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Northern California, Oregon, and the Sandwich Islands by Charles Nordhoff

Part 6 out of 6

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Like a forest rising abruptly
Out of the ocean,
Is Kauai, with flowery lehua;
Grand but ungrateful land,
Without friends or dear ones for Kawelo.
They have put to death Maihuna,
As also Malei, my mother.
They have cast from a great pali
Both of them! Were they birds
To fly thus in the air?
Love to you, oh my ancestors:
To you, Au and Aaloha,
To you, Aua and Aaloa,
Aapoko and Aamahana,
Aapoku and Aauopelaea,
Who died by the hand of Aikanaka.

Maihuna was the father of Kawelo, and Aikanaka was his first cousin. The
latter put to death all the family of Kawelo, after having employed them,
with the other inhabitants of Kauai, in collecting the stones which were
to repulse his cousin. It was before the great battle of Wailua that
Kawelo's family was put to death.

In the last canto the hero reproaches his friends for abandoning him in
the day of danger. At the sight of his old friends, whose bodies he
had pierced with many wounds in punishment, he cries: "Where are those
miserable favorites?" He had transfixed them with his lance--that lance
made, he says, for the day of battle.

He compares Aikanaka to a long lance because of his power; he reproaches
him with having betrayed himself, who was comparatively but a little
lance--a little bit of wood (_laau iki_); then he ironically remarks that
Kauai is too small an island for his conquered friends.


Auhea iho nei la hoi
Ua mau wahi hulu alaala nei
Au i oo aku ai
I ka maka o ke keiki
A Maihuna?
He ihe no ka la kaua.
Pau hewa ka'u iu
Me kau ai,
Pau hewa ka hinihini ai
A ka moamahi.
Komo hewa ko'u waa
Ia lakou.
O lakou ka! ka haalulu
I ka pohaku i kaa nei,
Uina aku la i kahakaha ke one,
Kuu pilikia i Honuakaha.
Makemake i ka laau nui,
Haalele i kahi laau iki.
He iki kahi kihapai
Ka noho ka! i Kauai,
Iki i kalukalu a Puna.
Lilo Puna ia Kaheleha
Lilo Kona ia Kalaumaki,
Lilo Koolau ia Makuakeke,
Lilo Kohala ia Kaamalama,
Lilo Hanalei ia Kanewahineikialoha.
Mimihi ka hune o Kauluiki ma.
Aloha na pokii i ka hei wale.


Where just now are those chiefs,
Rebellious and weak,
Whom the point of the spear
Has transfixed--the spear of the
Son of Maihuna?
The spear made for the day of battle.
Stolen was my fish,
And the vegetable food--
Stolen the food raised by
The conqueror.
Mischievously did you
Sink my canoes.
O wretches! ye trembled
When the rocks rolled down,
At the noise they made on the sand.
When I was in danger at Honuakaha,
Ye who desire long lances
And despise those that are small,
Too small a place was Kauai,
Your dwelling;
Small was the kalukalu of Puna.
Puna shall belong to Kaheleeha,
Kona to Kalaumaki,
Koolau to Makuakeke,
Kohala to Kaamalama,
Hanalei to Kanewahineikialoha.
The poverty of Kauluiki and his friends grieves me.
Farewell, little ones caught in the net!

Here ends all that we were able to collect of this original and very
ancient poetry. Tradition relates that Kawelo became king of Kauai, and
reigned over that island to an advanced age.

When old age had lessened his force, and weakened his power, his subjects
seized him and cast him from the top of a tremendous precipice.

[Illustration: THE TARO PLANT.]


[Additions by the translator are inclosed in brackets.]

(1.) The name of Alapai is not found in the genealogy published by David
Malo. Nevertheless, we have positive information from our old man and
other distinguished natives that Alapai was supreme chief of Hawaii
immediately before Kalaniopuu.

(2.) Poi is a paste made of the tuberous root of the kalo (_Colocasia
antiquorum_, var. _esculenta_, Schott.). More than thirty varieties of
kalo are cultivated on the Hawaiian Islands, most of them requiring a
marshy soil, but a few will grow in the dry earth of the mountains. The
tubers of all the kinds are acrid, except one, which is so mild that it
may be eaten raw. After it is freed from acridity by baking, the kalo is
pounded until reduced to a kind of paste which is eaten cold, under the
name of poi. It is the principal food of the natives, with whom it takes
the place of bread. The kalo leaves are eaten like spinach (_luau_), and
the flowers (spathe and spadix), cooked in the leaves of the cordyline
(_C. terminalis_, H.B.K.), form a most delicious dish. It is not only as
poi that the tubers are eaten; they are sliced and fried like potatoes,
or baked whole upon hot stones. It is in this last form that I have eaten
them in my expeditions. A tuber which I carried in my pocket has often
been my only provision for the day.

