Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ancient Ruins in O'ahu, Hawaii

During the summer of 2011, I vacationed in O'ahu.  One of the places I visited was Waimea Valley.  Waimea Valley is one of the last partially intact native Hawaiian lands.  It is called an Ahupua'a.  The land consists of 1,800 acres of valley with botanical and ecological significance.  There are many animals that roam freely in this preserved land. 

When I entered the preserve, I walked a trail and thought the area was only a nature preserve.   But as I continued on the trail, to the right of me was a group of steps.  I knew I had to step off the trail and follow these steps for some reason.  As I walked up the steps and into a rocky area, I discovered a complete archaeological site.  The area contained an ancient Hawaiian living site that belonged to a high priest and his family.  The site included rock structures for housing animals, a rock structure for dead relatives, remains of a house for men and  other remains.

I investigated the site and it felt strangely familiar.  After investigating the site, I walked back to the trail and continued along the path in the valley.  It was absolutely breath-taking.  At one point, I could see what appeared to be small petals and leaves dropping down from the sky in an open area.  It reminded me of glitter falling. 

I continued on and found a school house that was a reconstruction of a school for Hawaiian children.  At the end of the trail, was a waterfall. 

After turing around and heading back to the entrance of the valley, I found a temple that was  partially reconstructed at the outside of the valley.  It was an ancient temple dedicated to the God Lono, who was one of four primary deities.  He was the god of agriculture, peace and music.  The temple dates back to 1470 AD.

Later, I went down to Waikiki beach and found and ancient set of stones called The Stones of Life.  These stones were said to be brought down for  four healers who had travelled from other islands as far back as 400 AD.  They were referred to as kahunas or wizards.  They were skilled in the art of medicine and taught many healing ways to the people of O'ahu and other Hawaiian islands.  They were said to be tall men but somewhat feminine and gentle.  After healing and teaching healing ways, the kahunas said they would impart their power in one of the stones.  After time, the stones were covered in sand, until they were rediscovered and uncovered and protected.

After further exploring Hawaii, I tried to find some ancient petroglyphs on the south side of the island.  However, I was told that the petroglyphs were being covered by the tides at the time I came.  I then went looking for a cave, that was used by the high chiefs of ancient days.  I found it and then I entered Spirit Cave.

It wasn't very big and unfortunately, there was a lot of glass on the ground inside and outside the cave.  However, I am glad I went inside and looked around.  It was very quiet inside and peaceful.

There were many other things to do and see in O'ahu including snorkeling and visiting the Dole Plantation.  But for me, the highlights were the unexpected archaeological finds that I came across as I walked the path in the valley.

By Rita Jean Moran (

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Native American Mounds in Galena, Illinois

After visiting the historic town of Galena, I went out looking for the Native American Mounds.  After driving through rolling hills, I found them.  It began to rain after I was able to visit a couple of the mounds.  It was a very beautiful place.  I had heard there was a bird effigy at the end of the trail, but was unable to find it since the rain had picked up.  Here is what curvy Galena roads look like as well as the mounds I visited:

I also visited the mighty Mississippi.  The Natives surely traveled up and down this river as we do today.

In addition to the historical town of Galena, a tribute to Ulysses S. Grant is available to visit.

The following website lists some things to see in Galena as well:

By Rita Jean Moran (

A Pow Wow in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

A few years back, I had visited a Pow Wow up in Wisconsin.  Along with the dancing and stories, an exhibit of Native American living was present.  A hut was made by a woman from one of the Wisconsin tribes.  I was told the hut was going to go to a museum after the Pow Wow.  The man next to the Pow Wow, was demonstrating how to cook over a fire.  He had dug a pit and put some rocks in it.  A fire was lit and a set of sticks was put together over the fire to hold a chicken and fish over the fire.  This is how he had learned how to cook.  He showed me how the Native Americans used gords to hold their herbs (garlic was one of them), teas and coffee beans.  They had everything they needed by making use of what nature provided them.

By Rita Jean Moran (

Prehistoric Airplanes

When I visited the museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois, I saw what looked like little gold airplanes.  They were small artifacts from Columbia that were hundreds of years old.  The display case had a tag that labelled them as fish figurines.  To me, they look like airplanes or space shuttles.  What do you think?

By Rita Jean Moran (

The Presidents Before George Washington

When I was doing research for my fourth book, The Library Kids Talking Stones, I realized there were presidents before George Washington.  They were the presidents of the Continental Congress starting in 1774.  In fact, America had a different constitution then the one we have now.  It was called the Articles of Confederation.  There were those who felt the document was not good enough for the country and they wrote a set of essays called The Federalists Papers, that convinced Americans that a new constitution was needed.  This constitution was signed n 1787 and is the constitution we use as the supreme "Law of the Land" in America.

