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Why Is It Called Sherwood Forest?


The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Honolulu Civil Beat, and a number of established travel guidebooks, including Hawaii by Moana Tregaskis, refer to the area as “Sherwood Forest.” Oahu maps, including some online maps (see Mapcarta), also commonly show the area with this name. According to various sources, it was named after—and also resembles—England’s legendary Sherwood Forest, home of Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men. An early edition of the Lonely Planet Guide to Hawaii explains that the area is called Sherwood Forest “because hoods and car thieves used to hang out there in the 1960s.” The Waimanalo hoods reportedly fell far short of the moral virtue attributed to the original Hood, who famously stole from the rich and gave to the poor. As Oahu Revealed points out, the gang responsible for robbing beachgoers in Sherwood Forest “called themselves Robin Hood and the Merry Men because they took from the rich and gave to… well, themselves, actually.”


Despite the moral shortcomings of the 1960s gang, the Save Sherwood Forest movement has eagerly embraced the metaphor inherent in the name “Sherwood Forest.” Who could ever hear the name without making the appropriate associations? The movement began as a small, ragtag group of local residents and idealistic do-gooders with few resources, operating on a shoestring budget, and taking a stand against the powerful machine of big government. The “Sherwood Forest” metaphor identifies Mayor Caldwell with the infamous Sheriff of Nottingham, who is forever on the wrong side of history and linked with the forces of moral corruption. As Wikipedia explains, the Sheriff of Nottingham “is generally depicted as an unjust tyrant, who mistreats the local people of Nottinghamshire, subjecting them to unaffordable taxes… He is widely considered to be the principal villain of the Robin Hood stories… In some versions, the Sheriff is a cowardly schemer.” And the associations go on: the locals love the forest, live close to it, and consider it part of their home; the “Sheriff” is far removed from the forest, seemingly out of touch with the people’s needs, and attempts to inflict his will on a place they feel he doesn’t understand or respect. In addition, Sheriff Caldwell and the City are widely perceived to be serving only the interests of development, tourism, and greed—while ignoring or betraying the concerns of local residents.

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