Dr. Charles F. Urbanowicz / Professor of Anthropology
California State University, Chico / Chico, California 95929-0400
Office: Butte Hall 317} 530-898-6220; Department: Butte Hall 311} 530-898-6192; FAX: 530-898-6143
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[This page printed from]

November 6, 2003 [1]

© [All Rights Reserved.] For a presentation (with visuals) on November 6, 2003 at The Anthropology Forum at California State University, Chico. My appreciation goes to Ms. Debra Besnard and Mr. Stan Griffith and their "Digital Asset Management Project" in the Meriam Library at CSU, Chico for the work they did for some of my slides used today.




"As the Spanish proverb says, 'He [or she], who would bring home the wealth of the Indies, must carry the wealth of the Indies with him.' So it is in travelling; a man must carry the wealth of the Indies with him, if he would bring home knowledge.' BOSWELL. 'The proverb, I suppose, Sir, means he must carry a large stock with him to trade with.' JOHNSON. 'Yes Sir.'" James Boswell [1740-1795], 1791, The Life of Samuel Johnson (NY: [1968] Signet Classic), page 467.

Individuals go into various disciplines, including anthropology, for numerous reasons; people also travel for a multitude of reasons, perhaps one of them being to see something new! We also "create" lectures for various reasons: to fulfill classroom requirements, provide public enlightenment, and in this case (hopefully), prepare for future speaking engagements. In the summer of 2003 I was contacted by a company to see if I would be interested in becoming a "Destination Lecturer" for various cruises, including the South Pacific, and this brief presentation is an attempt at giving a brief "Overview" for future cruisers to Polynesia (including Tahiti and the "Neighbor Islands"). You will note that I have taken some artistic license and discuss the "Neighbor Islands" as the rest of Oceania! Incidentally, while my prose doesn't necessarily "flow" as it does with some authors, I truly enjoy the words and sentiment of James A. Michener (1907-1997):

"I wish I could tell you about the South Pacific. The way it actually was. The endless ocean. The infinite specks of coral we called islands. Coconut palms nodding gracefully toward the ocean. Reefs upon which waves broke into spray, and inner lagoons lovely beyond description [stress added]." James A. Michener, 1946, Tales of the South Pacific (Fawcett Crest Books), page 9.

This reminded me of John Muir (1838-1914), writing in 1890 in The Mountains of California (1961, NY: Doubleday Edition): "Go where you may within the bounds of California, mountains are ever in sight, charming and glorifying every landscape." What mountains are to Californians, the Pacific Ocean is to islanders.

I received my Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Oregon in 1972 and my own expertise in the Pacific developed as a result of graduate courses, combined with library research (California, Hawai'i, Australia, and New Zealand), and fieldwork in the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga (1970 and 1971) more than three decades ago! I have not returned to Tonga since 1971, but I have been to Hawai'i 30 times since 1970 and have been to Tahiti twice. Since 1970, and through 2003, I have also conducted some very modest research into various issues, including tourism, in the Pacific islands of Tasmania, New Zealand, Fiji, Western Samoa, and American Samoa. Additional research into tourism, as well as other issues, was conducted in China (Singapore), Taiwan, Malaysia, and Japan at various points in time in the 1980s.



"...wasn't that one of the pleasures of travel? If everything is going to be exactly the same, why go anywhere?" Lawrence Block, 2000, Hit List (NY: Harpertorch), page 12.

I last made a presentation on a specific Pacific topic for the Forum in 1993 and I invoked the words of Gaius Julius Caesar's [100-44B.C.] "Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres; quarum unam incolunt Belgae, and I wrote instead: Okeania est omnis divisa in partes tres. Many anthropologists see the traditional anthropological divisions of the Pacific into three major culture areas, the first one being Polynesia (bounded by Hawai'i to the north of the Equator, Easter island, and the islands of New Zealand south of the Equator). One then has Melanesia (the islands just north and northeast of Australia) and then the area called Micronesia (or the islands just north of New Guinea and the Equator). This is a big hunk of this planet to so neatly encapsulate when one considers that the Pacific Ocean, so misnamed by Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521), is the largest geographical feature on the planet we call earth.

"On September 20, 1519, Magellan and a crew of 270 men set sail from Spain on their around-the-world voyage in five small vessels including his flagship Trinidad, Concepcion, San Antonio, Victoria, and Santiago. It took the fleet, or at least the three remaining ships in the fleet, 38 days to navigate the strait around South America that was to bear Magellan's name. During the last week of November, the fleet emerged into what Magellan described as a "beautiful, peaceful ocean." Thus, it was named the Pacific Ocean ("pacific" meaning "peaceful.") [stress added]." From:

Magellan, born in Portugal in 1480 to a well-to-do-family, was well aware of the riches that would become available in new products could be brought back to Europe in an efficient manner and as Daniel pointed out in 1964:

"The fact is that Portugal had entered upon a period of greatly expanding wealth. With few exceptions, however, those who profited most were not those who did the heavy work or faced the greatest dangers. Almost every ship that returned from India or the even more distant lands, the Portuguese had reached was laden, at least in part, with spices, sandalwood, and other products of the east. Obtained at little cost in a region that was so open, so far as Europe was concerned, only to the Portuguese, such shipments were immensely valuable in the marketplaces of the west. And the Portuguese, profiting now as the Venetians had profited earlier, were accumulating wealth on a scale almost unimaginable a generation earlier [stress added]." Hawthorne Daniel, 1964, Ferdinand Magellan (NY: Doubleday & Co.), page 76.

More recently, Nichols has provided us with the following information:

"The first passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific had been discovered by the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan, in 1520. He was looking, as was Columbus, as were they all, for that still elusive western route to the spice islands of the Indies. Columbus died in 1506, never knowing he had not found them. It was the Spaniard Vasco Núñez de Balboa [1475-1519] who, on September 26, 1513, scaled a hilltop on the isthmus of Darien, in what is now Panama, and first saw the South Sea stretching away in limitless distance beyond Columbus's mistaken Orient. This information expanded the known circumference of the world by more than a third. Seven years later, Magellan, seeking access to that South Sea, found a wide, navigable passage between the bottom of the Americas and, below that to the south, a bleak Terra Incognita [stress added]." Peter Nichols, 2003, Evolution's Captain: The Dark Fate of the Man Who Sailed Charles Darwin Around The World (NY: HarperCollins), page 4.

Nichols goes on with the words of Antonio Pigafetta, one who sailed with Magellan:

"We found by a miracle, a strait which we call the strait of the Eleven Thousand Virgins; this strait is a hundred and ten leagues long which are four hundred and forty miles, and almost as wide as less than half a league, and it issues into another sea which is called the peaceful Sea; it is surrounded by very great high mountains covered with snow. I think there is not in the world a more beautiful country, or a better strait than this one [stress added]." Peter Nichols, 2003, Evolution's Captain: The Dark Fate of the Man Who Sailed Charles Darwin Around The World (NY: HarperCollins), pages 4-5.

While Pigafetta was off in his calculations (Nichols points out that the strait is some 310 miles long), it still took Magellan weeks to sail the distance and "his small fleet probably sailed five times that distance" in the process (Peter Nichols, 2003, Evolution's Captain: The Dark Fate of the Man Who Sailed Charles Darwin Around The World (NY: HarperCollins), page 5). Magellan was killed on the voyage, while in the Philippines, but the trip was completed and the world of the Pacific Islanders (and the rest of the world!) began to change:

"On 6 September 1522, a ship named Vittoria sailed into one of the major ports of Spain, having completed the first-ever round trip of the globe. It was the single surviving vessel of the ill-fated fleet that had set out under Ferdinand Magellan [1480-1521] years earlier. On board were masses of valuable and mysterious products from far-away places. Nutmeg, cloves, and other valuable spices, precious stones, and also two stuffed birds, a present from the Rajah of Bachian (ruler of the island of Tidore in the Moluccas) to the King of Spain. This may seem a meagre gift even by sixteenth-century standards, but what birds they were! Nothing like them had ever been seen in Europe. The plumage was a dazzling palette of fiery red, bright chestnut yellow, deep green, and iridescent yellowish green, completed with two tufts of amazing yellow-and-fawn , long, springy feathers [stress added]." Menno Schilthuizen, 2001, Frogs, Flies, and Dandelions: Speciation--The Evolution of New Species (Oxford University Press), page 35.

