Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Wednesday, March 1, 2017

New interpretive signage for the famed Ka`u footprints shows the area well traveled in the 1700's by Hawaiian families
 trading and visiting. While walking through Ka`u, wet ash rained down and their footprints became frozen in time.
 Painting by John Dawson
THE FAMED KA`U FOOTPRINTS were likely left in the 1700’s by Hawaiian families traveling between Ka`u and Puna, rather than by warriors caught in volcanic ash raining down on the Ka`u Desert. That is the new evidence from the footprints with new educational displays accessible from Manu Iki trail in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. The trailhead is makai of Hwy 11 between Pahala and Volcano, between mile markers 38 and 39.
Ranger Jay Robinson feels the texture of the famous Ka'u footprints on the life-size
model, which weighs over 300 pounds. It was created by Joh Geigle from photos
and measurements of the real footprints. It was brought to the shelter by 
helicopter last month. Photo by Ann Bosted
   The new signage is illustrated by artists John Dawson and Kathleen Kam. Dawson is known for his wildlife paintings at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park Visitors Center, on U.S. postage stamps, and in galleries. Kam is known for her wildlife and cultural murals at Ka`u High School, Ka`u Coffee Mill, Keauhou Bird Refuge, Volcano Store, Kamehameha School and in Hilo.
     One illustration for the footprints show people traveling along a trail and suddenly being covered with wet ash. The footprints may have been left during two separate ash-falling events in the 1700s.
     Near the trail, the park has installed a model of footprints themselves. This prevents visitors from touching the actual Native Hawaiian footprints that were were made in wet ash – not lava - during eruptions from Kīlauea in the 1700s. Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park replicated the footprints and visitors can touch the life-size model in order to appreciate them. In addition, several interpretive signs are added to the first quarter mile of the Mauna Iki trail that goes to the footprints, as well as a historic shelter.
     Park Ranger Jay Robinson and park volunteer George Jensen were installing interpretive signs along the trail last month. Jensen explained that these are the final touches in a long project that  included placing interpretive signs and displays in a structure built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1941.
      “The stone protective shelter was originally conceived as a way of conserving some outstanding examples of very old Hawaiian footprints, that were created in freshly fallen wet ash,” explained Jensen. Robinson added that park rangers were able to look at photos of the original protective shelter and restore or mimic many of the original features, but not the original catchment-fed water fountain, which does not conform to modern health standards.
A footprint made in wet volcanic ash in 1790. likely by a male adult. It is one 
of 1,773 separate footprints belonging to at least 400 individuals that have been
 documented by NPS archeologists, led by Dr. Jadlyn Moniz-Nakamura. 
Photo by Ann Bosted
    “Protecting the trail’s highlight, the actual preserved footprints, required a completely new approach that would allow them to be viewed, yet not disturbed,” explained Robinson. A newly designed A-frame protective cover was set on a stone wall that dates to 1941. Three glass panels on one side now allow the public to peer in and look down to the ground and see some of the original footprints.  “The glass
ensures that visitors can see, but cannot touch the actual footprints in the ground,” explained Jensen.
     On the other side is the 300-pound model of the footsteps, created, from photographs and measurements of the footprints. Here, one can look at the exact replica and also touch without destroying the original footprints. This model had to be flown in by helicopter, as the historic shelter is now in a designated wilderness area, so closed to vehicles, including wheelbarrows, which can cause damage. There are three original cabinets for interpretive signs in the shelter, plus space for two new signs near the model. Two of the glass doors were restored by park carpenter Daniel Patao, then all the wood was repainted, making the shelter look as good as new.
     Robinson, who has fielded many questions from visitors, explains: “It just seems like for years ­we had gotten just about everything wrong about the footprints. First of all, the footprints were not made in hot lava! That’s just impossibly crazy! They were made in cool wet ash that quickly hardened like concrete. Secondly, most of the footprints were not made by Keōua’s army. And third, the footprints are along a very busy trail that connected Ka‘ū to Hilo and Puna. There were really a lot of people caught out there in a couple of pretty nasty eruptions. They survived and are the ancestors of many of my Ka‘ū friends, which explains a lot about why they are so tough today.”
     The most recent set of footprints were created in 1790 when Kīlauea erupted violently, covering all the land around with one to two inches of wet ash. This event was well documented in Hawaiian oral tradition, and was called Keonehelelei, the Falling Sands. Sand and small, pellet-sized ash were embedded in this ash layer before it hardened. While small and harmless looking, after falling from perhaps several miles high, they would have been extremely painful to encounter.
The explosion of ash that rained down on Ka`u not only left footprints, it
injured and killed many people. Illustration by John Dawson
     This, however, is not the same ash layer that is enclosed under the glass. Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist, Don Swanson, has discovered that a similar terrifying event took place some decades earlier. The mountain erupted violently, spewing wet ash, on an earlier generation of island residents, immortalizing their footprints on this popular trading route. Again, there are large, man-size prints, others that were likely women, and even smaller prints from children traveling along-side their parents.
     Park archeologists, led by Dr. Jadelyn Moniz-Nakamura, have documented 1,773 separate footprints belonging to at least 400 individuals. A layer of gritty black sand can be found below, above and between the two layers. It is likely that the sand erupted from Kīlauea during the caldera collapse of around 1500. As the winds blew the older sands around, they buried much of first ash layer before the second layer fell in 1790 – in some places it is thick, and in others it is non-existent. Today, as the layers erode, the relentless winds of Ka‘ū continue to blow the sands, sometimes covering the footprints, and sometimes revealing them.
One of the many interpretive panels explaining the power of the volcano and
the raining ash that helped form the footprints.
Illustration by John Dawson
     When the footprints were first discovered by Ruy Finch of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory in 1919, they were thought to be made by the army of Keōuakū‘ahu‘ua, the great war chief of Ka‘ū. As they were returning home from Hilo, they passed near the summit of Kīlauea during an extremely violent eruption. One third of the warriors (as many as 400 people) perished in a scalding pyroclastic surge that swept across them with hurricane force winds. With his army diminished by Pele’s wrath, Keōua never stood to fight again. Within a year he was sacrificed by Kamehameha at the dedication of Pu‘ukoholā Heiau.
