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[Part 1]

Kamehameha Fun Fact #1: This has come up once already and I fully expect it to come up again because y'all are nerds, so. If you're in here gigglesnorting about Kamehameha because of Dragon Ball, I would like to inform you that it's not a weird funny coincidence, the move is literally named after our badass Hawaiian king. No seriously. It's in the wiki, look it up. Apparently the writer was trying to come up with a name for the Turtle School's signature attack, and his wife was like, "Name it after this dude, it'll be memorable, also lol turtle pun." ...THE MORE YOU KNOW. /sparkletext (But PLEASE don't pronounce his name like they say the move in the anime, "KA-me-HA-me-HA," his name is pronounced "Ka-ME-ha-ME-ha," THANK YOU.

Kamehameha Fun Fact #2: June 11 was Kamehameha Day! This is an official state holiday in Hawai‘i. We have hula and parades and ho‘olaule‘a (like... block parties?) and all the Kamehameha statues get draped in about a gazillion gigantic lei. State and county workers got Monday the 12th off (since the 11th was a Sunday this year), any schools that were actually open in June were closed as well. Also, lots of sales, because capitalism. ...Happy slightly-belated Kamehameha Day!

Part 2: The Naha Stone

So, at some point King Alapa‘inui allowed little Pai‘ea to rejoin court. I don't really understand what went on here. Maybe he gave up on being scared of murder baby? Maybe he felt super bad about trying to kill his niece's kid? Idk. Regardless, the young child Pai‘ea was delivered back to the royal court from his isolation in ‘Awini, and Alapa‘inui gave Pai‘ea to his favorite wife to raise—this was a thing in Hawai‘i among ali‘i (royals or chiefs), it's called hanai, you don't raise your kid yourself, your kid is given to some relative to take care of, probably something about forming and strengthening alliances which is pretty important when everyone is related to each other AND also trying to kill each other all of the time.

Case in point, at some point Pai‘ea's dad Keōua Nui was poisoned and died, and it's theorized by some that King Alapa‘inui totally had something to do with that. And then Alapa‘inui died of being old, and his oldest son Keawe‘ōpala was king for all of a year before Pai‘ea's half-uncle-slash-first-cousin-once-removed Kalani‘ōpu‘u defeated him in battle and he ran away and died so now Kalani‘ōpu‘u is king.

And while all this is going on Pai‘ea is growing up and being awesome at sports and the use of weaponry and other masculine pursuits, and traveling around the island getting trained how to be a chief. And as a young chief Pai‘ea—actually, let's start calling him Kamehameha, he's all growed up now, at least by old Hawaiian standards—Kamehameha is invited to the court of the new King Kalani‘ōpu‘u in the district of Kohala*.

*There are six districts of Hawai‘i Island: Kohala, Hāmākua, Hilo, Puna, Kaʻū, and Kona. Each of these was ruled by a high chief or chiefess, beneath the King who ruled the whole island. Each of the districts was divided up further into ahupua‘a, and these land divisions were ruled by lesser ali‘i.

Now we've already heard about the prophecies associated with Kamehameha's birth, and Kalani‘ōpu‘u and the high chiefs of his court have heard some rumors that this kid might be a Pretty Big Deal, and one of the chiefs suggests to Kalani‘ōpu‘u that they call together the kahuna (in this context... priests? seers? sorcerers?) to consult the gods and look into Kamehameha's future. So a bunch of kahuna are called to court, male and female, and the male kahuna make their observations and proclaim that Kamehameha will be a mighty warrior and no one will be able to stand against him and he will be like a mighty wind et cetera et cetera. And the women make their observations and come to the same conclusion, BUT the last of their number, a kahuna who was also a high chiefess, Kalaniwahine—whose name literally just means Heavenly/Royal Woman—or maybe YAAAAAAAASSS QUEEN—has a couple of extra things to say.

Kalaniwahine proclaims that there is one chief who can rival Kamehameha, the only one who is stronger, and whose warriors are stronger and more skilled than Kamehameha's warriors, who could potentially be the one to kill Kamehameha—and that this one is Kamehameha's kinsman—let's say "cousin" in the vague sense, they were definitely related but I couldn't tell you how other than EVERYONE IS RELATED—his cousin Keaweokahikona of Hilo. And she advises that Kamehameha should visit his cousin get to know him and hopefully they would become loyal friends and avoid any sort of violence or stabby death between the two of them in the future. And she also says that there is a great deed for Kamehameha to do in Hilo, and that he should go there right now dangit because this was the auspicious time for him to do these things. And so preparations were made for Kamehameha to visit his cousin in Hilo, as well as the famous Naha Stone in front of Pinao Heiau (heiau = temple).

