National Geographic : 1945 Sep
Our New Military Wards, the Marshalls Native Chiefs at Ailinglapalap Read the Proclamation of Admiral Nimitz Following the taking of the Marshalls, these proclamations, written in Japanese and English, were posted in every village on all islands and atolls U. S . forces occupied. This one deals with rules for native behavior, surrender of firearms, turning over of Jap currency, etc. Later proclamations were in English and Marshallese. laid them on the mats before us. It was a feast in our honor. And what a feast! They had brought many times what we could possibly eat. Yet they touched not a bit, and saw in the end-as custom dictates-that all the rest of it went with us back to the ship. As soon as we had finished eating, the women formed in line and marched past us singing a gay alu chant. The alu is a shell decorated headband or neckpiece. To the Marshallese it is what the flower lei is to the Hawaiians (Plate XIII). Alus for Remembrance Taking alus from their own heads, they placed them on ours. Then they vanished to get more. Again and again they came back singing a song which has this general meaning: This alu ! I bring and place it upon you As a remembrance of me On this joyous occasion. By the time they had finished, our heads and necks were heavily laden with shell and flower alus. We looked like overdecorated Christmas trees. After the alu procession, one gay old lady seized a stem of bananas and, substituting the word "banana" in place of "alu," started the chant all over again. Within a few minutes enough bananas were heaped at our feet to feed a regiment! A Week at Ailinglapalap We sailed soon afterward for Ailinglapalap, the main island of the atoll (Plates II and XII). The leading village here formerly was Enuebing, at the western end of the island, but it took a bad beating from bombers and de stroyers when our forces broke up a small Japanese garrison there. Village life is now centered about Airek, near the opposite end. However, clusters of dwellings are scattered for miles along the coral path under the coco nut trees. Each group has its own name, but names mean little except locally; so Ailinglapalap usually serves for the whole settlement. Here I stayed for nearly a week. Day after day I wandered up and down the island with a young Marshallese who speaks perfect Eng lish, learned at Jaluit and at Kusaie. The chiefs are descendants of the late war rior chief Kabua, who held control over th"