Gadao’s Cave, Guam: The Rock Art, The Chief, The Legends

Gadao’s Cave, Guam: The Rock Art, The Chief, The Legends

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There are many unique cultures with long, fascinating histories in the Pacific Islands and the small island of Guam is a prime example. One of the most renowned sites in the island is Gadao’s cave which is internationally recognized as an important site for rock art and the images here are deeply ingrained in the myths of Guam’s indigenous peoples.

The History of Guam

The island of Guam is located in the Western Pacific Ocean and is considered to be part of Micronesia. The first people to settle on the island came from South-East Asia and they were the ancestors of the Chamorros, the indigenous inhabitants of Guam. Before the coming of the Europeans, the Chamorros developed a highly stratified society which was very sophisticated.

Chamorro People with some traditional dress. ( CC BY 2.0 )

The Spaniards colonized the island in the late seventeenth century and this led to a dramatic fall in the native population. In 1891 Guam was captured by American forces during the Spanish-American War of 1891. During WWII the island was occupied by the Japanese before it was liberated in the Second Battle of Guam. Today the island is an unincorporated territory of the United States and it hosts a vital US naval base.

Gadao Cave Drawings

The cave is the site of some of the most incredible rock art in the Western Pacific and some of the most important examples of Chamorro art. On two of the cave’s walls are approximately fifty pictographs or images. The paint used to create the pictographs was a compound of lime from coral and the resin from local trees. The pictographs were made by etching lines onto the surface of the cave walls and painting them using the lime compound and all of the images are white.

One Gadao Cave pictogram has become a Guam cultural icon. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

The pictographs are believed to be of people or supernatural figures and they can be likened to stick figures. There are a variety of images including those of animal-like figures, but by far the most popular is that of two men with one of them carrying what looks like a coconut. The pictographs are all between ½ inch (2 cm) and 7 inches (20 cm) in height. The majority of the pictographs of the two men are on the east wall of the cave. Some of the figures on the walls are fairly enigmatic including some mysterious symbols and headless figures.

The Remarkable History of Gadao’s Cave

The rock art in the cave was not studied until the twentieth century. It seemed that rock art was an important part of pre-contact Chamorro culture, because pictographs have also been discovered in other caves in Guam. There is no agreed date for the creation of the images. They could date from the eighth century AD or could have come from the Latte Period when local chiefs were consolidating their power. It was at this time that the Latte Stones were build and they are seen by some as expression of the growing power of the elite. The Latte stones, pillars with spherical heads, are one of the distinctive structures of the island.

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The Latte Stones. ( CC BY 2.0 )

However, it is possible that some of the rock art dates from the colonization of the island as many believe that some of these pictograms represent a cross or crucifixion. As this is a Christian symbol, it would only have been introduced in the late seventeenth century.

The Legend of Gadao’s Cave

Many experts as well as the local Chamorro have noted the similarities between some of the pictograms and local myths. In particular, the image of two men carrying an object, possibly a coconut, seems to be related to the legend of Gadao. This chief was the greatest warrior and had the reputation as the strongest man on the island, a Guaman Hercules. This irked another chief named Malaguaña and deciding that he would challenge Gadao he went in search of his rival. Along his journey he met Gadao by chance, but keeping his identity a secret, he decided to play a trick on Malaguaña. He promised that he would take him to the strong chief and that he would provide him with a meal after his journey. Gadao began to prepare a meal and he squeezed milk out of a coconut with his bare hands. Malaguaña saw this and he exclaimed that if this man was so strong, imagine how strong his chief must be. The wily Gadao never revealed his name and Malaguaña went home crestfallen. This is only one of several stories about the powerful chief. The cave is named after the legendary chief who may well have been a real-life chief in pre-contact Guam.

Where is Gadao’s Cave?

The cave is near the town of Inarajan which is in the south-west of Guam. It is located not far from a tropical beach and it is a short hike off the road. It is very accessible as a path leads straight to the mouth of the cave, which is not very big. The site is located near a ruined ancient Chamorro village and a statue of Chief Gadao.

By Phil Dotree — July 18, 2011

It’s sometimes easy to forget that the United States used to be a very dangerous place, especially when our biggest problems are malfunctioning smart phones and lackluster reality shows. It’s worth thinking about the dangers that the first Americans faced rugged frontiersman had to deal with dysentery, starvation, and even river pirates. Outlaws and thieves once preyed on American pioneers, especially river travelers who were gullible enough to trust a kind stranger.

Cave-In-Rock's cave was spectacularly flooded when we first visited. Here's what it looks like during drier conditions.

There’s no better example of the grim, macabre side of the early U.S. than River Pirate Cave, a small rock formation on the banks of the Ohio River between Kentucky and southern Illinois. The cave is in a small, aptly-named town called Cave-In-Rock, which seems to be out in the middle of nowhere on the south side of Shawnee National Forest.

