NWHI Cultural Resources

Learn more about cultural resources of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

Referred to as the Kūpuna Islands, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are "ceded" crown lands and part of the cultural and natural heritage of the people of Hawai`i. Hundreds of cultural sites provide information about the origins of Hawaiʻiʻs first peoples and life in wā kahiko.

The islands are celebrated in mele and oli (song and chant) as the place where Hawai`i began. One ancient mele describes the travels of Pele, fire godess, through the NWHI on her way to the main Hawaiian Islands.

"The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands play an important role spiritually to our people. These islands and waters are the pathway that the spirits of our ancestors take in their afterlife. After the spirit separates from the body after death, they travel in the ocean in a north-west direction past the islet of Lehua on route to pō (creation). These islands, which are remembered as ancestral homelands, provide stopping points in which our ancestors spirits reside for periods of time."   - Kikiloi and Enos, Native Hawaiian Perspectives


More Information

An account of the famous 1822 visit to the first two islands in the NWHI chain by Queen Ka'ahumanu and her royal family.

1822 visit to NWHI (100k pdf) Sept. 29, 2000.

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