Marshallese Legends and Traditions

Why people avoid Adrie at Kwajalein

On a tiny islet of Kwajalein Atoll is a place called Adrie, which means clam shell in Marshallese. No one is permitted to swim in the area because of the ever-present sharks.

On a small islet called Ebadon lived an old woman named Likitutu with her four children. Also on this islet lived a demon who was always hidden in the bushes. The old woman knew about the demon, but did not want to alarm her children by telling them about the monster. Instead, she told her children that they could play anywhere that they wanted to, but they were forbidden to play near the bushes where the demon was hiding.

The old woman's children were obedient, and so they stayed away from the bushes. But as time passed, they became more and more curious about the forbidden area. So, early one morning, one of the children asked the others to come with him to explore the bushes. They all agreed, left their mats, and wandered into the forbidden area.

After walking for a while they came upon a small house and went inside. They played there for a long time since it was unoccupied. Eventually the demon appeared, but the children knew no fear of this strange creature, so they continued to play. They even teased the demon and made fun of his strange looks. This made the demon very angry, and he called for the mother, Likitutu . He shouted that he was offended because the children said his arms looked like nok, which are sticks from coconut fronds, and his legs looked like kad, a string made from coconut husks. They also said that his stomach was so big that they could burst it by stepping on it.

Likitutu quickly took her children home for fear of the angry demon. Then she scolded them for their disobedience and told them to never go near the bushes again. But the children were mischievous and they became bored. One day when their mother was not watching they returned to the demon's house to play and to tease him. They went to the bushes often, and each time the old woman had to fetch them and bring them home.

The children became bolder and bolder and returned to the forbidden area frequently to tease the demon. Then one day the demon became so infuriated that he swallowed the children in one giant gulp. He then called the mother and pretended the children were in his area, but when she came near she could not hear them and knew that something dreadful had happened. So she grabbed the demon and they began to fight. They fought from the demon's house to the far end of the island where a large clam shell was lying on the ground. Finally, Likitutu lifted the demon and smashed him against the clam shell, killing him. She then cut open his stomach and freed her four children unharmed. After cutting the demon into pieces, she threw the parts of his body into the sea. The blood of the demon attracted many sharks to the area.

The place of the clam shell, Adrie, had no sharks before this incident occurred. Today, however, Marshallese stay away from the waters off Adrie because of the old woman who saved her disobedient children from death, and threw the demon into the sea.

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Bibliographic citation for this document

Spennemann, Dirk H.R. (1998). Marshallese Legends and Traditions 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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