A road sign outside of the Cave-In-Rock lodge. (Photo by Phil Dotree © Richard Grigonis)

The History of Cave-In-Rock

The small, 55-foot wide cave was once a prime stop for travelers in the late 1800s, as it provided easy shelter from the heat and an obvious stopping point for riverboats.

Before that time, Cave-In-Rock was home to thieves and murderers who’d lure travelers into the cave under false pretenses, probably an offer of food, supplies or guidance. The pirates would then kill the travelers, dumping their bodies into the Ohio River and erasing their names from history.

The river pirates gave the cave its best-known name, River Pirate Cave, and there were some big-name outlaws holed up in the rock from the late 1700s to the mid-1800s.

The lodge offers information about Cave-In-Rock as well as facilities. (Photo by Phil Dotree © Richard Grigonis)

The Harpe Brothers were some of the most famous temporary residents they were America’s first true serial killers, with about 40 combined murders between them. The Harpes stayed at the cave while fleeing an order of execution. Their modus operandi often involved stabbing their victims and weighing their bodies with stones before throwing them in a river--however, it’s not clear whether they actually murdered anyone at Cave-In-Rock or how long they stayed in town. In any case, it was one of their last stops together. The elder Harpe brother was tracked down and killed by a posse while the younger brother spent his life on the run before eventually being caught and executed.

Picnic pavilions overlook the Ohio River at Cave-In-Rock. (Photo by Phil Dotree © Richard Grigonis)

Samuel Mason was another famous resident who used Cave-In-Rock as the headquarters of his famous Mason Gang, a group of ruthless river pirates and highwaymen. He may have also worked with James Ford, another famous pirate, although there’s no real evidence that they met one another. That didn’t stop Disney from using Samuel Mason and James Ford as villains in a Davey Crockett cartoon, which Cave-In-Rock proudly points out on its town park’s website.

Other outlaws include the Sturdivant Gang, a group of counterfeiters, and various no-name pirates, pickpockets and river rats who gave the town a bad name before it gained respectability as a travel hub in the late 1800s. It’s impossible to list all of the pirates who visited Cave-In-Rock because there’s simply no list – pirates are, by nature, secretive, and many of their names and crimes have been lost to history.

A scenic view of Cave-In-Rock park and the Ohio river. (Photo by Phil Dotree © Richard Grigonis)

That’s part of the point. A major reason for Cave-In-Rock’s reputation as a tourist attraction is the folklore surrounding the cave, not the history. Little is known for sure--there are dozens of stories and plenty of evidence for the grisly crimes of early river pirates, but not a lot of specific information about the victims or criminals.

Every now and then, residents may find something startling, such as gold coins, graffiti or in one case, a body buried under an old house. For the most part, though, everything is left to the imagination of the visitor, and that makes Cave-In-Rock absolutely irresistible. Tourists come to the area to visit the park surrounding the cave and to take a peek into the tiny rock where bandits hid and where pioneers died gruesome deaths. The crimes of the cave become even more gruesome and cold in the imagination, and for many visitors, that’s absolutely fascinating.

A pathway leading down to the murky waters of the Ohio River. Cave-In-Rock is beyond this and to the left. (Photo by Phil Dotree © Richard Grigonis)

Visiting The Cave

River Pirate Cave is known by a dozen or so names, owing to the word-of-mouth manner in which the legend of the cave has spread.

There’s a very nice park above River Pirate Cave, with well-kept grass and several picnic shelters for vacationing families. It’s hard to think that this was the same place where pirates led travelers to their doom over a hundred years ago, but there’s certainly an eerie feel to the steep drop-off areas around the picnic tables and the winding stone staircases leading down to the cave area.

The path to Cave-In-Rock's River Pirates Cave entrance, flooded by rising water of the Ohio River. (Photo by Phil Dotree © Richard Grigonis)

Cave-In-Rock’s park is beautiful, but other than a few modest fences and the aforementioned picnic tables, it’s been kept in a similar condition to what those unfortunate travelers might have seen in the 1800s. That means that visitors should be especially careful when exploring--one step in the wrong direction and you’ll find yourself dangling off a cliff.

It also means that Cave-In-Rock park has some of the most beautiful views in Illinois. Each of the winding paths in the park lead to a tremendous vantage point for observing the powerful Ohio River, and with ferry boats drift past every few minutes, it creates a startling, breathtaking scene. We were also told by a few locals that there’s great fishing in the area. It’s easy to believe catfish and bluegill could be seen jumping out of the water near the flooded path that leads to the River Pirate Cave.

The side of the cave at Cave-In-Rock, Illinois, seen here during the great flood of 2011. (Photo by Phil Dotree © Richard Grigonis)

The Mouth Of The Cave

There are no signs marking the cave, other than arrows pointing in its general direction, and there are no plaques educating visitors on the geology or the history of the place. That’s part of the River Pirate Cave’s allure: it’s a hole in a rock, with no artificial light, no tour guides, no creature comforts.

