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HereOnThePrimalEdge
Punatic

South Sandwich Islands
7500 Posts

Posted - 03/14/2019 :  13:45:53  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Sea People is a new book about Polynesia and the inhabitants of its islands throughout the Pacific. So often the discussion on Punaweb concerning Hawaii and the Hawaiian people takes on a provincial viewpoint, as if the native culture here arose in a vacuum, which is understandable given a limited written and oral history. But even the more possessive claimants of first come first served occasionally acknowledge that everyone here originally came from somewhere else.

Sea People looks at the bigger picture, takes a longer view that encompasses the vast stretches of Oceania and connections native residents of the Pacific still recognize to this day. A few excerpts from the book:

"There is no written record of these events..."
...
Tanned, athletic-looking tourists milled about in bathing suits and life jackets, while big Hawaiian guys with tattooed calves sauntered back and forth with armloads of bright yellow paddles. It was clear that the Hawaiians were in charge of the rentals, so Seven went over to have a word with them.
“Hey,” he said, “how much for a kayak?”
“Thirty dollars.” And then, “Twenty for you, brother.”
The reason for this is that Seven is Polynesian. He is Maori...
...
This is what is meant by the Polynesian Triangle, an area of ten million square miles in the middle of the Pacific Ocean defined by the three points of Hawai'i, New Zealand, and Easter Island. All the islands inside this triangle were originally settled by a clearly identifiable group of voyagers: a people with a single language and set of customs, a particular body of myths, a distinctive arsenal of tools and skills, and a “portmanteau biota” of plants and animals that they carried with them wherever they went. They had no knowledge of writing or metal tools—no maps or compasses—and yet they succeeded in colonizing the largest ocean on the planet, occupying every habitable rock between New Guinea and the Galapagos, and establishing what was until the modern era the largest single culture area in the world.

https://lithub.com/tracing-the-incredible-journey-of-polynesians-around-the-globe/

ADDED:
Here's the Amazon link for the book: Sea People
It's even available on an audio CD, at a lower price than the hardcover.


Edited by - HereOnThePrimalEdge on 03/14/2019 15:26:15

Frank
Kamaaina

800 Posts

Posted - 03/14/2019 :  16:40:23  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
thank you
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MarkD
Punatic

1075 Posts

Posted - 03/14/2019 :  17:06:50  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Two of the most extraordinary things about the Polynesians was their complex open-sea canoes and their navigation (way finding) skills across thousands of miles of ocean. These talents figure prominently in every detailed survey and book about Polynesians.

Here is an apt quote from a PBS link: The early European explorers who first encountered the Polynesians could not believe that a stone age people, with only simple sailing canoes and no navigational instruments, could themselves have discovered and settled the mid-Pacific islands.

https://www.pbs.org/wayfinders/polynesian3.html

If the ancient Polynesians are to be described as a stone-age culture, they were at the top of that list in responding to the challenges of their physical environment with sophisticated material culture and observation.
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HereOnThePrimalEdge
Punatic

South Sandwich Islands
7500 Posts

Posted - 03/14/2019 :  17:23:48  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
If the ancient Polynesians are to be described as a stone-age culture, they were at the top of that list in responding to the challenges of their physical environment with sophisticated material culture and observation.

Yes.
Another excerpt from the book:

There is a reason the remote Pacific was the last place on earth to be settled by humans: it was the most difficult, more daunting even than the deserts or the ice. And yet, somehow, Polynesians managed not just to find but to colonize every habitable island in this vast sea.

We know they did it because when the first Europeans arrived in the Pacific they found these islands inhabited. But we also know that by the time Europeans arrived, the epic phase of Polynesian history—the age of exploration and long-distance voyaging—was already over. The world of the ancient voyagers had blossomed, flourished, and passed away, leaving behind a group of closely related but widely scattered daughter cultures that had been developing in isolation from one another for hundreds of years. Once explorers and migrants, they had become settlers and colonists; they knew themselves less as Voyagers of the Great Ocean than as, in the Marquesan formulation, #699;Enata te Fenua, People of the Land. Of course, they were still a sea people, traveling within and in some cases among archipelagoes, taking much of their living from the sea. But at far reaches of the Polynesian triangle—in New Zealand, Hawai‘i, Easter Island, even the Marquesas—they retained only a mythic sense of having ever come from someplace else.
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rainyjim
Punatic

2001 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2019 :  02:34:39  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Whenever I think about how the Polynesians spread throughout the pacific I am very disturbed/awed that anyone thought they should travel in an outrigger canoe.

