For four thousand years native Micronesians have always been intertwined with wayfinding.Guiding their canoes through the vast ocean seeking islands to settle upon.Or simply for the pleasure of exploring.We were indeed more home at sea than on land.We still are.Wether by the reading of the starry night skies,forecasting weather ahead of time,observe the ocean's mood,watching a close eye of frigate birds,smell,and so many other things that makes us amazing seafarers.This vital tradition lingers in this old world of a different era.

Seafaring has always been a safe guarded treasure.Chosen only to few.It is not easily given away.For Millenia this ancient code of taboo(mo) secrecy stands.It wasn't until prominate figures such as Mau Piailug of Satawal Yap or Korent Joel from Marshall Islands to construct a bridge between the western world and ours.Something we natives of Micronesia haven't seen for many centuries.The breaking of the taboo.

Mau Piailug:We all know this legandary man.The heroic story.How he simply saw the art of sailing he treasured throughout his life becoming neglected by the western washed uncultured people/youth of Micronesia.With only few of his sons being taught the old ways he chose to do more with a chance that arrived on his doorstep.He took it.When the Hawaiians begun the Polynesian reinnassance.Figures like Nainoa Thompson amongst others.Scoured Polynesia in search for traditional seaferes with an heartbreaking dead end as there aren't anyone else with such knowledge anymore all seemed to be meaningless and lost.Alas a final appeared.They seek the help of their Micronesian cousins whom still possess the tradition.Mau's story goes from there.With the art nearly dying out it is now in the hands of many people.Our Polynesian cousins.Majority of the wayfinding they have now is of Yapese origin.Not all hope is lost.With this act it sparked interests back home of many Now wanting to learn.His sons teaches the traditional techniques throughout Micronesia for those wanting to learn.Since the It has ever grown.Yapese seafering has toppled their RMI rival of having theirs taught throughout the pacific.It matters not honestly.For it's a good thing to see it alive&documented.

"To be a navigator you have to be fierce."-Mau Piailug 1932-2010

Korent Joel:Was a Pikini native that was an important figure to have kickstarted the native Marshallese interest in their seafering heritage.It was called the quiet reinnassance for a reason.Alson kelen his apprentice studied under him.Joel with just a handful of others still carry on this ancient tradition.After the castle bravo bombing of Pikini Most natives whom lived there was replaced amongst them was Joel's Rimeto jowi(ocean people clan).Now scattered all across the kingdom.Only Few remains.Much like Mau's story the people lost interest in the old ways.He saw that and wanted to search for a solution to keep it alive.Paralleling that of Mau's act it was scientists that came to RMI wanting to learn sea navigation.They came across Alson building a great friendship.This opened a new bridge for hope.Having telling his master what the foreigners purpose is.Without hesitation he greatly accepted.However many others throughout the kingdom still stand by the ancient code.Deeming it an insult to our ancestors teaching a foreigner.No less for a white man.Marshallese are known to abide by oaths.And will kill to honor taboos that aren't meant to be broken nor shared.I've heard many stories regarding this.One that says Joel himself reasoned with the few navigators revealing the importance of a movement to which could benefit all.To lay aside the taboo to safeguard a dying tradition.Eventually they came aboard and helped assist the scientists.From there the documentation of Marshallese seafering came into fruition.Joel with few master navigators gave colossal knowledge of what it means to be a seaferer.To techniques,traditions,canoe building,etc etc.During the process they've also revived some techniques that was ceased throughout centuries.Making this movement ever more vital.Spark ignited and sure enough the people of Marshall took interest.A successful reinnassance flourished.Sadly Korent Joel has passed.But not without acting to protect his ancestor's seafering heritage.Leaving a legacy behind.Alson Kelen his apprentice has establish an organization located in Majuro,RMI known as "Waan Aelon in Majol(Canoes of the Marshall island)" that teaches seafering&canoe building to those wanting to learn.

"Seafering is a way of life.It's what makes us islanders a unique group of people."-Korent Joel 1930ish-2010 or 11

This thread will feature the many techniques,mythical aspect,canoes,building process,traditions,and so fourth.Showing our strong sea heritage for those curious to learn.



