. Wolfe, and M. Horrocks 2015. Human ecodynamics in the Mangareva Islands: a stratified sequence from Nenega-Iti Rock Shelter (site AGA-3, Agakauitai Island). Archaeology in Oceania. 50(1):23-42. DOI: 10.1002/arco.5050.

Mills, P.R. and S.P Lundblad 2014. Current Perspectives on Hawaiʻi's Stone Tool Economies.Journal of Pacific Archaeology 5(2):30-39.

Lundblad, S.P., P.R. Mills, J. Kahn, #K. Mulliken, K. and #C. Cauley 2014. New insights from the Waiʻahukini Rockshelter Site (H8), Kaʻū District, Hawaiʻi Island from non-destructive EDXRF geochemistry. Hawaiian Archaeology Special Publication No. 4, Papers in Honor of Dr. Yosihiko Sinoto, edited by Windy K. McElroy and Eric Komori, pp. 73-84.

Charleux, M., A. McAlister, P.R. Mills, and S.P. Lundblad 2014. Non-destructive XRF Analyses of Fine-grained Basalts from Eiao, Marquesas Islands. Journal of Pacific Archaeology 5(1):75-89.

Mills, P.R., C.L. White, and B. Barna 2013. The Paradox of the Paniolo: An Archaeological Perspective of Hawaiian Ranching. Historical Archaeology 47(2):110-132.

Mills, P.R. and K.L. Kawelu 2013. Decolonizing Heritage Management in Hawaiʻi. Advances in Anthropology 3(3):127-132.

Lundblad, S.P., P.R. Mills, M.D. McCoy, J.G. Kahn, #K. Mulliken and #D. Kaylor 2013. Identification of Volcanic Glass Sources Inferred from Geochemical Analysis of Artifacts on Leeward Hawaiʻi Island. In Pacific Archaeology_: Documenting the Past 50,000 Years. Papers from the 2011 Lapita Pacific Archaeology Conference_, edited by G. R. Summerhayes and Hallie Buckley. University of Otago Studies in Archaeology No. 25, Dunedin, NZ.

Rieth, T.M., P.R. Mills, S.P. Lundblad, A.E. Morrison, A. Johnson 2013. Variation in Lithic Sources utilized by Late Pre-Contact Elites in Kona, Hawaiʻi Island. Hawaiian Archaeology 13:103-130.

Kahn, J.G., J.M. Sinton, P.R. Mills, and S.P. Lundblad 2013. X-Ray Fluorescence Analysis and Intra-Island Exchange in the Society Island Archipelago (Central Eastern Polynesia). Journal of Archaeological Science 40:1194-1202.

Mills, P.R. 2013. Book Review: So Far from Home: Russians in Early California, by Glenn J. Farris, editor. 2012. Heyday and Santa Clara University. California Archaeology 5(1):129-131.

Stevenson, C.M. and P.R. Mills. 2013. A Chronometric Tool for Hawaiian archaeology: the hydration dating of Puʻu Waʻawaʻa trachytic glass. Journal of Archaeological Science. 40(2013):405-415.

Staley, D.P., P.R. Mills and S.P. Lundblad 2012. "I trust there will be no failure...": The importance of Bricks and Brickmaking at the Adirondack Iron and Steel Company’s Upper Works. The Journal of the Society For Industrial Archaeology 38(1):5-26.

Kirch, P.V., P.R. Mills, S.P. Lundblad, J. Sinton,. and J.G. Kahn 2012. Interpolity exchange of basalt tools facilitated via elite control in Hawaiian archaic states Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109(4):1056-1061.

Mintmier, M.A., P.R. Mills, S.P. Lundblad 2012. Energy-Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence Analysis of Haleakalā Basalt Adze Quarry Materials, Maui, Hawaiʻi, Journal of Archaeological Science 39(3):615-623.

Mills, P.R., S.P. Lundblad, K. Hon, J.J. Moniz-Nakamura, #L.K. Kahahane, #A. Drake-Raue, #T.M. Souza and #R. Wei 2011. Reappraising craft specialization and exchange in pre-contact Hawaiʻi through non-destructive sourcing of basalt adze debitage, Journal of Pacific Archaeology 2(2):79–92.

McCoy, M.D., P.R. Mills, S.P. Lundblad, T. Rieth, J.G. Kahn, R. Gard 2011. A Cost Surface Model of Volcanic Glass Quarrying and Exchange in Hawaiʻi. Journal of Archaeological Science 38:2547-2560.

Lundblad. S.P., P.R. Mills, #A. Drake-Raue, S.K. Kikiloi 2011. Non-destructive EDXRF analyses of archaeological basalts. In X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry in Geoarchaeology, pp. 65-80, edited by M. Steven Shackley. Natural Sciences in Archaeology Series. Springer Press, North America.

Mills, P.R., S.P. Lundblad, J.S. Field, A.B. Carpenter, W.K. McElroy, and #P. Rossi 2010. Geochemical sourcing of basalt artifacts from Kauaʻi, Hawaiian Islands. Journal of Archaeological Science 37:(1):3385-3393.

Addison, D., B. Bass, C. Christensen, J. Kalolo, S.P. Lundblad, P.R. Mills, F. Petchey, and A. Thompson 2009. Archaeology of Atafu, Tokelau: some initial results from 2008. Rapa Nui Journal 23(1): 5-9.

