The black beach of Pololu valley may have been one of the first places colonized by Hawaiians. Located on the windward side of Kohala, the valley is wide and deep, with a high series of hanging valleys at its back. In 2006 Michael Graves and I began a project to investigate the archaeological collections of Pololu, which had been generated in the 1970s by a series of field schools directed by Dave Tuggle. Their excavations revealed deep deposits in the sand dunes at the mouth of the valley, at the base of which were a series of fire hearths that were packed with twisted and burned fibers. After sitting in a jelly jar for over 30 years, Gail Murikami identified the fibers to be native fern, hapu’u. I submitted a sample for radiocarbon dating, which revealed that the ferns were burned between AD 1259-1390. Pololu is an old place that was once filled with people, but is now a wild place, with quiet groves of invasive guava mixed between abandoned terraces that were once used for growing taro. Malama ‘aina

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