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Lesson 6

Lesson 7

Lesson 8


Lesson 6: Visitors

Lesson at a glance

You will explore the history of foreign encounters in your island entity and in your area in particular.

This is the first of two lessons on historical change in your island entity and in your area specifically.


The sections of the Pacific Worlds Visitors chapter generally correspond with a sequence of events involved in the Western-colonial encounter with Pacific Islands. These may or may not all be relevant to your area, or may be relevant to different degrees and in a different order. The purpose, however, is to outline the different stages of colonization that make your islands what they are today.

Key Concepts: Voyages of exploration; missionaries; colonization; and the demographic changes that resulted from the impact of these visitors.

Lesson Outcomes: You will:

  • Be familiar with the early foreign encounters, the people involved, and the impact of those visits
  • Examine the role of missionaries, if any, in the cultural and political transformation of your islands
  • Understand colonial encounters in the broader geographical context of Western activities in the Pacific
  • Understand the impacts of the colonial encounter on the indigenous population


History books.Other historical resources as necessary, including perhaps journals of the missionaries that were stationed in your area.


Exercise 1: Explorers
Website: Visitors > Explorers

Identify the earliest encounters with Explorers in your island entity: who were they, where were they from, when did they arrive?

How were these explorers received? Was their violence, or peace? If there was violence, are there two points of view on why that happened? Are their differences between the stories told by your people, and by Western historians?

Discuss various aspects of cultural difference between the explorers and the inhabitants of your islands at that time.

Compare your stories to those of other communities in Pacific Worlds. Discuss similarities and differences.

How did these first encounters shape the perceptions of your island(s) by outsiders? To what extent are these perceptions maintained today?

What were the immediate impacts of these visits? How did it change life in your islands?


that both Western societies and your own island society were in a state of evolution: neither was “backwards,” but both were subject to different opportunities, including access to resources such as metals and to innovations and ideas from other places.


Exercise 2: Missionaries
Website: Visitors > Missionaries

Missionaries and the introduction of Christianity can be a difficult topic to discuss fairly. In some cases, missionaries are seen as hated interlopers who brought on the destruction of local culture. In other cases, missionaries are revered as benefactors who brought the light of Christianity. Our purpose here, however, is to view missionaries as factors in the cultural and political transformation of Pacific Islands, good or bad (or both).


not to make moral judgements ("good" or "bad") about missionaries in the Pacific islands.


Identify the first missionaries, and the most important early missionary figures to your islands: who were they, where did they come from, and when?

Compare the encounters of early missionaries in your area with those of communities on the Pacific Worlds website. Consider the different receptions the islanders gave them, and the degrees of impact that the missionaries ultimately had.

How did the values of the Missionaries compare with those of your culture?

Did the presence of these missionaries help or hinder the colonizing process? Discuss.

What were the geographic impacts of the missionaries, if any? For example, did they establish districts for administration of their parishes? Or create villages where there were not villages before? Did their presence help establish a new capital?

How are these missionaries viewed today? Compare to other island entities.

Exercise 3: Colony
Website: Visitors > Colony

Almost all Pacific Islands became colonies or protectorates of major powers, sometimes more than one, during the 19th century.

Which power(s) colonized your islands, and what were their motives? Consider the larger global geo-politics of colonization in the Pacific at that time.

On that same note, what did the colonizing powers in your islands want? Copra? Sandalwood? How did the promotion of these economies affect your islands? Compare to other island localities

What immediate impacts or changes were brought about as a result of colonization? Compare to other island localities.


Exercise 4: Society
Website: Visitors > Society

The Colonial period is generally the time when social and political structures in the islands changed or solidified, sometimes adopting Western forms (monarchy, for example).

What were the political institutions (chieftainships, titles, clans, etc) of the society in your islands during the early colonial period? Compare to other island communities.

Explore population issues in your society during the early “historical” period, including the impact of any introduced diseases.

What do you see as the outcome, in terms of effects on your society, by the time colonial rule was solidified?

Exercise 5: Aftermath
Website: Visitors > Aftermath

“Aftermath” looks at the overall impacts of the early contact or colonial period. Long-term colonial rule had different effects depending on who the new masters were (among other things). Factors include Christianization, the introduction of literacy, or the transformation of the social structure or the economy.

Did the colonial period involve war, either against the colonizers or within your island entity? What were the impacts of that (for example, unifying the islands)?

Was the economy of your island(s) transformed during the colonial period?

How strong was the presence of the colonizers? Were there many of them, or just a few? Did they bring in other peoples to your island(s)?

What were the long-term impacts of colonial rule in your case? How much of the indigenous culture was changed or lost?



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