Uncle Moon Keahi’s funeral procession in Lahaina, Maui
A Great Native Hawaiian is remembered and treasured
By Susan Dancil
I wanted to say as briefly as I can…that the funeral procession on Front Street, in Lahaina, Maui, last Saturday, July 2, 2005 for Kupuna “Uncle Moon” Keahi… was one of the top 3 highlights of my 18 years on Maui. (My wedding being one of the others.. and my 3 day excursion/kokua to Koho’olawe was probably the other top 3rd).
It is amazing (or NOT) that The Maui News local newspaper had nothing on it.
My husband Richard Dancil and I arrived at Uncle Moon’s home on Front Street just down from Mala Wharf on Saturday morning around 11 am. The house was overflowing with all kinds of people. Uncle Moon was in his casket in the living room facing the ocean. Flowers flowers flowers everywhere. He had many beautiful things around his neck.. hooks, a huge double boar tusk and a large lei niho palaoa (the big white whale tooth hook which chiefs wore). Uncle Moon’s son Kapali was crashed out on the floor from exhaustion.. (it was an overnite vigil). We did not attend the service at the church on Friday nite. There were tons of food laid on the lanai.. it was such a typical Hawaiian beach house with all the picnic tables in the yard for luau. As more and more people gathered out on the street.. Hawaiians began singing hymns in the garage.. full bodied voices in beautiful pitch singing with guitar, bass and ukulele. It was so chicken skin from there on out.
Finally, the handsome, strapping Hawaiian boys of the family carried the casket out to the hearst and this amazing procession (which Lahaina has not seen the likes of for several decades) began. The procession was headed by (who else) Richard, Pastor Laki Ka’ahumanu and Keoki Sousa.. all wearing the purple kihei and blowing conch shells. Richard had that giant shell that was his father’s. We had some police escort and it was tailed by a fire truck. We had the NA KOA as our security in keeping the crowds toward one half of the road. Na Kupuna came next with Black flags for mourning and upside down Hawaiian flags.. The keiki were next.. all the family wore red T shirts with Uncle Moon’s name. There had to have been 200 people converging in this crowd. It was tailed by a black truck in which Uncle William was a passenger and Keomoku Kapu of Kaua’ula Valley was pounding a giant pahu drum every 5 seconds for the entire procession.. This drum beat was heard from the front of the procession to the end.. and was spine tingling. The conch were blown at every intersection.
When we hit Front Street proper.. (around Longhi’s) a Hawaiian lady in the procession started to sing Hawaiian hymns again with the crowd joining in.. she also did this amazingly LONG chant that was awesome. The sun was very hot and it was an almost delirious experience for me in the middle of it all. I just knew I was experiencing something very rare and very significant. We headed up Dickenson Street and arrived at Marie Lanakila Church. More hymns.. lots of flowers. Uncle Moon will be the last person to be laid to rest in this cemetery for lack of space. This type of procession was done many decades ago in the streets or “camps”.. but no one knew of anything like this in a very long time. Maui County Councilwoman Jo Anne Johnson was there, too, by the way. All traffic was stopped for this procession. Richard said some tourists at first thought they were seeing a parade .. but as soon as they saw the hearst and flags.. they were very respectful and he even saw some tourist make their kids stand up and show respect. (He liked that).
It was all very deep and illuminating. No.. I didn’t take ANY photos or video.. but.. I experienced it fully.
Love to all.. you may share my story with others if you wish to Sue (the E.F. “Follow Your Heart” recipient!!)