1995 Voyaging: Nā Ohana Holo Moana, The Voyaging Families of the Vast Ocean
Nainoa Thompson: Recollections of the Building of Hawai'iloa and the 1995 Voyages
Sam Low: “Sacred Forests
Sam Low: Sailing the Star Paths: 1995 Voyage from Tahiti to Hawaii
PVS: Reports from the Voyage to Nukuhiva (February-May 1995)
Tahitian Ministry of Culture: Gathering of Voyaging Canoes at Taputapuatea
Ben Finney: “Sin at Awarua” (On Taputapuatea, 1995)
Dennis Kawaharada: Isles of Hiva (Marquesas Islands)
Summer 1995: Northwest-Alaska and West Coast Tours
Dennis Kawaharada: Hawai‘iloa’s Northwest-Alaska Journey

Isles of Hiva (Marquesas Islands)

Dennis Kawaharada

Marquesan Lizard Motif

The Isles of Hiva Today (1999)

The islands are a territory of France, part of French Polynesia, which includes four other groups of islands--Tahiti Nui, the Tuamotus, the Gambiers, and the Australs. Most of the people of Hiva are Roman Catholics.

The Harbor of Taiohae, the Administrative Center of the Isles of Hiva

The people work for "the government, the community, the Catholic church or school system, or for themselves--chopping copra, fishing, raising cattle and other livestock, or sculpting bowls, platters, Marquesan ceremonial clubs, tikis, and ukuleles" ("Marquesan Travel Guide"). Many of the sculptures and other arts and crafts products are sold to tourists. In fact, tourist-related businesses are becoming the main source of income and employment. Small hotels, restaurants, sightseeing tours, activities for t ourists, and car rentals (mainly four wheel drives in this country of mountainous, unpaved roads) are centered in the main towns such as Taiohae on Nuku Hiva and Atuona on Hiva Oa.

During the 19th century, the Church played a major role in destroying native culture by banning native dress, dancing and chanting, kava drinking, nude-bathing in public, tattooing, embalming the dead, and other religious and cultural practices. Today, a revival of the native culture is taking place. Along with the production of arts and crafts using traditional materials and designs, tattooing, once a sign of wealth and social status, is making a comeback. Ankle tattoos have become fashionable among the aoe ("foreigners" from the Hawaiian word "haole") who visit the Isles of Hiva.

During the last decade, the native language, still spoken at home, has been added to the school curriculum. The Catholic Church has been promoting the study of the language.

Troupes have been formed to revive traditional dance, although when Handy visited the islands in 1921, he noted that "the natives of this generation know practically nothing of the dancing of ancient times." From the information he could gather, he conclu ded that there was "no dance corresponding to the hula of Hawai'i and upaupa of Tahiti, of which the hip and abdominal movements are the characteristic feature" (Handy Native Culture 304; the tradition in Hawai'i is that the hula was brought to Hawai'i fr om Tahiti by La'amaikahiki, a son of the voyager Mo'ikeha). The Hivan dancers of today perform post-contact versions of a pig dance and the haka manu, or bird dance, which is mentioned by Handy as a traditional dance done by young girls "standing stationa ry and making motions with the arms and hands imitative of birds flying" (Handy 306).

Competing with the revival of the traditional culture is the onslaught of colonial consumerism. When the kids of Taipivai come home on weekends from school in Taiohae, they watch TV, which broadcasts American shows like "Dynasty" and "Santa Barbara" (dubb ed into French), games shows, sports events from Paris, and commercials for products the people never knew they needed. And when the kids go off to school during the week, they continue to be indoctrinated in the language, thoughts, and values of the Fren ch. Social programs, such as free medical care and stipends for having children in the underpopulated islands, are designed to help the French hold onto the goodwill of the people.


The group of islands situtated between 7 degrees 50 minutes and 10 degrees 35 minutes south latitude and 138 degrees 25 minutes and 140 degrees 50 minutes W longitude were named "Las Marquesas de Mendoza" in 1595 by Spaniard explorer Alvaro de Mendana after his patron Don Garcia Hurtado de Mendoza, Marquis de Canete, Viceroy of Peru (Dening 11). According to Peter Buck, the islands were called Hiva by ancient Polynesians.

Approaching Nukuhiva from the Sea at Dawn

Three of the six inhabited islands, including the two largest islands, contain the word "Hiva" ("Big Country"): Nuku Hiva, Hiva Oa, and Fatu Hiva. In the Marquesan language, the islands are called "Te Enata Henua," "The Land of the People" (Dening 14).

Oral traditions state that the isles of Hiva, located between 740-900 miles NE of Tahiti, were either "fished from the sea" [by Maui] or "born of the copulation of ocean and sky" (Dening 11). The inhabitants saw the islands as a house: "Nukuhiva was its p ointed roof; Ua Pou its support posts, Ua Huka its binding; Hiva Oa its ridge pole; Fautiva its thatching, Tahuata the celebration of its completion" (Dening 11-12).

There are twenty or so islands forming two main groups. The northern group includes the three inhabited islands of Nuku Hiva, Ua Pou, Ua Huka, and the uninhabited islands of Eiao and Hatutu; the southern group includes the inhabited islands of Hivaoa, Tah uata, Fatuhiva and the uninhabited islands of Fatu Huku and Motane.

The isles of Hiva are much smaller and less populated than the Hawaiian Islands. The two largest islands (Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa) are about the size of Lana'i. Erosion has created deep valleys separated by steep ridges of basalt. The islands are without in land or coastal plains, and some of valleys can only be reached from the sea. There are no offshore lagoons and reefs. The islands, peaks of submarine volcanoes, are exposed to a cold current that flows north from the Antarctic along the coast of Peru and west out into the Pacific. This cold current may account for the poor development of coral in these tropical islands (Ottino 3). The coast is generally unprotected, with few good harbors or beaches. Early inhabitants settled on the bottom land near the m ouths of the narrow valleys.

The temperature in the Isles of Hiva is moderated by the southeast trade winds and the sea. The average temperature is about 86 degrees F; 70-90 degrees F is the usual range (Handy Native Culture 8). Humidity is rarely below 80 percent and rainfall averag es from 30-100 inches annually (Sinoto 111); Rainclouds are brought by the dominant tradewinds, so as in Hawai'i, the windward sides of islands are much wetter than leeward areas, which have dry, desert like conditions. Lower islands (e.g., Ua Huka) or is lands in the lee of high islands (e.g., Ua Pou in the lee of Hiva Oa) get less rain. There is no marked rainy season, though rainfall is most frequent from January to July. Droughts affect the growth and productivity of coconuts and breadfruit. Handy repo rted droughts of four years on Hiva Oa and seven years on Ua Pou (8).


