Academic journal article Marvels & Tales

A Legendary Story of Ko'olau, as Serialized in the Newspaper Ka Leo O Ka Lahui, July 11-20, 1893

Academic journal article Marvels & Tales

A Legendary Story of Ko'olau, as Serialized in the Newspaper Ka Leo O Ka Lahui, July 11-20, 1893

Article excerpt

Translator's Introduction

In 1893 a cabal of businessmen backed by the U.S. military overthrew the lawful Hawaiian government, deposing the queen, Lili'uokalani.1 Less than six months later, Hawaiians were still reeling from the illegal overthrow, and Hawaiian-language newspapers were still running headlines such as "He Kupaa Mau ka Lahui" (The Nation Shall Be Ever Steadfast) and "He Oia Mau ke Kulana o ka Moiwahine Liliuokalani" (The Position of Queen Liliuokalani Continues On). But then new headlines began to grab the attention of the people: "Ki Pu ma Kalalau" (Shooting at Kalalau) and "Ka Make ana o Lui i ka Poe Ma'i Lepera ma Kalalau" (Lui Killed by the Lepers in Kalalau). A sense of wonder seized the nation's imagination when these new articles appeared in the Hawaiian-language newspapers as this amazing story began to play out on the page and in the hearts of Hawaiian readers throughout the islands. A single family-a mother, a father, and their young son-had stood before the military might of the Provisional Government that was currently oppressing the people. And they won.

The story of Kaluaiko'olau (often shortened to Ko'olau), his wife Pi'ilani, and their son Kaleimanu was and continues to be an important narrative of connection to the land and resistance for Hawaiians. Ko'olau worked as the head paniolo (cowboy) for Francis Gay and Valdemar Knudsen while living in Kekaha on the island of Kaua'i with Pi'ilani. He was well-known both for his integrity and his abilities with a rifle. In 1889 he and his young son began to show signs of Hansen's disease, and in 1892 it was decreed that they were to be sent to Kalawao, a colony on the island of Moloka'i where people afflicted with Hansen's disease had been sent for the prior three decades (Kelekona 13). Ko'olau declared that he would not go unless his family was allowed to accompany him, and with that, he and his family moved into the rugged and mountainous Kalalau valley to live. Other people with the disease and their families had already done the same, but after a time of living peacefully in the valley, Deputy Marshall Lui Stolz and some other policemen were sent to Kalalau to remove the people living there to Kalawao, which was also known as the "grave where one is buried alive."2 A fracas ensued in which Stolz attempted to shoot one of the "lepers" who sought to escape; when Ko'olau saw what Stolz was going to do, he swung his rifle up and put the deputy down with two shots to the chest.

Once news of the shooting got back to Honolulu, a detail of soldiers, headed by Captain Larsen, was sent by the Provisional Government, whose capital was on the island of O'ahu, to apprehend Ko'olau and the other r esisters. Nearly all of them were captured or turned themselves in to the troops, but Ko'olau, Pi'ilani, and Kaleimanu went up into the wilderness of Kalalau.

Although the troops followed them, Ko'olau was able to hold them off single-handedly with his sharpshooting and deep knowledge of the place. Ko'olau killed three of the soldiers with his rifle Ka'imonaka'makeloa (Winking-death-from-afar), and the remaining soldiers began to bombard the valley with howitzers. It was reported that Ko'olau told the chief, Albert Ku' nuia'kea, who had come to Kalalau to negotiate, that he was not giving up until he was down to his last three bullets, one for Kaleimanu, one for Pi'ilani, and one for himself ("Na Ma'i Lepera mai Kalalau mai"), although rumors of all sorts abounded at the time. Despite the $1,000 reward for his capture ("1,000 Dala Makana"), the three-bullet rumor was never tested, because Ko'olau and his family were never captured and the soldiers returned to O'ahu unsuccessful.

An article titled "Hoi Nele i ke one o Hanakahi!" (Returning with Nothing to the Sands of Hanakahi!) in the newspaper Hawaii Holomua,3 describes the scene of the Provisional Government soldiers' return. A thousand people came down to the harbor to meet the steamship 'Iwalani, which was bringing the soldiers back home along with the corpses of the three casualties. …

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