By Rich Figel
Photographer Ann Thompson sent me the photo above and said in her email she came across this scene while hiking through a remote valley about three miles off the main Kalalau trail on Kauai. She claims to have seen "a very small man, approximately 3 feet tall" near the thatched hut. The "pygmy-like" tribesman ran into the forest after he saw her. Ann says she heard other voices and bird whistle sounds, but did not go closer because she thought the man may have had a bow and arrows slung across his back.
While I was skeptical about the photo and Ann's sighting of small natives, who sound like the mythical Menehune of Hawaiian legends, I felt compelled to contact the University of Hawaii anthropology department to see if they've ever heard similar stories from hikers or residents on Kauai. As it turns out, Ann isn't the first to report seeing little people in the Na Pali Coast area of Kauai. Curiously, when people have returned to the location where they believed they saw these tribesmen, the huts are gone and there is no sign anyone had been there... even though the hikers say they were able to find the same trees and rocks they used as markers.
What lends credibility to these incredible photos and tales is the fact that scientists discovered the skeletal remains of a race of three feet tall people in an Indonesian cave a few years ago. There had been debate as to whether they really were a "race" of people or merely deformed individuals. However, on those islands there were stories about little wild men who lived in the caves and the locals were afraid of these primitive people. Not quite like our image of the clever, industrious Menehune -- but could there be some connection?
If you Google "hobbit people," you will find links to many scientific articles about the discovery, including this piece in the National Geographic magazine. I took a particular interest in the find because I had written a fictional screenplay about a group of misfit kids and a cynical resort developer on Kauai who discover the Menehune actually exist and are responsible for big trouble at his hotel.
To this day, I still believe it would make a great family movie -- but I wonder if truth is stranger than fiction in this case, and my mythical little people may be a Lost Tribe, still surviving in hidden villages. Perhaps, they only come out at certain times... like April Fool's Day?
The new April episode of Career Changers TV premieres Sat., April 6 at 8:30PM on OC16. It includes really interesting stories about Pacific Biodiesel... and we shot our intros at Waimea Valley, where the photo above was taken! For daily viewing times, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV or check out videos from past and current shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel.