National Geographic : 1974 Dec
HERMAN MELVILLE once described the relationship between human genius and man's perception of it as a "shock of recognition." I like to think that Melville, who wrote so eloquently of the Pacific and its peoples, would have enjoyed this month's four-part presentation on the Pacific Islands-for it all began with just such a shock. Author David Lewis made a casual inquiry of a Tongan about sailing directions through a reef-studded archipelago. "I was flabbergasted by his reply," he recalls, "for it meant that the age-old lore of the sea by which the Polynesians had populated the Pacific was still known-by a few, but known." David devoted three years to the search for that ancient knowledge, and found it, an achievement that helped earn him the Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of Navigation and the Superior Achievement Award of the Institute of Naviga tion of the United States, a rare double, richly deserved. To bring this epic tale to our members, our editors, pho tographers, and writers logged a combined 200,000 miles of Pacific travel-though not without hazard. Photographer William Curtsinger was attacked and twice slashed by a shark while swimming in the lagoon of a remote and unin habited island. The fact that David Lewis is a physician and had a supply of antibiotics probably saved Bill's life. His colleague, Nicholas deVore III, found himself just in time to join a Micronesian crew for an extraordinary canoe voyage of 550 miles across the open ocean. Nick suffered from intestinal flu the whole way: "Nine days on a wet roller coast er." He was alert enough to notice, however, that the crew had added a new element to the ancient navigational reper toire of wind, wave, star, and bird-jet contrails, marking the Pacific sky and pointing the way to land. Artist Herb Kawainui Kane, who grew up in the steep Waipi'o Valley on the "Big Island" of Hawaii, combines the talents of artist, sailor, and amateur anthropologist. "All Polynesian culture relates to the canoe," claims Herb. He and his friends in the Polynesian Voyaging Society hope to under line that point when they sail a 60-foot double-hulled canoe to Tahiti and back in 1976, using navigational techniques that the world thought were long forgotten. Several times this past year we had the pleasure of "pulling out all the stops" for an article we thought deserved it-the world-ranging and timely story on gold, the survey of Ameri can wilderness at a crossroads moment, the achievement of our frontier in space, Skylab, our account of the glory of the Phoenicians, and that mind-dazzling summary of our new knowledge of the universe itself. At the moment, our writers and photographers are sailing in the wakes of Columbus and Drake, ranging the new Alas ka, exploring the remains of Maya and Celtic civilizations, probing the archives of the American Revolution-but we will let their work speak for itself in forthcoming issues. It seems a shame that our popular associate in geographic adventure, the award-winning National Geographic Society television series, will be represented by no new programs this year. Word that we had been unable to obtain a commitment from the networks for prime viewing time reached my desk just before the news that one of last season's documentaries had won two coveted Emmy awards. In this case, the shock preceded the recognition. NATIIOAL THE NATIONALGEOGRAPHICMAGAZINEVOL. 146 NO. 6 COPYRIGHT© 1974 BY NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY WASHINGTON,D. C. INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT SECURED December 1974 ISLES OF THE PACIFIC i-Coming of the Polynesians 732 Recent research,says famed anthropologist Kenneth P. Emory, finally allows us to reconstruct one of the great explorations of all time-the discovery of the PacificIslands. I-Wind, Wave, Star, and Bird 747 Putting away his compass and charts, veteran voyager DavidLewis rediscovers the "lost" arts of the Polynesian navigators. Photographsby Nicholas deVore III. iii- The Pathfinders 756 Two thousand years of Pacificseafaring spring to life in the paintings of Hawaiian artist Herb Kawainui Kane. iv- Problems in Paradise 782 Even the idyllic South Seas face growing environmental hazards, conservationists Mary and Laurance Rockefeller learn. Photographsby Thomas Nebbia. SUPPLEMENT: Islands of the Pacific and Their Discoverers, distributedwith this issue. The Enduring Pyrenees 794 Robert Laxalt, himself of Basque descent, and photographerEdwin Stuart Grosvenor travel through the sequestered mountain domain of the French-Spanish border. The Columbia River 821 Writer-photographerDavid S. Boyer traces the river that, more than any other in North America, has been tamed to work for man. China's Newest Treasures 848 A shroud ofjade and a flying horse highlight the trove of Asian art now touring the Western World. Photographsby Robert W. Madden. Caribou: Hardy Nomads of the North 858 Jim Rearden tells of Alaska's still immense herds of barren-groundcaribou - the "buffalo" of the last U. S . frontier. COVER: "Eyes full and sparkling," wrote Bounty mutineer James Morrison of Polynesia's women. PhotographerH. Edward Kim confirms the observationin this portraitof a girl of Bora Bora.