The Marquesan language has been grouped under the category Proto Central Eastern Polynesian, along with, among others, Hawaiian, Tahitian, Tuamotuan, Rarotongan, and Maori. The people who speak these languages are also physically and culturally related, having migrated into the Pacific from a homeland in Western Polynesia.

Some scholars believe that the Marquesan language, or more specifically the dialect of the Southern Marquesan Islands (Hiva Oa, Tahuata, Fatu Hiva), is the closest relative of Hawaiian language (Green 1966); and that this suggests that the first Hawaiians came predominantly from the southern Marquesas (K.P. Emory 1978). While this suggestion is no longer held with certainty, the close relationship between Marquesan and Hawaiian is evident from a comparison of vocabularies:

Haw / Marq-So. / Marq-No. / Gloss
inoa / inoa / ikoa / name

mano / mano / mako / shark

moena / moena / moeka / mat

one / one / oke / hunger

[From "Lexical Diffusion in Polynesia and the Marquesan-Hawaiian Relationship," Samuel H. Elbert, Journal of the Polynesian Society, 91 (4) December 1982, 505.]

About 56% of basic words in the two languages are the same or similar.

Hawaiian and Marquesan also share words that are not found in other Polynesians languages:

Hawaiian / Marquesan / Gloss
'elele / ke'e'e / messanger

makali / mata'i / tie bait to hook (Haw); string to tie bait a hook (Marq.)

pa'akai / pa'atai / salt

[For a longer list of words, see Elbert's "Lexical Diffusion in Polynesia and the Marquesan-Hawaiian Relationship," 510-511.]

The two languages also share unique sound changes from the Proto Central Eastern Polynesian (the hypothetical original language). Elbert concludes that the linguistic evidence supports the hypothesis of archaeologists that the Hawaiian language derives fr om Marquesan (511). Although this does not prove that the first Hawaiians came from the Marquesas or that only Marquesans settled Hawai'i, it does seem to support the hypothesis that early settlers of Hawai'i came predominantly from the Marquesas.

[No grammar or dictionary of the Marquesan langugae is available in English; a French grammar of Marquesan, Introduction a la Langue des Iles Marquises was published in Tahiti 1987.]


The earliest archaeologically established date for human habitation of the isles of Hiva is around 150 B.C. (Ottino 16).

Genealogies from the 19th century trace the people of Hiva up to ninety generations back to their progenitors, the gods Atea and Atanua; the first man mentioned in these genealogies is named Tiki. That the settlers came from the west is evidenced by the c ulture, artifacts, language, and traditional Polynesian place names remembered in the chants of the people who settled Hiva (Handy Native Culture 11): For example, Vevau is an ancient name of Atuona valley on Hiva Oa; Vavau is a place name in Tonga and an ancient name for the island of Borabora in the Society Islands. Fiti Nui is the name of a tribe which inhabited a region on the west end of Hiva Oa; Fiji Nui is the Tongan name of the island of Fiji and Hiti Nui was the ancient name of Tahiti.

"Havai'i" or "Havaiki" survives in Hivan chants and traditions as the name of the underworld to which the spirit travel after the death of a person. Hawaiki is the ancient name of the island of Ra'iatea in the Society Islands; Savai'i the name of the larg est island in the Samoan group.

The name "Havai'i" refers in Polynesian cultures to an ancestral homeland to the west; Handy believes that ancient chants and traditions of Hiva indicate that "formerly there was a conception of Havai'i as a land or region where men and gods lived in anci ent times" and the belief that spirits went to Kiukiu at the western end of the island Hiva Oa to leap into the sea to enter the underworld suggests that this underworld may have been a land toward the west (Handy Native Culture 252).

The names of the original settler of each island were given to Pere Pierre as follows: Mohuta settled on Nuku Hiva; Tapu-oko on Hiva Oa; Toheto on Tahu Ata; Mihi-toka on Fatu Hiva; Koki-oho on Ua Huka; and Pahohe on Ua Pou (Handy Native Culture 16).

It is unlikely the settlers came only once, with everything they needed. Two oral traditions suggest that subsequent settlers brought certain plants and animals not already in the islands: pigs and chickens are said to have been brought to Ha'atuatua Bay on Nuku Hiva by a god named Haii; and coconuts were said to have been brought by a god named Tao from an island named Utupu, upwind of Fatu Hiva (Handy Native Culture 10).


Prehistory and Archaeology

Periods of Hivan prehistory were devised by Robert Suggs after his work in the islands from 1956-58 and elaborated upon by Yoshihiko Sinoto in the 1960's and 70's.

Settlement Period (150 B.C. to 100 A D.): Artifacts from the earliest period of settlement suggest that the first settlers lived near the sea and depended heavily on marine resources for survival, rather than on farming or livestock (Sinoto). Arti facts include fishooks, sinkers, and adzes. Pottery fragments suggest the first settlers came from the Lapita cultural area in Western Polynesia, or that there was contact between Western and Eastern Polynesia. Few utensils for preparing vegetables for co oking have been found from this early period. No pig or chicken bones have been found; a dog's tooth, but no dog bones, have been found; bones of fish and turtle, as well as seabirds such as the shearwater, petrel and booby dominant the midden. These anim als were probably the main sources of protein.

Developmental Period (100 A.D. to 1200 A.D.): The settlers began to spread inland. New types of fishhooks and adzes are found. A greater number of peelers, scrapers, and pounders for land-grown vegetables suggest the growing reliance on horticultur e. Breadfruit became an important part of the diet. Pig and dog bones have been found, though not in great quantity. (Dogs eventually became extinct in the isles of Hiva.)

Expansion Period (1100 A.D. to 1400 A.D.): Eventually, the population spread to all habitable space, including the interior of valleys. Raised platforms (paepae) for houses begin to appear, and fortified sites suggest competition for resources may have led to warfare. Shellfish and human bones begin to dominate the midden; charred human bones suggest cannibalism. Pig bones were also found, while pottery disappears. The basic material culture appears stable for over 1000 years (Rolett). Similarities in implements suggest contacts with the Tuamotus and the Society Islands (Ottino 15).

Classic Period (1400 A.D. to 1600 A.D.): After 1400, certain religious and ceremonial structures, some of monumental size, were built. Tohua (paved public plazas) and large stone tiki are characteristic of this classical period. Terraces and irrig ation ditches for growing taro also appeared. These were apparently built in order to increase food production to feed an expanding population (Ottino 15).

Archaeological remains include the following:

1. Paepae: stone platforms, usually rectangular, that formed the foundation for traditional houses.

2. Ua ma: These pits for fermenting breadfruit were dug in clay soil, usually near houses. A communal tribal pit in Taipivai on Nuku Hiva was "eighteen feet in diameter and at least thirty feet deep" (Linton 103).

