Long before Christmas came to Hawaiʻi, we had our own winter holiday – Makahiki. This was a roughly four-month period of time characterized by peace and plenty, relaxation and games, and by harvest. Warfare was suspended during Makahiki. All islands honored the god Lono who reigned over a domain of fertility, agriculture, and peace. On a spiritual level, Makahiki also served as a period of reflection, recognition, and pride.
It wasn’t until 1856 that Alexander Liholiho (King Kamehameha IV) declared December 25 to be a kingdom day of Thanksgiving. In 1858, Santa Claus made his first appearance in Hawaiʻi bringing makana to keiki at Washington Place (now the governor’s residence).
Pictured below is Mac Poepoe of Hoʻolehua preparing fish from the bountiful waters of Molokaʻi – an example of the blessings enjoyed by the people of Molokaʻi. How blessed we are in Hawaiʻi! Happy Holidays Everyone!
“Kalaupapa Month” January 2022
As the Molokaʻi Dispatch reported on June 23, 2021, January is now designated by the state as “Kalaupapa Month.” The bill was championed by Ka ʻOhana O Kalaupapa, the organization of remaining residents, descendants and supporters. “Ka ʻOhana hopes that teachers will include Kalaupapa in their classrooms, that church leaders will pay tribute during services and that family members will remember their ancestors in various ways,” said Valerie Monson, the organization’s former executive director.
Ka ʻOhana promoted January as Kalaupapa Month because it was on Jan. 6, 1866, that the first 12 people arrived at Kalaupapa, having been diagnosed with leprosy. These were the first of about 8,000 Hawaiians who were taken from their families and forced into isolation. The inhabitants of Kalaupapa, at the time, showed kindness and compassion to those banished to the peninsula.
I visited Kalawao Park, along with friends, to view the storyboards commemorating Kalaupapa’s history. Sadly, the moʻolelo is no longer legible due to the elements.
After a focused effort to repair the storyboards, I am pleased to report that DNLR has assured us the restoration of the boards will be done by January 2022! Please keep an eye out on the progress of the restoration, as I will, to ensure this important history is restored to life for all to read at Kalawao Park.
Alapai Hanapi, ʻOhana Lands and Native Hawaiian Rights Activist and Sculptor
I have always been in awe of Molokaʻi Native Rights activist Alapai Hanapi’s powerful sculptural images. The stone carving pictured above is of Hina, Mother of Molokaʻi, with her ʻumeke (gourd) holding the winds that protect our land.
Hanapi and his wife, Mililani, have been in the courts for decades asserting their rights as “Native Hawaiian artists and cultural practitioners who work, live, and reside on the ancestral family kuleana within the ahupuaʻa of ʻAhaʻino on the island of Molokaʻi.” Hanapi also maintains his rights to practice stating “for generations [his] family and…ancestors have practiced traditional Native Hawaiian religious, gathering, and sustenance activities in and around the fishponds” adjacent to his lands.
I stand in awe of the incredible perseverance of our brothers and sisters who continue to fight for ʻohana lands and against the dislocation of Hawaiians from their lands.