There were 16 presidencies of the continental congress before George Washington was president and John Hancock was the president during the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 

The leaders of the Continental Congress before George Washington became
President, were the following:

1. Peyton Randolph from Virginia that served September
05, 1774 - October 22, 1774

2. Henry Middleton from South Carolina October 22, 1774 -
October 26, 1774

3. Peyton Randolph from Virginia May 10, 1775 - May 24,

4. John Hancock from Massachusetts May 24, 1775 -
October 29, 1777

5. Henry Laurens from South Carolina November 01, 1777 -
December 09, 1778

6. John Jay from New York December 10, 1778 - September
28, 1779

7. Samuel Huntington from Connecticut September 28,
1779 - July 10, 1781

8. Thomas McKean from Delaware July 10, 1781 -
November 04, 1781

9. John Hanson from Maryland November 05, 1781 -
November 03, 1782

10. Elias Boudinot from New Jersey November 04, 1782 -
November 02, 1783

11. Thomas Mifflin from Pennsylvania November 03, 1783 -
October 31, 1784

12. Richard Henry Lee from Virginia November 30, 1784 -
November 06, 1785

13. John Hancock from Massachusetts November 23, 1785 -
May 29, 1786

14. Nathaniel Gorham from Massachusetts June 06, 1786 -
November 05, 1786

15. Arthur St. Clair from Pennsylvania February 02, 1787 -
November 04, 1787

16. Cyrus Griffin from Virginia January 22, 1788 - November
02, 1788

George Washington became president in 1789.

By Rita Jean Moran (

Frontier Days (1880s) in America

The pioneers of a fledgling America had to be strong to survive.    Everything required manual labor and had to be done from scratch.  Most people were farmers.  Others were blacksmiths, teachers, preachers or hired hands.  Life on the farm required a lot of hard work and family cooperation.  Everyone had their job to do, including the children. 

The farm family usually had a large amount of acreage (80 acres or more) with a water source and room for growing grains and raising farm animals.  Chickens and pigs were kept .  Eggs were collected and when animal meat was needed, the chicken or pig was killed and processed.  Most meats were smoked or salted to preserve them.  Horses were needed for transportation and an ox was used to pull a plow.

The land was made ready for growing wheat or corn.  A vegetable garden was kept and fruit and nut trees were planted.  All food was collected, processed and stored.  Wheat was threshed and a grinder was used to grind the wheat to make flour.  Vegetables and fruits were canned and other vegetables such as potatoes might be stored in a root cellar.  A scythe was used to cut the wheat but as technology improved, tractors were used cut the wheat.

A barn was built to house the animals during cold weather.  Inside the home, a wood burning stove was used to cook the food and a fireplace was used to warm the house.  Plenty of wood was needed to heat the home over the winter.  In the summer, cooking was perhaps done outside.  In the winter, ice blocks were cut out of frozen lakes and sold to ice houses.  

Cloth was purchased to make clothes and quilts.  Yarn was used to knit or crochet other clothing items.  Washing clothes was done by using a washing board and then ringing out the wet clothing.  The wet clothing was hung on  a clothesline to dry, even in the winter.    An outhouse was used for the bathroom and bathing was not done often.

There was no electricity and kerosene lamps were used for light.  Guns were used for protection and hunting.  Medicine was primitive and babies were born with the help of a midwife.  Trade was used as well.  Many people died young if they caught the flu or got an infection. 

Money was needed to purchase the farm land and pay small property taxes.  A school teacher was hired by a community to teach in a one room school house.   Most of the time, everyone worked to keep the farm going and the family fed and clothed.  If there was some time for entertainment, it was spent going to church on Sunday and maybe a picnic in a park or cemetery afterwords.  A county fair was also a popular event. 

Reading was done for leisure and learning.   Writing to friends and family through letters or postcards was the form of long distance communication.  Eventually the telephone and phonograph were invented and movie projectors followed.  Entertainment choices increased.  Technology helped decrease the need for hard labor on the family farm and corporations began to take over the job of farming and meat production.

There are a few family farms left in America, but most people are now dependent on a finding a job to survive and provide for a family.  Even though life on a farm was hard, the independence it allowed for, is unmatched today.  The farmer was also at mercy of the fruition of his crop and a bad year could spell disaster for the farm family.  Now days, the price of land is expensive and the population has increased making it almost too hard for everyone to live on a family farm.  Perhaps, Americans will find a new way to provide for themselves in the future without being so dependent on the economy and the availability of a job.

By Rita Jean Moran (