Diving into Haleakalā’s History
25 Aug 2020

Diving into Haleakalā’s History

25 Aug 2020

Diving into Haleakalā’s History

By: Jacob Hakim


Here at Haleakalā National Park, my job is first and foremost as a 19th Amendment Intern. There are currently four main goals for my time here: 1) to design and write two displays for cases at Kahului Airport (Maui’s international airport) about women who have played important roles in the park’s history; 2) to create an annotated bibliography of resources for women’s history, at Haleakalā; 3) to publish posts to Haleakalā NP’s social media for the month of August celebrating the centennial; and 4) to create content for a new page on the park website about women’s history. 

I had a bit of a late start this summer, and arrived in Maui in early July. There has been no shortage of project activities for me since I came, but I have some other duties here that are equally exciting. Twice a week, for example, I wake up at 4 AM to meet a park ranger at park HQ. From there we drive up to the summit (HQ is at 7,000 feet, while the summit Visitor’s Center is at around 10,000 feet) and rove the two summit locations. We arrive before sunrise and talk with visitors, who are usually bundled up and huddling out of the wind (the temperature can drop to 30 degrees Farenheit on a cold day). When the sun rises, we perform one of a few of the Hawaiian oli (chants) that we learned during a week of training workshops in early July. 

With the date of the centennial of the 19th Amendment rapidly approaching, I spent the first weeks of my internship diving into every available resource to learn what I could about the women who have been part of the history of this Maui mountain. Working together with several of the awesome interpretive rangers who work in the park, I made a work plan for my time on the mountain and started outlining ideas for the displays. I went down into Makawao, one of the towns nestled on the slopes of the volcano, and visited Makawao History Museum. With the help of Katie, a ranger who volunteers at the museum, I was able to look through their resources about Ethel Baldwin, one of the women we are highlighting for this project. 

The Makawao History Museum, located in downtown Makawao, is dedicated to telling the stories of the small Maui town.

Ethel Baldwin stands in her home in Makawao (courtesy of Makawao History Museum)

As part of my internship, I have also been responsible for writing social media posts for the park about my research. Here is the text from the post I made about Ethel:

“Ethel Baldwin was born in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi in 1879. She married Harry Baldwin, son of H.P. Baldwin, who was one of the owners of Haleakalā Ranch, in 1897. After moving to Maui with her husband, Ethel would go on to become a leader in the Makawao community (and indeed for all of Maui). In 1919, she was unanimously chosen as the president of the Maui Women’s Suffrage Association, and she spoke about women’s suffrage to numerous groups across the island. She helped establish community resources like the Kula Sanitarium (now Kula Hospital) and the Board of Child Welfare and Old Age Pensions for the citizens of Maui. An avid supporter of the arts, she even founded an arts society, Hui Noeau, and was a passionate artist herself. After she passed away in 1967 the Baldwin home, Kaluanui, was donated to Hui Noeau, and still serves as a center of the arts in the region. Ethel was an exemplary leader for all the people of Maui, and she devoted her life to the communities of people living on the slopes of Haleakalā.”

While I was looking around Makawao History Museum, I also had a chance to leaf through some of the museum resources, which had some information about Rose Freitas. Rose is a resident of Makawao and a national rodeo champion, and she will also be featured in this project. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to talk with Rose on the phone, and she sounds as energetic as ever, even in her late 80s. Here is the post I wrote for Rose:

“After being raised on a Maui plantation, Rose Freitas would grow up to be a talented paniolo and cowgirl. She is a nationwide rodeo champion, having won over 140 awards and trophies, and she has paved the way for cowgirls in Maui, even going on to create the Maui All Girls Rodeo with her daughter in 1972, the first rodeo of its kind in Hawaiʻi. She has worked as a volunteer with the National Park Service since the 1950s, traveling down to the cabins of Haleakalā Wilderness Area by horse and mule, and became a deputized ranger along with her husband, Raymond. She is still an active part of Makawao rodeo culture, and was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 2006. “

An exhibit for Maui’s paniolo, the Hawaiian cowboys, at Makawao History Museum.

The picture used in posts about Rose on Haleakalā’s social media pages. The frame was created by interpretive ranger Katie Matthew.

We are also highlighting a woman named Mary Evanson, who worked alongside park rangers to maintain the park and its natural resources for decades. She was an ardently outspoken leader in Mauiʻs conservation movement. Sadly, I did not get to meet her, as she passed away in May of 2019. Here is the text I wrote for a social media post about Mary:

“Mary Evanson was an avid defender of Maui’s wildlife. Born in Oʻahu, Mary moved to Maui after she retired from her job as a preschool teacher. From then on, she devoted her time and energy to preserving and teaching others about the endemic wildlife of Haleakalā. She started as a volunteer on the Haleakalā fencing project; at the time she was the only woman helping to build the fence, which has protected Haleakalā from destructive invasive species such as goats, pigs and deer since its construction.

Mary went on to found the non-profit advocacy and volunteer group Friends of Haleakalā, which is dedicated to educational outreach about wildlife and conservation in the park, as well as volunteer activities for the maintenance of the park and its facilities. Mary also wrote in Maui newspapers, using every medium available to spread awareness about issues threatening the ancient habitat of the park. Though Mary passed away in 2019, her work to protect the park continues with the members of Friends of Haleakalā, Park Rangers, and countless others whom she influenced over the course of her life.”

Mary Evanson sits on the steps of one of the cabins in Haleakalā Crater (Courtesy of Valerie Monson, the Maui News)

Finally, I was lucky enough that Honeygirl, an interpretive ranger who has worked in the park for ten years, put me in touch with Nan Cabatbat, who recently retired after working with the park service for thirty years. I got to spend some time talking on the phone with auntie Nan, and she talked to me like I was an old friend even though we had never met. Speaking with her was a joy. Here is the post I wrote about auntie Nan:

“Nan Cabatbat recently retired from working in Haleakalā National Park for 30 years as an employee of Hawaiʻi Pacific Parks Association. Nan worked in the summit visitor’s center every day, and performed Hawaiian oli each day at sunrise. She has been the park’s leader in stewardship of Hawaiian knowledge and traditions, and trained generations of interpretive rangers, student interns, and other park staff. Until her retirement in 2019, Nan was always a welcoming presence at the summit of Haleakalā, and she was a mentor who strived to inspire curiosity in everyone she met.”

Nan Cabatbat performing a sunrise oli (traditional Hawaiian chant) at the summit of Haleakalā alongside ranger Honeygirl Duman (Courtesy of Honeygirl Duman).

This research process has been awesome, with support from interpretive rangers and other park staff during every step. Together, we have been able to accomplish so much in a short time, and I am proud to work alongside the stewards of this park in sharing the stories of these truly awesome women and their impacts on the island and its community. 

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