Colocasia esculenta Mural: Monday Mural

Colocasia Esculenta mural

This Colocasia Esculenta mural, created by Danny Fry in 2020, shows colorful elephant ear plants. This plant, referred to as taro or kalo, is common in Hawaii, where Danny grew up.

The colorful leaves of this mural represent the mix of people here in Bend, Oregon. Many people move here from other locations, and this mural reflects that growth in a positive light. For example, Bend hosts several thriving restaurants and businesses run by Hawaiians.

In the early 1800s, Hawaiians in Oregon worked as laborers, sailors, and in the fur trade. I described their history in Aloha Owyhee! Oregonians generally called them Kanaka, the Hawaiian word for human being.

The taro plants shown in the mural have been an important part of Hawaiian culture for centuries. Taro, scientific name Colocasia esculenta, is used in creating poi, a local delicacy. Traditionally, taro roots cooked many hours in underground ovens. Natives pounded the roots on wooden boards with stone mortars. The finished product has a pudding-like consistency. Poi tastes sweet if eaten right away or sour if allowed to ferment.

Poi photo by Bshams
Poi photo by Bshams

Monday Mural

Aloha Owyhee!

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Hanauma Bay, Hawaii

Hawaiians in Oregon: A brief history

What does the Owhyee River in southeastern Oregon and Kanaka Flat near Jacksonville, Oregon have in common? Both place names refer to the Hawaiians that lived in Oregon in the 1800’s.

In 1811, Jacob Astor hired the first Owyhees, an older spelling of Hawaii, to work in the fur trade. A post was established in Astoria, Oregon and was later turned over to the Montreal-based North West Company.  The fort was eventually renamed Fort George and it was moved to another location.

How did Hawaiians get to the mainland? Captain James Cook discovered the Hawaiian islands in 1778 and named them the Sandwich Islands after the Earl of Sandwich. Ships stopped in Hawaii for provisions and since the native people were well known for their maritime expertise, they were hired as replacement workers. They were also known to excel in swimming, fishing, hunting, and in the construction of posts and forts.

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Waimea Falls, Hawaii

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