A letter to the editor from the grandson of Lorrin Thurston, conspirator to overthrow the Hawaiian monarchy, and Uncle Charlie's response, printed in the Honolulu Advertiser.

What does 'sacred' mean?

Do you ever wonder at the amount of sacred grounds there is in our fair islands? Every day's paper tells us of new areas sanctified as sacred in your hallowed editorial columns. On Friday we learned Makua Valley, home of a successful turkey ranch run by my great-uncle a hundred years ago, is sacred ("Makua landing dispute: cool head main thing"), apparently because there's a big lava tube cave nearby and Kamehameha I stopped in the valley and some Hawaiians made up legends about it all. Does anyone question the meaning of "sacred"?

My Uncle Sam Andrews is buried out there alongside his Native Hawaiian wife in the grounds of the old church they attended for decades, his headstone scarred a bit from military landings in World War II. He'd be surprised to know that the beach we all played on is a sacred burial ground and that thousands of ancient Hawaiians are buried there, buried so well we've never seen their skeletons.

You say Kamehameha I rallied his troops there, preparing to invade Kauai. Why not? It was an empty valley: no big trees, no stream, no waterfall, no taro, not much at all. Marauding forces landed there, too, following the old military adage. More better you land where there's no enemy.

In the same paper we find that the top of Haleakala is sacred. We already knew that H-3 traverses countless acres of sacred ground. And how about barren Kaho'olawe? Also sacred. You can think of dozens more such convenient labels.

It reminds me that I have parked for the past more than 50 years in the News Building parking lot, performing a sacred rite of descending to another day of labor as did my ancestors for 25 years before me. Sacred ground indeed. Why should I be paying a parking fee?

Thurston Twigg-Smith
The Honolulu Advertiser


I was quiet amused when I read the letter written by the Chairman of the Honolulu Advertiser Thurston Twigg-Smith about the question, what does "Sacred" mean? I felt pity for Mr. Twigg-Smith because of his missionary background and his lack of knowledge of the Hawaiian Culture. Mr. Twigg-Smith's first ancestor to arrive on these shores came with the most "sacred" book in his hand telling my "heathen" ancestors how they would be saved and to look up to heaven. Guess what happened when they looked down?

Mr. Twigg-Smith's grandfather was so busy finding ways to get rich from this land and to help overthrow the Queen, that he forgot to teach his son and grandson the importance of the land that they became millionaires on. He forgot to teach his grandson how the Hawaiian people felt about the 'Aina before our culture was rudely altered by these holy people from Boston. Only the people with the "koko", the blood, can feel the sacredness of these lands.

Knowing these facts about Mr. Twigg-Smith's origin, you can understand why the letter was written in that fashion. We Hawaiians have a saying, "A'ole kamana'o, paa kou waha" which means "if you don't have the knowledge, close your mouth".

Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr.
Cultural Specialist
Pukalani, Maui

Ho`iho`i Mai