  • Micronesians discover their roots on the Minnesota prairie building dugout canoe and outrigger
    Gabriel Elias, left, and Moses Hauk use handmade tools to craft a dugout canoe in Milan with help from experienced canoe builders from Micronesia.

    MILAN, Minn. — Chippewa County is home to two of the state’s oldest preserved dugout canoes, one of which is carbon dated to the days of Christopher Columbus.

    Soon, the county in west-central Minnesota will also be home to one of the newest.

    It’s being carved right now in Milan, . The community’s Micronesian residents are crafting an authentic dugout canoe. They intend to launch it this fall, complete with outriggers and sail. It is to be built exactly like the outriggers their ancestors used for centuries on the open seas.

    “It’s something we’ve never done before,” said Gabriel Elias, who grew up in Micronesia but has made Milan his and his family’s home now for 17 years. “We’re very excited to learn from these guys,” he added, as workers carved away at the canoe last week.

    The "guys" to which he refers are helpers from Micronesia, including Lauriano Dillipy and Mario Benito. Dillipy, a native of Micronesia, has made five dugout canoes and is an accomplished boat builder.
    Benito, who makes his home on the Polowat Atoll on the outer edges of the Micronesian Islands, is officially recognized in the Federated States of Micronesia as an ordained “navigator.” As a navigator, he has acquired the knowledge and skills of his forefathers to navigate on the open sea by the use of stars, fish, currents, the winds and other natural phenomena. He and companions once relied on those skills to sail an outrigger from the atoll to the island of Guam, a three-day adventure of more than 500 miles.

    “It takes a lot of concentration,” said Benito of the navigation skills he has honed.

    Turning a large tree into a watercraft takes a lot of concentration as well, not to mention hard labor and, especially, skill. The workers are using only hand tools, including handcrafted axes and knives, to carve it. The wood of the finished craft will be no thicker than the width of two fingers, according to Benito.

    Along with sharing canoe-building skills, he has taken time to explain the rituals and traditions associated with the endeavor in Micronesia. He said it begins with the harvesting of the tree, when thanks are given and a promise made to maintain harmony with nature, he explained.

    Milan’s Micronesian residents are from an island in Chuuk State in the Federated States of Micronesia. The Micronesians comprise over half of the town’s population of 300-plus.

    Most of the Micronesian adults are like Elias. They moved to the United States in their teenage or early adult years.

    Elias, now age 39, said he wants to learn more about his heritage, and wants to be able to teach his own children as well.

    Giving the Micronesian residents of Milan an opportunity to learn about their heritage is just one of the goals of this project. It has its roots in a visit two years ago by Benito and professor Vincent Diaz, who brought an outrigger canoe to Milan. Diaz is exploring the canoe-building heritage of the indigenous peoples of the Americas as well as those of the Polynesian people.

    Members of the area’s Dakota communities, both the Upper Sioux and Lower Sioux, are working with the Micronesian population in Milan to craft this canoe. Along with sharing the skills and knowledge that each community holds, this is an opportunity for the communities to work together and build relationships, Elias said.

    The canoe is being built under a canvas tent erected at Lions Park. Bob Ryan, of Bird Island, has worked to bring Benito, Dillipy, and Diaz to Milan. Ryan also located a logger able to provide the large ash tree being carved.
    image Sisinio Dogoje carves the dugout canoe he is helping build in Milan. The canoe will be carved to the thickness of two fingers.

    In Micronesia, breadfruit trees provide the raw wood for outrigger canoes. Benito and Elias noted that the use of a different wood adds to the challenge of this project.

    They began work nearly two weeks ago, and expect to work for another month or more before launching it. Elias noted that non-Micronesian residents of Milan have been dropping by to watch the progress. He’s hoping some will also lend a hand and get involved in its building.

    Elias said he’s already learned just how resourceful and skillful the helpers from Micronesia are. “I really thought we were going to help these guys,’’ Elias said. Instead, he said he feels as if he is doing as much learning as helping at this stage.

