Hawaii and Iceland

an observation on two island cultures


David Merrill


  1. Foreword
  2. Climate and Topography
  3. Plants and Wildlife
  4. Industry
  5. History
  6. Language, Music & Literature
  7. Government and Religion
  8. Legends, Myths and Folklore
  9. Afterword
  10. Bibliography



Copyright © 1997 David A. Merrill. All rights reserved.


I have been fascinated by learning about different cultures for as long as I can remember. The people, their history, mythology, religions, and the places they inhabit are all of great interest to me. During my life I have had the opportunity to have lived for several years in two very unique and interesting places, Hawaii and Iceland. Two islands half a world apart from each other, which seem to be as different as fire and ice. In 1973 I moved from New Hampshire to the island of Hawaii, where I lived until I graduated from High School in 1976. Upon graduation I enlisted in the U.S. Navy and spent the next three years between Illinois and California. In 1979 I was transferred to the Naval Communications Station at Keflavik Iceland for a one-year tour of duty. I enjoyed Iceland so much that I signed on for another one-year tour, followed by an eight month extension through June of 1982.

Having lived for nearly three years in both Hawaii and Iceland I feel almost destined to write about my impressions of each. My intent is to explore the similarities, as well as the differences, between these two magnificent islands and the people who inhabit them.



Just minutes after arriving in Hawaii I found myself at the edge of an active volcano. About 30 minutes from the Hilo Airport, on the Big Island is a place called Volcano House, a resort in Hawaii's Volcanoes National Park. Volcano House is built on the rim of Kilauea Crater, and guests can sit in the restaurant and view one of Hawaii's two active volcanoes. The view is awesome. Kilauea Crater is two miles wide and three miles long, with steep, rugged cliffs dropping 400 feet to the base of the caldera. The bottom of the crater is lined with swirls and bumps of lava rock, and here and there sulphur rich steam rises from a vent in the surface. In the southern end of the caldera is a fiery pit, about 3,000 feet across and 250 feet deep. This is called Halemaumau, legendary home of Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire.

Scientists believe that this is the spot where the main lava pipeline from the center of the earth reaches the earth's surface. Just a few miles from Volcano House is the Hawaii Volcano Observatory, which I had the good fortune to tour, as well as interview staff member Mr. Akira Yamamoto, for our high school magazine Laulima in 1975. The Observatory studies the eruptions, earthquakes and lava flows of the five volcanoes on the Big Island; Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, Kohala, Hualalai, and Kilauea. Mauna Loa and Kilauea are the two remaining active volcanoes, and both are within the boundaries of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Several times during my stay in Hawaii I was fortunate to witness Madam Pele at work. Whenever the volcano would erupt we would hop in the car and drive to "Volcano", as the area is locally known, to see what she was up to. Often she had thrown up "roadblocks" of smooth, black pahoehoe lava which closed some of the National Parks roads. After driving as close as possible we would then hike out along trails through the barren lava fields to a spot where we could get a view of the eruption. Madam Pele could put on a spectacular display of fireworks! Fountains of lava spraying up to 200 feet into the night sky, and rivers of molten rock streaming downhill, trying to reach the ocean where it could add a few more inches of real estate to the island. These are sights which I shall certainly never forget!

Iceland is also a volcanic island. In fact the first time I travelled from Keflavik to the capitol city of Reykjavik I can recall looking out across the barren stretches of aa type lava and thinking how much it reminded me of the Ka'u Desert of Hawaii.

Much of Iceland is covered by lava, volcanic ash, mountains and glaciers, uninhabitable land, naturally pristine like an enormous national park. There are 150 volcanoes in Iceland, 30 of which have erupted since the island was settled around 870 A.D. In recent years there has been an eruption every fifth year on average, making Iceland one of the most active volcanic areas in the world. Mount Hekla, Iceland's largest volcano, has erupted twice this century, in 1947-48 and 1970.

Wonderfully relaxing hot springs abound in almost 700 places in Iceland, and the geothermally produced hot water is used for domestic heating on farms, in the small fishing villages and towns, and for greenhouses. Even the city of Reykjavik relies on the volcanoes as it is heated almost exclusively by boiling water from the hot springs via boreholes in the middle of the city. One learns very fast in Iceland not to stick your finger under the faucet when turning the hot water on since it comes out of the tap boiling hot.

On November 14th, 1963 Nature decided to add another island off the south coast of Iceland. With an explosive eruption that lasted until April, 1964, the island Surtsey was born. Lava then flowed nearly continuously until May, 1965, by which time Surtsey was two-thirds the size of New Yorks Central Park.

In Hawaii, Madam Pele is likewise preparing to give birth to another island. Twenty miles southeast of the Big Island scientists have detected an active and growing submarine volcano extending from the ocean floor to less than 4,000 feet below the ocean's surface. Called Loihi, meaning tall, it is destined to be the newest addition to the Hawaiian islands, joining Hawaii (The Big Island), Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Lanai, Ni'ihau, Molokai and Kaho'olawe.


Climate and Topography

Location is perhaps the biggest contributing factor to the differences between Iceland and Hawaii. Iceland is in the North Atlantic, just below the Arctic Circle. The temperature does not often dip below zero degrees during the long, dark Icelandic Winters, but with the wind chill the temperature is often sub-zero. The winds were so strong at times that people would be walking, leaning into the wind almost horizontally, then fall flat on their face when the wind unexpectedly stopped. Vehicles in Iceland were fitted with canvas door-straps designed to keep the wind from ripping the doors off when wind tore the door handle from your grip. I have seen people literally fight to cross an icy parking lot against the wind, pulling themselves from one vehicle to the next, grabbing on to bumpers, fenders, door handles, anything that would provide a handhold so that they would not be propelled backwards, taking them perhaps 10 or 15 minutes to cross an area half the size of a football field.

Icelandic Winters are also very dark and depressing, the sun rarely visible when the nights are longest, and for most of the winter months we would have perhaps two hours of usable daylight. It was rather interesting however to observe the sun rise, just barely clearing the horizon, then watch as it moved laterally along the horizon until it descended a few short hours later, leaving everything in darkness again.

Iceland is sometimes called The Land of the Midnight Sun, because of the 24 hours of usable daylight during the summer months. While the winters were long and hard, the summers made up for it. Bright and sunny, temperatures in the 60's! Navy men would be out playing football in T-shirts. The fair-skinned Icelanders would be sitting outside sunning themselves. The roads were clear and plans could be made to take trips and see some of the sights which Iceland had to offer.

Iceland is aptly named, as an estimated 13.5% of the islands total area is covered by glaciers, the largest being Vatnajokull, which is almost as big as all of the glaciers on the European Continent combined. Another glacier, Snæfellsjokull, is actually an extinct volcano, and it gained some reknown when author Jules Verne named it's dormant crater as the acess to the Earth's center in his book Journey to the Center of the Earth in 1864. However it is not the glaciers which gave Iceland it's name, but the large expanses of arctic drift ice which since the time of Norse settlement have ocassionally blocked the northwest, north and east coasts, causing much colder temperatures, even in the normally mild summer months, and bringing much hardship on the island's inhabitants by killing the grasses on which the livestock feed.

Hawaii has no glaciers, however during the winter I was able to see snow-capped Mauna Loa from the window of the school bus every day. Further north on Mauna Kea people would be skiing! Actually there was very little change between seasons in Hawaii. In the winter the grass might be a bit cold, thick and slushy under bare feet (one rarely wears shoes in Hawaii!), especially in the mornings, but winter or summer the Trade Winds keep the temperature at a fairly consistent 80 degrees year-round. The biggest change in the weather was rainy season, which was during February/March, when it would rain for days, the rivers and gullies would swell, and I would have to wear a jacket to go outside, although still no shoes!

Hawaii has a unique environment. It has snow-capped mountains in the winter, active volcanoes, dry deserts, wet rain forests, and sandy beaches. The town of Na'alehu, where I lived, was in the middle of an immense lava desert in the district of Ka'u. The Ka'u Desert was surrounded by examples of Hawaii's unique environment. We had Mauna Loa to the north, the fiery volcano of Kilauea to the east, the fertile coffee lands of Kona to the west, and to the south was the grand Pacific Ocean. The island and it's waters once supported 150,000 Hawaiians. The lifestyle of Ka'u was laid-back and easy-going, and being centrally located to so many of Hawaii's natural wonders made it easy to visit these places and experience the beauty and splendor of each.

Hawaii, of course, offers many beaches, each one unique, in a variety of colors! The beach at Kealekekua Bay, where Captain Cook was slain, is the typical white sand beach. However in Ka'u we had a black sand beach at Punalu'u, our local beach, which was created by the water rubbing against the black lava coast for centuries, slowly wearing away the hard rock and washing the black granules ashore until eventually a beach was formed. And at South Point, near the very southern tip of the Big Island, is what is locally referred to as "Green Sands Beach", due to the brilliant olivine crystals in the sand which gives this isolated beach a green hue.



Plants and Wildlife

Away from the sandy beaches of Hawaii's coast and the barren lava fields of the Ka'u desert, one may find lush forests of ohia, banyan, and monkey pod trees. On the island of Kauai is a rain forrest, and one of the wettest places on earth. Of course due to the different climates each island has it's own unique vegetation. In my backyard in Na'alehu grew allspice and papaya trees, a kukui nut tree, and many orchids, anthuriums and ti plants. Our next door neighbors had a banana tree in their yard, and they always provided us with as many bananas as we would care to eat!

Hawaii of course is well-known for it's orchids, however there are many, many other beautiful plants and trees among the islands, such as the feathery-looking Bird of Paradise, Hibiscus, Poinsettia, Banyan trees, Coffee trees, Monkey Pod trees (much prized for woodcarving), and the lovely Lehua blossoms of the Ohia tree. When visitors were coming to our high school my friends and I would honor them by picking plumeria and stringing them together to make the traditional Hawaiian lei. My family would do the same when guests were coming to visit us from the Mainland U.S. and greet them at the airport with a fresh lei.

In addition to these common plant types there are also some very unique types of vegetation, such as the Tree Fern Forest in Volcanoes National Park, where huge tree ferns tower overhead as you walk down a path, and the silversword, which grows in the dry, desolate environment of Maui's Haleakela crater. When the silversword matures, which can take as many as 20 years, it sends up a magnificent flower stalk, which may be up to 8 feet high, of reddish-purple blossoms. The flowers last just a few brief weeks, then they crumple and scatter their seeds to the wind, after which the silversword plant dies. Two more varieties of silversword were discovered while I lived in Hawaii, one on Mauna Kea, and another in the District of Ka'u, where I lived. Previously silverswords had only been found in Haleakela. Both the Mauna Kea and Ka'u silverswords take up to seven years to reach maturity.

As for wildlife in Hawaii, there are no snakes on any of the islands due to the introduction of the mongoose, however now there is no natural enemy for the mongoose on the islands, so they roam free and get into food and refuse, much like racoons do here in the northeast. The most interesting form of native Hawaiian wildlife has to be Hawaii's State Bird, the nene bird, or Hawaiian goose. Unlike most geese the nene has spurned the water, choosing instead to live amongst the sparsely vegetated lava fields. A ground-nesting bird which developed with no natural enemies, the nene became easy prey for rats, mongoose, and other animals brought to the islands by man, until by the middle of this century it was nearly extinct. The last remaining survivors took refuge on the island of Hawaii, where a program was introduced to reverse their decline, and reintroduce the birds back among the other islands. While in high school I had the opportunity to visit the headquarters of this project and see some nene birds up close.

Iceland has very little to offer in the way of vegetation. In fact there was a standing joke used to entice young Navy men to volunteer for duty in Iceland, promising them that they would find "a woman behind every tree." When the sailors arrived on the island they discovered that the only tree on the NATO base was in the Admiral's yard, and the only women likely to be anywhere near it were the Admiral's wife or daughters!

Most of the natural supply of wood in Iceland was thoughtlessly wasted, being used by early settlers for lodging, ships and fuel. There are still some small forests to be found on the island, consisting of willow, birch and mountain ash. The majority of building materials are now imported from other sources.

Farms are widely scattered over any habitable land, such as the strip of coast between the mountains and the sea, and the river valleys. Occasionally farms may be found in the green meadows of the island's interior. Crops raised consist mainly of grains to feed the livestock during the harsh winter months.

There is a very large greenhouse in Hveragerdi which I was able to visit several times. In this controlled environment they were able to grow flowers, plants and trees from all around the world, undoubtedly the largest such collection on the island.