An annoyed, wet, Interesting America reporter attempts to make his way into the river pirates cave by wading into the mighty ohio river. (Photo by Phil Dotree © Richard Grigonis)

There is graffiti, however. You’ll find graffiti in any public place that isn’t vigorously guarded, but Cave-In-Rock’s graffiti goes back quite a ways. There are etchings from the 1800s (at least, that’s what the graffiti claims--there’s not really a good way to tell, but the etched names certainly look old enough to be legitimate). There are also crude limericks and signatures from more recent vandals, which distract from the geology of the structure but certainly don’t diminish the cave’s history as a home for outlaws.

The cave extends quite a ways into the park above. For light, there’s a large stone circle, sort of like a giant chimney, which extends from the cave up to the park. It’s covered in a grate to keep tourists from falling in. It’s also a great place to drop things on people and to play pranks on the superstitious who might be worried about the rumors of cave ghosts.

This deep, well-like shaft at Cave-In-Rock state park looks down into the cave itself. (Photo by Phil Dotree © Richard Grigonis)

Cave-In-Rock’s park is open to the public and is completely free, as are ferry rides to neighboring Kentucky. The park has a lodge for travelers and offers great opportunities for boating, hiking and swimming. However, visitors are advised to call ahead to the park’s lodge at (618) 289-4545 to make sure that the cave will be accessible, as it is prone to flooding from the Ohio River.

A close-up view of the shaft looking down into the famous Cave-In-Rock cave in southern Illinois. (Photo by Phil Dotree © Richard Grigonis)

It’s certainly worth a stop if you’re around the area--Cave-In-Rock is an odd but endearing town, and the River Pirates Cave is a fascinating place to see, especially for anyone interested in the trials and hardships of early American settlers.

7 thoughts on &ldquoThe Hidden City of Death Valley&rdquo

This is taken from a Greek Myth about Orpheus going into the land of the dead(Tartarus) to sway Hades into reuniting him with his deceased wife, Eurydice, by playing a song with his lyre. Hades agreed and told him that his wife can leave with him but Orpheus could not look back while his wife Eurydice is following him out. Otherwise, he would lose her again. Orpheus became uncertain and looked back which caused his wife to be pulled back into Tartarus/Hades. Someone Stole A Story!

I just wanted to clarify by saying the story was not stolen, it is symbolic of the nature of crossing between the world of light and the world of shadow. If one looks back (or looks directly at the things in the shadow world then they disappear).

Rai Stones

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Human societies tend to assign the value to objects based on, among other things, scarcity. This certainly applies in the case of the giant money stones of Yap. There are no sources of limestone on the island of Yap, and one can only imagine the effort needed to transport a 9000-pound stone “coin” using canoes and rafts over hundreds of miles of open ocean.

According to local lore, some 500 to 600 years ago, a man called Anagumang led the expedition from his native island of Yap to the distant island of Palau, 300 miles away. Men of Yap were immediately baffled by Palau’s abundant sources of limestone. Natives of Palau permitted the men of Yap to quarry the rock in exchange for goods and services, establishing an unusual economic exchange between the two islands. Though novelty items at first, these stones soon took on the role of proper currency on Yap. First, stones were carved into the shapes of fish, but later, the slightly more practical disc shape was adopted. The stone remained the chief currency until the 20th century.

As with any currency, Rai stones attracted speculators. David Dean O’Keefe, an Irish-born American sailor and adventurer, started producing Rai stones in large quantities using modern tools imported from Hong Kong. Needless to say this practice devalued the currency, proving that even rock solid money is not immune to inflation.

Today, Rai stones can be seen at the Oceanic Culture Museum in Okinawa, as well as at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.

Know Before You Go

United Airlines is the only airline to service Yap twice a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays from Guam. A small, national carrier, Caroline Islands Air, flies between Yap and Palau once a week or by charter. To visit a Stone Money Bank or any other sites in Yap, visitors must to go with a guide who will get the permission of the chief beforehand. All land in Yap is privately owned and visitors are not allowed to wander alone.

Gadao’s Cave, Guam: The Rock Art, The Chief, The Legends - History

There was once a cow and a carabao who were friends. They enjoyed talking to each other, but neither one trusted the other. One very hot and humid day the cow and the carabao met on the beach in Inarajan. They both had come down for a relaxing soak in the cool water where the river entered the bay. Before going into the water, the cow took off her skin and hid it under a banana tree. The carabao hid his skin under a coconut tree.

While they were enjoying a refreshing swim, a native found the skins of the two animals and decided to play a trick on them. He switched the skins around. He took the cow's skin, placed it under the coconut tree, and put the carabao's skin beneath the banana tree. As darkness approached, the animals decided it was time to return from the water and to put on their skins. As they reached the beach, it was dark. In the darkness, each animal returned to his own hiding place and dressed rapidly. Not being able to see the skin in the darkness, neither animal knew he was putting on the wrong skin.