In his most delightful and readable 2002 book, Tony Horwitz has the following to say about Pacific explorers:

"Pacific adventurers also showed an unfortunate tendency toward abbreviated careers. Vasco Núñez de Balboa [1475-1519], the first European to sight the ocean, in 1513, was beheaded for treason. Magellan set off in 1519 with five ships and 237 men; only one ship and eighteen men made it home three years later, and Magellan was not present, having been speared in the Philippines. Francis Drake [~1540-1596] the first English circumnavigator, died at sea of dysentery. Vitus Bering [1681-1741], sailng for the czar, perished from exposure after shipwrecking near the frigid sea now named for him; at the last, Bering lay half-buried in sand, to keep warm, while Arctic foxes gnawed at his sick and dying men. Other explorers simply vanished. Or went mad [stress added]." Tony Horwitz, 2002, Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before (NY: Henry Holt And Company), page 14.



"The barbarous heathen are nothing more strange to us than we are to them.... Human reason is a tincture in like weight and measure infused into all our opinions and customs, what form soever they be, infinite in matter, infinite in diversity [stress added]." Michel Eyquem de Montaigne [1533-1592], Essays, page 53 [1959 paperback publication of a translation from 1603].

Anthropologists look at numerous variables (such as language, mythology, religion, as well as kinship and social organization) to establish what have been termed "culture areas" in order to work with people. In the Pacific these have been designated as Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia; but as the excellent 1989 South Pacific Handbook by David Stanley pointed out:

"The term Polynesia was coined by Charles de Brosses [1709-1777] in 1756 and applied to all the Pacific islands. The present restricted use was proposed by Dumont D'Urville [1790-1842] during a famous lecture at the Geographical Society of Paris in 1831. At the same time he also proposed the terms Melanesia and Micronesia for the regions which still bear those names [stress added]." David Stanley, 1989, South Pacific Handbook (Chico, CA: Moon Publications, Inc.), page 51.

These "divisions" should be used, however, with caution:

"The terms Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia should also be used carefully. This three-way division was first used by Dumont D'Urville [1790-1842] in the 1820s, and the terms came into currency after the mid-nineteenth century. These remain useful to dsignate broad geographic regions but they should not be seen, as they once were, as denoting cultural regions, since to do so is to continue with a range of nineteenth-century racial assumptions and classifications [stress added]." K.R. Howe, 2003, The Quest For Origins: Who First Discovered And Settled The Pacific Islands? (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press), page 25.

One soon discovers that there are islands called "Polynesian outliers" (physically located in Micronesia or Melanesia) which have Polynesian cultural characteristics. Useful organizing principles for analyzing Polynesian data come from the 1958 work of Marshall Sahlins entitled Social Stratification in Polynesia wherein he looks at the environment as a key explanatory principle for interpreting Polynesian cultures; there is also the 1970 publication by Irving Goldman entitled Ancient Polynesian Society wherein Goldman discusses the concepts of mana, toa, and tohunga to explain Polynesian cultures. Goldman points out thay mana involves birthright, toa refers to the warrior, and tohunga refers to the craftsperson. He also points out the folowing:

"Principles of mana, tohunga, and toa provide solid bases for social inequality but do not by themselves institute a stable structure of status. What really organizes status differences in Polynesia into a strong system, is the geneaological principle of seniority. Mana, tohunga, and toa are the variable principles of status representing the psychological or cultural aspects of the status system, while seniority, establishing, as it does, a stable and systematic organization, is a true structural principle. ... All societies honoring first-born form some system of geneaological seniority. ... Order of birth has this mystical rationale: The first-born inherits most mana, the last-born least. ... Seniority in Polynesia carries some connotation of superiority at every geneaological level, ranging from statuses demanding the highest form of deference to those for whom a simple and almost casual offering of deference is sufficient. Polynesian social structures are literally built on the principle of seniority [stress added]." Irving Goldman, 1970, Ancient Polynesian Society (University of Chicago Press), pages 14-15.

Numerous researchers have worked in the Pacific and "Polynesia" has always been a fascinating topic. The islands of Tonga were contacted and settled by Pacific islanders by ~1140 B.C., and then the islanders traversed the largest geograpical feature on this planet. Pacific islanders reached the islands that we call New Zealand by ~1300 A .D., settled what we call Easter Island by ~300 A.D., and finally reached the islands called Hawai'i by ~400 A.D. Along the way, other islands were discovered and settled, including the islands of Tahiti (part of what is called "French Polynesia" today). In 1989, David Stannard pointed out the following and asked the intriguiging question:

"Hawai'i was one of the last areas in Polynesia to have been settled by humans, and it is generally believed that there was litle or no in-migration between the time of the first settlements and possible in-migration from Tahiti around the 12th century A.D. Since it is often assumed that the first settlers numbered, at most, in only the low to mid-hundreds, is it possible for a population of 800,000 or 1,000,000--or even more--to have been attained by 1778? [stress added]." David Stannard, 1989, Before The Horror: The Population of Hawai'i On The Eve of Western Contact (University of Hawai'i: Social Science Research Institute), page 32.

Stannard believes it was possible and population changes will be discussed below.



"Travel teaches seven important lessons [according to Arthur Frommer, age 76, author of travel books].... 1. Travelers learn that all people in the world are basically alike. ... 2. Travelers discover that everyone regards himself or herself as wiser and better than other people in the world. ... 3. Travel makes us care about strangers. ... 4. Travel teaches that not everyone shares your beliefs. ... 5. Travelers learn that there is more than one solution to a problem. ... 6. Travel teaches you to be a minority. ... 7. Travel teaches humility." Larry Bleiberg, 2003, Among Travel's Seven Important Lessons is Humility. The Sacramento Bee, February 2, 2003, page M3.

Human beings migrated out of Southeast Asia thousands of years ago and were in Australia perhaps as far back as 62,000 years ago. An excellent recent 2003 publication by K.R. Howe has a nice summary statement on migration routes:

"Only homo sapiens left the Eurasian landmass. If we focus on the broad region of East and Southeast Asia, these modern people were there by 60,000 years ago, and probably earlier. ... The moderns crossed this waterway [out of Southeast Asia], possibly on bamboo rafts, and reached what is now northern Australia some 60,000 years ago. They reached the rest of what is now mainland Australia by 38,000 years ago, and Tasmania by 34,000 years ago. They were also in eastern regions of New Guinea early on, with settlement dates of at least 45,000 years ago. They demonstrated an amazing adaptability, and successfully colonised a range of environments from tropical highlands to sandy deserts to sub-antarctic climes. ... Evidence of their presence, from about 40,000 years ago, has been variously located in New Britain, New Ireland, Manus and as far south as Buka in the Solomon Islands [stress added]." K.R. Howe, 2003, The Quest For Origins: Who First Discovered And Settled The Pacific Islands? (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press), pages 64-65.

Some have suggested that human occupation of Australia occured far back as 176,000 years ago.

