Hawaii July 21, 2018
The History Of This Sacred Hawaiian Valley Is Terribly Heartbreaking
The Hawaiian Islands are steeped in history, from the first Europeans visiting the islands in 1778 and the establishment of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1795 to Hawaii’s admittance to the United States of America in 1959. Not all of that history, however, is remembered fondly, as is the case with the sacred Hawaiian valley with a heartbreaking history.
Oahu’s stunning and often overlooked leeward coast is refreshingly different than the areas of Hawaii that have been developed for tourism over the years. Unfortunately, Makua Valley, which is nestled on the foothills of the Waianae Mountains, has a much more tragic history.
The word "Makua" translates from the Hawaiian language to "parent." Legend has it that Makua Valley was the place where man was first created. It is also considered to be the point from which souls depart this world for the afterlife after their human form has been cast off.
Despite Makua Valley’s sacred history to the ancient Hawaiians, the United States Army began using this sacred place for live-fire training, and eventually set up a base on 4,000 acres of land in the valley.
Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, martial law was declared and the entire valley was taken over by the military, forcing residents of Makua Vally out of their homes. They were told that the valley would be returned to the community once the war was over. It wasn’t.
The intensity of this training increased from intermittent artillery to 500 and 1,000-pound bombs dropped by jets and sea-launched rockets aimed into the valley. Nearly 90 years since the military first began firing shells over the heads of farmers who still called Makua Valley home, and long after the resolution of World War II, the military still occupies the valley — under the auspices of "national security," of course.
This usage has been a major point of contention between the government and Hawaiian locals as Makua Valley is not only home to various sacred places, cultural, and archaeological sites, but more than 40 endangered species of flora and fauna are also found here.
Native Hawaiians and other local residents have been objecting to the U.S. Army’s ownership and use of this valley for decades. Founded in the 1990s in an attempt to challenge the military’s continued occupation of this sacred valley and request access for the practice of Native Hawaiian Traditional and Customary Rights as delineated in the Hawaii State Constitution, Malama Makua is currently fighting for this land, though it hasn’t been easy.
A settlement agreement was reached in 2001, however, Malama Makua has had to continually bring the Army back to court in order to make them comply with the terms of an agreement, including a halt in live-fire training until an environmental review has been completed. While the Army has been forced to clear unexploded ordnance from identified cultural sites and provide cultural access to these sites through Malama Makua, they still want to bomb the valley.
While this issue is still ongoing, we can only hope that the future of the sacred Makua Valley is far brighter than its past, and that is mostly due to the incredible work of Malama Makua.
To learn more about the history of Makua Valley, as well as Malama Makua’s cultural access program, visit
their website. For a more detailed history about the valley, the Army’s occupation, and the battle for the preservation of Makua in the future, you might want to read this article from IntercontinentalCry.
To read about the heartbreaking story of a forgotten Hawaiian Island,