To this day the cow has skin that is much too big for her, making it hard for her to run very fast. The carabao, however, has a tightfitting skin and is able to run very fast.


The Agana River meandered from the newly washed green jungle foliage and merged with the ocean surf near the village of Agana. It was near this stream at Minondo that a family once lived many, many years ago. There were three girls and one boy in the family. Sirena was the youngest and the prettiest girl in the family.

Unlike the others in the family, Sirena enjoyed swimming more than anything else in the world. Her mother tried to teach her to sew, to cook, to sweep, to wash and to do other dutiful things that a girl her age should know in order to become a good wife and mother. Sirena, however, only wanted to swim.

One day, Sirena's mother sent Sirena on an errand to get charcoal, for the iron, from her aunt who lived across the river at Agana Springs. The temptation to plunge into the river and swim was so great that, before she knew what was happening, Sirena was in the water swimming and enjoying herself. She soon lost all sense of time and, of course, forgot what she had been sent to do.

It began to get dark and Sirena's mother began to worry. She knew about Sirena's obsession for the water, but that her daughter was a good swimmer. The mother became upset and angry because she had waited so long for the charcoal for the iron. Passionately she muttered, "I wish my daughter would turn into a fish." Sirena's godmother, who was visiting at the time, said, "Her upper half should stay the same."

While she was still swimming in the water, Sirena felt a change come over her body. Looking down at her feet, she could see them changing into a fish's tail. As she struggled to leave the water, the lower part of her body turned into a fish. Sirena then knew that she would spend the rest of her life in the water that she dearly loved.

The current of the river began to carry her to the ocean. Sirena found that she could swim very well, and she was very pleased. She swam out to the ocean and was never seen again by her mother or godmother.

It is often told that many fishermen and ships have seen and have heard Sirena swimming and singing in the oceans of the world. Whenever anyone gets too close to her, Sirena swims away and isn't seen again for quite some time. She appears in many areas of the crystal blue sea.

Sirena can only be caught with a net woven from human hair. It is said that Sirena once was caught by a ship's captain but escaped a few minutes later and disappeared into the depths of the ocean.

Somewhere, beautiful Sirena is swimming and enjoying herself. The next person to see her may just happen to be you.

The Legend of Mount Lamlam

There was once a great chieftain named Lamlam, who lived in a huge cave on Guam. The cave was as wide as a kingdom with glittering rocks and fine hand carvings on the walls.

One day the chieftain's cook became sick and was unable to serve him. The chieftain, becoming hungry, decided to build a fire and to cook his own meal. The fire gave much heat, but the chieftain didn't think it was hot enough. As he put more wood on the fire, he burned his hand. Getting angry, he added more and more wood to the fire. The cave started to rumble and to shake. Soon there was a tremendous explosion.

This disaster created the highest elevation on the island which was named in honor of the great chieftain, Lamlam. Today, if you should climb to the top of Mount Lamlam, you will not only see the surrounding ocean on all sides, but you will also feel the rumbling and the shaking of the earth beneath your feet.

Puntan Dos Amantes

Long ago when the Spanish still ruled the island of Guam, an event happened which brought deep sorrow to a powerful family and reminded the Spaniards, of fierce pride, that one should never fail to listen to the human heart.

In old Agana, there lived a proud family. The father was a Spanish aristocrat and the mother was a Chamorro of noble blood. Although the land they owned and the position they held were reason enough for their dignity and pride, their finest possession was their only daughter, for she had that kind of beauty which is seldom seen. She was more than beautiful, for her modesty was so genuine and her charm so natural that her beauty shone outward to all around her. She was sought after by boys and men, and although she smiled on all, young and old, ugly and handsome, her innocence protected her from misunderstanding and harm.

One day a self-assured gallant, three times her age, came to court her. As a captain in the service of the King of Spain, he was well received by the girl's ambitious father, who was flattered that a grandee would pay his daughter so much honor. From the first visit, the opinionated father decided that the captain would be his daughter's husband.

However, the daughter in no way encouraged the suitor, and the vain captain, himself, did not seem conscious that she could have no interest in him. Sure of himself, he pressed his courtship, certain that she could not resist him for long.

When the father saw that she continued to hold off the captain with cool courtesy, he made it clear to his daughter that he intended to marry her off to the grandee. Lowering her eyes in respect and humility, she said nothing, but her father's unloving sternness pained her deeply. When he told her that he knew what was best for her future, she wanted to please him and to abide by her father's wishes, but her womanly instinct compelled her to confess, "I feel nothing for the good captain." The father, annoyed, reminded her of her duty to her parents. Meekly she asked, "I already have one good father. Do I need another in so old a husband?"

The father, angered because she had questioned his judgment, warned her that she should obey or he would send her away from her home forever to learn the meaning of obedience in a convent in distant Spain. Crying, she ran to her mother who told her daughter she must resign herself to her father's will. Feeling wretched, the girl wandered along the shore as the sea soothed her with its silence and peace.

