Battle of the Dammed Waters of ʻĪao – Battle of the Clawed Cliffs

During his quest to conquer and unite the Hawaiian Islands under one rule, his rule, King Kamehameha The Great won a decisive battle at ‘Iao Valley, Maui. Known as one of the most bitter battles fought in all of Hawaiian history, the Battle of Kepaniwai was fought in 1790 between Hawaiʻi Island and Maui. The forces of Hawaiʻi were led by Kamehameha I, while the forces of Maui were led by Kalanikūpule, the son of Maui’s chief.

While Maui’s Chief Kahekili II was on O’ahu, Kamehameha set sail, landing his war fleet of 1,200 warriors in Kahului, Maui. He pursued Kalanikūpule and other lower ranking Maui chiefs along with Maui warriors deep into ‘Iao Valley blocking many from escape. The two armies were evenly matched and neither side broke after two days of fighting. On the third day Kamehameha’s army was helped by the use of two cannons (named “Lopaka” and “Kalola”) operated by John Young and Isaac Davis, two of Kamehameha’s royal advisors.

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Although none of Maui’s major chiefs were killed, many Hawaiians died resulting in the “damming of the waters” by the corpses floating in the river. It was said that the river “ran red with the blood of the dead.” Chiefess Kalola and her granddaughter Keōpūolani were able to escape through the valley to Olowalu and Lahaina. After the battle, which Kamehameha was victorious Kalola accepted Kamehameha’s protection and offered her 11-year-old granddaughter to Kamehameha as a future wife.

Despite the defeat of his forces, Maui Chief Kahekili II refused to relinquish control; resuming his rule of Maui. In retaliation, Kahekili tried to invade the island of Hawaiʻi, but was defeated in a naval battle called Kepuwahaʻulaʻula in 1791. Kahekili II died in 1794, Kamehameha would later reconquer and gain control of Maui after defeating the combined army forces of Oʻahu and Maui in the Battle of Nuʻuanu on May 1, 1795 less than a year after Kahekili’s death.

Spiritually sacred, historically sacred…