National Geographic : 1948 Jul
Pacific Wards of Uncle Sam everywhere the paths and yard plots are swept and kept free of fallen leaves. When we were ready to leave, I saw several villagers carrying bundles to the pier. One passenger we were to take back to Truk was the schoolteacher, going there for a period of training. Schoolchildren crowded the pier to wave her farewell. Many of the young girls sobbed as she left (Plates XIV and XV). As we sailed out of Lukunor and again as we were entering Satawan atoll, we ran into enormous schools of porpoises. In each school there must have been at least a hundred, leaping and cavorting ahead of our ship. Of the four islands we visited in Satawan atoll-More, Kutu, Ta, and Satawan-the last is largest. Numerous other green islets strew the northern curve of the reef like dots and dashes on a telegraph tape. Several Japanese landing barges and an airplane lie wrecked about the pier and beach at Satawan (Plate III). In the center of the island I also saw several trucks, light tanks, marine engines, guns, and other war gear. Here, too, the Japanese laid out an airstrip. Today some native families are living in houses the Japanese built. Many had sal vaged aluminum from wrecked planes and fashioned it into pots and pans. Ancient Taboos Survive Much of Micronesia has been Christianized for years. Often, however, you find odd rem nants of ancient beliefs. On Kutu I came upon a clump of coconut trees whose trunks were encircled with fringes of coconut leaves. Dry fronds and fallen nuts littered the ground. "Taboo," explained a villager, when I asked the reason. "Why taboo?" "Owner die. We not touch for one year." This taboo-marked grove happened to oc cupy the space between the two village churches. After spending three days in the atoll, we headed southward to Nukuoro and Kapinga marangi (page 86). These two gemlike atolls, unlike the other islands of the Trust Territory, are inhabited by Polynesian, not Micronesian, peoples. A group of Polynesian sea wanderers either was left on these islands at the time of some migratory movement or was cast up here when its canoes were blown far off course. They are now hundreds of miles from their Polynesian kin. More than 500 of these golden-brown folk live on Kapingamarangi; fewer than half that number are on Nukuoro. We went first to Kapingamarangi. It was feast day when we arrived at the atoll. The village was having a double wedding and a banquet. The feast also was a farewell party for Dr. Peter H. Buck, Director of the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, who, with three anthropologist companions, had been making a study of the people. We ate taro, breadfruit, and coconuts, pre pared singly and in a variety of combinations, and gorged ourselves on other dishes of fish, rice, and pork. When we came to leave, almost everyone in Kapingamarangi, it seemed, paddled out to our ship to say farewell. Even the ruling chief, gracious King David, who stands nearly six feet tall and must weigh 300 pounds, came alongside in his huge white canoe. We were fortunate with weather when we arrived off Nukuoro. The sea was calm. On previous calls in the past three months rough water had prevented loading of copra. Sev eral canoes had been damaged in trying to come alongside to transfer passengers. For a day and a half we drifted off the lagoon entrance to load 40-odd tons of copra from the procession of bobbing canoes. Nukuoro has had more contact with other islands, particularly Ponape, than has Ka pingamarangi. Some of its homes are wood framed and its church is a plastered, thick coral-walled structure roofed with sheet iron. At church service the Scripture lesson is read from a Ponapean-language Bible. The ser mon is delivered by the native pastor in Polynesian tongue. Copra loading completed, we headed for Truk into a gathering storm front. After reaching Truk I flew to Ponape, one of the two largest islands in the Terri tory. I had planned to see the experimental farms the Japanese had planned, and also visit its mystery ruins of Nanmatol, on the southeast coast, where forgotten ancients erected colossal structures from giant lengths of prismatic basalt rock. I then expected to go on field trips to Ngatik, Mokil, Pingelap, and Kusaie. Un fortunately, a mild outbreak of encephalitis had caused the imposition of a quarantine in some Ponapean villages; so I had to turn back. Grass Skirts and Stone Money A few days later I stepped ashore in Yap. I seemed to have dropped into an age as remote as that when Nanmatol men piled up their megalithic structures. We had shipped by way of Ulithi, whose broad lagoon I had seen crowded with hun dreds of ships of our battle fleet during the war. Now our small freighter was the only craft there, save for a spluttering "duck,"