The girl wanted to be a good daughter and was frightened at the thought of being sent away from her beloved island for the rest of her life. She was torn, too, by a yearning to be married to a boy of her own choosing, a man who would make their life together a lovely dream. But, she had beheld him only in her heart. Alone and unhappy, she wandered on the high peninsula overlooking Tumon Bay, the vast ocean thrashing below. There, against the setting sun, sat a young man, lost in his own solitary thoughts. His gentle eyes seemed to be studying a lonely star, asking it what life should be. She saw that he, too, was seeking. She felt as if she had found the boy of her dreams.

When he became aware of her gaze upon him, he turned toward her. He was awed by her beauty, and she sensed that he, somehow, felt her sadness and yearning.

He got up and slowly came to her. His hand touched her shoulder to comfort her, and she knew then that he would always understand. Before the last sunrays vanished and the night stars fully appeared, they learned the meaning of love.

That evening the girl returned home. She now had a real reason for resisting the captain's unwanted advances. However, that night the officer, dazzled by the new flush in her cheeks, grew more persistent and ardent than ever before. His words, so clever and grandiloquent at dinner, became empty and unkind when, in the hallway, she fled his hot embrace. His impatience and anger showed that he did not know what true gentleness was.

Alone in her room, the bright girl realized that the captain wanted her as he did the fine horse he rode on festive days. With a sinking heart, she saw that her father was giving her away like a choice piece of land to a vain, powerful man to gain his favor at court. While she reasoned thus, the captain downstairs decided to force the issue before he left. He demanded the girl's hand in marriage and the father willingly consented. At once he summoned the girl from her bed to announce his decision. His daughter's crestfallen face went pale. He patted her, assuring the girl she would be happy and her future would be secure.

She would have yielded to tears, but her pride made her dare to tell the truth in true Castilian style.

"I do not -- I do not love the captain. I cannot -- I shall never be his wife."

Embarrassed and furious at his daughter's disobedience, he ordered, "You can -- and you shall!"

The conceited captain said nothing, but vowed he would break her as he had his wild, beautiful stallion. She would learn to kiss his hand in respect and even in reverence.

The weeping girl, humiliated and crushed by her father's command, ran upstairs to her mother and told her what had happened. The mother, a dutiful wife who had learned early to bow to her husband's will, if not to his wisdom, tried to convince her daughter all would be well.

"You will love the captain one day -- out of love for your mother and father," her mother said.

Between tears and joy, the girl admitted to the mother that she had fallen in love with the boy she had met that evening on the heights. The mother shook her head at the news while she rocked her child in her arms, but she bowed to her daughter's passion. She would tell her husband that her daughter was in love with a young fisherman who could read the stars.

The mother went at once, but the haughty father forbade her to speak woman's nonsense. Besides, how could he go back on his word to the grandee now? He would never permit his daughter, greatest prize of all his possessions, to waste her life on a poor nobody. Hesitantly, the mother went back and told her daughter what the father had said.

The next morning the father announced the date for the marriage feast to his silent child. As she listened to her father's practical reasons for the match, she understood for the first time the Spanish way -- the cruelty in its greatness, the heartlessness in its empire, and the pride and the resignation it demanded. Before its great, dark power over her tiny life, she felt small and lost.

She remained alone in her room all that day. At twilight, she stole out of the house to meet the Chamorro boy who loved her. As agreed, she joined him at the high point where they first met and watched stars appear.

She was late and the boy thought she would never come again. He feared she had forgotten him already for the royal suitor she had mentioned. When he heard her steps in the dark, he rushed to her and they held each other in their arms.

His keen joy suddenly turned to anxiety when he saw her face in the full moonlight, her cheeks streaked with tears. She then told him of her impending marriage to the grandee.

His large, gently eyes were defeated now, the light in them dead. He believed she was saying good-bye forever. Because he loved her truly, he swallowed his grief and tried to wish her happiness, but the words died in his mouth.

She understood without words, and she whispered something that assured him that she was all his own. They embraced, kissed, cried and held on to each other, not knowing if it was for the last time.

As the night grew longer, they knew they would not part to go their separate ways to live without each other. They would run away together, even though it meant certain death for the boy if they were caught.

They would need some things to give them a chance to survive. He would fetch a canoe, a net, some fishing gear and a weapon. She would get some money and other necessary things. In a few days they would make their escape to another island where no one would ever find them.

At home the next day, the young girl was worried and bothered about the recent events. The ever-present captain took her distraction as a sign of modesty and of submission. His unsatisfied desire for her made him persuade the father to hasten the preparations for the ceremony so that it would take place before the week was out. One night when she thought she could stand the man's advances no more, she tried to go out to see her Chamorro lover, but her father forbade her to leave the house till after the wedding. To be sure of it, he posted a guard at her door and the captain's men around the walls of the large mansion.