"The evidence itself is, however, constantly changing or being modified. As we go to press new claims are being made of a radically early chronology for the prehistory of Australia. From the site of Jinmium in the Kimberly of northwestern Australia have been reported fallen panels of rock art engravings dated at between 58,000 and 75,000 years ago, and stone artefacts at between 116,000 and 176,000 years ago [stress added]." Harry Lourandos, 1997, Continent of Hunter-Gatherers: New Perspectives in Australian Prehistory (Cambridge University Press), page xv.

Modern humans were in what we now call the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga by approximately ~1140 B.C. and for various reasons (population pressure or the desire to explore or whatever!) they continued on to rest of Polynesia. Tremendous distances were covered with the excellent technology of the day and as Douglas Oliver pointed out long ago:

"To hail Europeans as discoverers of the Pacific Islands is ungracious as well as inaccurate. While they were still moving around in their small, landlocked Mediterranean Sea or hugging the Atlantic shores of Europe and Africa, Pacific Islanders were voyaging hundreds of open-sea miles in their canoes and populating most of the vast Pacific's far-flung islands [stress added]." Douglas L. Oliver, 1989, The Pacific Islands [Third Edition], page 19.

Regular contact occured between various island groups well before Europeans "discovered" the islands:

"The Melanesian and Polynesian chiefdoms of on Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga also maintained regular contacts. Tonga, an archipelago of small but fertile islands, was a maritme chiefdom, in the process of becoming a maritime empire. Its rulers built kinship networks and exchanged prestige over long distances. This was the core of a web under construction in the fifteenth century. It was more political than commercial [stress added]." J.R. McNeill & William H. McNeill, 2003, The Human Web: A Bird's-Eye View of World History (NY: W.W. Norton & Co.), page 160.

The term "peopling" in this paper, as I use the term, includes the Asian, European, and eventually American explorers of the Pacific: there were numerous voyagers (Americans, Spanish, Chinese, Dutch, English, Portuguese, and Spanish ) who explored the Pacific. Chinese exploration in the Pacific, and indeed, throughout the world (!) were recently brought to light in the (still controversial) 2002 publication of Gavin Menzies entitled 1421: The Year China Discovered America.

The earliest European explorers were after new raw materials for the growing population of Europe and they also sought to find the mythical "southern continent" (needed to balance out the northern lands). It is generally recognized that the most important explorer for the Pacific was Captain James Cook (1728-1779) of the British Royal Navy. Cook's three voyages of 1768-1771, 1772-1775, and 1776-1780, firmly placed various "Pacific Islands" (and Pacific Islanders) onto the European map of the world.

"Cook, by the time of this third and, as it would turn out, final voyage, had acquired the reputation of being an immaculate navigator and seaman, and a brilliant manager of men. His far-ranging accounts of his voyages, moreover, revealed a remarkable respect for the foreign peoples he met, and a striking reluctance to condemn outright even those alien practices that his own culture held to be immoral [stress added]." Caroline Alexander, 2003, The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty (NY: Viking), pages 129-130.

As Horwitz points out, Cook's discoveries (or lack of same) was very important:

"While Cook had failed to find the fabled southern continent, his circling of the globe, near its southernmost latitude, demolished forever the fantasy that a land of plenty girdled the bottom of the world [stress added]." Tony Horwitz, 2002, Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before (NY: Henry Holt And Company), page 220.

The publication of the account of Cook's discoveries however, and his murder on the big island of Hawai'i on February 14, 1779, eventually contributed to the great "Evangelical Revival" which sent missionaries into the Pacific (the first being sent to the islands of Tahiti in 1797). In 1989 the distinguished anthropologist Douglas Oliver pointed out in his publication entitled The Pacific Islands that "economic more than political events had their repurcussions in Oceania" as Europeans sought natural resources throughout the area (page 100). Whalers, fur traders, and others who sought supplies from the islanders soon flocked into the Pacific and chief among them were the missionaires:

" entirely new influence was at work in Oceania--for better or for worse, depending upon the point of view. Protestant activity began in the islands with the arrival in Tahiti, in 1797, of the ship Duff carrying a band of London Missionary Society evangelists and craftsmen. Back of this enterprise was the proselytizing fervor of the English Evangelical revival and the tacit support of the Colonial ministry. The Duff pioneers first applied their persuasions and good works to the top of the Tahitian hierarchy, shrewdly recognizing that conversions would spread quicker downward. The strategy worked, and within twenty years one of the strongest chiefs and all his followers were gathered into the fold [stress added]." Douglas L. Oliver, 1989, The Pacific Islands, page 109.

Oliver's pioneering Pacific work (which included Ancient Tahitian Society, published in 1974) inspired my own Tongan research in 1970-1971; after the Duff left their contingent of missionaries in Tahiti in 1797, they continued to Tonga and the missionaries began the process of attempting to convert the Tongans!

The numerous individuals who went to the various Pacific islands were a varied lot: explorers, missionaries and merchants, as well as whalers, beachcombers, and civil servants! All had their impact on the islanders to varying degrees and all have been interpreted over the decades through various lenses. The explorers placed the islands (and islanders) on the map of the world while the missionaries sought to convert the people from their own indigenous religious beliefs to the standard Judeo-Christian concept of a supreme being.

"Discoverers had come and seen and gone away. Explorers had done much the same but, before going away, had indicated where it might be possible to open up the Islands. Castaways and beachcombers had come, sometimes inadvertently, sometimes for permanent or, more likely, semi-permanent escape from Western civilization. They had moved to a part of the world in which they might either make a mark, if they had any ambitions, or else lose themselves. Many of them had gone away. Traders and whalers were transient, the latter without exception. Profit made, they departed. Missionaries were driven by the zeal and inner goading to make their impression, stay as long as they could and, while residing there, change as much around them as possible: they were the first settlers with a definite purpose [stress added]." Philip Snow and Stefanie Waine, 1979, The People From The Horizon: An Illustrated History of the Europeans Among The South Sea Islanders (Oxford: Phaidon Press Limited), page 140.

On terminology, the following should be pointed out:

"The term 'beachcomber' has come to mean a degraded, debauched type of European in the South Sea islands, lurching blearily through each day and lying furtively through each night. In the real sense, it simply means a European [of American] who, for some reason or another, has chosen to live the life of a South Sea Islander [stress added]." Philip Snow and Stefanie Waine, 1979, The People From The Horizon: An Illustrated History of the Europeans Among the South Sea Islanders (Oxford: Pahidon Press Limited), page 103.

Merchants went to sell items to islanders and as Euroamerican colonialism expanded in the 19th century (and as Japanese colonialism expanded in the 20th century), the islands (and islanders) were irrevocably changed. Consider, if you will, the following about "whalers" in the Pacific:

"Wherever they came ashore, after months of hard, dangerous, and, at times, incredibly boring work, whalers created a problem. Carousing, drunken, disease-carrying, irrepressible--they were the despair of the missionarires, a nuisance to authorities, and often the ruination of natives. Papeete, while it never rivalled either the Bay of Islands in New Zealand or Lahaina [in Maui, Hawai'i] or Honolulu in Hawaii in the number of vessels calling there, was nevertheless, one of the most popular ports of refreshment with whalers in the Central Pacific. And rightly so, as anyone familiar with that loveliest of South Sea lands will affirm [stress added]." Ernest S. Dodge, 1971, Whaling Off Tahiti (Paris: Societé des Oceanistes), pages 7 -10. 

Islanders were influenced by Europeans and Asians in their day and eventually the islands were "divided" among the various powers of the day (including, at various points in time, American, New Zealand, German, Japanese, Australian, and French interests) and all had their influence. Some nations still have influential positions in the Pacific to this date.

