Marshallese Legends and Traditions

Preface to the Second Edition

Marshallese society was largely an oral society, where information was handed from generation to generation by word of mouth. The written word is only a recent introduction. The wealth of knowledge the Marshallese possessed before the coming of the foreigners was embodied in the form of stories and chants: knowledge that was environmental, technical or spiritual, about the social and inter-personal codes of ethics, and geographical determinants; all vital for the survival of the people in an atoll environment.

As Marshallese society is changing from oral to written, as the outside influences grow stronger, there is a distinct need to teach the young the skills and experiences of the old.

This book is a compilation of many traditions and legends which had, at one point or the other, already been translated into the English language. These translations have appeared scattered in a variety of publications ranging from ethnographic accounts and PhD theses on oral traditions, to school books of the now defunct Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

The first edition of the compilation appeared in print form, published by the Republic of the Marshall Islands Historic Preservation Office, on Majuro Atoll. At that time, Margaret Bennett (Adelaide, Australia) typed in all the legends.

The first edition had a limited print run and by necessity was distributed only in the Marshall islands. Reproducing it here in electronic form on the World Wide Web is not an end in itself, but only the first step in a series of efforts designed to make a wealth of material on the Marshall Islands available beyond the atolls of the Marshalls.

The Editors

Albury 1997

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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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