Aloha Authentic: Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani

Aloha Authentic

HONOLULU (KHON2) — KHON2’s weekly “Aloha Authentic” segment highlights various roadways across the pae ʻāina so the meaning of their names can be uncovered. 

It is time to bring attention to a woman who stood her ground during a time of drastic change.  

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Within the ahupuaʻa of Kaumalumalu and Pāhoehoe, which lie in the moku of Kona on Hawaiʻi island, stands of roadway that carries the name of a Hawaiian princess considered the last link to the old Hawaiian ways.  

That roadway is Princess Keʻelikōlani Drive.

Born in 1826, Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani lived a life of resistance to the new and perpetuated the old. 

Born six years after the arrival of the first missionaries, Princess Ruth remained loyal to her native culture.

She refused to speak English despite being fluent and forced foreigners to speak to her in Hawaiian language or via a translator.

She chose to live in a grass hut instead of her western palace and continued to honor her Hawaiian deities.

Mauna Loa erupted in 1880 and threatened the town of Hilo. Princess Ruth was called from Oʻahu to help.

She walked to the edge of the lava flow when she arrived on the island to give praise to her fire deity, Pele.

Her offerings included prayers, red handkerchiefs and the liquor brandy.

She slept nearby, only to wake up the next morning to the lava stopped in its tracks.

Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani died at the age of 57 from heart disease.

She was considered the largest landowner and the richest woman in all of Hawaiʻi.

Did you know? Now you do!

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