As far as wildlife, Iceland boasts three kinds of seals which can be found along its coasts; the gray seal, the common seal, and the harbor seal. Seals are hunted, as they are in other countries, with nets and harpoons. The Artic Fox is also hunted by Icelanders, both for his valuable fur as well as for the great damage he does to the sheep. Another creature which is hunted both by fox and man is the eider duck, which can be found nesting all along Iceland's rocky coasts, but most commonly on the Vestmannæyjar or Westmen Islands just off Iceland's south-west coast. Eider duck down is used in mattresses and bed-covers and the eggs are also an important ingredient in the diet of coastal households. The eggs are gathered by lowering men down the cliffs on ropes to the nesting places, a method which has not changed much from past to present. The birds themselves are either caught by hand, if small, or in a net.




Although there are farms in Iceland much of an Icelanders diet is drawn from the sea. Fishing boats abound in Reykjavik harbor and off the coast of Keflavik, as well as many smaller fishing villages along the Icelandic coast. Driving along the roads one may spot racks full of several hundred fish hanging out to dry for future consumption. On a visit to a place know as Whale Bay I observed Icelandic whaling ships come in with their catch of the day. Men wearing crampons climbed up onto the enormous beasts and, using long-handled cutting spikes, they stripped away layer after layer of blubber until finally reaching the meat which would feed the Icelandic community. One night at an Icelanders home in Keflavik I had the opportunity to sample a whale steak and was quite surprised to find that it tasted more like beef than like fish. As I recall it was quite tasty!

Another staple of an Icelanders diet is lamb. Sheep abound in Iceland, and are used both for food and for their wool. The sheep are generally left loose to roam the fells in the summer. Every fall there is a large round-up, the almannarjettir, in which anyone is invited to help. The sheep are driven from the fells into holding pens and then divided up among the farmers according to their brands. The whole procedure lasts about a month, during which time large numbers of people and horses are encamped on the fells, creating a festival-like atmosphere in which neighboring farmers may celebrate together, or compete in games. During the harsh winter the sheep are kept in enclosures on the farm and fed grain which was stored the previous summer. When spring arrives the sheep may be sheared for their rich wool, and then released once again to roam the fells. In the past the collected wool would have been carded, spun and knitted into various articles of clothing during the long winters. These days it is likely to be sold to a buyer from one of the Icelandic wool factories, as woolen goods has become a large industry in Iceland, second only to fishing.

Fishing is of course a booming industry in Hawaii as well. The sea has long provided the Hawaiian people with their chief source of protein. The favorite methods of the past, in which two or more fishermen would paddle out in their outrigger canoe and either spear the fish or cast a net over the side and haul in their catch, has now given way to commercial fishing whereby large fishing boats patrol the Pacific Ocean in search of tuna, swordfish and shark, among other types of sea-life. Another Hawaiian fishing tradition which seems to be a thing of the past is the hukilau ,where villagers used a huge net to form a semi-circle in the waters of a bay, while men in canoes beat the water with their paddles and made as much noise as possible to drive all kinds of fish before them and into the bay where they would be trapped in the waiting net. A large feast or luau usually followed a successful hukilau.

Tourism in Hawaii is by far the largest industry. Vacationers come to enjoy the sun, try their hand at deep-sea fishing or scuba diving, or just lie around a sandy beach and relax. Even in the rural area of Ka'u on the Big Island it was very common to see a tour bus full of Japanese or American tourists, armed with cameras, descend upon the black sand beach at Punalu'u. In the small village of Na'alehu, where I lived, the tour buses would stop at our shopping center where the tourists would dutifully file out to examine our grocery store, ice cream shop and laundromat, not to mention the two gift shops. Na'alehu made a convenient stop for the buses since it is mid-way between Hilo, where the tours generally started, and Kona on the western side of the island. We also had a sign right across the street from the shopping center, next to the hardware store, to let the visitors know that they were in "Na'alehu - Southernmost Community in the U.S.A." which made for an ideal photo opportunity.

Hundreds of resort hotels are found all over the Hawaiian islands, with more being developed each year. The beautiful and famous Waikiki beach in Honolulu, once a favorite place of Hawaiian royalty, is now crowded and over-commercialized with surfboard rentals right on the beach, and pizza parlors, hotels and night clubs just across the street. It is progress, of a sort, and of course the tourist dollars provide jobs and bring much money into the Hawaiian economy, but it is a shame to see a tropical paradise such as Hawaii being overun by hotels, golf courses and housing developments. Even away from the city of Honolulu, at the black sand beach of Punalu'u on the Big Island, which I used to frequent while in high school, there is now a resort hotel, condominiums and a golf course, carved out of the lava fields of the Ka'u Desert.

In addition to fishing and tourism Hawaii has a variety of produce for export. Coffee, Macadamia nuts, bananas and pineapples all are grown, packaged and shipped from Hawaiian ports. There is also a large sugar industry. Huge sugar cane fields surround the villages in the Ka'u district, and the sugar mill in Pahala, where I attended high school, had shifts working around the clock. Hawaii also boasts the world's largest privately owned cattle ranch, The Parker Ranch, located on the island of Hawaii. The house in which I lived in Na'alehu was on property owned by the Na'alehu Dairy, which in turn was a part of Parker Ranch.




Culturally both Hawaii and Iceland were isolated from the rest of the world and therefore developed independently. Foreign trade, however, has influenced both places in regards to community organization, language, style of building, education and religion.

It is interesting to note that both of these isolated island cultures developed a style of oral history which was passed on through the generations until the advent of writing, when these histories were documented on written pages. In Iceland this took the form of the Sagas, which consisted of oral genealogies dating from the settlement of Iceland around 870 A.D., interspersed with records of historical events as well as detailed narratives of private lives and affairs which do not belong to history, in the proper sense, but rather read more like a novel. The Saga-writers remain anonymous, creating the impression that the Sagas were not simply created by some enterprising authors who exerted their personal styles on the tales, but rather that the Sagas just evolved over time and thereby wrote themselves.

In Hawaii the oral histories were kept by the kahunas, the holy men or priests, and they also included long genealogies of royal families which the kahuna would memorize and recite by rote, in the form of a chant called a mele, at certain royal or holy occasions. It is interesting to point out that in these genealogies husbands and wives were paired through literally hundreds of generations, unlike the Icelandic oral tradition and even the Hebrew genealogies, in which males alone are recorded. These chants would also include details of memorable events in the lives of royal ancestors, such as travels across the sea, wars or battles fought, and other feats of physical prowess or wisdom. Written histories did not begin in Hawaii until the mid-1800's, with the advent of the missionaries education and religion, most of the writing being done by either the whites themselves, or by the upper class of natives, such as the histories written by King David Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani, the last of the Hawaiian royalty.

