National Geographic : 1956 Apr
571 Huge Dip Nets Snare Fish Trying to Leap Free of the Seine No such luck. I was awakened about 2 a.m. by a soft voice calling from outside "Marston, Marston. Ship come." I pulled myself out of bed and stumbled to the shore. There across the lagoon were the lights of the ship. The West had turned up on schedule to claim us. The ship took us to the Truk Islands, a dis trict headquarters of the trust territory gov ernment. There Ted and I glimpsed a people similar to those of Ifalik but with a long his tory of outside contact-with Spain, Ger many, Japan, and now with the United States. We had, of course, no time to study them. But we could see that their contact with the outside world had given them no real advan tage. The contrast with Ifalik was thought provoking. Life on Ifalik has been little changed by contact with the West. Indeed, it is because the islanders are "unspoiled" that we had wanted to study them. As far as we could see, their life in most respects is beautifully adapted to their environment. The authorities of the trust territory are keenly aware of this. They have before them a whole array of islands with different his tories of Western influence. In those where the most contact has occurred, the process looks much like degeneration. The people have lost their old skills; they have even for gotten how to fish and are dependent on canned foods. They acquire imported dis eases, of the mind as well as of the body, and, while happiness is difficult to measure, here too they seem to lose instead of gain. Learning Process a Two-way Path But change is inevitable. The Ifalikians want to take their place in the world, and I don't think we should protect them artifi cially, even if we could. I have enough con fidence in them to believe that they can teach us as many things about living as we can teach them. Here perhaps is the key prob lem-how to make the learning process a selective one, so that Ifalik's handful of well adjusted islanders won't lose their self-re spect and values, their kindness and manners, and their ability to manage their sea and atoll as they acquire the modern world's gadgets and science.