At Sacred Hawaiian Site, Veneration Looks a Lot Like Litter

April 22, 2007

Source: The New York Times

Wire Service: AP

HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK, Hawaii, April 21 (AP) — Rangers here are starting a program to stop people from littering the summit of Kilauea with offerings like incense, candles and food that attract rats and cockroaches.

Some park visitors consider the items an offering to Pele, the Hawaiian fire goddess. But park service officials say the objects actually desecrate a site that is sacred to many Native Hawaiians.

“Many of these items are being left by people who are not from here,” said the park superintendent, Cindy Orlando. “I don’t think that they do it to litter. They don’t know that it is disrespectful. So we have to get that message out, and we have to educate them.”

Visitors regularly leave flowers, bottles, money, incense, candles and crystals at the top of the volcano. Rangers say they remove some 45 pounds of such offerings from Halemaumau Crater each week.