An account of the settlement of Iceland by Nordic vikings is given in a unique book called the Landnamabok (Book of Land-takers, or settlers). A viking explorer named Naddoddur is thought to be the first Nordic man to have come to Iceland. Naddoddur and his men were sailing from Norway to the Faroe Islands when they drifted west and found a big land. They climbed a mountain on the east coast to look for smoke or other signs of inhabitants, but found none. When they left some snow fell on the mountains, so they called the place Snæland (Snowland). Next came Gardar Svavarsson, another viking who was sailing to Hebrides to claim his wife's paternal inheritance. His ship was blown off course, westward, and he encountered Iceland. Gardar sailed around Iceland and thus discovered that it was an island. After wintering at Husavik he returned to Norway, praising the island which he called Gardarsholmi.

A viking named Floki Vilgerdarson sailed from Norway to search for Gardarsholmi around 856 A.D. with the intent of exploring the newly discovered land. The following passage from the Landnamabok describes his stay on the island:

"Fish was abundant in the fjord, and they were so busy catching it that they forgot to make hay during the summer and therefore all their livestock died the following winter.. The spring was rather cold. Then Floki Vilgerdarson climbed a high mountain, and from there he could see a fjord filled with drift ice, and therefore called the country Iceland, which has been its name ever since."

The colonization of Iceland took place between the years A.D. 870 and 930, a time known as the "land-taking" period. It is supposed that a total of 20,000 people settled in Iceland during this time, most of them coming from Norway.

The British Isles also contributed early settlers to Iceland. A Celtic chronicle tells of Irish monks visiting Iceland at the end of the eighth century, and in fact the Icelandic Sagas record that the Norsemen found some Irish priests in Iceland when they landed, but the priests fled at the approach of the invaders. The Sagas describe the ceremonial vestments which the Irishmen left behind.

Early Icelanders weathered severe climate, volcanic eruptions, disease, pestilence and famine. Drift ice, "the old foe of the land", caused much hardship, keeping the weather cold and raw, even during the summer, so that grass was scarce and livestock would suffer. The island would probably have been declared uninhabitable if the drift ice came every year, however there were intervals of a decade or more with no sign of the "old foe", thus leading to a more temperate climate. Black Death hit the island in the early 1400's, killing nearly a third of the population. During the 1780's disease and volcanic disturbances claimed one-fifth of the population and two-thirds of all cattle.

About the same time that the Norsemen were exploring the Atlantic, the Polynesians were sailing the Pacific Ocean. Long canoe voyages appear to have been common. Polynesian folklore abounds with tales of adventurous men on bold expeditions to far-off lands, guided only by the stars. The Hawaiians are descended from these "vikings of the Pacific".

In the long Hawaiian mele of Kumu Honua, "the first created", there is a part devoted to Hawaii-loa, the earliest recorded Polynesian explorer, who is credited with making several long journeys and discovering the Hawaiian Islands, among others. According to legend Hawaii-loa was delighted by the large, fiery island (Hawaii) and returned, with his family and servants, to settle. When later sea-rovers came, in the fifth or sixth century, they found the islands already inhabited by people of their own race.

The Spanish explorer Juan Gaetano is credited with the first known record of the Hawaiian Islands among the civilised world. Passing through the Pacific in 1555, Gaetano discovered the several large islands which he called "Isles de Mesa". Finding no gold or silver among the islands the wealth-loving Spaniard noted the islands on a chart and never visited them again.

Near South Point, on the island of Hawaii, is a coastal lava field with an open view to the sea. In this field may be seen many petroglyphs, ancient symbols carved into the rocks, supposed to be an early attempt at writing or documenting events. Among these petroglyphs are some carvings which appear to be masted sailing ships, the appearance of which must have been quite startling to the uncivilised Hawaiians, so inspiring them to capture the image in rock for posterity. The date of the carvings are unknown.

The Hawaiians were totally ignorant of the rest of the world. Some time after the islands were first settled the art of sailing long distances by the aid of the stars fell into disuse. For several hundred years no Hawaiian voyagers found their way to foreign lands, and their was little or no outside influence on the islanders. The kings of each island had absolute power, and they warred amongst each other for supremacy. They offered each other as human sacrifices to their gods. Some of the older Hawaiians I have met lament the coming of the white man to their island paradise, and wish things back as they were in the old days. They might perhaps lament their wish if it were granted, however, because the Hawaii of old was a very brutal, fuedal place. Basic rights for commoners were not considered until the introduction of Christianity. Before this they ate, slept, worked, and died at the will of their kings and chiefs, the Ali'i, or ruling class.

Things began to change forever with the coming of British explorer James Cook to the shores of Hawaii in 1778. In the beginning the natives welcomed Captain Cook, believing he was Lono, one of the chief gods of the ancient Hawaiians. When they saw men smoking tobacco they thought that they belonged to the volcano family. A high chiefess, mother of the last king of the island of Kauai, gave her daughter as a wife for Lono (Captain Cook). After this there was much promiscuousness between Cook's crew and the islanders resulting in the rapid spreading of venereal, and other heretofore unknown diseases, among the islands.

Captain Cook accepted the gifts and veneration of the natives with dignity. He observed the prostrations of common folk before the kings of various islands, and thereby accepted the "worship" before himself as only the proper respect due a representive of Great Britain. He was impressed by the friendliness of the people. He sailed all around the islands, trading with the natives.

However trouble began when Captain Cook anchored at Kealakekua Bay, on the Big Island, to repair a rotten mast, in February of 1779. Some of the natives now believed that these were not gods after all. The Hawaiian chiefs coveted metal, and some thought that they would test Lono by stealing from him. They stole a boat from aboard the ship intending to strip it down for the metal. When it was discovered that a boat was missing, Captain Cook went ashore and confronted the king with the theft. The king disavowed any knowledge of the boat, and as he turned away to return to his hut Captain Cook grabbed his hands. A chief, then thrust a spear between his king and his attacker, knocking Captain Cook to the ground in the process. When this chief heard Captain Cook cry out upon hitting the ground, he knew that he was a man and not a god, and he killed him. Several more of Cook's crew were killed while trying to recover his body, which was taken by the natives to a heiau (temple) as a sacrifice to the gods. Cook's ship sailed from Hawaii without him on March 15, 1779. However some of the crew had become friendly with the natives, and deserted so that they could remain behind when the ship left the islands. This was the beginning of foreign influence on the Hawaiian people.

