Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Leadership


Organization & Leadership EdD

First Advisor

Ellen Herda

Second Advisor

Dan McPherson

Third Advisor

Laleh Shahideh


Research Topic

In Rapa Nui is undergoing a cultural development crisis. This transition mixed with the ever-increasing popularity of tourism and global media has raised awareness of identity and culture within the Rapa Nui society. The present inquiry explores one aspect of their societal healing arts that is in the midst of re-exploration and re-imagination: their traditional medicinal practices or hervias tradicionales and the potential for the findings to help shape the lives of the Rapa Nui in their society.

Theory and Protocol

This research is grounded in critical hermeneutics and follows an interpretive approach to field research and data analysis (Herda 1999).

Research Categories

Three primary critical hermeneutic concepts drawn from the theoretical works of Paul Ricoeur (mimesis and narrative identity) and Jürgen Habermas (public sphere) provide the research categories for this inquiry.


The complexity faced on Rapa Nui is of developmental influences on the culture--Polynesian ways-of-life contrasting with Chilean structure and values.

1. The Arts of Traditional Healing are Becoming Lost Arts. Western medicine is frequently used in conjunction with traditional healing depending on the urgency of the situation. Regardless of use, the healing arts along with their traditional songs, dances, and language define the Rapa Nui identity, values, and culture. This is a priority among elders who view the younger generation lacking the drive in "being Rapa Nui."

2. There is a Lack of Communication between Islanders and Mainland Chileans. This is notable in the issues of land tenure-ship, appropriation of funding and policies, and with the preservation of the arts and culture. The government infrastructure needs to be effective in bridging the cultures through the actions of meaningful conversations that are beneficial to the needs and wants of the community.

3. Islanders and Mainland Chileans Need to Develop Cooperatively a Rapa Nui Education Curriculum that Reflects the History, Politics and Culture. There is need to grow cultural educational programs that can add value in raising awareness and understanding between the developed and developer. This curriculum should be extended towards the migrant and immigrant populations coming to Rapa Nui for employment and their domestic counterparts.

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