The Menehune

The Menehune myths are best known in Hawaii and throughout Polynesia, where they are called the Manahune or Manaune. Katherine Luomala writes “that there is an ancient Hawaiian tradition and narratives that until a great flood destroyed it, there was a vast Pacific continent which included all of what is now Polynesia and Fiji. The flood covered the lowlands of the continent and left exposed the highlands, which became islands; then the ocean filled the lowlands permanently.”

The Menehune are considered to be the original inhabitants of the Hawaiian islands, who work only at night and are invisible during the day. They lived primarily in Kailua, Pauoa, Puowaina, Kaimuki, and Waolani. Also, if their work is not completed by dawn, it will be abandoned. The Menehune live in highland forests, forests, remote valleys, and on mountainsides and only come down at night. They are described as two or three feet tall, thick and hairy; in addition, they are unpleasant to look at though they are not angry or mean. Their laughter carries far, but their language is described as growls.

In Mount Shasta, the Menehune are responsible for the mysterious lights that go around the mountain in the evening and early morning. The three groups that survived the prehistoric flood were the Menehune, the Mu, and the Wa. The Menehune destroyed the other two groups or made them flee. The Wintu Native American tribe that lives around Mt. Shasta believed that there was an invisible race of people living on the mountain. These may be the Menehune. According to the Wintu, their laughter can be heard up to a mile away. The Menehune of Mount Shasta does not have agriculture but rather live off the land and store food for winter in the lava tubes. People who are unkind to the Menehune are punished, while those that show kindness are rewarded. Those Menehune who is disobedient to others are sometimes turned to stone.

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