Native Place

The Sea

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Pacific Worlds considers places in terms of layers. The Arrival Chapter forms the bottom, most ancient layer, often more rooted in legend than in local history. Arrival explores the beginnings of the island entity from islander perspectives, with particular attention to the community or land division that is the focus for that website.

Scientifically, we can explain the origins of islands in terms of volcanism, plate tectonics, reef building, and other physical forces. Similarly, we can trace the estimated migrations and arrivals of Pacific Islanders using archaeological and linguistic evidence. While these approaches to knowledge are valid and important, they tell us little about how cultures understand themselves. And cultural self-understandings are rooted in the most primal of stories: those concerning the birth of the islands and the origins of their peoples.

The Arrival chapter is broken into four inter-related parts to explore different aspects of ancient traditions:

Come Ashore looks at who the first arrivals might have been, when they may have come, and why they would have settled in the area being studied. The Geographic angle is, what did this area (village or land division) have to offer explorers arriving from elsewhere, in terms of land and sea resources and other factors.

The Ancients then explores who these earliest peoples—real, legendary, or both—are said to have been. Many places in the Pacific have traditions of previous peoples, who existed there before the current inhabitants. Stories of these peoples are often telling about how these places and current peoples see themselves today.

Legendary Setting looks to mythical descriptions regarding the creation of the islands, or of that particular area. These legends may also speak of the first peoples who arrived, so this page goes together tightly with The Ancients.

Neighbors, on the other hand, looks at how the peoples of the land area being studied understand themselves in relation to the peoples around them. This positions that community within a larger context of social, political and economic relations, giving us a broader context for understanding these people and their place.

On top of this layer, we turn to historical sites that tell of the more recent culture. This is the topic of the next chapter, Native Place.



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