They not only knew to find their way around the atolls which make up the modern Marshall Islands, but were also cogniscant of other islands and several small shoals and patch reefs well beyond the margin of the Ralik and Ratak Chains. Several of these seamarks are known from traditions and can be identified with known shoals and reefs (see further below). Others cannot be located, and are likely to be intersections of currents and deflected swells, upon the knowledge of which the Marshallese navigation largely depended. Inter-atoll voyages comprising some 300-400 people seem to have been a common occurrence (Hezel 1983; Kr°mer & Nevermann 1938:30;Gulick 1862). [back]


Peace Corps Volunteer Cultural Reference Sheet, Mile Island, Mile Atoll. Filled out by Erik E.Sandstrom. Undated (mid 1970s?) Ms. on file, Alele Museum. See also Warren 1860:175. Other evidence comes from Kosrae itself, where two taro (Xanthosoma spp.) cultivars are known to have been introduced from the Marshall Islands, one named Ebon and the other Mile (Kr°mer & Nevermann 1938:108). In addition, the introduction of syphilis and gonorrhea in the Marshall Islands is blamed on Marshallese returning from Kosrae (ibid.: 233). [back]


Rather well known are Mokil and Ngatik in the central Carolines, as traditions claim frequent wars with these atolls (Kr°mer & Nevermann 1938:217). Also known is Pingelap. [back]


Kr°mer & Nevermann 1938:217; Nakayama & Rapp 1974:6;7;84. [back]


The central Carolineans are credited to have regularly gone east to the Ralik Chain of the Marshalls, and sometimes as far as Johnston Atoll, and possibly even Hawaii. Intentional voyages: Nakayama & Rapp 1974:7;8; Pompey 1971:13;15;75; Shipwrecked/drifted from: Pingelap [to Jaluit Kr°mer & Nevermann 1938:35], Woleai [ibid.; Erdaland 1914:315]; Yap (Twenty Yapese drifted to Kili in the mid 19th century. The Yapese were captured and killed by a Kili chief.- See Hezel 1979:127; entry for 1868, Bark Syringia).Lamotrek [Kotzebue 1821: II 89); See also Kadu of Woleai mentioned in Chamisso. [back]


The i-Kiribati or ri-Pit as they are known in the Marshalls (Kr°mer & Nevermann 1938:13 footnote 2; 26; Chamisso 1986; Hernsheim 1887), were especially often found adrift and frequently stranded on the southern Marshalls, namely Mile and Arno, and these atolls have several genealogical links with the northern and central atolls of Kiribati European vessels putting shipwrecked i-Kiribati ashore in the Marshall Islands also contributed to the number of ri-Pit in the southern Marshalls (Finsch 1893:383). Shipwrecked i-Kiribati were picked up by the brig Mercury south of Ebon in 1858 (Hezel 1979:121) and landed on that island, where two were later killed by Ebonese. In 1882 some other i-Kiribati were found drifting south of Ebon by the American vessel Northern Light; rather than being landed on Namorik or Ebon, the i-Kiribati ended up in Japan (Hezel 1979:139). During the 19th century i-Kiribati were also living on Namorik (1851; Hezel 1979:121; 1868; ibid. 127), Jaluit (1871; ibid. 129; 1879 ibid. 136). Still today, i-Kiribati fishermen occasionally drift to the shores of the southern Marshall Islands. [back]


Marshallese blown off course have been reported from New Ireland, New Guinea (Marshallese from Jaluit bound for Ebon ended up 36 days later at Kavieng: Repatriation expenses of natives of the Marshall Islands. Commonwealth of Australia, Prime Ministers Department File 201/48. File A 457/1 Australian Archives, A.C.T. Regional Repository, Canberra), from Kosrae (Warren 1860:175), from Faraulep (Finsch 1893:166),. Other oral traditions indicate that on occasion voyages may have occurred as far afield as.i.Kapingamarangi; and.i.Nukuoro;. At about 1860 the people from Majuro Atoll set out with 50 canoes to conquer Kapingamarangi Atoll, a Polynesian outlier in the southern central Caroline Islands. Upon arrival the Majuro people killed all original inhabitants and left a colonisation group behind. On the way back the canoe fleet ran into a severe storm and was dispersed. Some of the canoes ended up in Pohnpei, while others were driven to Nukuoro Atoll. There again, the Majuro people killed all original inhabitants and installed themselves as the owners of Nukuoro. Kr°mer and Nevermann (1938) who report this story, question its accuracy on linguistic grounds, as the Nukuoro and Kapingamarangi people speak a Polynesian outlier dialect and not Ralik-Ratak. A common feature of these extremely far-flung voyages seems to have been dispersal in storms or disorientation during overcast skies, often leading to fatal results. [back]


Gr–sser: birdodo. Kr°mer 1904; 1906:407. [back]


Erdland 1906:159. [back]


Cf. Kr°mer 1904:14; Finsch 1879; 1893; Joest 1887:55. [back]


Such as Erdland. [back]


Steinbach 1895; Oberl°nder (Christmann & Oberl°nder 1873:171). [back]


Hasebe 1932. [back]


Finsch 1893:429. [back]


Kr°mer 1906:407. [back]


See arguments by Buck 1930:297-298.