In Algeria, a kind of kalo is cultivated under the name of _chou caraibe_,
whose tubers are larger, but less feculent. [In China, smaller and much
less delicately flavored tubers are common in the markets.]

(3.) The Hawaiians have always been epicures in the article of dog-meat.
The kind they raise for their feasts is small and easily fatted, like pig.
They are fed only on vegetables, especially kalo, to make their flesh more
tender and delicately flavored. Sometimes these dogs are suckled by the
women at the expense of their infants. The ones that have been thus fed at
a woman's breast are called _ilio poli_, and are most esteemed.

(4.) The Kahualii are still genuine parasites in the Hawaiian nation. They
are, to use the language of a Catholic missionary, the Cretans of whom
Paul speaks: "Evil beasts, slow bellies;" a race wholly in subjection to
their appetite, living from day to day, always reclining on the mat, or
else riding horses furiously; having no more serious occupation than to
drink, eat, sleep, dance, tell stories; giving themselves up, in a word,
to all pleasures, lawful and unlawful, without scruple or distinction of
persons. The Kahualii are very lazy. They are ashamed of honest labor,
thinking they would thus detract from their rank as chiefs. Islanders of
this caste are almost never seen in the service of Europeans. When their
patron, the high chief of the family, has made them feel the weight of
his displeasure, these inferior chiefs become notoriously miserable, worse
than the lowest of the Kanakas (generic name of the natives).

(5.) [Kamehameha IV. and V. were only noble through their mother,
Kinau, the wife of Kekuanaoa. They were adopted by Kamehameha III.

(6.) The old historian Namiki, an intelligent man, and well versed in the
secrets of Hawaiian antiquity, has left precious unedited documents, which
have fallen into our hands. His son, Kuikauai, a school-master at Kailua,
one of the true historico-sacerdotal race, has given us a genealogy of his
ancestors which ascends without break to Paao.

(7.) A tradition exists, mentioned by Jarves, that Paao landed at
Kohoukapu before the reign of Umi. According to the same author, Paao was
not a Kanaka, but a man of the Caucasian race. However this may be, every
one agrees that Paao was a foreigner, and a _naauao_ (scholar; literally,
a man with enlightened entrails, the Hawaiians placing the mind and
affections in the bowels).

(8.) Hina, according to tradition, brought into the world several sons,
who dug the palis of Hulaana. It may be asked whether _Hina_, which means
_a fall_, does not indicate a deluge (Kaiakahinalii of the Hawaiians),
or some sort of cataclysm, and whether the islanders have not personified

(9.) It is, however, improbable that there were ever genuine sorcerers
among the Hawaiians, in the sense that word has among Christians. It may
have happened, and indeed it happens every day, that people die after
the machinations of the kahuna-anaana; but it is more reasonable to refer
these tragical deaths to the use of poison, than to attribute them to the
incantations of the sorcerers. It is moreover known that there are on the
group many poisons furnished by trees, by shrubs and sea-weeds; and the
kahuna-anaana understood perfectly these vegetable poisons. The many known
examples of their criminal use inclines us to believe that these kahuna
were rather poisoners than magicians. [Kalaipahoa, the poison-god, was
believed to have been carved out of a very poisonous wood, a few chips of
which would cause death when mixed with the food.]

(10.) During the summer of the year 1852, while I was exploring the island
of Kauai, I was near being the victim, under remarkable circumstances, of
an old kahuna named Lilihae. I was then residing under the humble roof
of the Mission at Moloaa. Lilihae had been baptized, and professed
Christianity, although it was well known that he clung to the worship of
his gods. He was introduced to me by the missionaries as a man who, by his
memory and profession, could add to my historical notes. I indeed obtained
from him most precious material, and in a moment of good nature the old
man even confided to me the secret of certain prayers that the priests
alone should know. I wrote down several formulae at his dictation, only
promising to divulge nothing before his death. The old man evidently
considered himself perjured, for after his revelations he came no more to
see me.

