PRESERVATION OF CAROLINIAN SEAFARING ORAL CULTURAL HERITAGE AND TRADITIONS: FOCUSING ON TRADITIONAL CANOE CULTURE
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Type of WorkText
ProgramMA in Historic Preservation
RightsTo obtain a complete copy of this thesis please contact Goucher College Special Collections & Archives at email@example.com or (410) 337-6075.
SubjectsHistoric preservation -- Theses
Oral tradition -- Northern Mariana Islands.
Acculturation -- Northern Mariana Islands.
Historic preservation -- Northern Mariana Islands.
Northern Mariana Islands -- Civilization.
This thesis examines the relationship between historic preservation and the retention of traditional Carolinian oral cultural histories and traditions in Micronesia. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the role of historic preservation in preserving traditional oral culture in the area of traditional Carolinian sailing canoe culture. The effects of western cultural domination on the various aspects of traditional Carolinian canoe culture are examined in detail. The drastic changes within Carolinian canoe culture during the last twenty-five years have resulted in a massive loss of irreplaceable traditional knowledge. Indeed within the last two years, in the time it took to undertake this research and write this work, three prominent elder navigators for the islands of Polowat and Satawal have passed away. The limited number of young Carolinian men willing to apprentice to these skilled master navigators in the face of growing western cultural dominance has resulted in a tragic loss of knowledge, the exact extent of which may never be known. The elder navigators represent the sole repository of knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the open ocean to remote island destinations. This knowledge and ability embody the essence of manhood in traditional Carolinian culture, and no modem counterpart has been introduced into the Carolinian community to replace it. Adolescent Carolinian men are at a critical juncture and face an imminent and urgent identity crisis that needs to be addressed now. Without an immediate and timely readdress of this situation, traditional Carolinian navigation may pass from a practicing art form into the realm of legend and the young men of that community will have to deal with the quandary of steering an uncharted course into a very uncertain future. The focus of this thesis is on Carolinian oral traditions and the limited, but important built environment. The ability to produce traditional sailing canoes (was) and canoe houses (utts), depends entirely upon the retention of this body of oral histories. The material structures so commonly the focus of historic preservation are of secondary importance in this thesis. The knowledge allowing these societies to produce these structures, and navigate thousand miles of open ocean to very small islands is of primary importance. The role of historic preservation in preserving this knowledge and the ability of the Carolinian people to continue to practice traditional sailing canoe culture in the future is the focus of this thesis