The days passed with the girl being unable to go out. The boy did not know what to think. Fearing the worst, he thought that she had given in to her father's wishes. Finally, unable to endure the silence and not knowing what to think anymore, the boy went to the estate and slipped past the guards to seek out her window. He remembered that her balcony faced toward the sunrise. When he thought he had found it, he took his life in his hands and called out her name softly to the open window. A face appeared in the dark opening. It was hers.

How she got out of the house and how the guards failed to see them are not known, but the next morning, the mother discovered that her daughter was gone. The mother knew, immediately, what her daughter had done, but she did not know where the girl could have fled. She delayed some time before going to her husband.

When the father learned what had happened, he became furious. He informed the captain that his daughter had been kidnapped by a low rowdy and together the elderly men set out with soldiers and horsemen to scour the hills of Tumon Bay.

Toward noon, the young couple was sighted fleeing through the tangantangan. Searching soldiers kept them from getting to the canoe the boy had hidden in a cave. The captain, in shrewd military style, had his mounted men circle ahead as far as the high peninsula above the caves.

The two lovers sighted their pursuers behind them. Instinctively, they felt their only escape was at the top of the point. They climbed through the underbrush and over the sharp volcanic rock which cut their hands and feet. When they reached the summit, their hearts were glad. Their relief was short-lived. They were surrounded on all sides. The horsemen slowed as they neared the jutting peak because they saw that the youngsters were trapped. On the great black horse rode the captain, who was very angry. Next to him rode the stern father who suddenly became uneasy because his daughter was so close to the edge of the cliff. Still advancing, he called to her, but she did not hear him. The lovers knew there was one thing left for them to do. The boy shouted a warning for the men to stay back, and the father signaled the men to halt and to watch. The couple stood at the very edge of the precipice. The men were puzzled when the boy and girl tied their hair together.

The two acted as if they were utterly alone. They looked deeply into each other's eyes and kissed one last time. The anxious father shouted a warning to the girl to obey, and the captain spurred his horse forward to try to seize the boy. In that instant, the young couple leaped down the long, deep cliff into the roaring tide below.

When the father galloped up to the edge, all he could see was the floating hair and the yellow wedding ribbon his daughter had used to make the final bow with the unknown boy's hair. Too late the father understood the meaning of their hair tied together.

The men, in their canoes and boats, searched for them the rest of the day, but they did not find their bodies.

Since that day, the islanders look to the jutting peak by Tumon Bay with a kind of reverence. They are paying homage to the young couple who showed them that real love comes from the entwining of two souls, true to one another in life and in death.

The Legend of Taotaomona

The taotaomonas are the ghosts of the ancient people of Guam. The taotaomona may take the form of a person who is very big and strong. Some of the taotaomonas, being headless and having deformed bodies, are very ugly looking indeed.

There is one special taotaomona called Anufat. He is very ugly and has teeth six inches long. He also has a hole in each side of his head, with ferns stuffed in each hole. Whenever Guamanians walk through a cemetery, they always whistle because they don't wish to disturb Anufat. If they don't whistle, Anufat may become startled and cause great harm.

The taotaomonas of Guam live in the jungles and disturb the taotaomonas, they may pinch you, leaving red marks on your body, or they may cause you to become sick. The only cure for this sickness is to visit a witch. If you put the sleep from a dog's eye into your eyes, you can see the taotaomona. If you look into the steam of cooking rice, you can also see a taotaomona.

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Puntan Dos Amantes, or Two Lovers Point, is without a doubt one of Guam’s most iconic - and romantic - attractions. Every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors are drawn to the towering cliff that is the site of one of Guam’s

Gadao’s Cave, Guam: The Rock Art, The Chief, The Legends - History

Ruins of what may have been the Kaheiki heiau lie in the undergrowth in lower Nu‘uanu. But different accounts place this ancient temple in different locations.

Nu‘uanu is mentioned in the earliest legends, as Puakea has told us. Aside from the gods who were in residence here, who were the people? As in other parts of the islands, these ancients include the menehune and other strange creatures referred to as the ‘e‘epa. Like the menehune, the ‘e‘epa are generally described as being short in stature ("imps," one source says "gnomes," according to another). These creatures were placed there by the gods to guard legendary beings described in the next page. But there are traditions and landscapes associated with them here.

The walled edge of a platform on this possible site of Kaheiki heiau . An extensive complex lies in the underbrush, but whether these are ancient or more recent ruins is unknown.

Kaheiki heiau is one such site. Kaheiki heiau is said by some to be located near the ridge between Nu‘uanu and neighboring Pauoa Valley. Westervelt's Hawaiian legends of old Honolulu (1991) states "There was a heiau of the menehunes, where the road goes up the valley, at the foot of the hill on the eastern side of Nu‘uanu Valley, the hill known now as Pacific Heights." But Robert Nui, in his work Lost Heiaus (no date), says that "Legends locate this temple in the vicinity of Waolani."