Some days had passed after our last interview, and I thought no more of
him. All at once I lost my appetite and fell sick. I could eat nothing
without experiencing a nausea, followed immediately by continual vomiting.
Two missionaries and my French servant, who partook of my food, exhibited
almost the same symptoms. Not suspecting the true cause of these ailments,
I attributed them to climate and the locality, and especially to the
pestilent winds which had brought an epidemic ophthalmia among
the natives. Things remained in this condition a fortnight without
improvement, when one morning at breakfast a marmalade of bananas was
served. I had hardly touched it to my lips when the nausea returned with
greater violence; I could eat nothing, and soon a salivation came on which
lasted several hours. In the mean while a poor Breton who had established
himself on the island some years ago, and had conformed to savage life,
came to see me. Bananas were scarce in the neighborhood, and he found that
I had a large supply of them, and I offered him a bunch. Fortin, it was
his name, on his way back to his cabin with my present, broke a banana
off the bunch and commenced to eat it. He felt under his tooth a hard
substance, which he caught in his hand. To his great surprise, it was a
sort of blue and white stone. He soon felt ill, and fortunately was able
to vomit what he had swallowed. Furious, and accusing me of a criminal
intention, he returned to my quarters to demand an explanation. I examined
the substance taken from the banana, and found that it was blue vitriol
and corrosive sublimate. The presence of such substances in a banana was
far from natural. I took other bunches of my supply, and found in several
bananas the same poisons, which had been skillfully introduced under the
skin. After some inquiries I found, from Fortin's own wife, that similar
drugs had been sometimes seen in the hands of Lilihae, who had bought them
of a druggist in Honolulu for the treatment of syphilis. The riddle was at
once completely solved. A few days passed, and Lilihae killed himself by
poison, convinced that all his attempts could not kill me. In his native
superstition, he was satisfied that the gods would not forgive his
indiscretion, since they withheld from him the power of taking my
life; and he could devise no simpler way to escape their anger, and the
vengeance of my own God, than to take himself the poison against which
I had rebelled. It was discovered that Lilihae had, in the first place,
tried native poisons on me, and finding them ineffective, he thought that
my foreign nature might require exotic poisons, which he had accordingly
served in the bananas destined for my table. He went, without my
knowledge, into the cook-house where my native servants kept my
provisions, and, under pretext of chatting with them, found means to
poison my food. The unfortunate kahuna died fully persuaded that I was
a more powerful sorcerer than he. It was to be feared that, when he
discovered his impotency, he would intrust the execution of his designs
to his fellows, as is common among sorcerers; but his suicide fortunately
removed this sword of Damocles which hung over my head.

(11.) At the present day, useless old men are no longer destroyed, nor are
the children, whom venereal diseases have rendered very rare, suffocated;
but they do eat lice, fleas, and grasshoppers. Flies inspire the same
disgust, and the women still give their breasts to dogs, pigs, and young

(12.) [This operation is certainly still practiced extensively, if not
universally; and the ancient form of _kakiomaka_, or slitting the prepuce,
has given way, generally, to the _okipoepoe_, or the complete removal of
the foreskin. The operation in a case that came under my notice on the
island of Oahu was performed with a bamboo, and attended with a feast and
rejoicings; the subject was about nine years old.]

(13.) The islanders, who admire and honor great eaters, have generally
stomachs of a prodigious capacity. Here is an example: To compensate my
servants, some seven in number, for the hardships I had made them endure
on Mauna Kea, I presented them with an ox that weighed five hundred pounds
uncooked. They killed him in the morning, and the next evening there was
not a morsel left. One will be less astonished at this when I say that
these ogres, when completely stuffed, promote vomitings by introducing
their fingers into their throats, and return again to the charge. [It is
equally true that the Kanakas will go for a long time without much food,
and it can not be said they are a race of gluttons.]

(14.) Awa (_Piper methysticum_) grows spontaneously in the mountains of
the Hawaiian group. The natives formerly cultivated it largely [and
since the removal of the strict prohibition on its culture fields are not
uncommon]. From the roots the natives prepare a very warm and slightly
narcotic intoxicating drink. It is made thus: women chew the roots, and
having well masticated them, spit them, well charged with saliva, into
a calabash used for the purpose. They add a small portion of water, and
press the juice from the chewed roots by squeezing them in their hands.
This done, the liquid is strained through cocoa-nut fibres to separate all
the woody particles it may contain, and the awa is in a drinkable state.
The quantity drunk by each person varies from a quarter to half a
litre (two to four gills). This liquor is taken just before supper, or
immediately after. The taste is very nauseous, disagreeable to the
last degree. One would suppose he was drinking thick dish-water of a
greenish-yellow color. But its effects are particularly pleasant. An
irresistible sleep seizes you, and lasts twelve, twenty-four hours, or
even more, according to the dose, and the temperament of the individual.
Delicious dreams charm this long torpor.

Often when the dose is too great or too small, sleep does not follow; but
in its place an intoxication, accompanied by fantastic ideas, and a strong
desire to skip about, although one can not for a moment balance himself
on his legs. I felt these last symptoms for sixty hours the first time I
tasted this Polynesian liquor. The effects of awa on the constitution of
habitual drinkers are disastrous. The body becomes emaciated, and the skin
is covered, as in leprosy, with large scales, which fall off, and leave
lasting white spots, which often become ulcers.