So the Naha Stone is a Really Important Rock that was brought to Hilo from Wailua on Kaua‘i by canoe, which is pretty impressive considering that's over 300 miles and the rock is GIGANTIC and probably several tons. It was of great importance to ali‘i of the Naha class, the most sacred and sanctified class of ali‘i*; babies born into this royal class would be placed on the stone and kahuna would chant prayers to the gods, and if the baby remained silent the baby was a true Naha and would become a great warrior and leader. If, however, the baby interrupted the kahuna by crying, this child was unfit to be a Naha. It was also prophesied that only chiefs of the Naha class would be capable of moving this giant rock, and that anyone capable of moving it would be a great ruler, and anyone who managed to flip the buggah over would rule over the entire island chain.

*The degrees or classes of high ali‘i were determined by, essentially, your degree of inbreeding; among the royalty, inbreeding was GOOD because it kept your super sacred heavenly royal blood full of mana (spiritual power) from being watered down by lesser blood.

So when Kamehameha and Kalaniwahine and a bunch of other chiefs arrive in Hilo, Kamehameha is greeted by his "cousin's" mother—his "aunt" the high chiefess Ululani, the current ruler of Hilo—who welcomes him like a son and throws a big feast. She asks why he has come to Hilo, and he tells her he's come to form a bond of kinship and friendship with her and her son Keaweokahikona, or else surely someday be killed by him, and also that he's going to flip over the Naha Stone.

Now this is a Big Deal, I mean it would be a big deal for a Naha to flip the stone—Keaweokahikona is a Naha, he sort of shifted it a little and he's the only person ever known to even do that—but Kamehameha is not Naha blood, he's from the Ali‘iwohi class, which is like, fourth-tier sacredness. It should not be possible for him to do this thing. But they're willing to let him try, so the next morning Kamehameha and Kalaniwahine and Ululani and Keaweokahikona and Everybody heads on down to Pinao. And Kamehameha claps eyes on this Bigass Multi-ton Rock and panics a little, he's like, "THAT IS NOT A ROCK. THAT IS, IN FACT, A MOUNTAIN," but he figures what the heck, he's got nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying, if he fails that just proves what everyone's been saying, that only Naha can move the stone, but if he succeeds then one day he'll be King of Everything.

So he's getting ready to make his attempt, and High Chiefess Prophetess Kalaniwahine proclaims that if he moves the stone, all of the islands will be moved, and if he overturns the stone, then all the conflicts that divide the various districts of the islands will be dissolved, and he and all of his people will live in peace. And Kamehameha laid his hands on the stone and strained and struggled to lift it, he strained so hard that blood burst from his eyes and his fingertips (HARDCORE), and the earth shook as if by an earthquake, and he lifted the stone onto its side and FLIPPED IT OVER, and everyone assembled said, and I quote, "Holy shit!!!!!"*

*Approximate translation.

So then there's some more partying and feasting, and cousin Keaweokahikona is all, "Kamehameha, YOU ARE THE POINT OF MY SPEAR, I will teach you everything I know about warfare, let's be bros and visit each other all of the time and wear each other's malo.*"

*A malo is a loincloth, it's what passed for clothing among Hawaiian men, and for a little bit of context the body and clothing and belongings of ali‘i were kapu (taboo) to be touched or worn or used by anyone lest they steal that person's mana, so this was a big deal, an impressive sign of trust and loyalty and brotherhood. ...But also basically he's saying LET'S WEAR EACH OTHER'S UNDERWEAR which is pretty great, Hawaiian history is WILD.

Ululani remained close with Kamehameha and built him a house called "The House Without Rats," which I think tells you less about that house and more about every other house.

And indeed when Kamehameha made his first move to take over Hawai‘i Island on his way to conquering the entire chain (SPOILER ALERT), in his very first battle at Mokuʻōhai, Keaweokahikona betrayed his own father to fight with Kamehameha, and fought with him in his battles henceforth, and was unceasing in his love and loyalty until his death.

~ ~ ~

Stay tuned for the next installments, in which Kamehameha continues to gain stature within the royal court of Kalani‘ōpu‘u and also starts to stir some shit.
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Gather 'round, internet children. I have a story to tell you about this guy Kamehameha, and how he went from being a royal-but-not-SUPER-royal baby that almost got murdered to ruthlessly conquering every island* in the Hawaiian chain and establishing for the first time a united Kingdom of Hawai‘i.

*Technically every island except Kaua‘i, but we'll get there.

