Marshallese Legends and Traditions

Why Kwajalein has separate islets

Kwajalein Atoll covers a vast area and is the largest atoll in the world. The islets are spread apart and a person could not possibly see all the other islets from any one place. Also, today many of the islets are unpopulated, but in the past they all had people on them.

Long ago, however, the islets were very close together. Then a very beautiful woman appeared on Kwajalein. She came from nowhere. She was so beautiful that all of the landmanagers desired her.The landmanagers were called alap in Marshallese,[37] and they were very greedy and jealous men. Since the islets were so close, a person could easily go from one to the other, and so no single alap could completely possess the beautiful woman.

The people did not know the name of the lovely woman so they called her Lien, which means "that lady"in Marshallese. Soon Lien disappeared, leaving all of thealap desiring her.

The landowners decided to move their islets away from each other so that when Lien reappeared, they would not have to compete for each other. So the alap of Ebadon, the largest islet of Kwajalein, said "Lien and my island, move to the west."And so the island moved westward. Then the alap of Roi Namur said"Lien and Roi Namur, move north"and the island moved northward as soon as the words disappeared into the air. Then the owner of Kwajalein said"Lein and my island, move to the south" and Kwajalein moved southward. All of the other alap also told their islands to move and so today they are so scattered that they are out of sight of each other.

Today, if a bird flew completely around the coral reef of Kwajalein atoll, it would see the results of the alap greed and jealousy. Ebadon is far from the rest of the islets and is even close to Lae Atoll.Roi Namur is located far away toward Likiep Atoll, and Kwajalein islet cannot be seen from either Ebadon or Roi Namur. It is located just near to Namu Atoll.

[Next Page]      [Back to Table of Contents]

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.

select from the following...
World War II

Digital Micronesia-An Electronic Library & Archive is provided free of charge as an advertising-free information service for the world community. It is being maintained by Dirk HR Spennemann, Associate Professor in Cultural Heritage Management,Institute of Land, Water and Society and School of Environmental & Information Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Albury, Australia. The server space and technical support are provided by Charles Sturt University as part of its commitment to regional engagement. Environmental SciencesInformation Sciences

© Dirk Spennemann 1999– 2005
Marshall Islands Kosrae CNMI Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Guam Wake Pohnpei FSM Federated States of Micronesia Yap Chuuk Marshall Islands politics public health environment culture WWII history literature XXX Cultural Heritage Management Micronesian Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences CNMI German Colonial Sources Mariana Islands Historic Preservation Spennemann Dirk Spennemann Dirk HR Spennemann Murray Time Louis Becke Jane Downing Downing