Essays on the Marshallese Past

Traditional Sites

Large coral boulders on the ocean side of Arbar Island, Mile Atoll. Many of such boulders as well as patch reefs in the lagoons have oral traditions attached to them and are traditional sites eligible for protection.

Traditional sites are natural features in the environment, such as patchreefs, coral boulders, small islets or depressions on larger islands, to which oral traditions are attached. While "historic sites" are synonymous with the European perspective of history, traditional sites are synonymous with the Marshallese perspective. Traditional sites, which may also be archaeological sites, are important solely because of the traditions relating to them, in the same way as a historic house is distinguished from its identical neighbour because of some event or some personality living there. The story of Letao, the perpetual trickster of Marshallese folklore and the ironwood canoe shows how the presence of a large coral patch reef is explained. This reef is eligible for protection under the Historic Preservation Act as a traditional site.

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Bibliographic citation for this document

Spennemann, Dirk H.R. (1998). Essays on the Marshallese Past Second edition. Albury:

Dirk H.R. Spennemann, Institute of Land, Water and Society, Charles Sturt University, P.O.Box 789, Albury NSW 2640, Australia.

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