Just a few years after the coming of Captain Cook a Hawaiian named Kamehameha had become king of the island of Hawaii. Kamehameha is the central figure in Hawaiian history. He controlled the best harbors and ports, and offered the best inducements for trades with foreigners. He traded for arms and ammunition. He had large boats built and armed with swivel cannons. He enlisted the aid of white men who had stayed behind when Captain Cook's ship left, such as Isaac Davis and John Young. The white men taught Kamehameha's warriors how to use the weapons he obtained. This gave him an enormous advantage over the kings and chiefs of the other islands. During the next several years Kamehameha passed, step by step, over each of the islands, conquering his rivals until he had united them all under his rule. By 1810, King Kamehameha the Great had completed his quest to be the first ruler of the united Kindom of Hawaii, which he controlled until his death in 1819.

The Missionaries arrived in Hawaii in 1820 and began teaching the natives to read and write, as well as introducing them to the doctrines of Christianity. This began a time of great social change in Hawaiian history. Under the rule of King Liholiho (Kamehameha II) and Queen Kaahumanu the old systems of kapu, or taboo's, the laws which separated the kings and chiefs from the commoners, were cast aside. It was very hard for many of the older people to accept this new order of things, such as women being able to eat the forbidden bananas and sit down to eat with the men, not to mention that they saw many idols and heiaus, the stone temples to their gods, destroyed.

A gulf still remained, however, between the commoners and the Ali'i, or royalty, until, in 1839, King Kamehameha III issued a "Declaration of Rights -- Both of the People and the Chiefs". This, along with the "Constitution of the Hawaiian Islands" which was promulgated the following year, was basically a voluntary renunciation of the absolute power which the kings and chiefs had wielded over their subjects for centuries.

In 1893, during the reign of Queen Liliuokalani of the Kamehameha line, the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown and a Provisional Government was established until the annexation of Hawaii by the United States five years later.


Language, Music & Literature

A succession of foreign cultures have been introduced to the Hawaiian islands over the years, Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Korean, and more recently, Filipino workers, all of whom were imported as laborers for the sugar cane, coffee and pineapple plantations. This, of course, caused some communications problems as each group arrived knowing only their own language. What happened was that a common language known as Pidgen-English evolved. Pidgen is based in the English language, probably due to the fact that the plantation owners and bosses were mostly English-speaking Americans. It is not an official language, but more of a broken English which contains a mish-mash of words and expressions from Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese and others thrown in. This is the language that I learned to speak when I attended high school in Ka'u, because this is what my classmates had learned to speak while they were growing up, and it is what many of the teachers spoke in the classes.

Of course the real language of the islands is Hawaiian, which is similar to Tahitian and other Polynesian dialects. Unfortunately Hawaiian is becoming a lost language, as is Hawaiian culture. Since the coming of Captain Cook the Hawaiian people have inter-married with other races until these days it is rare to find a pure-blooded Hawaiian. The race has been diluted and the old ways are being lost, including the speaking and teaching of the language, except on the privately owned island of Ni'ihau, at the northwest end of the Hawaiian chain. The 300 mostly pure-blooded Hawaiian residents of Ni'ihau have lived fairly isolated from the modern world since the purchase of the island from a Hawaiian King over a century ago. Ni'ihau is owned by a family considered to be authorities on Hawaiian culture who are trying to perpetuate a way of life which is rapidly disappearing on other islands. Visitors are rarely allowed, and residents who move away are not allowed to live there again. Islanders hunt wild pigs with ropes and traps, and fish with nets and spears, as their ancestors did. Guns and liquor are forbidden. There is little plumbing and no electricity in the houses. Rainwater is caught in tanks for use as drinking water. Ni'ihau sounds like a little piece of paradise not quite lost.


Iceland, too, developed a language of its own. Icelandic is undoubtedly descended from the Nordic languages of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, however it is different from each. Icelanders are very proud that they have their very own official language which is spoken nowhere else in the world. I had the opportunity to take an Icelandic language course offered by the U.S.O. while I was stationed at Keflavik. It is a very beautiful, guttural, complex language. I found it rather interesting that, even though Icelanders are now taught English beginning at the grade school level, it was very difficult to get them to admit that they knew any English at all when conversing with them. However when they discovered that I was trying to learn their language, they would no longer converse with me in Icelandic, but switch immediately to English, which moments before they would not admit understanding!

Icelandic language and literature are inexorably linked. Isolated from the outside world for centuries, the language has been handed down virtually unchanged. Icelandic bears closer resemblance to Old Norse than to the more modern Swedish or Norwegian, both of which were undoubtedly exposed to many more outside influences than Icelandic.

The Sagas are, of course, Iceland's literary masterpiece. Handed down verbally for centuries, before the introduction of writing, the sagas are a combination of fact and fancy, history and fiction. According to Icelandic tradition, in the twilight hours of the short winter days all the people on a farm would gather in the badstofa, the all-purpose living room where the unmarried people of both sexes would eat and sleep. During this time the men would repair nets, make tools or carve wood, while the women would card and spin wool or knit and make clothes. One of the men, generally the father of the household, would recite one of the sagas. After the reading the different characters of the saga would be discussed, which served to give the participants insight into the people, not only of their land, but of human nature in general. For variety's sake, sometimes a type of poem, or rhymed story, known as rimur, were read. Or on occasion someone in the group blessed with a narrative talent may have offered an original composition for the group's entertainment. A certain group of Icelandic wanderers, a sort of folklore minstrels, travelled from farm to farm telling stories in exchange for a meal and a warm place to stay. Their visits were generally looked forward to by the farm's inhabitants, as they made for a pleasant diversion from the normal routines of farm-life, and also brought news of goings-on from other places they had visited.

It has been said that a badstofa education was the best that any person could have. Unfortunately, as in Hawaii, the old ways are disappearing. With the coming of television to even the most remote Icelandic farm, the old practice of gathering in the badstofa for evening readings survives in few places.

Musically the Icelanders developed a type of folk-song which is both complex and beautiful, as befits their language, called the tvisongur, two-song or duet. As the name suggests, it is sung by two voices, usually using the fifth octave between the two parts, which creates a sort of tonal dis-harmony which may sound very unmelodic to unacustomed ears. Another peculiarity is that toward the end of the song the lower part rises until it reaches the fifth octave above the upper part. The tvisongur has been likened to the Gregorian chants, however it is believed to have originated in the Scandinavian countries, descended from the songs of the Vikings.