    “The theory that they were all from Keōua’s army is now considered incorrect as the footprints were not made by people running or even hurrying,” said Robinson. “The footprints show their makers were walking both mauka and makai on a busy trail. Some footprints are made by people walking east and west. Both sets of prints – those made in 1790 and the sets made decades earlier – involve a similar mix of travelers - mostly men, but nearly half were women and children.”
    The exhibit artist John Dawson wanted to know what the wet dripping ash would look like. Robinson used himself as a Guinea pig. He mixed ash with water in a bucket and then dripped it over himself. He reported “at first it was cold, heavy, and got into your ears, eyes and other places that were uncomfortable. Most amazingly we found that in less than a 20 minutes, the wet ash had hardened and was unable to take any foot prints. We figured that the preserved footprints were likely made in just a few hours.” Where layers of ash are exposed along the Mauna Iki and Ka‘ū Desert Trails today, they have a rock-like hardness. “For so many footprints to be made in so short a time, the islands population of must have been large,” explains Robinson. (These ash layers are not to be confused with the far thicker and heavier Pāhala ash layers which are from around 16,000-31,000 years ago).
     The self-experiment has got Robinson wondering. “I’ve spent many hours just sitting out there near different sets of footprints and thinking about who made them and what they must have gone through. I mean, hundreds and hundreds of people were caught in what must have been absolutely terrifying eruptions. Just imagine, daylight turns to night as dark clouds crack with lighting and dump cold mud on you. Then as things just start to look up, rocks and sand begin falling. Those people must have all survived to have left so many footprints, but what a horrible day . . . and it will probably happen again someday ”.
     Now that the protective shelter has been hung with new, lavishly illustrated interpretive panels explaining the footprints, Robinson and Jensen, are erecting interpretive panels along the Mauna Iki trail to explain to visitors the significance of features they are looking at. Two panels explain an epic, but often forgotten, battle fought between the armies of Keōua and Kamehameha in the story of Kaua ʻo Kauaʻawa, the bitter Battle of the ʻAwa Rain. An additional exhibit is set further along the trail near a huge lava ball. The panel explains how lava balls form (they get bigger as they are turned by the flowing lava, in much the same way as snowballs grow) and where they come from.
George Jensen, a long-time National Park Service volunteer, hikes along Mauna Iki
 Trail toward a new interpretive exhibit that he and Ranger Jay Robinson installed. 
Photo by Jay Robinson
 Between the last panel and the shelter, hikers using the Mauna Iki trail make an abrupt change from hiking past younger ‘a‘ā lava from Mauna Loa (200 – 400 years old), to the lower, smoother, pāhoehoe flow from Kīlauea (400 – 750 years old). The Mauna Iki trail can be accessed from the Ka`u Desert Trailhead on Hwy 11, 9.2 miles from the park entrance to Kilauea crater in Volcano. There is pull out parking on the side of the road between mile markers 38 and 39. There is no charge for hiking the trail.
     With the improvements by Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, hiking in the Ka’ū Desert is further enriched as a learning experience with appreciation of the ancestors of the people of Ka‘ū.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S Joint Address to Congress on Feb. 28 drew the following statement Tuesday evening from the U.S. Senator representing Ka`u. Mazie Hirono: wrote: "With this President, I pay attention to what he does more than what he says because in his first month in office, Donald Trump's actions have not lived up to the clichés he delivered tonight.
      "He stands by executive orders that have spread fear and chaos throughout the country. Tonight he called for repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with rhetoric. He also clearly called for school vouchers, and in this he has the right Education Secretary who does not believe in public education. For all his rhetoric about national security and American interests, he had absolutely nothing to say about getting to the bottom of Russian interference with our democracy. No matter what the President said tonight, I remain resolved to resist his dangerous, divisive actions." 
      On Wednesday morning, Hirono focused on her introduction of Senate Resolution 70, marking the 75th anniversary of the issuance of Executive Order 9066, which led to the internment of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. "S.Res.70 affirms that policies that discriminate on the basis of actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion would repeat the mistakes of the internment."
After Pres. Donal Trump's remarks on immigration during his talk to congress, Sen.
Mazie Hirono pointed to what happened to the Japanese in camps on O`ahu (above)
and at Kilauea Military Camp during World War II.
     Said Hirono, “The President can continue to live in a world of alternative facts, but it’s clear that his administration’s policies harken back to the hateful rhetoric that led to the internment of Japanese Americans. This internment of Japanese Americans was deeply wrong, and it set a precedent – that it should never happen again. We will resist any and all attempts that take us back to this dark era.”
     Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai`i president and executive director Carole Hayashino wrote, “We stand with Senator Hirono and pledge our commitment to honor the memory of the Japanese Americans incarcerated from Hawai‘i simply because of their ancestry. Whether our wartime imprisonment was a result of martial law or executive order, the government action was based upon ‘race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.’ May we never repeat the mistakes of the past.”
      National Council of Asian Pacific Americans National Director Chirstopher Kang wrote, "It has been 75 years since our nation succumbed to fear and shamefully incarcerated 120,000 Japanese Americans. Today, as we sit at a similar precipice in history, we must not forgot the lessons of the past. We must continue to speak out and force our leaders to recognize the harms to our immigrant, refugee and Muslim communities from recent discriminatory policies and executive orders."
More than 120,000 Japanese Americans were
interned in WWII.
      Muslim Advocates staff attorney and Head of Program to Counter Anti-muslim Hate, Madihha Ahussain, wrote: "As President Trump attempts to write anti-Muslim bigotry into law, we are reminded of another very dark time in our country's history when race was used as the basis to intern thousands of Japanese Americans. We cannot allow prejudice to divide our communities during this time of concern."
     The resolution is supported by more than 30 organizations including: the American Bar Association, American Civil Liberties Union, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Demand Progress, Democracy for America, the Fred T. Korematsu Institute, the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai`i, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, the Japanese American Citizens League, South Asian Americans Leading Together, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Muslim Advocates, the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign, and the Sikh Coalition. Click here to download a copy of the resolution.