Can you imagine how many must have died per every one who actually made it to another island?!
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KiminPL
malihini

USA
87 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2019 :  06:54:05  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the tip on the book, much appreciated.

"Whenever I think about how the Polynesians spread throughout the pacific I am very disturbed/awed that anyone thought they should travel in an outrigger canoe.
Can you imagine how many must have died per every one who actually made it to another island?!"

That they did travel this way is evidence of their masterful skill and absolute familiarity and comfort in the va'a as a way of life. It is the polar opposite of desperate migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean in overloaded dinghys and rubber rafts. Substitute "outrigger canoe" in your sentence with "car" and think of crossing a continent, which for most of us would be no big deal; that's how I imagine it must have been for them.
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randomq
Punatic

USA
1452 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2019 :  08:01:50  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
KiminPL, I wonder if that's true, or if the majority died on the journey.
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HereOnThePrimalEdge
Punatic

South Sandwich Islands
7500 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2019 :  09:10:44  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
... if the majority died on the journey.

It was probably not so different as any journey into the unknown by the Romans, Vikings, seafaring countries that sent out fleets of ships in times of war, or journeys of discovery by adventurers who stepped into uncharted territories never to return. In America, Thanksgiving is celebrated because the Pilgrims survived. We prefer not to bring up Jamestown.

We’ll never know how many Pacific Islanders west of Hawaii, or south of Hawaii went looking for new lands, or why, but some of those voyagers did arrive on our shores. It was an extraordinary accomplishment.
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randomq
Punatic

USA
1452 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2019 :  10:08:30  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
But were they all (Vikings, Hawaiians, etc) extraordinarily accomplished, or just foolhardy and (a few) lucky? I think we are all closer to mold spores and bacteria than the pretty picture our prefrontal cortexes paint, and historians record. :)
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rainyjim
Punatic

2001 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2019 :  11:10:08  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I’ve always thought the praise heaped on the Hokulea and other canoers be they current or ancient to be curious. It’s like cheering someone for cutting their lawn with scissors instead of using a lawn mower *scratches head*
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Midnight Rambler
Punatic

USA
1050 Posts

Posted - 03/16/2019 :  18:55:30  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Well, you don't start out making trans-oceanic voyages. That's the culmination of thousands of years of accumulated knowledge. People start off sailing to the nearest island, then to the one visible beyond that, then cruising around on open ocean for a few days fishing, etc.

Also, it's a little misleading to call them "Stone Age". Metalworking arrived in the Philippines around 1000 BC, while the proto-Polynesian Lapita culture was in Fiji and Samoa. But even if they had obtained the technique, there's no real deposits of metal ores on oceanic islands. Just like how they abandoned pottery once they moved beyond Fiji, because there are no sources of clay.
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rainyjim
Punatic

2001 Posts

Posted - 03/16/2019 :  19:38:33  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Midnight, that’s the definition of Stone Age, not misleading at all.
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terracore
Punatic

5423 Posts

Posted - 03/16/2019 :  19:55:36  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
"Whenever I think about how the Polynesians spread throughout the pacific I am very disturbed/awed that anyone thought they should travel in an outrigger canoe. "

The Vikings crossed the Atlantic in larger ships because they were looking for conquest. Maybe the Polynesians simply understood the nature of their voyage. The Titanic sank in waters that tiny wooden boats had made centuries before. Maybe longer.
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ElysianWort
Punatic

USA
1553 Posts

Posted - 03/17/2019 :  07:18:31  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by rainyjim

I’ve always thought the praise heaped on the Hokulea and other canoers be they current or ancient to be curious. It’s like cheering someone for cutting their lawn with scissors instead of using a lawn mower *scratches head*



This statement tells me that in this circumstance you don't understand much about love and pride for ones past culture and curiosity about one's forefathers and ancestors methods.
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Chunkster
Punatic

1971 Posts

Posted - 03/17/2019 :  07:52:03  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I've always wondered how or why the Hawaiians lost the ability to make long distance ocean voyages a few centuries before Western contact. Some accounts of the current revival voyages mention the modern sailors having to learn the navigation techniques from Micronesians, and other don't.
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randomq
Punatic

USA
1452 Posts

Posted - 03/17/2019 :  08:13:14  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Ran out of places to go? How many outriggers were sent east of Hawaii before they gave up?
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