In placing things into historical perspective, when one writes about "People" of the Pacific, there is no way to avoid the impact of the aformentioned Captain James Cook (1728-1779) and what impact his Pacific exploration had on the islanders of the Pacific. One must also consider the impact his written reports had on Europeans of the day. Cook was the most important explorer of the Pacific. There were others including Bougainville (1729-1811] of France and the American Captain Charles Wilkes [1798-1877]. Cook, however, provided us with the (almost) definitive map of the Pacific. Bougainville provided the "romance" of the islands and Wilkes (in addition to providing specimens for the then fledgling Smithsonian institution) did a "mopping up" trip across the Pacific, but it was Cook who did the most amazing job!

Cook was murdered in Hawai'i in 1779 (see but other voyagers also contributed to our knowledge of the Pacific; consider, for example, Bougainville who voyaged around the world in 1767-1769 and visited Tahiti on the trip. The islands of Tahiti were first contacted by the British in 1767:

"The first recorded European to sight Me'etia (Maitea, Mehetia, etc.) ["the easternmost and geologically youngest island in the Society Archipelago"] was H.M.S. Dolphin, on June 17th 1767, during a voyage in search of new lands (including a fabled 'Southern Continent', which many Europeans believed to exist in the pacific between New Zealand and Cape Horn--a belief based partly on the theory that a large land mass in the southern Hemisphere was essential for the stability of the global Earth). Wallis [1728-1795], Dolphin's Commander, named Me'etia 'Osnaburg' Island, for the second son of George III [1738-1820], Frederick Augustus, who had been elected Bishop of Osnabrug (also Osnaburg) at the age of six months. Philip Carteret, whose sloop, Swallow, was to have accompanied Dolphin throughout the expedition but which went on alone after being separated from her in Magellan Straits, applied the name 'Osnaburg' to another island discovered by him. That was the Tuamotuan island, Mururoa, of present-day nuclear-testing notoriety. In John Beaglehole's words: 'Cook's English predecessors were more notable for loyalty to the house of Hanover than for romance in their choice of names'. [J.C. Beaglehole, The Journals of Captain Cook on his Voyage of Discovery, 3 volumes] (1955: 72n). ... Following the Dolphin, Me'etia was sighted from Bougainville's ships in April 1968 [sic! 1768!] (and named by Bougainfille 'Le Boudoir') and again from the Endeavour a year later.... [stress added]." Douglas Oliver, 1988, Return To Tahiti: Bligh's Second Breadfruit Voyage (Honolulu: university of Hawai'i Press), page 36.

Louis Antoine de Bougainville (1729-1811) probably did more than any other voyager to create the image of the islands of love in the South Pacific.

"Louis Antoine de Bougainville visited Tahiti Island in 1768. He stayed on the island for several months, bringing with him the first French influence. He named Tahiti "La Nouvelle Cythere", after the birthplace of the Greek goddess of love [Kythera, or Cerigo as it was once termed] [stress added]." [from:]

"Over the years the romance of the legendary South Seas has been elaborated by a succession of famous writers who came in search of Bougainville's [1729-1811] 'Nouvelle Cythere' or Rousseau's [1712-1778] 'noble savage.' Brought to the stage or silver screen, their stories entered the popular imagination alongside Gauguin's [1848-1903] rich images [stress added]." David Stanley, 1989, South Pacific Handbook (Chico, CA: Moon Publications, Inc.), page 59. 

Another source tells us the following about Bougainville:

"Eighteenth Century French Sailor, Soldier, Statesman, Mathematician and leader of a Voyage around the world. The French Sailor, Soldier, Statesman and Mathematician, Louis-Antoine de Bougainville [1729-1811], was one of the most interesting characters of the Eighteenth Century. Born in Paris in 1729, he led a voyage around the world in the 1760s which had far-reaching repercussions in the way European Society perceived life in the Pacific. The notion of the "Noble savage" had some of its roots in the reports given by members of Bougainville's expedition of their short time on the island of Tahiti [stress added]." From:

In his most informative 1960 publication entitled European Vision And the South Pacific 1768-1850: A Study In The History Of Art And Ideas, Bernard Smith writes the following about Bougainville:

"...the French navigator, Louis de Bougainville, who visited Tahiti in April 1768, a year before Cook, compared the Tahitians to Greek gods. 'I never saw men better made, and whose limbs were more proportionate: in order to paint Hercules or a Mars, one could nowhere find such beautiful models [stress added].'" Bernard Smith, 1960, European Vision And the South Pacific 1768-1850: A Study In The History Of Art And Ideas (Oxford University Press), page 25.

As Smith writes, "Bougainville had called Tahiti la Nouvelle Cythere, and the island became notorious throughout Europe in the popular mind as a land of free-love" (Bernard Smith, 1960, European Vision And the South Pacific 1768-1850: A Study In The History Of Art And Ideas (Oxford University Press), page 30). In writing about other voyagers to Tahiti, Smith has the following concering Joseph Banks [1743-1820] who accompanied Cook on his first voyage over the years 1768-1771:

"Banks was just as enthusiastic; to him as to Bougainville, Tahiti was the Golden Age come again. The sexual freedoms of the people, filled him with admiration and delight, but in his English way, he was more circumspect about it than the Frenchman. His private opinions are nowhere better expressed than in the short paper which he wrote for Count Bentinck (while visiting Holland in 1773) in order to amuse the Princess of Orange. He called it Thoughts on the manners of Otaheite. Banks claimed that Tahitian women were the most elegant in the world. European ladies outvied them in complexion, but in all else the Tahitians were superior [stress added]. Bernard Smith, 1960, European Vision And the South Pacific 1768-1850: A Study In The History Of Art And Ideas (Oxford University Press), page 25.

It is clear from reading the primary journals of the explorers and the secondary publications written about them that the Europeans did create a visition of the South Pacific (that exists to the 21st century). Leaving the English and French aside, the American Smithsonian Institution is a wonderful establishment and the story of its creation in the 19th century is well-worth repeating:

"In 1829 English scientist James Smithson [1765-1829] left his fortune to the people of the United States to found an institution for the "increase and diffusion of knowledge." Smithson's impetus in providing for a research and educational institution in a new country on another continent remains a mystery. His bequest sparked widespread debate over what such a national institution might be. Once established, the Smithsonian Institution became part of the process of developing the U.S. national identity." [from:]

The "national identity" of the United States of America continues to change to this day, and so does the Smithosonian, as the following from October 2003 points out:

"He sought immortality for his name, but even a man as obsessed with social standing as James Smithson [1765-1829] would be staggered by what his cryptic bequest has wrought: the Smithsonian Institution, the biggest, richest, most powerful museum complex in the world, which helped put the fledgling USA on the world's cultural and scientific map. Not bad for a half-million bucks and some change, considering a lot of Americans at the time didn't want a dime from perfidious Britain. (The British had burned the White House and Capitol only a couple of decades earlier.) Plus, yeats went by while Congress argued about whether to accept the gift. So here we are, 157 years later, and the mighty Smithsonian--looking a little dated, a little shabby and still many say, chronically undefunded by Capitol Hill--is about to undergo some of the most important changes to its size, content and appearance in decades. ... 'The nation's attic,' as it is affectionately known, is about to expand, allong display of ever more goodies from its stash of 143.5 million objects. Two new museums are opening in the next year; two others will reopen in three years after multimillion-dollar renovations; and popular permanent exhibits will open soon after major updates. There is also talk that proposed national museums of African-American and Latino-American culture eventually will come under the aegis of the Smithsonian [stress added]." Maria Puente, 2003, Smithsonian Spruces Up. USA Today, October 20, 2003, pages D1 and D 2.