Kr°mer 1906:408.


Kr°mer 1904; 1906; There are other spellings/ pronunciations of these two gods: Lewžj is known as Leowudj, Leuit, Lewuj; while Lanij is known as Lianidj, Lanej. (Compiled from Erdland 1914; Kr°mer & Nevermann 1938:96; Bender 1963:212; Tobin 1952:22). The anthropogeny is told differently in the Ralik and the Ratak Chain. Lewžj literally means ėgive to youî; the etymology of Lanej is not clear. It may have well been LaŌej ėeastern skyî, from laŌōsky (Abo et al. 59) and -ej; upper, eastern (formant in place names, Abo et al. 1976:175)


Bender 1963:212; Chambers 1972:31.


Quoted after Kr°mer 1904:14; see also Kr°mer 1906:371.


s The reference to ėlizard peopleî and ėrat peopleî most likely indicates clan names.


Chambers 1973:71 The rat and the octopus.


The rat was taken ashore by the octopus, then it excreted on the octopus¨ head as an act of gratitude, angering the octopus for all times to come (Chambers 1972:31).


Most oral traditions recorded by Erdland, Finsch and Kr°mer stem from Ailinglaplap and from Ebon, both localities where Kabua and his bwij lived. It would appear that most material was recorded through his offices of supplying informants to his German friends. Thus the traditional data set we have documented is heavily weighted in favour of the Ralik Chain and there in favour of the atolls of Ailinglaplap and Ebon (cf. also compilations of Chambers 1972; Mitchell 1972; Downing et al. 1992).


Kr°mer & Nevermann 1938:238; Erdland 1914:197.


Kr°mer & Nevermann 1938:238.


Kr°mer & Nevermann 1938:37.


The fear of the sea coming over the land, either as an occasional flooding due too a higher than normal sea-level caused by a high-pressure cell close to the Marshall Islands, or due to tsunamis or typhoon surges was well justified. All these could occur without much pre-warning. Since the atolls of the Marshall Islands are that low-lying, this ever-present threat was the single-most disastrous event that could befall the people.


The ri-bubu were rewarded for their services with a piece of land to live of (this gift of land was called waienbwe); Tobin 1952:22).


Hernsheim 1880:41.


Eisenhardt 1888.


Curtis 1978:72.


Kurze 1887.


Chamisso 1986:275.


Tattooing seems to have remained a chiefly marker, and it would appear that the chiefs were the last to give it up (Spoehr 1949:78).


Erdland 1914: 20.


Choris 1822. It is somewhat unclear where Choris got his information on the ages from, and whether these were not simply based on his judgement of people¨s ages.


Kotzebue 1821: II 113. Chamisso (1986:150) also mentions the two young people, a boy and girl, without any tattoos on Airik, Maloelap, and also observes that both seemed to occupy a high rank.


Schneider 1891:60.


Erdland 1906:119-120.


Chamisso 1986: 197.


Finsch 1893:428.


Erdland 1914: 21; Finsch 1893:429.


Chamisso 1986:149.


Erdland 1914:20; see also Brandeis 1908.


Finsch 1893:429.


In this context it should be pointed out that the tattooing of the mons veneris was the first tattoo, for example, a Palauan girl would obtain (Kubary 1887).


Kotzebue 1821:II 113.


Kr°mer: dri°o; rio (contracted form).


Kurze 1887


Hernsheim 1884.


Abo et al. 1976:61.


Hernsheim 1880:41.


At that time (1879/1880) twelve years old (Finsch 1893:429). This tattoo, however does not seem to have been executed, as Hasebe Kotondo (1932) mentions that Kabua¨s eldest son ėRairanî, at the time of Hasebe¨s fieldwork ėheadman over all the Ralik Islandsî and 65 years of age, had ėonly his name tattooed on his right forearm and a small decoration on his left forarm. Given the age of ėRairanî it is more than likely that ėRairanî is identical with ėLailangî.


On Solsorol, Carolines, the women were the primary tattoo artists (Kubary 1895:89).


Finsch 1893:429-430; Erdland 1914:21.


Erdland 1914:19.


Chamisso 1986:153; 353. Choris (1822) companion of Chamisso¨s on the expedition, also indicates that a number of Russian sailors were keen to obtain a tattoo but were always put off by a number of excuses, so that in the end they had to depart without them. See also Kotzebue 1821:II113 who mentions that none of his men were tattooed on occasion of their stay on Wotje. He recalls that a mate of Krusenstern¨s ship fainted during a short demonstration (?) of the procedure, but does not mention where this happened (it might have been in Alaska for example). Kotzebue mentions that the Marshallese did not want to execute the tattoo as Erikup was the proper place for this. On other Micronesian island groups castaways of white skin were sometimes tattooed: Madan Blanchard, Englishman, Palau (Hezel 1983:77); O¨Connell, Irish, Pohnpei (Ibid. 112).


Hager 1883:73.


Finsch 1893:430.


Erdland 1914: 22.