3. Tohua or taha ko'ina: Stone dance plazas, once used as community sites for festivities. These sites were constructed by the haka-iki, or chiefs, and could accomodate hundreds, even thousands of of particpants (Ottino 33).

4. Me'ae: sites kapu for religious ceremonies. Me'ae consisted of platforms, walls, and pavements. They were located in secluded spots. The remains of chiefs and priests were often kept at these sites (Ottino 36). Human sacrifices were offered to insure v ictory in war, or to break a drought, insure a good harvest, or cure illness of an important person. Sometimes sacrifices were offered on other occassions, such as the consecration of a new canoe or a new house for a chief, chiefess, or priest; or to hono r some great chief or priest; or to celebrate the completion of the tattooing of a chief's son (Handy Native Culture 240). "Feia'u" (cf. Hawaiian "heia'u" or temple site) referred not to the temple as a whole, but to "small temporary structures at both pu blic and private sacred places." These small, temporary structures were erected for various rites such as rites performed in honor of a chief's first-born child or marriage rites (Handy Native Culture 236).

5. Tiki: Wood and stone images representing powerful, protective ancestral figures; these images were placed at me'ae to aid in worshipping of the deified ancestors; some of the tiki were quite large, as high as 10 feet. According to Linton, there is a "c lose resemblance in body and leg treatment between the Hawaiian tiki and Marquesan tiki (93).

6. Pa (cf. Hawaiian pa, or enclosure): a defensive site, used as a place of refuge or to cover the approach to a valley. Only a few stone walls of such sites still remain; those forts with barriers of timber have disappeared. (Linton 20)

7. Petroglyphs: drawings on the surfaces of rocks are found at various sites in the islands.

Life of the Land

Based on reports by early observers and judging from the remains of numerous house foundations found wherever food could be grown, Handy writes that when Europeans first discovered Hiva in the 16th century, "the density of the population was equal to the maximum that could be supported by agricultural and fishing industries practiced by the natives" (9).


Breadfruit was the principal crop. A tree was planted for each new-born child and henceforth the fruit of that tree belonged to the individual. Families planted trees in their yard; the chiefs had plantations. There were over thirty varieties of breadfrui t. The trees, which did not require extensive cultivation, produced two, three, or even four crops a year. The excess harvest was stored in pits in a fermented form of breadfruit paste called ma; in ma form, the pulp could be kept for forty years. This pr eserved breadfruit paste was a hedge against famine, caused mainly by droughts. During droughts, the fruit fell from the trees before ripening.

Other food crops included coconut (ehi), banana, sugar cane, and taro (ta'o).

Planting was done during high tides or full moons to insure strong plants and large, plentiful fruits.


Fishing in Anaho Bay, Nukuhiva

Fishing could be done either individually, or by a group of specialists who lived in a sacred precinct near the sea and who fished (usually with canoes and nets) for the haka-iki of the valley. There was a general kapu during fishing expeditions for the c hief, when speaking and activity were forbidden. If the fishing expedition was successful, a ko'ina (feast) was held and the fish distributed to everyone living the valley.

Fishing was done not just with nets but with line and hook (made from pearl shell or human bone), pa (aku lures), spears and harpoons, snares, fish traps, and poison.

The gods of fishing, as in Hawai'i, were numerous. Each type of fishing had its own god. However, the main god was Tana'oa (Kanaloa), also called Te Fatu Moana (Lord of the Sea) (Handy Native Culture 165).

Fish was kapu when breadfruit was not yet ripe, and free when the breadfruit was ready to harvest (Handy Native Culture 167). This was perhaps a conservation practice.

Religion: Deities and Ancestral Gods

Papa'una (Upper stratum) and Papa'a'o were the primary parents of the universe. They gave birth to the gods in the dark, narrow space between them. The gods later rebelled and forced the two parents apart to make space and to let light into the world (Buck 149).

Tiki, Nuhuhiva

The gods were called atua (Hawaiian akua). Handy notes that the gods were not as distinct from human beings as in Western culture: "Atua were simply beings with powers and qualities of the same kind as those of living men (enata), but greater. Some men an d women were atua in this life; most became atua after death (Handy Native Culture 244). The following gods are described in Handy (244-247; Hawaiian Names of Deities in Parentheses):

Atea (Wakea; husband) and Atanua (wife): the progenitors of all natives

Tu (Ku): patron of war

Tiki: "ancestor of men through union with a heap of sand which he piled up on the seashore"

Teuutoka, Teuuhua, and Tahitikaupelka: gods of the sky

Tonofiti (husband) and Hanau (wife): rulers of the underworld

Tana'oa (Kanaloa): god of wind and sea and patron of fishing.

Tane (Kane): associated with the sacred adz (Tane was not a major god in Hiva as he was elsewhere in Polynesia.)

'Ono or 'Ono-tapu (Lono), like Tane, was not a major god in Hiva. He was a legendary character who defeats the god Tohetika (Buck 150-1).

Numerous other gods were patrons of special activities or phenomena of nature such as plants or diseases. For example, Hopekoutoki and Motuhaiki (Hawaiian Mokuhali'i?) were patrons of canoe-building and woodworking; and Manatu ("Thought") and Pupuke ("Wel ling up of knowledge") were the patrons of chanting.

Ancestral spirits of chiefs and priests were re-presented by wooden or stone images and were worshipped in the me'ae (temples). Ancestral spirits belonging to families were worshipped at family shrines.

The most prominent names in oral narratives include Maui, Mahuike, Fai, Tana'oa, Tupa, Hahapo'a, Hu'uti, Ono, Tohetika, Tiki Tu Kae, Tuapu'u, Akaui, Tiu, Kena, Pohu, Putio, Puainanoa, Puhi, and Hina (Handy Native Culture 247). The stories are collected in Handy's Marquesan Legends and Landgridge's Von den Steinem's Marquesan Myths. (The story of Akaui are included in 1.0. "Polynesian Voyaging Traditions.")

Maui, as elswhere in Polynesia, is said to have "fished up various islands, obtained fire from his grandfather Mahuike in the lower regions, and snared the sun with a noose of human hair to delay his passage across the sky in order that Maui's laundry mig ht have time to dry" (Buck 153). The canoe building-god Motuhaiki is also said to have snared the sun, in order to give him time to finish a canoe (Handy Native Culture 155).