The aforementioned Wilkes certainly made his contribution to the creation of the Smithsonian in the 19th century:

"The United States Exploring Expedition of 1838-42 is a milestone in American science. Often referred to as the Wilkes Expedition, this expedition brought back to the United States a wealth of geological, botanical, zoological, anthropological and other materials which created a foundation upon which much of American science was formed. At least three of the scientists involved with the expedition gained international acclaim from their efforts [stress added]." [from:]

In addition to the above, there were other non-islanders who had their impact on Pacific Islanders and who have influenced our view of Pacific Islanders. Among the many non-islanders who have written about the South Pacific, authors who wrote about the islanders (and non-islanders) in the Pacific include W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), noted for The Moon and Sixpence (1919) and The Trembling of A Leaf (1921) from which we get the short story "Rain" (and Miss Sadie Thompson!), as well as Charles Nordhoff (1887-1947) and James Norman Hall (1887-1951) and their celebrated Bounty Trilogy (1934). We also have James Michener (1907-1997) and his 1948 Pulitzer Prize winner Tales of the South Pacific (published in 1946), which turned into a beautiful play entitled South Pacific (first produced by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II and which opened in New York City on April 7, 1949). The play was also turned into an exquisite movie of the same title. Although stationed in Melanesia, in what was once called The New Hebrides (now Vanuatu), it was the island of Ambae which inspired his Bali Ha'i (although the fictive island is often associated with Tahiti and French Polynesia):

"It is rumoured that James Michener based his mythical, idealized island, Bali Hai on Moorea. And it is easy to see why. Many people have described Moorea as the most beautiful place on earth. Here, you'll find the real South Seas' experience -- a casual, barefoot existence amidst white sand beaches and multi-hued lagoons surrounded by jagged mountains and volcanic spires that reach into the clouds, while below, valleys are blanketed with the colors that one only finds when tropical climates and rich, volcanic soils meet. Clearly visible from Tahiti, Moorea is located only nine miles away across the Sea of the Moon. For all the hustle and bustle of nearby Tahiti (125,000+ population compared to Moorea's 9,000), Moorea is the best-kept secret of the trio of famous French Polynesian islands. Bora Bora and Tahiti get the press, but Moorea is the real prize. Beyond the picture postcard lagoons and white sand beaches, the volcanic island -- twice as old as Tahiti -- is also famous for its six mountains, including Mt. Rotui, which offers spectacular views of Opunohu Bay and the island [stress added]." [from:]

Other gifted writers have provided us with their visions of the South Pacific, including Jack London (1876-1916) and his South Sea Tales (1911), Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), Rupert Brooke (1887-1915) and of course, Herman Melville (1819-1891) and what has been called the most famous American novel of all times, Moby Dick (1851). In the early 19th century, Melville had shipped out on the whaler Acushnet and in 1842 he deserted the ship when it was in the Marquesas; eventually he left the Marquesas on another whaler, went to Hawai'i and Tahiti and after four years returned to Cape Cod where he wrote and published Typee (1846) and Moby Dick (1851). There was a huge whale in the Pacific, called "Mocha Dick" because of a patch of white that it had on its body (A. B. C. Whipple, 1973, Yankee Whalers In The South Seas [Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle Co.], page 60).

"Melville worked for years on his mighty sea epic, which he always called, very literally, The Whale. ... In England, Melville's publisher, who had originally rejected The Whale as not good enough to be a children's book, finally offered it to the public as juvenile fiction. Harper and Brothers in New York felt differently, and having read a real-life newspaper account of a monumental chase at sea involving a mammoth white whale called Mocha Dick, suggested that Melville play up on the public's awareness of the news with a very subtle change of name. It didn't work--the book was one of the greatest publishing failues of its time--but who today has not heard of the might Moby-Dick? [stress added]." André Bernard, 1995, Now All We Need Is A Title: Famous Book Titles And How They Got That Way (NY: Barnes & Noble Books), pages 78-80.

If one is reluctant to read Melville's Moby Dick in the original, there is a delightful book by Maurice Sagoff (1970) which is called to your attention: Shrinklits: Seventy of the World's Towering Classics Cut Down To Size (New York: Workman Publishing) wherein the following appears on page 97:

"Whale chomped Ahab's leg in two.
'Hunt that beast!' he tells his crew.

First, a welter of whaling schmoose,
Then comes Moby and hell breaks loose.

Smashup! Ahab's drowned in brine,
Lashed to the whale by a harpoon line.

Good (symbolic) with Evil vies,
If you'd fathom it, you must rise."

With alternating lines being given by Sagoff as:
"Heave ho, blow the man down!" And "Early in the morning."

There were also numerous non-islanders who influenced the way we view the island world and perhaps from my anthropological perspective the major individuals were Margaret Mead (1901-1978) and Thor Heyerdahl (1914-2002). The former because she was such a well-known individual when it came to anthropology (and her 1928 publication entitled Coming of Age in Samoa: A Psychological Study of Primitive Youth for Western Civilisation was read by million of individuals in the 20th century) and the latter because he was one of many to postulated the peopling of the Pacific Islands from South America (and had the courage of his convictions to test his theory). Heyerdahl's theory was an interesting one, but it did not hold up to the test of scientific evidence and Mead's Pacific work (especially her work in Samoa) has recently come under heavy criticism (but they were still important individuals):

"Mead's 'Coming of Age in Samoa' Called Worst Nonfiction of Century: Debate renewed about whether author was duped. In 1925, a 23-year old New York City college student [from Columbia University] set sail for American Samoa to observe the transition from childhood to adulthood among members of a primitive [sic.!] culture. Margaret Mead hoped to test theories taking hold among Western social scientists about the inherent turbulence of adolescence. What she concluded after visitng the Manua'an Island, 2,300 miles south of Hawaii, was that teenage girls and boys there were free of the hang-ups of their Western counterparts and that sexual promiscuity was common. ... These conclusions long have been scoffed at by American Samoans. And now a conservative think tank has rekindled the debate by naming Mead's 1928 treatise the worst nonfiction book of the past 100 years. ... 'So amusing did the native find the white women's prurient questions that they told her the wildest tales--and she believed them!' [stress added]." Jean Christensen, February 2, 2000, Mead's 'Coming of Age in Samoa' Called Worst Nonfiction of Century, The San Francisco Chronicle, page A5.  



Various changes have taken place on the islands of the Pacific, from the first indigenous explorers who landed on the islands for the first time, through European (and Chinese) explorers and adventurers who sought raw materials and new lands for the establishment of colonies. Colonialism in the Pacific islands has been extensive (including Australia), from the second largest island in the world (New Guinea) to many of the smaller islands. The western half of the island of New Guinea is currently a province (Irian Jaya) of the nation of Indonesia as the following from 2001 pointed out:

"...was yet another bloody episode in one of the world's most unnoticed wars--the struggle for independence by the indigenous inhabitants of Irian Jaya, a California-sized province of Indonesia that occupies the western half of the island of New Guinea. The Irian Jaya insurrectionist, along with a secessionist revolt in the northwest province of Aceh and religious violence in the Malukus archipelago, has the Indonesian government worrying [stress added]." Lily Anh, 2001, The San Francisco Chronicle, February 6, 2001, page A9.

