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The Hog God
The demi-god, Kamapuaa, was both a handsome chief and a brutal monster. At times he would take the form of a hog to act out his destructive desires or to hide. He was born on Oahu and it is said that he traveled from island to island in a canoe that became a small shell that he could tuck into his loincloth and carry with him.
Kamapuaa was visiting the different islands in this manner and came to the southeastern point of Hawaii. He crossed fields of recently erupted lava and hiked through forests, before coming upon the home of Pele, the Fire-goddess. He stood upon the hill called Akani-kolea and gazed down into the pit of Pele.
Pele and her sisters danced upon a lake of fire, causing it to churn with waves of fire and boiling bubbles. Suddenly, the clouds surrounding the crater lifted to reveal the cliffs clearly. There stood the magnificent Kamapuaa. He played a hand drum as he danced gracefully along the hilltop.
Pele sent streams of lava and sulfuric clouds to overcome Kamapuaa, but he used his powers to push the clouds aside and stop the eruptions. Pele's sisters beseeched her to send for this powerful man, which she eventually did, and they reconciled.
They lived as husband and wife in various areas of the Puna district. They had a son, Opelu-haa-lii, who lived only a little while. It is said that he became the fish, opelu.
Kamapuaa did not suit Pele for long, with his hog-like habits, and he tired of her fiery temper and sharp tongue. They flew into rages, hurling bitter insults back and forth.
At last, Pele sought to utterly destroy Kamapuaa. She stamped upon the ground causing it to crack open. Clouds of smoke and steam rose around Kamapuaa and as Pele called up streams of flowing lava, he called upon the waters of the ocean to quench the fire. Pele was driven inland to her home in the pit of Kilauea.
image:hog god Kamapuaa hurled water into the crater causing massive earthquakes and explosions. Pele's fires turned the water into steam and lava rose in lakes. She opened the earth and sent fountains of lava at the Hog-god, but he quickly countered each attack with water. The battle of the elements went on until Kamapuaa drove Pele into the deepest depths of her crater. He then called upon roiling black storm clouds to unleash their might over the crater until it overflowed and Pele's fire was thought to be destroyed.
However, Pele gathered strength from the gods of the underworld and launched an attack that Kamapuaa could not bear. The pit of Pele erupted and was filled with fire once more. As streams of lava poured forth, Kamapuaa changed his body into a type of grass called Ku-kae-puaa and filled up a large field, turning the lava aside. Pele again got support form the gods of the underworld and sent more lava against the grass which eventually began to burn. In agony, Kamapuaa changed back into a man and the front of his body was seen to be scorched. Legends say that from that time on, hogs have had little hair on the stomach.
Kamapuaa fled to the ocean as Pele rushed to surround him. He finally dived into the boiling waves as great masses of lava were flung into the water around him.
Defeated, Kamapuaa changed into a fish called Humu-humu-nuku-nuku-a-puaa. It's skin was thick enough to protect him from the high temperature of the waters around him as he made his way to the ocean's depths. It is said that this fish can make grunting noises as that of a small hog.
Kamapuaa and Pele never again reconciled, but they divided up the islands into two domains and took an oath of divine solemnity which to this day remains unbroken.
The Man-Eating Spirits of Niihau
Early Hawaiians observed hunting and fishing seasons to preserve their resources. When the kapu (prohibition) was lifted, competition was fierce and in the case of fishermen, they had to travel far to find abundant fish to feed their villages.
In ancient times, it is said that man-eating spirits roamed the islands. Remote locations were dangerous, but sometimes necessary to travel to in order to find food. It was for this reason that fishermen from Kauai would set out in their canoes to fish off the shores of Niihau.
One season, five fishermen paddled out to this abundant fishing spot. Their names were Ehaki, Elua, Ekolu, Eha and Elima. They fished all day and ended with a good catch. When the sky darkened into evening, they went ashore to Niihau to clean, salt, and store their fish. Then they sat down to an evening meal in high spirits, and finally lay down on the beach to sleep, for the next day would bring more work.
Upon awakening, the men were worried for Elima was nowhere to be found. The others turned to Ekahi, the leader of the group. They voiced their fears that the spirits had come and eaten their friend. They wanted to go back to Kauai. But Ekahi calmed them.
"Elima has probably gotten up early for some shore fishing. He will be waiting for us here when we return with our catch." Ekahi said.
So the men were calmed and they paddled out for a successful day of fishing. When they returned, they found the beach empty. A quick search of the area could not produce the missing fisherman. The men were silent as they prepared their catch, but their thoughts were in turmoil. That night, they lay close together and though they feared a supernatural predator, exhaustion overtook them and they slept.
The next morning, the men were alarmed as Eha was nowhere to be found. Ekolu insisted that they leave the evil place.
"Yes, this is a dangerous place," Ekahi said. "But as fishermen, we lead dangerous lives. We depend on the opelu and this is their favorite feeding ground."
"Ae," Elua agreed. "We depend on this catch. Our village will go hungry if we do not stay and finish out the season. There is only two days left. Let us stay, but we shall sleep in the canoe offshore."
