Greg is a cultural practitioner who lives off the land in Molokaʻi. This island is truly unique in Hawaiʻi because it has no fancy resorts, restaurants and golf courses. It is for the most part, frozen in time. And no other place in Molokaʻi exemplifies that more than Hālawa Valley. The Solatorios are the last original family left in the valley. Greg’s father was the last elder, born and raised here. Their lineage connects them back to the first Hawaiian settlers on Molokaʻi. Today, through the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, this entire valley — from the peaks to the ocean — still belongs to the Solatorios.
Hālawa means “sufficient breath” or “sufficient life.” Here, the nearest store to get supplies is 29 miles away on a one-lane, windy road. In Hālawa Valley, if you don’t catch your own food, you don't eat. That’s how it goes. Luckily, this valley is rich with bountiful fruit, fish and vegetation. It supported a village for more than a thousand years and it supports the Solatorios today. Recently, the responsibility of carrying on his family’s traditions and culture has been passed on to Greg. And there’s no other place he’d rather be.
“Culture is not secret, it is sacred.”
This is just something I always wanted to do, this is my passion. And one of my biggest role models is my father. He is my hero. He is a cultural practitioner, a kumu, a teacher, to many people. And the example that I saw him set, made me want to be what I am now.
You lived away from Molokaʻi and traveled the world. What brought you back?
Well, I don't know if you’ve ever grown your own garden, or harvested your own deer, or caught your own fish, but the satisfaction you get from knowing the hard work that you put into these things, to reap the benefit of these things – and to know that I'm taking care of my family, feeding my brother, feeding my sister, feeding myself – is incredible. You actually get a peace in yourself, where you actually feel connected, and you start to feel whole.
What does it feel like to live off the land?
Our culture, our family, our traditions, and our ways here in this valley – this is my expertise. I was always taught from my elders, especially my father, that culture is not secret, it is sacred. And that is what a lot of us need to understand, especially us cultural practitioners, culture needs to be shared. The minute we don't share culture, that's the minute our culture dies.
You operate Hālawa Valley Falls Cultural Hike. Why is it important to share your way of life?
The way I was taught to practice it, the way with the people in Hālawa Valley did it, is we work with mother nature. We believe there's a spiritual and a physical connection in everything around us. And once we find that spiritual and physical connection within those things, we start to understand, and we see things for more than what they really are. We don't take from mother nature. Because it is not ours to take. We ask and we borrow. We stay pure, we use the gifts that she gives us. It belongs to her, not us.
How do you practice sustainability in Molokaʻi?
“We don't take from mother nature. Because it is not ours to take. We ask and we borrow. We stay pure, we use the gifts that she gives us.”
It's not an easy life. I spend a lot of time away from my family and kids but at the same time, they do come here and spend a lot of time with me. My kids can do everything that I do today. Not too many 13 year olds can go up into the mountain and go harvest a deer and bring it home to feed their family. And they know the modern life enough, where if times have to change and you have to live in the city, they'll be able to survive there. But no matter which way they survive, the culture will still be alive.
What kind of sacrifices do you make to live this lifestyle?
We say, "Nana i ke kumu," we go to the source. And without these sources – the people within these places who keep these stories alive – everything is gone. But when you have people that were born and raised in that place, seeing what the place used to look like, seeing what the elders used to do, and they hand it down to the next generation and teach them the exact things over and over again, now the story lives on forever.
Why is it important for culture to be taught by those who practice it?
120 year old North Shore company store for the Kilauea Sugar Plantation has evolved to become an upscale [...]
ALOHA! And welcome aboard any one, or all three, of our Conductor Narrated Authentic Train Tours of [...]
Since 1949, with over 60 stores through out Hawaii, ABC Stores offer a wide selection of gifts & [...]
The Kauai Wedding Professionals Association is an organization dedicated to promoting the wedding [...]
The Shops at Kukui‘ula is Kauai's premier shopping, dining and art destination. Showcasing [...]
Here at the Kauai Coffee Estate, you’ll have the opportunity to stroll through our coffee orchard, [...]
This resort beckons with 50 oceanfront acres of exquisite beauty. Celebrate the sun in a water [...]
Koloa Rum Company Premier Tasting Room & Company Store. Taste the history of Kauai’s hand crafted [...]
Kukui Grove Center and Kukui Marketplace is Kauai’s largest lifestyle center destination. The 50-acre [...]
Located on a bluff in the beautiful North Shore of Kauai, The Cliffs at Princeville offers both ocean [...]
Lydgate Farms is run by our fifth generation Kaua’i family. We grow high-quality cacao to make the [...]
Perched high atop the lush, emerald cliffs that line Kauai's North Shore, this rejuvenating retreat is [...]