This article explores the socioeconomic phenomenon of Chinese migrants capitalizing on indigenous Hawaiian foodways around the turn of the twentieth century. By examining fishponds and poi factories, I investigate multiple strategies of survival and success including community organization, interracial communion, and cultural appropriation. I use family histories and territorial reports to reconstruct a history of Chinese and Hawaiian economic intimacy and argue that certain ventures that have been recorded as categorically “Chinese” must be reinterpreted as creolized. These joint enterprises, which combined diasporic networks of labor and capital with indigenous knowledge and resources, demonstrate an alternative path from plantation capitalist modernity. I conclude that credit must be restored to indigenous participants when evaluating the success of migrant enterprise.

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