Social Structure at Contact

Tribes: Some valleys were inhabited by a single tribe; some larger valleys were inhabited by more than one tribe. Each tribe was ruled by a chief (haka-iki). Although a strong chief might have influence over an entire valley, with subchiefs under h im, there were no "kings" ruling over entire islands. Political power was decentralized. The people or the tribe were called mata-ei-nana (cf. Hawaiian maka'ainana). Some evidence indicates that class distinctions were developing between a chiefly class o f haka-iki, and a class of common people called mata-ei-nana, though the social distance between chief and commoner was not great at the time of contact because the chief was still seen as related by blood to his tribe, rather than of separate ancestry, a s in Hawai'i. According to one early observer, if a chief struck someone, the person could strike him back (Handy Native Culture 35-39). A person became a chief because he was the head of a large and wealthy family, who had allied itself with other powerf ul families through marriage or adoption, or by trading names (Handy Native Culture 45).

Households: The typical living area consisted of a sleeping house (fa'e hiamoe); a kapu eating house for men (fata'a moe, nahua); a cooking house (fa'e tumau) with an umu, or earth oven, in the floor; and a place where family religious rites were p erformed, either a platform or an enclosure where corpses could be treated, or food offered to the family god. Five or six related families might live together in such a compound. Nearby an ua ma, or pit for storing fermented breadfruit could be found. Br eadfruit, coconut, and bananas were planted around the compound. Other structures included a small enclosure for sugar cane and paper mulberry (ute) and a pig pen (though pigs often were allowed to roam freely) (Handy Native Culture 61-67).

Men and Women: As in Hawai'i and in other Polynesian cultures, distinction was made between men, who were kapu, or privileged, and women, who were me'ie, or free (literally, "clear sky"). However, a woman could become a kapu chiefess of a tribe or a sacred priest, based on her abilities and genealogy.

Occupations: According to Handy, differences in prestige had more to do with one's function in society or expertise than in one's genealogy. Next to the haka-iki, or chief, was the tau'a (Hawaiian kaula), the inspirational priests whose functions w ere to care for the remains of the chiefs and priests deposited at temples, preside at tribal religious ceremonies, and discover and speak the will of the gods (Handy Native Culture 224). Next in prestige was the tuhuna o'ono (tuhuka o'oko), a chanter who presided over lesser religious ceremonies. Toa (Hawaiian koa), or war leaders were highly respected in civil affairs as well. Other experts included planters, fishermen, canoe-builders, net-makers, house-builders, tapa-makers, mat-makers, tatooers, and t he like. (Handy Native Culture 36). These groups of specialists were called tuhuna, or experts, with a modifier describing what the person did. The following list of tuhuna is found in Handy (Native Culture 144):

Tuhuna Hakatu Fa'e, or Tuhuka Atu Ha'e--master housebuilder.

Tuhuna Hakatu Paepae, or Tuhuna Upeupe Paepae--master platform builder.

Tuhuna Tekai Ke'a--Stone cutter, one skilled in cutting stones for platforms, houses, sacred places, and feast places.

Tuhuna Ua Ma--Digger of ma pits.

Tuhuna Pehe--Professional skilled in making string figures and applying them in decoration such as ornamental sennit designs.

Tuhuna Ha'a Tiki Tiki--Skilled wood carver.

Tuhuna Keana Moena--Skilled mat maker.

Tuhuna Tekai Ke'a Tuki Popoi--Maker of pounders for popoi (breadfruit paste).

Tuhuna Ko'oka--Maker of popoi dishes.

Tuhuna A'aka Pahu--Drum-maker.

Tuhuna Ta'ai, or Tekai, Vaka--Master canoe carver.

Tuhuna Ta'ai Tiki--Image carver.

Tuhuna Ta'ai, or Tekai Papa, or Tuhuka Tao--Coffin carver.

Tuhuna Ta'ai Tokotoko Pio'o--Staff maker.

Tuhuna Titi Ouoho--Maker of hair ornaments.

Tuhuna Tutu Tapa, Tutu Kahu--Skilled bark-cloth maker.

Tuhuna A'aka Tahi'i--Fan maker.

Tuhuna Hana Pa'a Kea--Maker of tortoise-shell crowns.

Tuhuna Pu Taiana--Maker of pu taiana ear ornaments.

Tuhuna Tehe--He who cuts the foreskin.

Tuhuna Fainu, Tuhuna Apau, or Tuhuka Haika--Medical expert.

Tuhuna Nati Kaha--One skilled in witchcraft.

Tuhuna Patu Tiki--Master tattooer.

Tuhuna Ava-ika--Master fisher.

Tuhuna Upena--Master netmaker, the same as the Tuhuna Ava-ika.

Tuhuna Ha'akekai--One learned in legends.

Tuhuna Mata Tetau--One learned in genealogies.

Tuhuna Pu'e-- Ceremonial priest who taught and chanted the pule.

Tuhuna Vavana--Ceremonial priest who taught and chanted theVavana.

Tuhuna O'ono--Ceremonial priest skilled in the last four named branches of learning (legends, genealgoies, pule, chants).

Tuhuna Nato--He who composed nato chants. (Similarly with other kinds of chants: Tuhuna Pope, Tuhuna Rari, etc.)


Hostilities began when a chief and his priest went to get human sacrifices from a neighboring tribe for some ritual deemed necessary. Once a victim, or victims, had been killed, their families and relatives sought vengeance against the attackers. Vengeanc e could also be sought for personal slights or insults, for example, a host group being inhospitable to a visiting group. After the first killing, a cycle of retaliation continued until one of the groups sued for peace or was annihilated or driven away (Handy Native Culture 123). Peace was then restored, or alliances sealed through an exchange of human sacrifices and turtles, which were often substituted for human sacrifices (Handy Native Culture 141).

On each of the islands, traditional enmities developed. Wars were fought between the tribes of the two main political divisions on Hiva Oa, the Nuku of the Western end of the island, and the Pepane of the eastern end. The natives believe that Nuku was the elder brother, and Pepane the younger brother, who were the first settlers of their respective ends of the islands. A similar east-west division was found on Nuku Hiva: "Tei'i, traditionally the elder brother, was the ancestor of the western division, while Taipi-nui-a'aiku was the ancestor of the people of the eastern division" (Handy Native Culture 25). While the tribes of each main division on both Hiva Oa and Nuku Hiva fought among themselves, when island-wide warfare broke out, they united to battle the tribes of the other end of the islands (Handy 27-30; 31-34). Rivalries between islands also developed.

The victims slain in revenge warfare were sometimes eaten, apparently an act of revenge (Handy Native Culture 124).


[From Handy, The Native Culture in the Marquesas, Honolulu: Bishop Museum, 1923, pp. 136-7, 154-161, 169.]