Mills, P.R. 2009. Folk Housing in the Middle of the Pacific: Lime Architecture, Cultural Power and Ideology in 19th century Hawaii. In Materiality of Individuality, pp. 75-91, edited by Carolyn White.  Springer Press, North America.

Kahn, J. G., P.R. Mills, S.P. Lundblad, J. Holson, and P.V. Kirch 2008. Tool Production at the Nuʻu Quarry, Maui, Hawaiian Islands: Manufacturing Sequences and Energy-Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence Analyses. New Zealand Journal of Archaeology 30:135-165.

Mills, P.R. 2008. European Exploration and Colonization of the Hawaiian Islands. In Archaeology in America, Vol. 4, pp. 131-134, edited by Francis P. McManamon, Linda S. Cordell, Kent G. Lightfoot, and George R. Milner. Greenwood Press.

Mills, P.R. 2008. Kauaʻi Island Ancient and Historical Sites. In Archaeology in America, Vol. 4, pp. 142-144, edited by Francis P. McManamon, Linda S. Cordell, Kent G. Lightfoot, and George R. Milner.  Greenwood Press.

Mills, P.R., Steven P. Lundblad, #Jacob G. Smith, Patrick C. McCoy, and #Sean P. Naleimaile 2008. Science and Sensitivity: A Geochemical Characterization of the Mauna Kea Adze Quarry Complex, Hawaiʻi Island, Hawaiʻi.  American Antiquity 73(4):743-758.

Lundblad, S.P., P.R. Mills and K. Hon 2008. Analyzing Archaeological Basalt Using Non-destructive Energy Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence (EDXRF):  Effects of Post-depositional Chemical Weathering and Sample Size on Analytical Precision_. Archaeometry_ 50(1):1-11.

Mills, P.R. and S.P. Lundblad 2006.  Preliminary Field Report: The Geochemistry of the Koʻokoʻolau Complex, Mauna Kea Adze Quarry (50-10-23-4136) TMK:4-4-15:10 Report prepared for the Hawaii Natural Area Reserves System (NARS) Commission.  University of Hawaii, Hilo.

Mills, P.R. 2005. Connecting with Kauaʻi’s Canyonlands. In Nā Mea Kahiko o Kauaʻi: Archaeological Studies of Kauaʻi, edited by Mike T. Carson and Michael W. Graves. Special Publication No. 2. Society for Hawaiian Archaeology, Honolulu.

Mills, P.R. 2004. Book Review: Inventing Politics by Juri Mykkanen (UH Press 2003). Hawaiian Journal of History 38:191-195.

Mills, P.R. 2004. Response to Lydia Black. Hawaiian Journal of History 38:182-186.

Mills, P.R. 2003. Laupāhoehoe Nui: Archaeology of a High-risk Landscape on Windward Hawaiʻi Island. Rapa Nui Journal 17(2):106-114.

Mills, P.R. 2003. Neo in Oceania: foreign vessels owned by Hawaiian chiefs before 1830. Journal of Pacific History 38(1):53-67.

Mills, P.R. 2002. Social Integration and the Ala Loa: reconsidering the significance of trails in Hawaiian exchange. Asian Perspectives 41(1):148-166.

Mills, P.R. 2002. Hawaiʻi's Russian Adventure: A New Look at Old History. University of Hawaiʻi Press, Honolulu. (310 pp.) ISBN 10: 08248-2404-0; 13: 978-0824824044

Mills, P.R. 2002. Speaking up for Small Fish in the Big Pond: Establishing a Mission for UH Hilo in Pacific Archaeology. Proceedings of the Pacific 2000 Conference, Easter Island Foundation, Los Osos, California.

Mills, P.R. and #M. Irani. 2000. A Walk Through History: Pedestrian Survey of the Old Government Beach Road, Honalo to Honuaʻino, North Kona, Hawaiʻi Island. 2 vols (174 pp). Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Trails and Access Program (Na Ala Hele), Honolulu.

Mills, P.R. 1997. Slate and Ethnicity at Fort Ross (Chapter 10). In The Archaeology and Ethnohistory of Fort Ross, California, Vol 2, pp. 238-247, edited by Kent. G. Lightfoot. Contributions of the University of California Archaeological Research Facility, Berkeley, California.

Mills, P.R., and A. Martinez (eds) .1997. The Archaeology of Russian Colonialism in the North and Tropical Pacific. Kroeber Anthropological Society Papers, No, 81 (194 pp.).

Lightfoot, K.G., A.M. Schiff, A. Martinez, T.A. Wake, S.W. Silliman, P.R. Mills, and L. Holm. 1997. Culture Change and Persistence in the Daily Lifeways of Interethnic Households. In Volume II of _The Archaeology and Ethnohistory of Fort Ross, California_, edited by Kent. G. Lightfoot. Contributions of the University of California Archaeological Research Facility, pp. 355-419, Berkeley, California.

Stevenson, C.M., S. Haoa, P. R. Mills, J.R. Ramirez, and C. Gomez
1996. The La Perouse Archaeological Project: Report of the 1995 Field Season, Easter Island. Archaeological Services Consultants, Columbus, Ohio.

Mills, P.R. 1996. A New View of Kauaʻi as "The Separate Kingdom" after 1810. The Hawaiian Journal of History 30:91-104.

Mills, P.R. 1993 An Axe to Grind: Functional Analysis of Anasazi Stone Axes from Sand Canyon Pueblo Ruin (5-MT-765), Southwestern, Colorado. Kiva 58(3)393-413.

atlatl toss


Some present and former UH Hilo students at SHA conference 2010