    He and the helpers are all looking forward to launching the craft when it is completed, most likely on nearby Lac qui Parle Lake.
  • @FactsMatter/Amazing! This is my first time reading about this.Great thanks FM.

    Goes to show our Micronesian culture is thriving outside of our native homelands.As island people it's vital to continually preserve.

    The same thing happened back in my hometown of Springdale,Arkansas.Much similar to this article.The WA(Canoe) type-Tipnol.Was built by a master builder with the help of many others such as sail weavers so fourth.It's now showcased in the Shiloh Museum for those curious to learn Marshallese seafering.The stick charts are also showcased with extensive info from both traditional navigators,anthropologists,scientists alike.It's been a long awhile since I've last went.Always put a smile on my face to see the livelihood of our ancestors showcased.
  • imageThank you, this is unbelievable and needs to be shared!

    Korkor-A small rowing/sailing canoe used for fishing and transportation in the atoll lagoons.It has a crew of one or two.Used nowadays in very popular regattas.Meaning of the name:(little fearful).For how vulnerable and fragile it is from attacks by bandits or other warriors seek to plunder it's goods.Thus the name.

    Tipnol:Known to be the fastest seacraft within all of the pacific.A medium-sized sailing canoe.Used for travel and fishing in the lagoons and short distance voyaging over open water.Minimum crew is two,may transport up to ten passengers.Meaning of the name:(Wave stumbler).For how quick it can move across the sea.Making fast reaction impact against the waves stumbling upon them.Thus the name.

    Walap:A large,blue-water sailing canoe, reaching up to 30 m in length and able to carry up to 50 people and food supplies.Used mainly for inter-atoll voyaging.And can travel far distances outside of the RMI kingdom.
    These types can vary in design,mainly slenderness of the hull, draft deep and hull-profile asymmetry.Meaning of the name:(Great canoes).By myth it is said the ancient gods rode these type of large canoes across the skies or often at sea.Also the chieftains favor it above the other two.He can have one constructed for him and his chieftess finished with furnished flowers or jewelry.To represent their power and might.Thus the name.

    These types can vary in design,mainly slenderness of the hull, draft deep and hull-profile asymmetry.Five recognized styles exist: taburbur,malmel, mwijwitok, tojeik and jekad.
  • Thank you for this, it is really important to preserve the memories of the past! image
  • Check out the Facebook page of Waan Aelõñ in Majel (Canoes of the Marshall Islands).

  • @FactsMatter/Ah yes I've known about those pages for awhile now.Most of my research sources comes from them.

    In Marshallese seafaring culture the ancient religion was heavily involved.For the ocean people clan(Rimeto Jowi) worshipped several deities.For luck,safe voyages,so on.God and Goddesses listed below and what they associated with.

    •LOWA-God of the heavens,Skies,&Sea.The All father.Leader for other deities.(Equivalent to Greek Zeus/Egyptian RA/&Norse Odin).

    •LITANUR:Goddess of constellations.In our oral tradition she is the mother of many infamous deities such as Jobro&Wullep.It is she who first introduced the sail to her sons.She wove a special one for Jobro to beat his eleven brothers in a race.(In myth and historical events seafaring was actually originated by women.)

    •WULLEP:Son of Lowa and the eldest he is the god of seafaring knowledge and canoe construction.Oral records states that most of his knowledge came from Litanur.(Most marshallese navigators would adorned their canoes with wooden figurines that depicts Wullep for good fortune/safe passage).

    JOBRO:God of frigate birds his story is well known throughout the kingdom.He took part in a race that involved his other eleven brothers.Impatient and wanting to win he failed the first race.His mother came to his aid to give a special woven sail and precious lessons one of which was on why winning isn't always the answer.To how critical one must be to carefully sail across open ocean.(He did however won against his brothers for the second time.Moral is be cautious out in sea.Be weary of your surrounding.Have patience.)

    I could of added more but these are just prime examples.To show how the ocean people clan was close to our old religion.How it played a vital part in seafaring.
  • EMJAK-A average size boulder.With coconut rope(Rakkaj) tied around it.Ancient navigators used this as an anchor.
Sign In or Register to comment.