Marshallese Legends and Traditions

Letao and origin of the neck

One day the mother of Letao and Jemeliwut sent them spear fishing on the reef. Letao went ahead and oiled the reef so, when Jemeliwut came to spear fish, he slipped and hit his head.

Next Letao ran to the interior of the island and when Jemeliwut followed he saw a large, ripe Pandanus fruit. He climbed up to get it but the branch he climbed out on broke and he fell. Letao changed back from being the tree and both laughed.

Again Letao disappeared into the interior. He bent over, making his anus like a rain catchment hole in a tree trunk. Jemeliwut came to drink, but as he put his head in the rain catchment hole, the water level sank. So he put his head in further, and Letao clamped down on him. Jemeliwut struggled to get free and after some time Letao released him.

When Jemeliwut was released his neck was like people's today. And now everyone has a neck smaller than their head.

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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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