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?
Explore Maui Nui’s ocean environment with the experts at Pacific Whale Foundation through PacWhale [...]
Makana Charters is the only Na Pali tour company offering personalized or private morning and afternoon [...]
Gaylord’s offers one of Kauai’s most beautiful settings for lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch. Our [...]
Lana'i Ocean Sports is committed to excellence by creating lifelong memories through personalized [...]
Awarded "2006/2007 C.R.U.I.S.E. Tour of the Year" by Princess Cruises! Captain Zodiac is more than a [...]
Experience Polynesian culture at the Drums of the Pacific Luau located at the Hyatt Regency Maui. Enjoy [...]
Personalized wildlife ocean adventures. Dolphins, whales and snorkeling.
Departing daily from the calm, leeward waters of Kauai's South West side, from Port Allen Boat Harbor, [...]
Specializing in vacation packages including air, hotel, transportation, and many optional features to [...]
World's Largest Travel Site. Read Reviews, Compare & Book Deals! Millions of hotel reviews · Easy price [...]
After a long day in the sun, come inside to the air conditioning and cool off with one of our tropical [...]
With Apple Vacations, you’ll have complete flexibility to create your ideal vacation. Relax on one [...]