(15.) This usage still exists in certain families toward great personages
or people they wish especially to honor; but it is disappearing every
day. Formerly when a Kanaka received a visit from a friend of a remote
district, women were always comprised in the exchange of presents on that
occasion. To fail in this was regarded as an unpardonable insult. The
thing was so inwrought in their customs, that the wife of the visitor did
not wait the order of her husband to surrender her person to her host.

(16.) [Liliha was the wife of Boki, governor of Oahu under Kamehameha II.]

(17.) The most curious thing which attracts the traveler's eye in the
ruins of the temples built by Umi is the existence of a mosaic pavement,
in the form of a regular cross, which extends throughout the whole length
and breadth of the inclosure. This symbol is not found in monuments
anterior to this king, nor in those of later times. One can not help
seeing in this an evidence of the influence of the two shipwrecked white
men whose advent we have referred to. Can we not conclude, from the
existence of these Christian emblems, that about the time when the great
Umi filled the group with his name, the Spanish or Portuguese shipwrecked
persons endeavored to introduce the worship of Christ to these islands?
Kama of Waihopua (Ka'u) has given us, through Napi, an explanation of
the four compartments observed in the temple of Umi, represented by the
following figure; but if we accept this explanation of Kama, it is as
difficult to understand why this peculiarity is observed in the monuments
of Umi, and not in any other heiau; as, for example, Kupalaha, situated in
the territory of Makapala; Mokini, at Puuepa; Aiaikamahina, toward the sea
at Kukuipahu; Kuupapaulau, inland at Kukuipahu-mauka. The remains of these
four remarkable temples are found in the district of Kohala. Not the least
vestige of the crucial division is to be seen. The god Kaili [see the
first page of the Appendix], a word which means a theft, was not known
before the time of Umi. [The temple of Iliiliopae, at the mouth of
Mapulehu Valley, on Molokai, is divided as in the diagram, and the same is
true of many other heiau; and as it seems to have been the usual form, it
is not probable that the form of the cross had any thing to do with it.]

| Place of the god Kaili. | Place of the god Ku. |
| Place of the priest Lono. | Place of the chief Umi. |

(18.) It does not seem improbable that a premature death removed the
foreigner who could have given Umi the idea of an art until then unknown;
and had the foreigner lived longer, these curious stones would have
served to build an edifice of which the native architects knew not the

(19.) [The cities of Refuge were a remarkable feature of Hawaiian
antiquity. There were two of these _Pahonua_ on Hawaii. The one at
Honaunau, as measured by Rev. W. Ellis, was seven hundred and fifteen feet
in length and four hundred and four feet wide. Its walls were twelve feet
high and fifteen feet thick, formerly surmounted by huge images, which
stood four rods apart, on their whole circuit. Within this inclosure were
three large heiau, one of which was a solid truncated pyramid of stone one
hundred and twenty-six feet by sixty, and ten feet high. Several masses of
rock weighing several tons are found in the walls some six feet from the
ground. During war they were the refuge of all non-combatants. A white
flag was displayed at such times a short distance from the walls, and here
all refugees were safe from the pursuing conquerors. After a short period
they might return unmolested to their homes, the divine protection of
Keawe, the tutelary deity, still continuing with them.]

[Footnote A: The original _Recits d'un Vieux Sauvage pour servir a
l'histoire ancienne de Hawaii_ was read on the 15th of December, 1857, to
the Society of Agriculture, Commerce, Science, and Arts of the Department
of the Marne, of which M. Remy was a corresponding member, and published
at Chalons-sur-Marne in 1859. The translation is perfectly literal, and
the Mele of Kawelo has been translated directly from the Hawaiian, M.
Remy's translation being often too free. A portion of this work was
translated several years since by President W.D. Alexander, of Oahu
College, and published in _The Friend_, at Honolulu, by William T.

[Footnote B: This was not true. Liholiho carried some to England, and the
rest were probably hidden in some of the many caverns on the shores of
Kealakeakua Bay.--_Trans_.]

[Footnote C: The Hawaiian Islands were discovered in 1555, by Juan
Gaetano, or Gaytan.--_Trans_.]

[Footnote D: Kaleikini may be considered the Hawaiian Hercules.]

[Footnote E: The more common form is, _Koele na iwi o Hua ma i ka la_--Dry
are the bones of Hua and his company in the sun.--_Trans_.]

[Footnote F: On which the bark is beaten to make kapa.]

[Footnote G: The Hawaiians have a tradition of an ancient deluge, called


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