The Hawaiian sandalwood trade was brief but left a major imprint on the pae ‘āina. Hawai‘i was once known as Tahn Heung Sahn, the Sandalwood Mountains, nicknamed by early trading ships going to and from China. Forests ran from mountain to sea, populated with four native sandalwood species, including one endemic to Haleakalā’s slopes. After years of cutting the sandalwood on O‘ahu and Maui, Kamehameha went to Hawai‘i to cut sandalwood as, perhaps on that large island, it grew wild everywhere on the mountains of the great Hawai‘i of Keawe. This return of Kamehameha to Hawai‘i was called the journey of Kanī‘aukani. ‘Iliahi rapidly disappeared from Hawaiian forests in the decades after Kamehameha’s passing with the implementation the sandalwood tax and the trade disappearing with the last of the trees.
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