© 2023 Hawaiʻi Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Episode 21: Umial?loa with Dr. Kamana Beamer

Umial?loa was one of the greatest chiefs of ancient Hawai‘i. Umi’s father was L?loa, the mo‘i, or ruler, of Hawai‘i Island, a fact Umi didn’t learn until he was a boy of nine or ten. When he did learn the truth, Umi set out on a pilgrimage to introduce himself to his father, passing through numerous villages and taking many young boys under his wing as he traveled. When Umi finally met his father in Waipi‘o valley, he introduced his h?nai sons, the boys he had adopted along the way, and Liloa recognized the characteristics of a true leader. Ultimately, Liloa passed over his high-ranking older son H?kau to make Umi the mo‘i—an act that set Hawai‘i Island apart, according to geographer Dr. Kamana Beamer.

“That’s something really unique about Hawai‘i Island, our chiefs recognized that genealogy and lineage got you so far but sometimes even people of high birth weren’t necessarily the best fit to rule and didn’t need to.”

Umi unified all the moku, or districts, of Hawai‘i Island and he is remembered for the incredible aloha he had for the people, as well as his humility, strength and fearlessness. The mo‘?lelo tell that Umi ruled until his death and that he died a very old man with long white hair, having fathered many, many children.

“In the writings of Samuel Kamakau he makes a playful joke where he says there’s not a single Hawaiian alive today who’s not a descendant of Umi—and if they think they’re not, they just don’t know.”

researcher, writter, and narrator of Aloha Aina. She is currently an editor at Hawai‘i’s largest magazine, Hana Hou!, where she has written and edited numerous award-winning articles about Hawai‘i. She was the founding editor of Honolulu Weekly. She holds a BA in Pacific history and journalism from the University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa and a JD from Stanford Law School.
More Episodes