This is a pretty epic story with a heck of a lot going on so I'm going to tell it in installments, and I'm not going to tell all of it because whoooooaaa too much, and also it's the early bits that take place on my island that I know the best. Also, it's worth noting—this is history, yes, but some of it is pretty shaky history that took place before the concept of writing shit down was introduced and some of it is based on hearsay and some of it has been a wee bit mythologized and some of it comes in multiple versions that contradict each other. So I'm not going to write this like a history essay with citations to historical sources, I'm going to tell it like a story, and some of what I say might turn out not to be strictly accurate if you managed to find a time machine and go back to the 17- and 1800s and observe the events as they happened, but here's the thing—a lot of our stories in Hawai‘i are like this, the stories might not be true but they are True, if you know what I mean.

So that's what this is. A True Story.

Part 1: The Birth of Pai‘ea

The man who would one day be known as Kamehameha I or Kamehameha the Great was born in 1758. Or maybe 1736. Or maybe 1753. Ok nobody really knows, but nearly everyone agrees it was sometime between 1736 and 1761, most likely the earlier end of that range, if you want accuracy you have come to the wrong story my friend.

His full name is listed as Kalani Paiʻea Wohi o Kaleikini Kealiʻikui Kamehameha o ʻIolani i Kaiwikapu kauʻi Ka Liholiho Kūnuiākea, but he was known in his youth as Pai‘ea, the Hard-Shelled Crab, so we're going to go with that for now.

Pai‘ea's father was Keōua Kalanikupuapaʻīkalaninui Ahilapalapa, but he is not the only Keōua in this story, so we're going to call him Keōua Nui, or Great Keōua. Keōua Nui was the son of the second son of the former king of Hawai‘i, so he was pretty royal. (Sidenote—at this point in history Hawai‘i refers to the island of Hawai‘i only, not the entire chain as it does now, because Pai‘ea/Kamehameha is only a baby and hasn't done his conquering yet. So, until further notice, Hawai‘i = a single island, not an archipelago.)

Pai‘ea's mother was Kekuʻiapoiwa II, daughter of a whole heap of royal lineages, double cousin of her husband Keōua Nui. She was also the niece of Alapa‘inui, who's kinda important so let's talk about him next.

Alapa‘inui was the current king of Hawai‘i when Pai‘ea is born. He was the nephew of the former king. When his uncle the king died, there was civil war between his cousins, the king's two sons, Keʻeaumoku Nui (Keōua Nui's dad, Pai‘ea's grandad) and Kalaninuiamamao. When the fighting died down, Alapa‘inui emerged as the victor and just took shit over. He took his deceased cousins' sons, Keōua Nui and Kalani‘ōpu‘u (Kalaninuiamamao's son, Keōua Nui's cousin AND half-brother... they had the same mom... look there was a lot of inbreeding in Hawaiian noble lines, SHIT'S COMPLICATED, just roll with it) into his court.

So anyway, the story goes that a new, bright star appeared in the sky, and the kahuna (priests) observed the star and prophesied that a great leader was about to be born who would be a conqueror of chiefs and rule over all of the islands. Meanwhile, Kekuʻiapoiwa became pregnant, and started to have some of those pregnancy cravings for weird shit like pickles and ice cream. Only instead of pickles and ice cream, she had a craving for the eye of a man-eating tiger shark. Based on this omen, the kahuna prophesied that her child would be a rebel and a killer of chiefs.

Now, as you can imagine, Alapa‘inui—whose job description was High Chief/King of Hawai‘i, wasn't super thrilled to hear about this murderous chief-killing conqueror baby. That shit's just not good job security. So he put a guard on Kekuʻiapoiwa's house, ready to cut that chief-murdering off at the pass by murdering the baby first.

Kekuʻiapoiwa's not an idiot, though, she figures out the king's trying to kill her baby and she makes Other Plans. And on a turbulent, stormy night, the wind howling and the thunder booming and the rain sheeting down, Keku‘iapoiwa endured the pain of childbirth in complete silence so the guards wouldn't hear, and the moment little Pai‘ea was born, she passed him out of the back of the house to a loyal lesser chief, Nae‘ole, who ran off with the child into the stormy night. Managing to escape, like, the ENTIRE ARMY trying to chase him down, Nae‘ole carried baby Pai‘ea to the remote and difficult-to-access valley of ‘Awini, where he and his half-sister Kaha‘ōpūlani nursed and raised Pai‘ea in solitude and secrecy for the first several years of his life.

And this is how Pai‘ea got the name that he would later claim as his royal title: Kamehameha, The Lonely One.

Stay tuned next time for further adventures and a lot of court intrigue. Spoiler alert: Kamehameha did not stay in ‘Awini Valley for the rest of his life.

[Part 2]

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