Of its origins, Robert Nui goes on to say "Kahano was a kupua or demi-god. He lay down on the ocean floor, stretched out his arms, resting one on Kahiki and the other on Oahu. Thus was formed a bridge for the menehunes to travel back and forth while building the temple of Kaheiki." The menehune for Ka-hanai-a-ke-akua, whose story is part of the legend of Keaomelemele, is told on the next page.

Kaheiki also appears in the story of Kaupe . Featured in this story is Kahilona, the priest of Kaheiki heiau. Under Kahilona, Kaheiki becomes the center of the mo‘o-kahuna class of priests, who are skilled in the art of kilokilo, or the reading of signs in the earth, sky and sea. (These mo‘o lineages, we will see, have their origin explained in the story of Keaomelemele).

Kaupe was a man-eating dog (a kupua, or demigod) who terrorized the islands, especially O‘ahu. Once he stole a chief's son from the island of Hawai‘i, and took him to O‘ahu to sacrifice. The chief then came to O‘ahu, landing secretly and going to Kaheiki to consult with Kahilona.

Kahilona taught the chief a number of prayers and chants to defend himself and outwit Kaupe. One of them went,

O Ku! O Lono! O Kane! O Kanaloa!
By the power of the gods,
by the strength of this prayer,
Save us two! Save us two!

Going at night to where the boy was held, this chief used those chants to set him free. They passed quietly past the sleeping dog, and fled in the direction of Kaheiki.

Two petroglyphs of dogs, in a rock overhang above Nu‘uanu stream. Numerous such carvings are found in area around Alekoki pool.

"While they were running, a great noise was heard far behind them, " Westervelt (1991: 205-8) writes in his version of the story: "The dog had been awakened, and had discovered the escaped prisoner. Then, rushing like like a whirlwind. he found the direction in which they had fled. This was the path naturally taken by those leaving O‘ahu to escape to Hawai‘i. The great dog, only waiting to learn the course taken, pursued them on wings of the wind."

But the two actually hid on O‘ahu as Kaupe fled to Hawai‘i. At Kaheiki they learned from Kahilona the prayers needed to defeat Kaupe. When they were fully instructed they returned to Hawai‘i and waged war against their enemy, and defeated him.

But it is said that the ghost of Kaupe was not killed: "He returned a ghost-god to the highest parts of Nu‘uanu Valley, where in his shadow body he can sometimes be seen in the clouds . Sometimes his cloud form is that of a large dog, and sometimes he is very small but there his ghost rests and watches over the lands which at one time he filled with terror."

The area most widely associated with the strange ancient inhabitants is Waolani, a small separated valley in upper Nu‘uanu. Robert Nui (n.d.) refers to Waolani as "the famed resort of the ‘e‘epa people." Kamakau (1993) similarly remarks that the ridges above Waolani were "where the ‘e‘epa people are said to have lived and most of the people of strange powers who lived at Waolani." McAllister (1933) wrote that it was in the vicinity of Waolani "that the menehunes came to the assistance of Kekupua in the building of a koa canoe for Kakai, chief of Wahiawa, that his wife might voyage to Kahiki in search of a lost brother."

This site on the ridge above Waolani is said to be the remains of a heiau of the Menehune. Kamakau wrote, "There was another heiau on the ridge adjoining Kapalama and looking into the valley called Ke-ana-a-ka-mano (the cave of the shark), and another looking into Nu‘uanu Valley, and these were the heiaus where the ‘e‘epa people are said to have lived and most of the people of strange powers who lived at Waolani".

The Pohaku-a-UmeUme is a famous stone in Waolani associated with these ancient peoples. Its legends are told in the Footprints chapter. But this stone also has historical significance. Here is a story told by Mrs. Anne Peleioholani Taylor, recorded in 1952 (Sterling & Summers, 1978: 303):

The knife-edge trail on the ridge above Waolani separates Nu‘uanu from Ke-ana-a-ka-mano, the upper valley of Kapalama.

"The stone was used to test the powers of those who would be umeume experts.

"The stone had powers connected with those of the lineage of the descendents of Oahu's king, Kakuhihewa. The stone had the magic ability to detect a true descendent of Kakuhihewa. When a umeume graduate tried to tilt the stone, he was unable to do so unless he was a descendant of Kakuhihewa.

"Pohaku-Aumeume was the place where any child of the Kakuhihewa line had its naval cut. It was more important that the mother have the blood of Kakuhihewa than the father. The magic powers of the stone were called upon in case there was a dispute over the name to be given the child or who was to rear the child.

"If the father's people wanted to name and rear the child and the mother's people wanted to name it for one of their ancestors, then the stone settled the argument."