The plan was agreed upon and the three men set out for another day of fishing. Again, their catch was a good one. This time, they did not come ashore, but prepared their fish in the canoe anchored offshore. Then, they had their evening meal and divided the night into watches. Ekahi's watch passed quietly, then he woke Elua. Elua's watch passed quietly as well and then he woke Ekolu.
Just before sunrise, Ekahi and Elua woke at the sound of beating wings and a cry from Ekolu. They saw a great, flying creature, bat-like, with huge staring eyes. He had Ekolu in his arms and before they could even leap up, the creature had devoured the fisherman in one gulp. It flew off in the morning mist, unconcerned with the remaining two men.
"Let us leave this cursed place!" cried Elua. "If there are no fishermen to return, our village will have nothing!"
"Wait, Elua." said Ekahi. "If we return now, no man will dare come to these fishing grounds again and we will not have opelu. Without opelu, our village would starve. We must destroy the evil creatures that haunt this island and I will tell you how."
With great reluctance, Elua conceded and paddled to shore with Ekahi. They did not fish that day. Instead, they worked in the forest and on the beach, building a long house. Inside, they placed two man-sized wooded images that sported gleaming eyes of inlaid mussel shell.
Ekahi and Elua hid themselves and waited as the evening wore on. Wearily, the two men fought against sleep. The hours dragged by and eventually they dozed.
image: niihau hut Suddenly, they woke to the sound of voices. The spirits were standing at the entrance to the house debating about entering.
"Look how the man-creatures sleep standing up!" said one spirit.
"No, theireyes are open. They do not sleep. Let us wait." said the other.
The spirits peered into the house hungrily. Ekahi and Elua crouched in their hiding places, and the wooden images stood with wide, staring eyes. This went on for a long while until one of the spirits got so impatient that he convinced the other to follow him into the house.
The spirits fell upon the images, gnawing and clawing with great appetite. "These two are tough and stringy!" they exclaimed.
Before the spirits realized they had been tricked, Elua crept up to the doorway of the house and tossed in a flaming torch. Then he ran to where Ekahi had the canoe ready and they paddled away.
In this way, the man-eating spirits of Niihau were destroyed and the fishing grounds of Niihau were safe.
The Weeping Woman
by Joe Hayes
This is a story that the old ones have been telling to children for hundreds of years. It is a sad tale, but it lives strong in the memories of the people, and there are many who swear that it is true.
Long years ago in a humble little village there lived a fine looking girl named Maria Some say she was the most beautiful girl in the world! And because she was so beautiful, Maria thought she was better than everyone else.
As Maria grew older, her beauty increased And her pride in her beauty grew too When she was a young woman, she would not even look at the young men from her village. They weren't good enough for her! "When I marry," Maria would say, "I will marry the most handsome man in the world."
And then one day, into Maria's village rode a man who seemed to be just the one she had been talking about. He was a dashing young ranchero, the son of a wealthy rancher from the southern plains. He could ride like a Comanche! In fact, if he owned a horse, and it grew tame, he would give it away and go rope a wild horse from the plains. He thought it wasn't manly to ride a horse if it wasn't half wild.
He was handsome! And he could play the guitar and sing beautifully. Maria made up her mind-that was, the man for her! She knew just the tricks to win his attention.
If the ranchero spoke when they met on the pathway, she would turn her head away. When he came to her house in the evening to play his guitar and serenade her, she wouldn't even come to the window. She refused all his costly gifts. The young man fell for her tricks. "That haughty girl, Maria, Maria! " he said to himself. "I know I can win her heart. I swear I'll marry that girl."
And so everything turned out as Maria planned. Before long, she and the ranchero became engaged and soon they were married. At first, things were fine. They had two children and they seemed to be a happy family together. But after a few years, the ranchero went back to the wild life of the prairies. He would leave town and be gone for months at a time. And when he returned home, it was only to visit his children. He seemed to care nothing for the beautiful Maria. He even talked of setting Maria aside and marrying a woman of his own wealthy class.
As proud as Maria was, of course she became very angry with the ranchero. She also began to feel anger toward her children, because he paid attention to them, but just ignored her.
One evening, as Maria was strolling with her two children on the shady pathway near the river, the ranchero came by in a carriage. An elegant lady sat on the seat beside him. He stopped and spoke to his children, but he didn't even look at Maria. He whipped the horses on up the street.
When she saw that, a terrible rage filled Maria, and it all turned against her children. And although it is sad to tell, the story says that in her anger Maria seized her two children and threw them into the river! But as they disappeared down the stream, she realized what she had done! She ran down the bank of the river, reaching out her arms to them. But they were long gone.
The next morning, a traveler brought word to the villagers that a beautiful woman lay dead on the bank of the river. That is where they found Maria, and they laid her to rest where she had fallen.
But the first night Maria was in the grave, the villagers heard the sound of crying down by the river. It was not the wind, it was La Llorona crying. "Where are my children?" And they saw a woman walking up and down the bank of the river, dressed in a long white robe, the way they had dressed Maria for burial. On many a dark night they saw her walk the river bank and cry for her children. And so they no longer spoke of her as Maria. They called her La Llorona, the weeping woman. And by that name she is known to this day. Children are warned not to go out in the dark, for, La Llorona might snatch them and never return them.