Legend – Hawaii


Ihilani heard the story of the nightmarchers when she was 8 years old during a weekend trip to her grandparents’ house.  Her grandparents loved telling her old Hawaiian stories, and they often sat by her bed telling her tales.  One of the stories was a legend about the nightmarchers, a group of dead warriors who are believed to rise from their burial sites on certain nights.  It is thought that the warriors march towards the battlegrounds and that anyone who stands in their way will die.  As the nightmarchers travel along the path, a feeling of uneasiness can be detected around them.  Therefore, when Hawaiians sense sickness or ill-being in their family, they rearrange the furniture in their house to avoid the paths of the nightmarchers.

Though Ihiliani has never seen the nightmarchers with her own eyes, she still believes in the legend.  Whenever she feels uneasy or senses a tension in the air, she believes that it’s because the spirits of the nightmarchers are walking by.  The sound of drums and loud chanting also scares her because they are warning signs that the nightmarchers are approaching.  She says this sentiment is similar to those of other Hawaiians.  Many of the citizens fear the spirits, and in order to prevent the evil spirits from entering their homes, some even place leaves on the outside of their houses to ward off the spirits.

The Hawaiian’s fear of the nightmarchers appear to be linked with their respect for the fallen warriors.  The nightmarchers were once warriors of high rank and were held in high esteem by the Hawaiian citizens.  The people’s fear of the nightmarchers, therefore, appear to be stemmed from the spirits’ power and their abilities to inflict pain on the people.  The Hawaiian’s strong belief in the existence of spirits is also evident in this legend.  Therefore, the nightmarchers are indicators of the large role spirits and the mythical world play in the culture of Hawaii.