This is not the place to get into an extensive discussion of "colonialism" in the Pacific, but it suffices to say that it was extensive, from the islands of Melanesia, to Hawai'i, and the tiny islands of Micronesia. The French have been active in the Pacific, perhaps in more ways than one:

"Since 1962, when France stationed military personnel in the region, French Polynesia has changed from a subsistence agricultural economy to one in which a high proportion of the work force is either employed by the military or supports the tourist industry. With the halt of French nuclear testing in 1996, the military contribution to the economy fell sharply. Tourism accounts for about one-fourth of GDP [Gross Domestic product] and is a primary source of hard currency earnings. Other sources of income are pearl farming and deep-sea commercial fishing. The small manufacturing sector primarily processes agricultural products. The territory benefits substantially from development agreements with France aimed principally at creating new businesses and strengthening social services [stress added]." [from:]

The French are a force in the Pacific:

"On 10 July 1985, the French exploded two more bombs in the South Pacific. These explosions, in Auckland Harbour, New Zealand, were nowhere as powerful as the 150 kilotonne test the French had conducted two months earlier at Moruroa [located in French Polynesia] [stress added]." Chris Masters, 1986, "Foreward" to Bengt Danielsson and Marie-Thérèse Danielsson, 1986, Poisoned Reign: French Nuclear Colonialism In The Pacific (Penguin Books), page ix.

This attack by France on a sovereign nation, is probably not very well know to many individuals and there are other problems in the Pacific:

"The International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed fears that the area surrounding France's nuclear test sites in the South Pacific will be contaminated for centuries. ... Several kilograms of deadly plutonium particles are scattered in the sediment of the lagoons at Muroroa and Fongataufa atolls from atmosphere explosions. Radioactive tritium produced by underground tests will migrate from fissures into the lagoons in a few thousand years, according to the French-commissioned study." San Francisco Chronicle, June 27, 1998, page A19.

Consider the islands of Micronesia:

"The Cold War may be over, but in the Marshall Islands its legacy lives on. To win the nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union, the United States conducted 67 above-ground nuclear and thermonuclear weapons tests here in the 1940s and 1950s. For decades, the atomic test victims have fought to secure full compensation for the loss of their homes, health and loved ones. And most important, for the funds to make their home islands inhabitable again [stress added]." Colin Woodward, 1999, Generations of Fallout From Nuclear Tests. The San Francisco Chronicle, December 7, 1999, pages A10 + A12, page A10.

The Indonesian Province of Irian Jaya has already been mentioned and consider the island nation of Fiji, first sighted by Abel Tasman [1603-1659] in 1643 but firmly placed on the maps of the Pacific by Captain William Bligh 1754-1817] in 1792: "On this voyage he established his position as the discoverer of most of Fiji, and for a time Fiji was known in England as Bligh's Islands. Anon., 1951, Introducing The British Pacific Islands (London: His Majesty's Stationery Office), page 29.

"Fiji became independent in 1970, after nearly a century as a British colony. Democratic rule was interrupted by two military coups in 1987, caused by concern over a government perceived as dominated by the Indian community (descendants of contract laborers brought to the islands by the British in the 19th century). A 1990 constitution favored native Melanesian control of Fiji, but led to heavy Indian emigration; the population loss resulted in economic difficulties, but ensured that Melanesians became the majority. Amendments enacted in 1997 made the constitution more equitable. Free and peaceful elections in 1999 resulted in a government led by an Indo-Fijian, but a coup in May 2000 ushered in a prolonged period of political turmoil. Parliamentary elections held in August 2001 provided Fiji with a democratically elected government and gave a mandate to the government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase [stress added]." [From:]

Leaving issues of colonialism for another time, the Pacific still draws people! Recently an exhibition of Gauguin's (1848-1903) paintings opened in France:

"When Paul Gauguin sailed from Marseille for Tahiti on April 1, 1891, he was confident of finding a terrestrial paradise with natives living in sensual harmony with nature and ancient deities. That image had been reinforced by early travelers and by a book published to coincide with the 1890 Colonial Exhibition in Paris. The Tahitians 'know only a life of sweetness,' it noted, adding, 'For them, to live is to sing and love.' But the reality was painfully different. In the 19th century, traditional Tahitian culture had gradually been smothered by Roman Catholic and protestant missionaries and by French colonial administrators. Dismayed, Gauguin devoted the next 12 years to recreating in paintings, sculptures and engraving this paradise lost--in his mind, an idyllic world of naked maidens, lush landscapes and strange spirits. ... Now, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of his death, this story is being retold in 'Gauguin-Tahiti: Studio in the Tropics,' a new exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris through Jan. 19 [2004] [stress added]." Alan Riding, 2003, The Colors of Paradise As imagined by Gauguin. The New York Times, October 14, 2003, pages B1 + B5, page B1.

Gauguin saw the "reality" and one may read his translated words from his 1901 publication entitled Noa Noa. In that publication one reads that Gauguin was not at all pleased by what he found on his arrival in 1891:

"On the eighth of June [1891] during the night, after a sixty-three days' voyage, sixty-three days of feverish expectancy, we perceived strange fires, moving in zigzags on the sea. From the somber sky a black cone with jagged indentions became disengaged. We turned Morea [sic.] and had Tahiti before us. Several hours later dawn appeared, and we gently approached the reefs, entered the channel, and anchored without accidents in the roadstead. ... Life at Papeete soon beame a burden. It was Europe--the Europe which I had thought to shake off--and that under the aggravating circumstances of colonial snobbism, and the imitation, grotesque even to the point of caricature, of our customs, fashions, vices, and absurdities of civilization. Was I to have made this far journey, only to find the very thing which I had fled? [stress added]." Paul Gauguin, 1901, Noa Noa (Translated from the French by O.F. Theis and Introduction by Afred Werner) (1957, Noonday Press, a subsidiary of Farrar, Strauss & Cudahy), pages 5-7.

Unfortunately, disillusionement did develop for European visitors to Tahiti, especially after the islanders had "contact" with various non-islanders. Consider the following, describing the first visit of the Bounty, led by Lieutenant Bligh to Tahiti in 1788:

"The old-timers--Nelson, the gardener, William Peckover, the gunner, Armorer Joseph Coleman and Bligh himself--greeted and were greeted with warm recognition [because Bligh had been with Cook on his third voyage into the Pacific, 1776-1780]. The remainder of the crew now learned that the stories that had filled their ears throughout the long, hard outward journey--about the islands beauty, its sexually uninhibited women, its welcoming people--were not tall tales, or sailors' fantasy. Beyond the ship, its undulating slopes and valleys, gullies and dramatic peaks casting shifting green-blue shadows in the morning sun, rose the vision of Tahiti. Below, the blue sea around them was clogged with cheerful canoes that had come laden with gifts of plantains, coconuts and hogs. And filling the deck, milling and laughing around them, were the tall, clean-limbed, smooth-skinned Tahitians. The Bounty men--bowlegged, pockmarked, scarred and misshapen, toothless and, despite Bligh's best efforts, very dirty--regarded the improbably handsome, dark-skinned islanders with both appetite and awe. Their brown skin gleaming with perfumed oil, garlanded with flowers, and flashing smiles with strong white teeth such as few Englishmen had ever seen, these superior men and women were also friendly and accessible [stress added]." Caroline Alexander, 2003, The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty (NY: Viking), pages 107-108.

Alas, when in April 1792 (now) Captain Bligh returned to Tahiti in the Providence, the following was reported:

"Canoes soon appeared, and in one a native man was seen by Bligh's quick eyes to be wearing a European shirt. This seemingly trivial detail proved to be a harbinger of great and tragic changes wrought in this paradise of the world. Few European ships--the Pandora, Vancouver's Discovery and Chatham--along with a crew of a shipwrecked whaler, had touched at Tahiti since the departure of the Bounty [1789], but already European contact had left more than venereal disease, which was rampant as before, and Bligh observed a new fondness amongst the islanders for liquor. A small arsenal of firearms, gleaned from various ships, was a proud and closely guarded treasure. While Bligh's company remained in Tahiti, they were witness to the flares of regional strife that had always undermined island life, but these were deadlier now than ever before, thanks to the European guns and, as a result of such strife, Matavai was a deserted village. The handsome Tahitians were dressed in sailors' ragged cast-offs and it was difficult to find, as Bligh noted with sadness, the gleaming white bark cloth that they had worn 'with much elegance.' Their very language had changed. 'Our country Men must have taken great pains to have taught them such vile blackguard expressions as are in the mouths of every Otaheitian,' Bligh wote in his log. He had difficulty in getting his friends 'to speak their own language without mixing a jargon of English.' Among Bligh's crew, it was not just the old hands, but also those who had never before been to Tahiti who expressed disappointment. 'Nothing was a delectable as described,' wrote the disillusioned Lieutenant Bond. Even the women did not pass universal muster. 'Nothing like European beauty had been seen among the women,' he noted. Their famous seductive arts struck the men as being calculated for gain, rather than arising from any real affection [stress added]." Caroline Alexander, 2003, The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty (NY: Viking), pages 309-310.