"The priest of Waolani Heiau acted as judge and arbitrator. He held the child while the decision was made. The mother and her family would line up on one side of Pohaku-Aumeume. The father and his family lined up on the other side. Each family selected a person to do the testing. Often the mother decided to test the stone herself. If the mother were not in good health, she might ask her mother to be the tester.

"Whichever side was able to tilt or move the stone won the contest and the baby. He would select a name 'suggested by the stone,' from either family and award the child to whom he thought best."

These are some of the many tales and wondrous sites of ancient Nu‘uanu. Go to the next page to learn more about Nu‘uanu's legendary setting.

Is rock music, like cave painting, a thing of the past?

For sheer outlandish spectacle the mythic onstage feats of Iggy Pop rival those of any Cúchulainn. Lacerating himself with broken glass walking on the audience’s hands while smearing himself with peanut butter turning up for an audition with The Doors (post-Morrison) naked as the day he was born. Part of the reason fans get hooked on this stuff is because its essence is to defy the distinction between what’s performance and what’s real.

“I’m dying in a story,” Iggy crooned, “I’m only living to sing this song”. David Hepworth touches on this essence in his book. Fans’ “greatest investment is in the myth itself”, he writes, which can be “even more important than the songs you sing”.

Uncommon People: The Rise and Fall of the Rock Stars, 1955-1994

Uncommon People: The Rise and Fall of the Rock Stars presents Hepworth’s narrative of rock’s history. It’s a narrative that assumes rock to be, like cave painting, a thing of the past. Hepworth is a music journalist and editor who founded or edited a string of notable publications such as Mojo, Q, and Smash Hits and whose last book was the faintly dull 1971 – Never a Dull Moment: Rock’s Golden Year.

Although Uncommon People has a promising premise – to orient rock’s history around the centrality therein of freaks – his narrative quickly settles into the usual stale postures and platitudes. Much the same arc, not coincidentally, as we find in the careers of those stodgy male rockers to whom he’s beholden.

Over 300 pages Hepworth tells the story, as he sees it, of rock’s rise and fall. For each year from 1955 to 1995, there’s a brief chapter focused on one artist and significant event. The year 1955, for example, focuses on Little Richard’s musical breakthrough 1965, on The Who’s internal tiffs.

Once we’re out of the 1960s, though, rather than keeping his focus on new blood, Hepworth tends to stick with mainstream 1960s artists as they grow complacent, conceited and musty. This suits his narrative of nostalgia and decline and ignores the more vital rock musicians of recent decades.

Beefheart and Big Star

His 1986 shuns The Smiths for the frog-throated Dylan. His 1989 is summed up not by The Pixies, nor Sonic Youth, but Bonnie Raitt (!) No room at Hepworth’s cocktail party for tatty types like Beefheart or Big Star, or for abrasive women like Nina Hagen or PJ Harvey. No punk (Ramones, Sex Pistols, Slits), and nothing that’s not Anglophone (Serge Gainsbourg, Can).

You get the picture. If this book were an album, it would be one of those corporate Best Ofs that bunch a lot of familiar songs together in a characterless way and which are designed to lie at the bottom of a glove compartment.

Hepworth has two theses. The first is that rock apotheosises societal freaks. Rock stars are those who “had no reason to expect that they would ever be special” yet who also ‘”refused to accept that they would ever be anything but exceptional”. These are people who ascended society’s ladder usually without having typical advantages such as an expensive education or social connections. Hepworth’s second thesis is that the rock star as an animal is now dead, made extinct by the changing digital environment much like the polar bear will be made extinct by climate change. “The true rock stars rose and fell with the fortunes of the post-war record industry. They came along in the mid-fifties and passed away in the last decade of the century just gone.”

Lou Reed: typist

To back this up he gives some interesting anecdotes. Little Richard’s Tutti Frutti, it turns out, was penned to celebrate sodomy. Lou Reed, after the split-up of The Velvet Underground, briefly tried his hand at being a square, taking a job as a typist. The account of Elvis’s death is gloriously pathetic. Hepworth is at his best when writing about the 1950s, which in many ways remains rock’s key period. But there’s too much here that we’ve heard a million times before. Hearing once again the Cinderella story of how a then-unknown Jimi Hendrix got up onstage in London and jammed with Cream and wowed everyone has about the same effect as hearing some drunk blokes outside a pub singing Rod Stewart. And Hepworth’s is indeed a bloke’s eye view of history – women are rare and fleeting. Bowie sleeping with a 14-year-old girl is passed over without judgment.

It’s no coincidence that the advent of the rock star coincided with Warhol’s screen-print icons. Rock is a paradigmatic art of the mass-media age and, contra Hepworth, that age is still very much with us, even if the media and instruments continue to evolve. “On the air you could be anyone you wanted,” Hepworth says of how radio and TV enabled early rock. So long as young people still have the imagination and drive, our mass media age will continue to engender such mythic monsters and superfreaks.

Watch the video: Inside Indigenous Life In A Territory. AJ+ (February 2023).

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