Hawaiian Legends

In Polynesian folklore, the sun moved so quickly that it made the days short. Hina told her son, the demigod Maui, that she needed the sun to stay up longer, so her kapa (bark cloth) could dry. So Maui climbed on top of Mount Haleakala (house of the sun) and lassoed the rising sun, using his sister’s hair. The chief made the sun agree to slow down the days and make them long in the summer and short in the winter.

Before written Hawaiian was standardized in 1826, Native Hawaiians passed down their knowledge orally through folklore and chants, and the knowledge included genealogy, history, culture, religion, and legends. Folklore explains how places got their names (e.g. Hilai Hills) and weather patterns. Legends describe nightmarchers, who haunted at night; the fire goddess Pele, who punished those who angered her; and the menehune, the little men who constructed buildings, roads, fishponds, and canoes.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Hawaiian legends showed up in American newspapers, some of them can be seen below.

– Alice Kim

External Resource
Hawaiian Legend Index

Search Strategy

Keyword: legend (Hawaii)

Articles from Chronicling America

“The Story of Umi”
The Pacific commercial advertiser, June 4, 1907, Page 3
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85047084/1907-06-04/ed-1/seq-3/

“The King’s Calabash”
The Pacific commercial advertiser, October 7, 1904, Page 5
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85047084/1904-10-07/ed-1/seq-5/

“Tomb of Puupehe–A Legend of Lanai”
The Pacific commercial advertiser, June 27, 1909, Sunday Edition, Image 9
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85047084/1909-06-27/ed-1/seq-9/

“An Old Hawaiian Legend: The ‘Record-Union’ Ressurects Old Story of Maui”
The record-union, August 14, 1898, Page 8
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82015104/1898-08-14/ed-1/seq-8/

“An Astronomical Legend” (Sequel to the Legend of Maui)
The Pacific commercial advertiser., March 25, 1871, Image 4
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82015418/1871-03-25/ed-1/seq-4/

“Hawaiian Superstitions” (Sighting of Pele)
Pacific commercial advertiser, September 1, 1859, Image 2
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82015418/1859-09-01/ed-1/seq-2/

“Judge Fornander’s Account of Some Hawaiian Legends, Closely Resembling Old Testament History”
Saturday press, October 1, 1881, Image 1
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014681/1881-10-01/ed-1/seq-1/

“A Hawaiian Legend” (A kahuna in Hanawai, Kauai)
The Pacific commercial advertiser, May 19, 1883, Page 6
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82015418/1883-05-19/ed-1/seq-6/

“Ahuula: A Legend of Kanikaniaula…”
The Pacific commercial advertiser., August 18, 1883, Page 5, Image 5
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82015418/1883-08-18/ed-1/seq-5/

“A Hawaiian Love Tale”
The Abilene reflector, December 6, 1883, Image 7
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84029385/1883-12-06/ed-1/seq-7/

“The Story of Moikeha: One of the Long Voyages of the Ancient Hawaiians”
The Hawaiian gazette., October 31, 1893, Page 3, Image 3
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83025121/1893-10-31/ed-1/seq-3/

“Samoan Folk Lore: Interesting Story Told by Former Consul General Churchill” (Pele and Pili)
Evening star, January 14, 1898, Page 10
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1898-01-14/ed-1/seq-10/

“The Volcano Gods”
The Indianapolis journal, July 31, 1899, Page 3
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82015679/1899-07-31/ed-1/seq-3/

“By Mysterious Ways Native Hawaiians Predict Volcanic Eruptions” (Pele)
The San Francisco call, August 6, 1899, Page 29
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1899-08-06/ed-1/seq-29/

“The Fires of Halemaumau” (Pele)
The Pacific commercial advertiser, September 14, 1908, Page 2
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85047084/1908-09-14/ed-1/seq-2/
“Pele, Goddess of Fire, Again Demanding a Sacrifice”
Great Falls daily tribune., April 27, 1919, Image 19
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84024808/1919-04-27/ed-1/seq-19/

“Legend Quiets Fears: Volcanic Activities Fail to Disturb Older Hawaiians” (Pele and Kama Puaa)
The Holbrook news, September 1, 1922, Image 8
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn95060791/1922-09-01/ed-1/seq-8/

“Hiiaka: A Hawaiian Legend by a Hawaiian Native” (Hiiaka, Pele, Lohiau, and Hiiakaikapoliopele)
The Pacific commercial advertiser., October 06, 1883, Page 4, Image 4
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82015418/1883-10-06/ed-1/seq-4/

“The Hawaiian Legend of the Halai Hills” (Puu Halai and Hina)
Hilo tribune, May 30, 1905, Page 6
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82016339/1905-05-30/ed-1/seq-6/

“Thrum Finds Ancient Hawaiian Place of Worship: Steps Will Be Taken to Preserve the Old Ruins” (Kaopulupulu)
Pacific commercial advertiser, July 2, 1905, Sunday Advertiser, Page 3
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85047084/1905-07-02/ed-1/seq-3/

“Ancient Hawaiians: The Story of Paao as Read Before the Hawaiian Historical Society”
Hawaiian gazette, September 26, 1893, Image 11
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83025121/1893-09-26/ed-1/seq-11/

“In the Land of Oo-Oo” (Lono Pele and Paao)
Daily telegram, May 14, 1915, Page 12
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85059715/1915-05-14/ed-1/seq-26/

“Folk-lore Tales of Old Hawaii” (Manoa Valley, Pele, Kahuna, Leprosy Patients in Hawaii)
The Salt Lake herald, June 11, 1905, Page 3
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85058130/1905-06-11/ed-1/seq-19/

“Okame, The Shark Hunter”
The Washington times, October 1, 1905, Woman’s Magazine Section, Page 9
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026749/1905-10-01/ed-1/seq-30/

“A Legend of Pearl River” (A Shark and Papio)
The Hawaiian gazette, November 14, 1893, Image 1
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83025121/1893-11-14/ed-1/seq-1/

“The Life of a Parker Ranch Cowboy”
The Hawaiian star, October 14, 1905, Image 1
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82015415/1905-10-14/ed-1/seq-1/

“Legendary Places in Honolulu”
The Hawaiian star, January 28, 1911, Page 15
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82015415/1911-01-28/ed-1/seq-15/

“Whence Came the Polynesians”
Lincoln County leader, March 5, 1915, Page 6
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85033162/1915-03-05/ed-1/seq-6/

“Foot Prints in Maui Lava Flows”
The Maui news, June 2, 1922, Page 5
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014689/1922-06-02/ed-1/seq-5/

“Love Mele Ends Unhappiness of King and Queen: Beautiful Legend Chosen for Theme of Great Pageant at Carnival Next Month” (Lonoikamakahiki and Kaikilani)
Honolulu star-bulletin, February 7, 1916,  Page 11
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014682/1916-02-07/ed-2/seq-11/

“Chief Man-Eater”
Pacific commercial advertiser, July 14, 1904, Page 6
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85047084/1904-07-14/ed-1/seq-6/

“Haleiwa Claims the Cannibal Altar”
Pacific commercial advertiser, July 17, 1904, Sunday Advertiser, Image 1
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85047084/1904-07-17/ed-1/seq-1/

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One Comment on “Hawaiian Legends”

  1. […] In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Hawaiian legends showed up in American newspapers. Read more […]


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