Hawaii, of course, has its own beautiful musical form, the hula. To the ancient Hawaiians, the hula was a divine service, its performance always preceded by prayers and offerings to the goddess Laka, mistress of the hula. A structure called the halau, was constructed for hula performances, and it was here that the performers learned and practiced their art. Laka's token, an uncarved block of wood from the lama tree, had the place of honor on an altar in the halau. No human sacrifices ever took place in the halau, as the hula goddess was generally accepted as a gentle sylvan deity.

The hula is a combination of song (mele) and graceful, dance-like motions. The traditional dancers, the olapa, or "agile ones", attired in garlands of maile, lehua and hibiscus, were chosen for their grace and beauty. They were acompanied the ho'opaa, the "steadfast ones", who handled the heavier instruments, such as the drums, and who also ocassionally lent their voices to the mele's. The role of ho'opaa was generally reserved for men and women of more maturity, because the task of marking time with their instrumentation while chanting a mele required some degree of experience. Some of the instruments used in the hula are the gourd drum (calabash), puili (split bamboo rattle), ili ili (smooth pebbles) uli uli (feathered gourd) and ohia sticks.

There being no printed page, of course, the meles were handed down verbally throughout the years, stored in the library of the performers' memories, much like the genealogical meles which the kahunas memorized, as previously noted. Anyone could compose a mele, a fisherman, a house-builder, a kahuna (holy man). However most of the commoners did not have the time, nor the inclination, to compose a song and teach it to others, therefore the hula's which have survived were composed by the ali'i, the Hawaiian royalty.

The meles could be about many things. Some were simple love songs, others were name-songs, hula-inoa, which were written to honor a King, Prince or other royal member. Still others were legends of the many Hawaiian gods and demi-gods.

At the conclusion of the hula ceremony the flowers and maile leis, which had adorned the performers, are draped about the wooden image of Laka, a tribute to the peaceful goddess of the hula.

One other musical instrument, which is associated with Hawaii, if not directly with the hula, is the ukulele. However the ukulele is not native to the islands, having been introduced by Portuguese immigrants in the mid-1900's. It is, therefore, not a traditional instrument in the performance of the hula.



Government and Religion

As previously indicated, the ancient Hawaiian's employed a monarchy wherein the ruling class, the ali'i, had complete control over the lives of their subjects. The kings of each island claimed all of the land and collected taxes, in the form of food or work, from the commoners. With the wave of a hand the people might be sent scurrying about to gather the materials needed to build a new dwelling place for their monarch. Or else a king might send a messenger out during the night to bash in the head of an enemy as he lay sleeping. The ali'i had absolute power over the commoners.

The Hawaiians were also a religious people, worshipping their major gods; Kane, Ku, Kanaloa, and Lono, as well as a plethora of minor deities. The kahunas were the Hawaiian holy-men, sorcerers with mystical powers and prophecies. They were responsible for leading the people in worship, as well as providing spiritual guidance to the ali'i. They would advise the king on the placement, and supervise the construction of, heiaus (stone temples). They would make the offerings, including human sacrifices, to honor the various deities they worshipped. Kamehameha the Great, before launching his campaign to unite all of the islands under his rule, consulted a kahuna who assured the monarch that "his cloud would one day rest upon all of the islands."

Common folk also were permitted to make certain offerings to their gods. To appease the jealous and vengeful Pele, the goddess of the volcanoes, who made her home in caldera of Kiluaea on the island of Hawaii, women dressed entirely in red would approach the volatile crater to make their offerings. Canoe-makers and builders would say a prayer before commencing their daily work. Fishermen likewise would pray before casting out to sea, and traditionally the first fish from their hook or net was wrapped in Ti leaves and left on the altar of a seaside heiau as an offering of thanks for a successful day of fishing, and also for their safe return. This tradition was still being observed to some degree while I lived in Hawaii, offerings could be seen laid on stones in the remnants of broken-down heiau's.

Certain heiaus were places of refuge, where law-breakers could go to seek sanctuary and be pardoned for their offenses. There were six such places on the island of Hawaii, including Pu'uhonua-o-Honaunau, more commonly referred to as the City of Refuge, which is now a National Historical Park located in the District of Kona. A man or woman who broke the kapu could escape the death penalty, and all punishment, by entering these sacred grounds. All who sought refuge were admitted, however to gain access one had to swim across the bay, since this was the only entrance to the sanctuary. Some would fall prey to sharks, others would be caught and killed by pursuers whom they had offended, but if they made it inside it was seen as a sign that the gods were forgiving of the crime. A kahuna would purify them for a few hours, or sometimes overnight, after which they were able to return home in peace. War refugees also came to the City of Refuge to seek a safe place until the battle was over.

One interesting feature of the City of Refuge is the Great Wall, built around 1550 A.D. by Keawe-ku-i-ke-ka'ai, a ruling chief of Kona. It is 10 feet high and 17 feet in width. One leg of the wall starts at Honaunau Bay and extends more than 600 feet where it forms a corner with the second leg of the wall, which runs another 400 feet, toward the open sea. The best or flat face of each stone is set facing outward. The largest stone is over 6 feet high, 5 feet wide and 2 feet thick, and weighs between 4 and 6 tons. The Ancient Hawaiians used wooden pry bars, carrying sticks, rollers and skids to move the stones into position.

Another heiau which is important in Hawaiian history is the Pu'ukohola heiau which was built on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean near the village of Kawaihae on the Big Island. It was the last major religious structure erected in the Hawaiian Islands before the coming of Christianity. It was built by a Hawaiian chief named Pai'ea, who would later be called Kamehameha the Great. In 1790 Kamehameha was at war with his cousin, Keoua Kuahu'ula, for control of the Big Island. A prophet named Kapoukahi told Kamehameha to build a temple at Pu'ukohola, and dedicate it to his family war god Ku-ka-ili-moku. By doing so, the prophet said, Kamehameha would become the supreme ruler of the island.

Thousands of Kamehameha's subjects took part in this project, forming a human chain which stretched from Pu'ukohola over the Kohala Mountains, passing rocks hand to hand and stock-piling them at the site of the heiau. The building of it took over a year, finally being completed by the summer of 1791, at which time Kamehameha invited his cousin, Keoua, to the dedication of the heiau. Kapoukahi's prophecy came true when Keoua was slain while stepping out of his canoe, and his body was offered as a sacrifice on the altar of the heiau. Kamehameha became the sole ruler of the island of Hawaii, and would go on to conquer the rest of the islands over the next several years. Pu'ukohola heiau is where the Hawaiian Kingdom began.