Once again, the outstanding publication of Tony Horwitz is called to your attention:

"As Tahiti became a popular port of call in the decades following Cook's visit, other diseases took hold: tuberculosis, smallpox, measles, whooping cough. Alcoholism and internecine warfare, abetted by Western weapons and mercenaries, became rife as well. The toll was catastrophic. In 1774, Cook estimated Tahiti's population at 204,000. By 1865, less than a century after the first European visit, a French census recorded only 7,169 native inhabitants remaining on the island [stress added]." Tony Horwitz, 2002, Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before (NY: Henry Holt And Company), page 50.

As pointed out above, Stannard estimated that the indigenous population of the islands of Hawai'i could have been between 800,000 and 1,000,000 when Cook was there in 1779. By 1878 there were approximately 40,000 native Hawai'ians alive. Thus did Hawai'i, Tahiti, and other islands of the Pacific change with the coming of various Euroamericans.



There are numerous other islands in the Pacific and I can but only highlight a few and make some comments on their importance (to me at least!). The Galápagos Islands are at present one of the 21 provinces of the Republic of Ecuador. Spaniards first discovered the islands in 1535 but their fame really came about because of a three-week visit that the British scientist Charles Darwin (1809-1882) made in 1835 while going around the world on the HMS Beagle. Darwin wrote that the "natural history of these islands is eminently curious, and well deserves attention. … Hence, both in space and time, we seem to be brought somewhat near to that great fact--that mystery of mysteries--the first appearance of new beings on this earth [stress added]." Charles Darwin, 1845, The Voyage of the Beagle [Edited by Leonard Engel, 1962, NY: Doubleday], pages 378-379. Darwin's ideas concerning the "mystery of mysteries" resulted in his publication of On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, the first edition of which appeared in 1859 (with subsequent revised editions appearing in his lifetime in 1860, 1861, 1866, 1869, and 1872). Incidentally, it must be pointed out (as John Kricher did in 2002, in Galápagos, that the islands did not suddenly solidify everything for the young Charles Darwin:

"Remarkably, however, Darwin wrote nothing in On the Origin of Species about the Galápagos finches, the very group that supposedly supplied the 'smoking gun' as evidence to bolster his case for evoluion. Instead, he referred to the mockingbirds, which he called mocking-thrushes: 'In the Galápagos Archipelago, many even of the birds, though so well adapted for flying from island to island are distinct on each; thus there are three closely-allied species of mocking thrush, each confined to its own island.' It would seem that by that point he had at least set the stage for a finch discussion, but Darwin asserted nothing. What a surprise, given the superb model of evolution that the Galápagos finches seemingly represent. Rather than being the very keystone example of evolution, rather than being prominently discussed throughout On The Origin of Species, they are most conspicuous by their absence. And that's not all that is missing. There is no discussion of the giant torroises, even though while on the islands Darwin became aware of how these large reptiles varied from one island to another. If the Galápagos, as is often stated in the popular literature, are a 'laboratory of evolution,' then why did Charles Darwin make so little use of the data from that laboratory when he assembled his case? What, exactly, was Charles Darwin's intellectual relationship with the Galápagos Islands? How much of the story of Darwin's conversion to evolution can be attributed to his experiences on the islands? Myths are part of our culture, and Darwin has certainly becme part of a commonly promulgated myth [stress added]." John Kricher, 2002 in Galápagos (Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution), page 41.

Elsewhere in the Pacific Ocean, the islands that we now call the Cook Islands were settled by Polynesians in approximately 1200 A.D. and were first "discovered" by the Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendaña (1541-1596) in 1595 and then rediscovered by Captain Cook in the 1770s. Cook did not name the islands after himself as the following indicates:

"He [Cook] named them the Hervey Islands; it was not until 1824 that the Russian cartographer, Johann von Krusenstern [1770-1846], labeled the Southern group the Cook Islands. Cook never saw Rarotonga [the largest island of the group], and the Pitcairn-bound Bounty is thought to be its first European visitor (in 1789) [stress added]." David Stanley, 1989, South Pacific Handbook (Chico, CA: Moon Publications, Inc.), page 261.

As to Pitcairn Island, made famous by the 1789 celebrated mutiny on the Bounty, the following should be of interest:

"Pitcairn Island was discovered in 1767 by the British and settled in 1790 by the Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian companions. Pitcairn was the first Pacific island to become a British colony (in 1838) and today remains the last vestige of that empire in the South Pacific. Outmigration, primarily to New Zealand, has thinned the population from a peak of 233 in 1937 to less than 50 today [stress added]." [From:]

Caroline Alexander has rcently (2003) published an outstanding volume contextualizing this celebrated mutiny and she points out the following:

"The events that deprived Lieutenant Bligh [1754-1817] of his ship in the early hours of April 29, 1789, were not unprecedented in this great age of sail. Mutiny of one kind or another was not unusual in the British navy; during the twenty-three years of the Napoleonic wars, for example, it is estimated that more than a thousand mutinous events took place. ... And yet, while all these other small tragedies vanished from collective memory, to be retrieved in forgotten logs and records of courts-martial, the story of Lieutenant Bligh's loss of the Bounty became one of the most famous and abiding of all the great sagas of the sea--surpassed, perhaps, only by the Odyssey [stress added]." Caroline Alexander, 2003, The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty (NY: Viking), page 4.

Elsewhere for the Pacific, consider if you will the island which is called Easter Island, from the years 1722 to 2003!

"A province of Chile, annexed in 1888. It was discovered on Easter Sunday, 1722, by Admiral Jacob Roggeveen [1659-1729], thus the name. It's famous for the huge, prehistoric stone statues that dot the hills, which to this day remain a popular tourist attraction." [From:]

"The European impact on Easter Island was among the most dreadful in the history of the Pacific. When Jacob Roggeveen arrived on Easter Sunday, 1722, there were about 4,000 Rapanui (though the population had once been as high as 20,000). Roggeveen's landing party opened fire and killed 12 of the islanders; then the great white explorer sailed off. Contacts with whalers, sealrers, and slavers were sporadic until 1862 when a fleet of Peruvian blackbirders kidnapped over 2,000 Rapanui to work in the coastal sugar plantations of Peru and dig guano on the offshore islands. Among those taken were the last king and the entire learned class. Missionaires and diplomats in Lima protested to the Peruvian government, and eventually 15 surviving islanders made it back to their homes, where they sparked a deadly smallpox epidemic [stress added]." David Stanley, 1989, South Pacific Handbook (Chico, CA: Moon Publications, Inc.), page 232.

In the year 2003, the following is available:

"Easter Island is over 2,000 miles from the nearest population center, (Tahiti and Chile), making it one of the most isolated places on Earth. A triangle of volcanic rock in the South Pacific - it is best known for the giant stone monoliths, known as Moai, that dot the coastline. The early settlers called the island 'Te Pito O Te Henua' (Navel of The World). Admiral Roggeveen, who came upon the island on Easter Day in 1722, named it Easter Island. Today, the land, people and language are all referred to locally as Rapa Nui."