Canoes and Canoe-Making Process of Manufacture

The following account of canoe-making is from Atu Ona, Hiva Oa. On the first day of the work the canoe-maker (tuhuna vaka) with his assistants, called ta akau, accompanied by a priest to recite the sacred chants (tuhuna pu'e), went up the valley where sto od the temamu tree that had been selected. While the workers stood about the tree, the priest chanted the pu'e, recounting the growth of the world. Then the tree was felled, fire being used to aid in the accomplishment of it (according to Linton). This wa s all that was done on the first day.

On the second day the bark was removed and the work of roughing out the canoe body was begun and continued all day. A temporary shed (oho au vaka), open on all sides, was erected over the place where the work was going on. This building, like all other fe atures of the enterprise, was sacred. All the workers were consecrated during the labor, sleeping at the oho au.

The whole body of the canoe was completed here. When this work was finished the new canoe body was carried on the shoulders of the workers to the sea where it was placed in another shed (oho au veka), which had been erected for the purpose on the shore. A s the new hull was carried down the valley, the priest followed close behind chanting the pu'e.

The outrigger was made and fitted to the canoe in its house by the sea. When all the work was completed, the canoe and house in which it rested by the sea were decorated with short peeled stakes of fau (koufau), decorated with neatly woven green coconut l eaves (kapiripiri), the reddish cloth made of the bark of the banyan tree, sacred white cloth, and human hair. The human hair was omitted from the decorations of fishing canoes. The crew and warriors who were to go on board were embellished with materials similar to those used in ornamenting the canoe itself and new paddles with small images carved at the upper end of the handle were made.

Certain details of canoe building at Pua Ma'u, Hiva Oa, given to me by Mr. Linton, supplement the above account. Four hundred men were employed in the building of a certain canoe at Pua Ma'u, working under the direction of four tuhuna. The work was done w here the tree was felled and where a decorated house was erected for the workmen. Workmen and tuhuna were fed by the chief, twenty men being employed in this work. The place was tapu to women and to strangers. Any intruder from another valley would be kil led and eaten. "When the canoe was finished a great feast was held at the place of manufacture, the workmen's house being decorated with ferns and wild vines."

In the sacred chant called oho au o Motuhaiki, which is part of the tona pou chant (see Chants), and which was probably used in connection with canoe-building, are mentioned the stages in the construction of a canoe: finding the tree, trimming it, felling it, measuring and cutting out the proper length, and hollowing the hull; then building the shed for it, placing the body on two log supports in the house, thinning down the sides, polishing the body with crushed coral; then naming the various parts attac hed to the hull, side-boards, bow, stern, seats, etc. The first master canoe-maker was, traditionally, Motuhaiki, who noosed the sun, so that he might have sufficient time to finish his work.

Canoes, like everything else, were named. Mr. Linton was told in Pua Ma'u that new canoes were named after old ones that were worn out. Not only was the canoe itself named, but every part, the bow-piece, stern-piece, sideboards, seats, bailers, paddles, a nd so on.


Just before a canoe was launched, the crew and warriors were assembled about it in the oho au, and the pu'e was again chanted. The vessel was then carried into the water with all its paddlers and warriors aboard, the canoe and its crew alike being ornamen ted. Soon after a new war canoe had been consecrated and launched, the chief who owned it sent it to raid an enemy bay and secure sacrifice victims. It was for this purpose that the canoe had been built, and its consecration was not regarded as complete u ntil its mana had been thus demonstrated. A chief would sometimes send his warriors to get victims at the time of the building of the canoe to give it mana. The recitation of the pu'e, a creation chant of the world and nature, made the work complete by uniting the new product of handicraft with creation from its beginnings, right down through the growth of all things to the new canoe. The bedecking of the can oe and its house had this ceremonial significance: the koufau were the sign of tapu; hiapo, the cloth that covered the loins of tapu men symbolized both power and sacredness; and the kopinipini embodied the same sense of sacredness that brought about the use of the coconut leaf as a head and body dress by priests, and as a sign of truce.

Mr. Linton found that in both Hana Hehe and Pua Ma'u, on Hiva Oa, it was the custom, when a war canoe was being made, for a warrior of great prowess to sleep on or in the log from which the hull was being formed, during the nights of the period of its man ufacture. This was in order that the canoe might have imparted to it the qualities of mana, power, and luck, which the warrior embodied.

All canoes used for war or the work of fishing were tapu to all women except chiefesses or priestesses for the reason that their contact with the canoe would have profaned it, hence made it lose its power (mana).

Canoes that were built for voyaging must have been an exception to this rule, for women accompanied their men on voyages. If a fishing canoe were profaned by the touch of a woman, it was purified by having hair burned on the bow.

Types of Canoes

In the Marquesas there were craft of all kinds varying from those merely large enough for children to play in to the great exploring canoes. Lt. David Porter [A Voyage to the South Seas 1823] gives excellent descriptions of the appearance of different for ms of craft that he observed when he visited Nuku Hiva.

Voyaging Canoes: Of canoes constructed for exploration Porter says, "The canoes formed for the sole purpose of going in search of new lands are of a still larger construction, and are rigged in the same manner." It appears that these canoes for exp loration were frequently double--that is, made by lashing two canoe bodies together, leaving a space of several yards between. On the cross-pieces were laid bars forming a platform. So far as I have ascertained, the Marquesas' canoes never had a house on this platform. In the story of Pohu such a platform is described as having a rail around it. The supplies for a voyage were kept here and in the body of the canoe, and the people on board lived on the platform and below decks. According to a trustworthy F atu Hiva informant, such a canoe would have two sails, the masts being stepped in the usual place in the forward end of each hull. War canoes and canoes for exploration--according to modern natives--were as much as sixty feet long. So far as I know, howev er, there is no record of a canoe of this size, although no limitation in the materials at the disposal of the native nor in his ability to utilize them would have prevented him from making canoes of this size or even larger.

War Canoes: For more elaborate organized expeditions by sea to attack an enemy, many canoes were necessary. A preliminary of such a war was the building of war canoes. These canoes were merely for transportation or for attacking an enemy on shore f rom the sea. There seems to have been little that might be characterized as marine warfare, since attacks were always made at a time when the canoes of the enemy were unprepared to meet those of the attacking party.