Unlike Hawaii, Iceland had no marked class distinction. Rich and poor were treated the same under the law, which was promulgated by a legislative and judicial body known as theThing, similar to the New England town meetings. Once a year, in the summer, the men from all over the island would gather for a couple of weeks, in order to settle disputes and make new laws. This annual national council meeting, known as the Althing, was established by the vikings in 930 A.D. It was held on the plains of Thingvellir, about 30 miles east of Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. The people would gather in a natural rock amphitheater known as the Almannagja, the "People's chasm". The chiefs would stand at a stone pedestal known as the "law-rock", the speakers voice bouncing off the rock walls of the chasm, giving the effect of a natural loud-speaker so that all of the people could hear what was being said. The Althing continued to meet at Thingvellir up until the end of the eighteenth century.

In 1262 Iceland accepted the sovereignty of the Norwegian Crown, and then together with Norway came under the rule of the Danish Crown in 1380. Iceland became an independent republic in 1944. In 1980, while I was stationed there, the Icelandic people elected, as President, the first woman ever voted to power by a democratic government.

The foremost religion of Iceland is Protestant, although Catholic and Lutheran religions, as well as others, are also found. The vikings, of course, had their Norse gods, whom they worshipped, however Christianity soon came and replaced the old religion. Icelandic clergy were graduated from one of two schools of religious training, Holar in the north, and Skaholt in the south. The bishops of Holar, both Catholic and Protestant, have wielded enormous power and influence in Iceland.

Local churches are led by country pastors, called Sira. Icelandic folklore has coloured some of these priests with magical powers, such as Sæmundur Sigfusson, known as Sæmund the Learned. He was one of the first Icelanders to study abroad, in Paris, then became the priest at Oddi in Rangarvellir, in the South of Iceland. Sæmund is credited with causing the fires of the volcano Hekla, by throwing into the mountain a gilded chest which had been sent to him by a witch from Saxony. Another such priest is Snorri Bjornsson, known as Sira Snorri of Husafell, who died in 1803. There are many tales about his alleged magical powers, as well as supernatural tales concerning other pastors and bishops throughout Icelandic history. The mystical powers attributed to these holy men are reminiscent of the Hawaiian kahuna's.

One amusing anecdote concerning the Icelandic church comes from Jon Arnason's collection of Icelandic folk tales which he published in 1864. It tells of an old Icelander who complains about the changes he is seeing in his country:

"It's just like everything else, all the good customs are disappearing. There's never any fighting at church nowadays. Why, when I was a young man, many a one came home from church with a black eye or a broken nose."



Legends, Myths and Folklore

In addition to tales of magical holy men, Icelanders have their share of stories about other mysterious creatures who inhabit there shores. There exist tales about elves, trolls, monsters, witches and ghosts, to name but a few.

The Icelandic elves are very human in nature. They live in rocks and hills, and perform the same duties as their human counterparts. That is, they have homes and farms, raise their young, tend sheep, and go to elf churches. Icelandic elves are even human in appearance, to those who are able to see them. There are stories of people being cured by elf-doctors, and at least one incident where a building project was delayed by agreement of the town council, because someone had dreamed that elves lived in certain rocks which were to be blasted to make way for new construction. In the dream the elves asked that the blasting be postponed a few days, so that they might move to new quarters. The elves' request was granted. Likewise, to this day, there are farmers who will not mow certain parts of their hayfields or meadows for fear of bad luck if they upset an elf-dwelling.

Trolls were more ill-behaved than the elves. They were often blamed with kidnapping people who travelled alone across the Icelandic fells at night, and were rarely helpful to humans.

Hawaii also had it's "hidden people", which they called menehunes. Menehunes were mischevious little folk who lived in the woods and liked to play practical jokes on unsuspecting humans. I once visited a spot where there stood an unfinished stone wall, in such a place that one would not expect a wall to ever have been erected. The story behind the wall credits the menehunes with building the wall in one night, but not being able to finish it before the sun came up (menehunes come out only at night) they left it unfinished, as it still stands to this day. Any little thing, such as a door found ajar or a missing item, could be pointed to as the work of a menehune when I lived in Hawaii.

Hawaiians to this day also believe in what they call Pokani Night, a night when the spirits walk. I have heard tales of hunters on horseback riding along a trail with their hunting dogs, when suddenly all of the animals would just stop, and the dogs would begin to howl and try to hide behind the horses, who were also getting excited. The locals say the hunting party encountered a ghost on what was a Pokani Night.

Iceland was also home to ghostly hauntings. Known by a variety of names, draugar, vofur, and skottur, they were known to cause much trouble for people. The famous hauntings at Stokkseyri are a prime example. During the winter fishing season many fishermen lived and slept together in huts near the shore. During a two-month period in the winter of 1892 the fishermen were terrorized by an apparition which would enter their bodies, causing them to cry out in their sleep, or sometimes even assault them while they were awake, making their skin turn blue and taking all their strength so that they were unable to move or cry out for help. They men of the first hut known to be visited borrowed a bell from a nearby church, which they hung in their hut and were thereby able to get a nights' rest. The hauntings then moved on to other fishing huts in the area, until finally one Eyjolf Magnusson, a learned man who travelled widely in the district and was said to act as postman, came on a visit and was asked to rid the district, if possible, of its unwanted and troublesome spirit. Eyjolf uttered some powerful verses over the ghost and and sent it north to the island of Drangey for nine years. He did not guarantee a longer respite than this.

Another apparition is the fylgja, a wraith who follows each individual until, by her appearance, she signals their death.

Sometimes physical characteristics of a place make for a story, such as the two Trollwives, who were sisters. One lived in the mountain Bjolfell, and the other in the mountain Burfell. The trollwife of Burfell used to visit her sister, crossing the rivers to the east, Thjorsa and Kjallakatungur, the distance between the two rivers being not very great at this spot. On each side of the river Thjorsa stand two rocks, both about the same height as the cliffs of Burfell. The Icelanders say that the trollwife of Burfell put these stepping stones in the water so that she would not get her feet wet when she went to visit her sister, but would leap across in three bounds. The rocks are known as Trollkonuhlaup, or Trollwife's Leap.

In the Ka'u district of Hawaii, there is a story, although decidedly not Hawaiian in origin, which lends colour to the location. When driving down the hill from Ka'lae (South Point) toward Waiohinu one can clearly notice a cleft in the hill directly in front, especially noticeable when the sugar cane is growing on each side of the cleft. Locally it is said that this is the spot where Paul Bunyan set the head of his axe, as he stood resting in California, the force of the blow from the axe causing the notch in the hill.

