Essays on the Marshallese Past

The Story of Lojeik

Lojeik was a man who lived on Enekoien, Ebon Atoll. One day a whaling boat arrived and and came near to the reef on the ocean side of Enekoien. The man Lojeik swam to the whaling boat and climbed on board. There was little wind and the whaling ship slowly tacked to and fro. Lojeik did not return to the island of Enekoien. The whaler belonged to an America company and took Lojeik to America. Lojeik stayed there for 10 years until the time when the boat returned again to Ebon.[62]

The people on Ebon had forgotten the man Lojeik. They thought that the whalers on the boat had beat up Lojeik and that he had died during the time that the boat was on the ocean side of Enekoien. When the ship once more returned to Enekoien the islanders went to the small boat coming ashore from the whaler and helped bring it up on to the beach under the coconut trees. The people of Enekoien they did not recognize Lojeik because he was wearing foreign clothing and he was just like the foreigners from the whaling ship.

On the island where they were, the men islanders said together "men, let us choose which person we will each fight, and kill the foreigners." During this time Lojeik had not forgotten Marshallese and he said to the islanders "Watch out if you kill us because we will shoot you." But during this time there had never been guns brought to the Marshall Islands, and the islanders didn't know what a gun was. When they heard Lojeik speak Marshallese they said "one of the foreigners ( RiPalle) knows the language of our islands," and they were very surprised.

All the men of Enekoien they said "the man (Lojeik) is lying, and we will prepare to each fight until all are dead and no one can escape." Lojeik said to them "do you see the pieces of wood we are holding, they are not wood but they are for fighting. You won't be able to go against us." When the people didn't believe Lojeik, he gave them a warning, and told them to look up at a certain coconut tree because the foreigners were going to shoot at the tree and show them how powerful the guns were. After they shot at the coconut tree and the palm fronds, coconuts, and the heart of the coconut tree all fell to the ground, Lojeik said "that's what will happen to you if we shoot you. All of you will be gone and dead. There won't be one man, woman, old man, old woman, child alive, if we shoot you."

Every foreigner had his own gun that was the kind Lijjikolkol. Now during this time when the islanders were thinking this over, there was a woman who came who was Lojeik's younger sister. And she heard Lojeik speak Marshallese, and she said "who is the man who knows our language?" The woman, the younger sister of Lojeik came close to Lojeik and looked at him closely and studied his face. When she recognized that this man looked like her older brother and they had thought that the whalers had killed him, she asked "who are you?" Lojeik was not anxious to reveal who he was, and he said to his younger sister, "I come from close to heaven."

The woman now began to really recognize Lojeik and she wanted look to see if this man had a tattoo on his chest.[63] The tattoo she was looking for was a bunch of spears tied together. When she said to Lojeik to show his chest, he unbuttoned his shirt and the woman saw the tattoo and recognized that this was her brother Lojeik. The woman cried and held her brother and said "It's true this is Lojeik." Lojeik stood in the middle of all the people and showed that it was true, that he had returned from America where he had disappeared to many years ago from Ebon .

This is the end of the story about the man Lojeik.

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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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