War canoes when they were not in use were either entirely taken apart and their parts distributed among different families, or they were placed in a house near the shore or possibly far up the valley on the feast place of the chief who owned the canoe. Po rter describes war canoes as follows:

"They are about fifty feet in length, two in width, and of a proportionate depth; they are formed of many pieces, and each piece, and indeed each paddle, has its separate proprietor. To one belongs the piece projecting from the stern, to another the part forming the bow. The pieces forming the sides belong to different persons, and when a canoe is taken to pieces, the whole is scattered throughout the valley, and divided, perhaps, among twenty families. Each has the right of disposing of the part belongin g to him, and when she is to be set up, everyone brings his piece, with materials for securing it. The setting up a war canoe goes on with the same order and regularity as all their other operations. These canoes are owned only among the wealthy and respe ctable families, and are rarely used for the purposes of war or for pleasure, or when the chief persons of one tribe make a visit to another. In such cases they are richly ornamented with locks of human hair intermixed with bunches of gray beard, strung f rom the stern projection to the place raised for the steersman. These ornaments are in the greatest estimation among them, and a bunch of gray beard is in their view what the feathers of the ostrich, of heron, or the richest plumage would be in ours. The seat of the coxswain is highly ornamented with palm leaves and white cloth; he is gaily dressed and richly ornamented with plumes. The chief is seated on an elevation in the middle of the canoe, and a person fancifully dressed in the bow, which has the ad ditional ornaments of pearl shells strung on coconut branches raised in the forepart of the canoe. She is worked altogether by paddles, and those who use them are placed, two on a seat, and give their strokes with great regularity, shouting occasionally t o regulate the time and encourage one another. These vessels, when collected in a fleet and in motion, with all their rowers exerting themselves, have a splendid and warlike appearance. They were paraded repeatedly for my inspection, and in all the review s they appeared greatly to pride themselves on the beauty and splendour of their men of war. They are not, however, so fleet as might be expected, as our whale boats could beat them with great ease."

Captain Cook describes canoes with heaps of sling stones in the bow, the crews armed with slings. In the story of Pohu is mentioned a double war canoe made of two canoe bodies with a platform built up between, the platform being surrounded by a rail that was decorated with tapa and ornamental sennit. In this canoe every seat was named. The crew mentioned in connection with it were a steersman, a man in command on the platform (puapua), the paddlers, bailers, and a woman to chant the tribal genealogies. Th e informant who recounted to me the story of Pohu told me that war canoes were always taken apart on their arrival from a raid. Bodies of victims were thrown on the bow piece of the war canoe.

Fishing Canoes: Porter describes Hivan fishing canoes as follows: "Their fishing canoes are vessels of a [large and full] construction, many of them being six feet in width, and of an equal depth. They are managed with paddles resembling an oar, an d, in some measure, are used as such, but in a perpendicular position, the fulcrum resting on the outriggers projecting from each side. With those they proceed to the small bays on the coast, where they fish with the scoop net, and with the hook and line. They have also smaller canoes, which are commonly nothing more than the hollow keels of the large ones, after the upper works are taken off. These hollow keels are furnished with outriggers, and are used for fishing about the harbour."

Materials for Canoes

Woods used most for canoe-making were temanu, hutu (Barringtonia speciosa), and mi'o. The size of the canoe desired frequently determined the choice of a tree. The temanu was the largest of the available trees, and furnished the most durable wood. Accordi ng to Linton, breadfruit trees were used for smaller canoes.

Parts of a Canoe

The main parts of a canoe consisted of the hull, adzed out of a tree trunk; detachable bow and stern piece; sideboards lashed on the edges of the gunwale; and an outrigger.

The main body or hull (vaka, tua, tekee) of the canoe was made of a hollowed single tree trunk. The bow (piha, au'au, kanihi, hopeta), a separate piece, was usually upturned, but both Cook and Stewart describe horizontal bows. Linton aptly describes the s tern (mu'i, hope au'au) as narrowing "rapidly to form the tail, which was a long projection like a thick plank with the edge up, rising from the body of the stern piece at an angle of twenty to thirty degrees." The sideboards (hue tana) consisted of singl e hewn boards (papa) lashed (humu) to the gunwale of the canoe, but it is probable that the sideboards of some canoes were built up with several boards, for Porter described the sides as made of many pieces of the breadfruit tree, cut into the form of pla nks, and sewed together with the fibers of the outside shell of coconut. The seams are covered inside and out with strips of bamboo sewed to the edge of each plank, to keep in a stuffing of oakum, made of the coconut shell also.

Over the seams between the sideboards and the hull, both inside and outside, were strips made of wood or bamboo (teka, vaho, teka oto, ta'i, patua). Caulking of the seams at this place and at the point of attachment of bow and sternpiece was done usually with coconut cord fiber (kaha), or with feathers (hu'u manu). Langsdorff describes caulking with moss over which was rubbed resin from the breadfruit tree. Bulkheads in the body of the canoe are described by Porter. Seats (papa tau) for paddlers rested on an inner strip (teka oto) which covered the inboard seam between the sideboard and the hull. These strips were bound and held in place by sennit. The two rods (kiato, hoa) supporting the outrigger were usually fau poles; Marchand describes rods of bamboo . The supporting rods passed across the top of the canoe, being lashed to the top of each gunwale, or sideboard, by means of sennit that passed around the rod and through holes in the board. These lashings were ornamental and were called teka. The float ( ama) of the outrigger was made of fau and was attached to the supporting rods by four or six small stick (ti'a ti'a) which were inserted into holes on the outrigger float and bound on the supporting rods. The platform (papua, hou'ua) resting on the pole t hat held together a double canoe has been described. On all large single canoes used for fishing or for war there was at the stern an elevated platform (papa'u) on which the steersman stood. Stewart describes "a high platform deeply fringed with the penda nt leaves of a palm," on which the steersman stood on the stern of a canoe. Stewart states that in the bow of this canoe there was another platform made of small sticks covered with a mat on which was seated a man who was evidently a priest.

Sails (ti'a, moena) which were used on the smaller fishing craft and the large voyaging canoes were of the triangular, or lateen, type, and according to Linton were made of coconut leaf mats. It seems probable that pandanus mats were also used, particular ly for voyages, on account of their greater durability. The mast was stepped in a hole (puti'a) in the bottom of the canoe and passed up through one of the forward seats (pihao).

The paddles (hoe) were made of rosewood. The handle ends were ornamented with a small tiki figure and the blades with designs similar to those used on bowls. The lower end of the paddle blade always terminated in a long rounded point.

The bailers were made of mi'o or temanu wood and were "shaped like a sugar-scoop with the handle reversed--that is, projecting forward over the cavity" (Linton).

The main decoration of canoes was by means of carving and ornamental lashing. Bow and stern pieces were carved with the ornamental adzed designs (tiki) used on house posts. Some modern informants say that tattooing designs were also applied on these parts . This is true at least of canoe models. I believe with Mr. Linton that this type of carving was not used on the large canoes of ancient times. Ornamental lashing (pu'u kaha), the designs of which were taken from string figures, bound the supporting rods of the outrigger to the balancer and to the sideboards and the sideboards to the hull, these lashings being made of sennit dyed red, yellow, and black. There was a conventional figure head, which was apparently always used at the forward end of the bow pi ece, consisting of a flattened conventionalized face. "There was a tendency to decorate the neck of the bow piece with figures carved in high relief or by the attachment of separate pieces." "A small tiki figure was sometimes but not always attached to th e tip of the stern piece" (Linton).