More typical Hawaiian tales involve their gods, such as Maui, who, finding it too dark and cramped, used his mighty strength and pushed the sky up to the tops of the trees. This was better than having the sky rest against the earth, as it had been, however Maui felt that one more push was needed. He climbed up a mountain, taking the sky on his back, and from here he tossed it up where it remains to this day. Sometimes the clouds still come low and rest upon the mountains, but not for long, because the sky knows that if it were to rest upon the earth as it did in the old days, Maui would return and toss it up so high it would never come back.

Tales also abound about Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess, whose destructive power to cause the earth to shake, the mountains to spit fire, and the sea to send forth giant waves could cause much hardship for the inhabitants of Hawaii. A fairly recent incident involving a farmer who removed an idol from a sacred temple in the 1970's shows how much the locals still regard the legends of the jealous fire goddess. The farmer brought the tiki (idol) to his farmhouse to use as a piece of landscaping. Not long after the volcano began to erupt, sending a slow-moving river of lava across the Ka'u Desert and eventually threatening the farmers house, which stood directly in it's path. Heeding the advice of the older locals, the farmer returned the tiki to the spot from which it had been removed, and also made some other offerings to appease Madam Pele. Evidently the goddess was appeased by these acts, for his house was spared, the lava, it is said, divided and flowed around both sides of the farm, leaving it on an island of land in the midst of a sea of molten rock.

Another story the locals tell concerning Madam Pele, is of a Park Ranger in Volcanoes National Park, who was trapped on a coastal road when the volcano errupted. Lava flowed on both sides of his car, closing the road entirely in both directions, so that the Ranger had to be rescued by helicopter. However it could have been much worse for him if the volcano goddess had not been in such a forgiving mood.

Legend says that the ohelo berry is Pele's fruit, and that no one may sample their delicious flavor before offering the first taste to the godess. The locals believe that it still pays to stay on the good side of Madam Pele, evidently with good reason!

Hawaiians had their share of superstitions. Some of these seem to be founded upon common sense, such as, you never turn your back on the ocean (maybe a big wave would come and knock you down), and you never whistle at night. In later years whistling was the signal for an emergency, such as if their was a fire. Someone would whistle, and it would be heard and other people would take up the whistle until it spread through the whole village, waking everyone to come and help fight the fire. Other superstitions seem to escape logic, such as not sleeping with your feet toward a door. The ancient Hawaiians said that a spirit might come in, touch your feet and steal your soul.

Icelanders also had superstitions, such as, if your boat will not slide out of the boathouse, but lies as if nailed in place, it is best not to go fishing at all that day. Also they believed that if you caught a wolf-fish on your hook when fishing for cod, it meant an early death.

Both the Hawaiian and Icelandic cultures had tales of people who could turn themselves into other beings, such as birds, fish, seals and sharks. There are many, many more interesting tales from both islands, too numerous to document here. They will have to wait for another time.




I enjoyed very much the times I spent in both Hawaii and Iceland. I met friendly and interesting people in both places, and was able to travel quite a bit and see some extraordinary sights, such as Gulfoss, the "Golden Falls" in Iceland, and Geysir, the Icelandic geysir from which we get our name for the phenomonon. The location of Geysir is not marked and is very easy to miss unless you know where to look for it. I had driven by it on my way to Gulfoss several times before I eventually figured out where it was. It happened to spout while I was out looking for it, scaring the devil out of me as I walked past it!

In Hawaii I walked through forests of ferns as tall as trees, saw sights such as Rainbow Falls, the barren Desolation Trail and Petrified Forest in Volcanoes National Park. I visited historic sights, such as Kealekekua Bay, where Captain Cook was killed, and Queen's Bath, a natural stone swimming hole where, in ancient times, no males were allowed, for if they happened to gaze upon the queen's nakedness, the penalty was death. I saw petroglyphs, ancient drawings carved into rock. One cave containing such markings was located practically across the street from the house where I lived.

I got to sample the local cuisine, the fish, whale, cabbage and lamb of the Icelanders, as well as the thin pancakes, sugared and rolled with preserves, exquisitely light, which were made for social occasions. At the luaus of the local Ka'u residents in Hawaii I tasted poi, lomi salmon, haupia (coconut pudding), chicken luau (chicken with spinach). I learned how to pound poi from the taro root, or from ulu, breadfruit, the Hawaiian staff of life. I caught crabs and small lobsters on the beach at night. In the daytime I went spear-fishing among the coral reefs, playing with an octopus and picking opihi, an edible shellfish which clung to the rocks, generally eaten raw.

With Laulima magazine, while in high school, I was able to meet and interview many old-timers who kindly explained the by-gone traditions of Hawaii, and taught me the importance of preserving them.

I consider myself very lucky to have lived in two such wonderous places. I look back fondly on the times I spent in each, and I should like to visit each one again, someday.






Bardarson, Hjalmar R.   Ice and Fire, Contrasts of Icelandic Nature, Hjalmar R. Bardarson, Reyjavik, Iceland, 1971

Boucher, Alan   Ghosts, Witchcraft and The Other World; Icelandic Folktales I, Iceland Review Library, 1977

Boucher, Alan   Elves, Trolls and Elemental Beings; Icelandic Folktales II, Iceland Review Library, 1977

Boucher, Alan   Adventures, Outlaws and Past Events; Icelandic Folktales III, Iceland Review Library, 1977

Lindroth, Hjalmar   Iceland, A Land of Contrasts, Princeton University Press, 1937

Nordal, Sigurdur J.   The Historical Element in the Icelandic Family Sagas, Jackson, Son & Co., Glasgow, 1957

Thorarinsson, Dr. S.   Volcanoes of Iceland, Solarfilma, Reykjavik, Iceland, 1975


Beckwith, Martha   Hawaiian Mythology, Yale University Press, 1940

Emerson, Nathaniel B.   Unwritten Literature of Hawaii - The Sacred Songs of the Hula, Charles E. Tuttle, Inc., Rutland, Vt., 1965

Flowers of Hawaii, H.S. Crocker, Co., Inc., 1964

Laulima Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 1 - Vol. 3, No. 4, Ka'u High School, Pahala, Hawaii, January, 1975 - January, 1981

Pukui, Mary Wiggin   Hawaiian Folk Tales, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY, 1933

Reader's Digest   Our National Parks, The Reader's Digest Association, 1985


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