The above quote comes from the "Easter island Home Page" which is available at: It is indeed a changing world! (Please see, for example:



World War II (which occured over the years 1941-1945 for the United States of America, or 1939-1945 for people in Europe, or 1931-1945 for those on the Asian mainland) was the greatest cultural phenomenon to strike this planet in our lifetime(s) and repercussions are still occuring, including culture change, nationalism, tourism, and terrorism. With changing perspectives in mind, future writers shall probably choose "9/11" as the most important phenomenon in their (and my) lifetime.

Pacific Islanders are no longer isolated and anthropologists are re-analyzing much of the earlier research of certain individuals. One may read, for example, publications such as the 1991 volume by Aletta Biersack entitled Clio In Oceania: Towards A Historical Anthropology or Foerstel & Gilliam's 1992 volume entitled Confronting The Margaret Mead Legacy: Scholarship, Empire, And The South Pacific. Contemporary readers and resarchers also have David Stannard's 1989 Before the Horror: The Population of Hawai'i On The Eve of Western Contact as well as Annette Weiner's 1988 The Trobrianders Of Papua New Guinea, which is a re-analysis of some of the work of Bronislaw Mainowski (1884-1942). Other items that deal with a re-analysis of earlier researchers include Derek Freeman's (1916-2001) masterful 1999 The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead: A Historical Analysis of Her Samoan Research as well as Martin Orans' 1996 Not Even Wrong: Margaret Mead, Derek Freeman, And The Samoans. Concerning Margaret Mead (1901-1978), readers of this web page should consider the words of a late 20th century author:

"Any account of Mead's work on Samoa [or perhaps all of her work?] must consider the controversy surrounding its accuracy. In 1983, several years after her death, Derek Freeman published his detailed refutation of her work. More recently, Freeman has continued his attack with attempts to prove that Mead built her description of adolescent sexuality on scanty information gleaned from a hoax perpetrated by her informants. He has also argued that she was young and credulous, that she had a poor grasp of the language, that she did not carry out her investigations properly, that Coming of Age in Samoa [1928] is littered with errors, that she twisted the facts to suit her (and Boas's and Benedict's) preconceptions, and that she was entirely wrong in her portrayal of Samoa [stress added]." Hilary Lapsley, 1999, Margaret Mead And Ruth Benedict: The Kinship of Women (Amherst: U Mass Press), pages 142-143.

Historians are also raising interesting questions about World War II in the Pacific, and two specific items are called to your attention: John J. Stephen's 1984 publication entitled Hawaii Under The Rising Sun: Japan's Plans For Conquest After Pearl Harbor and Robert K. Wilcox's 1985 item entitled Japan's Secret War. Future research should be directed to changes in Hawai'i and the call for "native sovereignty" by some native Hawai'ians, and items such as Michael Kioni Dudley and Keonia Kealoha Agard's 1990 publication entitled A Hawaiian Nation II: A Call For Sovereignty as well as Jocelyn Linnekin and Lin Poyer's 1990 edited publication entitled Cultural Identity And Ethnicity In The Pacific.

The peoples of the island of the Pacific are changing and researchers (and interpretations of previous researchers) must (and will) change with the times. We are truly living in a global village and we can all make a difference. We can all make a positive difference,

# # #

VIII. SOME VERY SELECTED STATISTICS (Note: all taken from which was available in October 2003) (NB: All population dates are given as ~ July 2003).

AREA (Sq. Km)
(Comparable Area)
0 -> 14 Age Bracket
15 -> 64 Age Bracket
65+ Age Bracket
American Samoa
199 sq km [77 sq miles]
Slightly larger than Washington, D.C.
Cook Islands
240 sq km [93 sq mi]
1.3 Washington D.C.
18,270 [7,054 sq mi]
Slightly smaller than New Jersey
French Polynesia
4,167 sq km [1,609 sq mi]
1/3rd Connecticut
Marshall Islands
181.3 sq km [70 sq mi]
~ Washington, DC
Micronesia, Federated States of
402 sq km [155 sq mi]
4 x Washington, D.C.
New Caledonia
19,060 [7,359]
Slightly smaller than New Jersey
New Zealand
268,680 sq km [103,738 sq mi]
About the size of Colorado
458 [177 sq mi]
2.5 x Washington, D.C.
Papua New Guinea
463,840 sq km [179,090] sq mi]
Slightly larger than California
Pitcairn Island
47 sq km [18 sq mi]
.3 Washington, D.C.
47 Individuals
748 sq km [289 sq mi]
4 x Washington, D.C.
12,200 [4,710 sq mi]
Slightly larger than Connecticut
Western Samoa
2,944 [1,137 sq mi]
Slightly smaller than Rhode Island

IX. ADDITIONAL REFERENCES THAT MIGHT BE OF SOME INTEREST [Urbanowicz 1993 Presentation entitled "Peoples & Cultures of the Pacific: Okeania est omnis divisa in partes tres" For the CSU, Chico Anthropology Forum, September 30, 1993) [Alvaro de Meñdana de Neyra] [Vasco Nuñez de Balboa] [Ferdinand Magellan] [Hunterian Museum Captain Cook Collection] [The Voyages of Captain James Cook] [The Last Voyage of Captain James Cook] [National Library of Australia} Cook & Omai: The Cult of the South Seas Exhibition] [James Cook] [Scott McNall} Sailing Into Unknown Waters] [Joseph Banks} 1743-1820] [HMS Bounty] [Antarctic Waters} Charles Wilkes] [Dumont D'Urville} New Zealand history] [The CIA Factbook} The Pacific Ocean] [Paul Gauguin Online] [Herman Melville] [Margaret Mead} Coming of Age in Samoa at the Library of Congress] [South Pacific} A Musical by Richard Rogers, Oscar Hammerstein II, and Joshua Logan] [1976 Urbanowicz publication on Missionaries in Tonga] [2001 Urbanowicz presentation dealing with information on the Galápagos Islands] [2003 Urbanowicz presentation on Charles R. Darwin] [Douglas L. Oliver]



Source: K.R. Howe, 2003, The Quest For Origins: Who First Discovered And Settled The Pacific Islands? (University of Hawai'i Press), page 68.

Based on Irving Goldman (1970) Ancient Polynesian Society (University of Chicago Press).
Based on Various Sources.
Originally published in 1792 by William Bligh (1754-1817); from a1962 Signet Classic (NY: New American Library)
Published in 1973.
Published in 1946 by James Michener (1907-1997) and awarded the 1948 Pulitzer Prize.

Source: Great Outdoor Recreation Pages[]

Published in 1983 (1996 edition).
Published in 1996.
Published in 1999.

Published in 2003.
Published in 2003.

U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, 'Oahu, Hawai'i. [Photo by Charles F. Urbanowicz, 2003]
U.S.S. Missouri, Pearl Harbor, 'Oahu, Hawai'i. [Photo by Charles F. Urbanowicz, 2003]

[1] © [All Rights Reserved.] For a presentation (with visuals) on November 6, 2003 at The Anthropology Forum at California State University, Chico. My appreciation goes to Ms. Debra Besnard and Mr. Stan Griffith and their "Digital Asset Management Project" in the Meriam Library at CSU, Chico for the work they did for some of my slides used today. To return to the beginning of this page, please click here.

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[~11,837 words]} 6 November 2003

To go to the home page of Urbanowicz, please click here;

to the Department of Anthropology;

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© [Copyright 2003: All Rights Reserved] Charles F. Urbanowicz

6 November 2003 by cfu

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