PROTECTING MEDICARE, MEDICAID AND SOCIAL SECURITY is the aim of a letter sent to Pres. Donald Trump today from 16 U.S. Senators including Mazine Hirono. They urged the President to keep a campaign promise to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid from drastic cuts and privatization. The Senators’ letter called on the President to issue a public statement saying that he would not sign legislation that makes significant changes to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid through the reconciliation process, and to issue official guidance making clear the President’s support for these programs.
     The letter asserts to Trump: "Your appointment for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, has authored proposals that would undermine the hard-earned, guaranteed benefits of Medicare by privatizing the system and ending Medicare as we know it. Price has also supported plans to make significant cuts to Medicaid, which would weaken the vital support it provides. As The Washington Post reported after his confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Trump has pledged not to cut Medicaid or Medicare, but Price did not do the same.’
     “Simply put, the stakes of rushed, ill-conceived, or ideologically-focused changes to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid on the lives and security of American families are too high to be left ambiguous, particularly as you and our Senate colleagues seek to pursue legislation related to health care.”
     In January, Senators Hirono and Joe Donnelly led an amendment to protect Medicare and Medicaid from drastic cuts through the budget reconciliation process.

Open Mic Night, Wed, Mar 1, 6 – 10 p.m., Kīlauea Military Camp’s Lava Lounge in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Open to authorized patrons and sponsored guests. Park entrance fees apply. Sign up at 967-8365 after 4 p.m.

Ocean View Neighborhood Watch meeting, Thu, Mar 2, 7 p.m., Ocean View Community Center. 939-2442 & 928-2015.

Stewardship at the Summit, Mar 3, 10, 18, 25 & 31; 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., Kīlauea Visitor Center in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Volunteers clear ginger from park trails. Free; park entrance fees apply. nps.gov/havo.

Girl’s Day Doll Craft, Fri, Mar 3, 2 – 3 p.m., Kahuku Park. Ages 6 – 12.
Register Mar 1/2. 929-9113.


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