Temporary decoration consisted of coconut leaves, white cloth, and human hair; and "coconut fronds, which were commonly placed along the sides of the bow and stern platforms with their lower edges trailing in the water" (Linton). On the canoe with the two platforms described above, Stewart observed three green coconut leaves four or five feet high, which were fastened erect on the bow piece. It is probable that these were symbols of peace. Lines were run from the stern piece to corners of the steersman's platform and from these lines hung tufts of human hair and bits of white cloth (Stewart). Stewart describes skulls as being lashed on each corner of the platform at the stern of a war canoe. Under the lashings that held the outside binding strip along the gunwale were put white feathers of the tropic bird, so that the plumed ends were visible--these gave the appearance and impression of speed and, doubtless, in the native mind were potent to make actual in the canoe this quality of the tropic bird.


Modern informants say that the crews of large canoes numbered from one hundred and forty to one hundred and sixty men. Garcia, on the other hand, puts the number at forty or fifty. Legends commonly speak of a larger number and relate that, usually, in the Marquesas two hundred and eighty (e fitu touha--that is to say, seven forties) warriors constituted the crew of a war canoe or a voyaging canoe. The captain (ava-ika) had charge of the handling of both fishing and war canoes, and doubtless was usually, i f not always, the steersman--his name indicating that he was a fisher by profession. The captain stood on the stern platform which was also the place of the chief. A large paddle (kapekape, uki) served for steering. In small canoes paddlers sat two on a s eat, in large canoes four abreast, working in shifts, two by two. They paddled rhythmically in unison.

While part of the crew was occupied in paddling, others were busy bailing.

Housing of Canoes

At Pua Ma'u I was told that war canoes were always taken to pieces when they were not in use. Here and at Atu Ona canoes were kept in special houses on the shore. At Atu Ona, the natives relate that a certain traditional canoe used to repose on two stone supports (ano) on the main dance place of the valley. One of these supports, a large block of basalt with a somewhat crescent-shaped concave top, is still on this dance area.

While on Ua Pou, I learned that on that island the chief's war canoe was sometimes, if not always, carried on to the feast place before his house. It seems probable that it was the fishing canoes which were housed by the sea, and that the war canoes, whic h were more occasionally used, were those that were taken apart or that were kept in houses on the chief's dance area. Porter describes a place, which he calls the "public square," which he invaded far up Tai-pi Valley, and says: "Numbers of their gods we re here destroyed, [and] several large and elegant new war canoes, which had never been used, were burnt in the houses that sheltered them."


"[The people of Hiva] knew perhaps thirty or forty real and mythical islands in the ocean space around them" (Dening 14).

After the settlement of the islands by voyagers from the west, the people of Hiva continued to voyage, among their own islands, and between the islands of Hiva and other groups. Handy gives the following motives for leaving one's home island: "expulsion in war, famine, . . .a spirit of adventure and restlessness, and revelations of seers which led the people to set out on definitely organized expeditions for exploration" (Native Culture 19).

Oral traditions of voyaging also indicate the following economic motives: to obtain materials not available on one's home island, such as red bird feathers or high quality adze stone; or to bring plants, animals, or people from one island to another. The people of Hiva also travelled in canoes among their islands of Hiva to make war, to obtain human sacrifices from other tribes, or to take revenge for an attack. Trading among the islands of Hiva took place because each island had a special product or two that people on other islands desired: "Nukuhiva...produced the best eka, the turmeric root used to make a saffron-scented cosmetic with which they covered their bodies. Fatuhiva in the south produced the best carved bowls for use in feasts and ceremionies" (Dening 48). The people of Nukuhiva went to the uninhabited island of Eiao to get basalt for making stone adzes, and the people of Hiva Oa would go to Nukuhiva to trade for the adzes; Ua Huka was noted for its poi pounders; Ua Pou for its porpoise-tooth crowns (Handy Native Culture 23). Porter reports that the people of Nuku Hiva also went annually to Eiao, to the northwest, to get the red tail feathers of the tropic bird (Handy 20).

Voyages of Exploration

The people of Hiva left their islands in search of other lands (He fenua 'imi, "land seeking"; Hawaiian: 'imi honua). Porter reports: "The grandfather of Gattnaewa sailed with four large canoes in search of land, taking with him a large stock of provisions and water, together with a quantity of hogs, poultry, and young plants. He was accompanied by several families and has never been heard of since he sailed" (quoted in Handy Native Culture 19).

Porter also says he heard that "more than eight hundred men, women and children" departed from the islands of Hiva in search of land. One group ended up on Roberts' Island (Eiao, NW of Nukuhiva). A few days after the canoes depart on these voyages of exploration, "the priests come lurking to the houses of the inhabitants of the valley, whence they sail, and in a squeaking affected voice, inform [the inhabitants] that [the voyagers] have found a land abounding in breafruit, hogs, coconuts, everything that can be desired,and invite others to follow them, pointing out the direction to sail, in order to fall in with this desirable spot. New canoes are constructed, and new adventurers commit themselves to the ocean, never to return" (quoted in Handy Native Culture 20).

According to one oral tradition, a large double-hulled canoe named Kaahua from a tribe called Tuoo under the chief Te-heiva voyaged east from Puamau on the northeast coast of Hiva Oa and landed at a land called Tefiti. Kaahua had several houses built on its deck and "carried a great quantity of breadfruit paste." Its gunnels were so high, the crew had "to climb up the sides from the bottom to pour the bilge water out." Some of the crew stayed in Tefiti, while others returned to Puamau (Handy Native Culture 131).

Flight after Defeat in War

Two oral traditions recall flight by canoes from Hiva to the Tuamotus after defeat in war. In the first case, the Fiti Nui tribe of Hiva Oa fled for Tahuata on bamboo rafts. The wind blew them south to the Tuamotus. In the second case, after losing a battle, the people of Hana Pa'a Oa on the north coast of Hiva Oa left on rafts and ended up on Takaroa in theTuamotus (Handy Native Culture 20-21).

David Porter reports: "Temaa Tippe and his whole tribe, about two years since, had many large double canoes constructed for the purpose of abandoning their valley and proceeding in search of other islands, under the apprehension that they would be driven off their land by other tribes. But peace took place, the canoes were taken to pieces, and are now carefully deposited in a house, constructed for the purpose, where they may be kept in a state of preservation to guard against future contingencies" (quoted in Handy Native Culture 19).

Two Voyaging Stories: see “Aka's Voyage for Red Feathers” and “Pepe-iu.”

Western Contacts and Colonization

The following dates and events are taken from Greg Dening's Islands and Beaches:

1595--Alvaro de Mendana visited the southern islands of Hiva in July. He killed two hundred islanders and named the group "Las Marquesas de Mendonza" after the Viceroy of Peru.

1774--Captain James Cook spent four days at Vaitahu on Tahuata. One of his men killed an islander for taking a stanchion from the deck of the ship.

1791--The northern islands of Hiva were sighted by American Joseph Ingraham, who was engaged in the fur trade between Northwest America and China; earlier he had been warned against landing in Hawai'i, where the natives had captured two trading vessels.

1797-78--Twenty-one-year-old William Pascoe Crook of the London Missionary Society was left alone at Vaitahu on the island of Tahuata. The first missionary to visit Hiva, he was not well received by the islanders: "They were contemptuous of him for being ignorant of their language.... Crook was stripped of all he had, scoffed at, left outside any system of food distribution in a time of food shortage and never given any means to obtain it."

1811--Captain William M. Rogers discovered sandalwood (puahi) in the islands and collected two hundred tons of wood . Sandalwood continued to be gathered for the China trade until the supply was depleted, around 1821.

1813--American naval lieutenant David Porter, in the Pacific to capture British whaling ships during the War of 1812, landed at Taiohae and allied himself with the Tei'i tribe against their traditional enemies, the Hapa'a and the Taipi of the valleys to t he east. After attacking and subduing the Hapa'a and the Taipi, he attempted to annex the isles of Hiva to the United States in 1814. His claim to the islands was based on "priority of discovery, conquest, and possession." He gathered the chiefs of the is land to sign a petition asking President Madison to be their "chief of chiefs." Madison did not want responsibility for the islands and declined the request. After Porter departed, the contigent he left in Taiohae was attacked and fled to Hawai'i.

1830--Whalers began to make visits to supply their ships during a whaling boom in the Pacific that lasted from 1832-1839.

1832--Haole missionaries from Hawai'i landed at Taiohae with Hawaiian servants. Frustrated by lack of success at converting the people and humiliated by the irreverent attitude of the natives toward the Christian god and morality, the missionaries left af ter nine months, condemning the people as "unthinking," "amoral," and "lazy."

1839--French Catholic missionaries arrived and encountered indifference and ridicule from the people; but the Catholic Church supported the missionaries and they stayed on. Eventually most of the people of Hiva were converted to Roman Catholicism.

1842--The French admiral Dupetit-Thouars landed at Tahuata and took possession of southern islands of Hiva; later that year, he sailed into Taiohae, Nukuhiva, gathered together the chiefs of the island, and had them cede the island to France.

1845--The French met with violent resistance from Pakoko, a local chief of Taiohae. Pakoko ordered the killing of six French soldiers who trepassed on a kapu area, and used one of them as a sacrifice to his god. Pakoko was tried and executed by the French . He came to represent the spirit of native resistance to foreign intrusion: the idea that thunder was a sign of his return circulated among the people. [Another version of the Pakoko story was told to me by one of his descendants who grew up on Nukuhiva, but now lives in Hawai'i: Pakoko's daughter had been raped by a French sailor when she visited a ship anchored at Taiohae. To cleanse her, Pakoko wanted her to bathe in the blood of a Frenchman. He killed a sailor, cut off his head, and threw the body in to a stream. Downstream, his daugther was positioned for a bath under a waterfall down which the blood of the sailor flowed.]

Sporadic resistance against the French, followed by French retaliation, continued through the second half of the 19th century. A rebellion on the island of Hiva Oa in 1880 was violently suppressed. However, Dupetit-Thouars' dream of making the Isles of Hi va a naval base and the crossroads of the Pacific was never realized. In the second half of the 19th century, the French concentrated on colonizing Tahiti-nui, and the islands of Hiva were relatively neglected.

Comparative Dates--Hawai'i

1778--Captain Cook arrives in Hawai'i, the first record of a Westerner visiting the isalnds.

1812-1840--Sandalwood trade begins in 1812; and collapses by 1840.

1820-1860--Whalers use Hawaiian ports for supplies; , the whaling fleets were the largest between 1845-1855 when prices for oil and whalbone were high.

1848--The Mahele begins (division lands to chiefs)

1850--Foreigners are allowed to buy land.

1852--First immigrant laborers to Hawai'i arrive from China.

1860--Twelve Sugar plantations were operating by 1860; the American Civil War cut off sugar from the southern states to the northern states creating a market for Hawaiian sugar. 32 plantations were operating by 1866; 90 plantations by 1885

1868--First immigrant laborers from Japan arrive.

1893--Hawaiian Kingdom overthrown by haole businessmen supported by U.S. Marines.

1900--Territory of Hawai'i established by U.S.

Biological Effects of the Western Contact

When western explorers and traders began frequenting the islands in the 1700's and early 1800's, the population was estimated at 80,000<ETH>100,000 (e.g., in 1798, Crook and Robart estimated a population of 90,000 [Dening 239]).

In 1863, there were probably nine or ten thousand people left (Dening 239); in 1904, only 4,000 remained; in the 1911, 2,890 (Buck 152); by 1920-1, only 1,800 remained, "including a handful of whites, and many mixed bloods--for the most part white and Chi nese mixtures with the natives.ÉThe whites have brought, and still bring, syphilis, gonorrhea, a type of rapid consumption called by the natives pakoko, influenza, and many other minor ailments. Smallpox at one time ravaged two of the northern island and the Chinese brought leprosy." In 1923, the population was at an all time low of only 1200 inhabitants (Handy Native Culture 5).

In 1863, thirty-two natives of Hiva were taken to South America by Peruvian slave-traders. The French government demanded them back, but none returned. Some died on the plantations of South America. Others died of small-pox on the voyage home. Twelve Paci fic Islanders with small-pox were dropped off on the black sands of Taiohae, and the disease spread from there (Dening 232).

Handy writes, "Degeneration of the native physique is due to these diseases against which the natives have been in no way protected; to liquors, drugs, and tobacco; and to an inactive, listless life with decay of native standards resulting in the breaking down of their whole system of life and thought, and the elimination of all their natural avenues for expression--a condition that has been brought about largely by the organized and unorganized forces of white influence" (Native Culture 5)

Western capitalists never imported large amounts of laborers to the islands of Hiva, as they did in Hawai'i, because there was not enough flat land to develop large plantations of tropical crops such as sugar cane or pineapple.

Thus the population today remains small, and predominantly Hivan and French.Because of better health care, the population is gradually increasing: 2,000 by 1926; 5,400 by 1970 (Sinoto 112); in 1990 the population was 7,350.


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