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Micronesian Religions: Mythic Themes

MICRONESIAN RELIGIONS: MYTHIC THEMES

Micronesian myths (as distinguished from folktales) have been primarily the domain of clan elders and sometimes of trained specialists, who cite them in regard not only to community land claims, rights, values, authority, and prestige but also to functions of deities, sequences of rulers, and origins of place-names. On Chuuk, in the Caroline Islands, the specialists (itang) narrate myths according to the practice of the school that has trained them; they observe taboos, and they speak a secret jargon consisting of standard words with altered meanings, archaic expressions, and words spoken backward. On Pohnpei, also in the Carolines, the sacred narratives, called "establishing the foundation," tend to be organized into a cultural and historical developmental sequence about the origins of physical objects and of society and about migrations, wars, and religion; the narratives also include songs that are based on myths. In the Marshall Islands, rebwebwenato (storytellers) are the repositories of oral narratives that explain the origins of physical reality as well as the human and spiritual worlds. The Kiribati and Banaba Islanders systematize their sacred narratives so that they begin with creation, continue with traditions about the migrations of clan ancestors from Samoa and about their settlement and experiences in the Kiribati, and usually end with the narrating clan elder's genealogy.

Creation and Cosmogonic Deities

Even within the same archipelago or on the same island, diversity and contradiction characterize the myths about the origins of the world, the pantheon, the islands, living beings, and customs. In the Carolines, for example, the functions of named gods often shift from island to island. However, a persistent Micronesian theme is that a preexistent god or goddess created and generated everything or delegated all or part of the work to newly created subordinates.

According to the Jesuit missionary Diego Luis de Sanvitores, who wrote between 1668 and 1672, the Chamorros of Guam believed that parentless Puntan and his unnamed sister lived before the earth and sky existed. Concerned for the welfare of humankind, which was as yet uncreated, Puntan at his death gave all his powers to his sister, enabling her to fashion the earth and sky from his breast and back, the sun and moon from his eyes, and the rainbow from his eyebrows.

On Chuuk, the Carolinian earth mother is replaced as the primal deity by Enuunap (or Anulap, great spirit). Enuunap either creates the world himself or has Nikowupwuupw (or Ligoupup, bearer or nurturer)his wife, whom he made from his blooddo it. Their children commit incest and, along with a girl who is born from a boil that afflicts Enuunap, found the clans, for which Nikowupwuupw establishes social rules and to whom she gives healing medicines. Faraulep Islanders state that Solal, a god who was half man and half fish, planted his staff in the primeval sea; it grew mightily, after which his brother Aluelap, who was also half man and half fish, climbed it to sprinkle down earth and so make land. Aluelap now rules the sky while Solal rules the sea and the district under it.

In the Marshall Islands, parentless Lowa is said to have glanced down and murmured until a reef, islands, plants, and a white tern rose from the primeval sea. The tern then created the sky by flying back and forth as if weaving a spiderweb. Lowa's commands produced deities, each with specific duties. A couple born from a blood tumor on his leg had two children who tattooed nearly every living being. Because the sky rested on people's heads, two maternal nephews of Iroojrilik (god of the west and of reproduction), netted it and raised it by flying about in the same way as had the tern. His brother, Lomotal, created the seas, lagoons, fish, and seabirds in the same way with his voice.

The myths of the Kiribati show much Polynesian influence; they poetically and metaphorically elaborate the themes of creation from a person's body, of the planted staff, of divine incest, and of sky raising. They may indeed have a broader base in ancient Austronesian culture. Their primordial deity, Na Areau (Na Areao or Nareau), may be not only the creator but also a world transformer, shape-shifter, and trickster, or there may be two Na Areaus, an elder who creates the world and a younger who puts the world in order. Although Na Areau's name means "Sir Spider," the Kiribati rarely think of him as such. Na Areau brooded alone on the rock-hard carapace of the undifferentiated universe, called "the darkness and the cleaving together." With his potent staff he penetrated its hollow interior, where, some say, the last child of Rock and Nothingness (who were the offspring of Sand and Water) was Na Areau the Younger. The elder Na Areau then vanished to leave the work to the younger, who, after naming and activating the preexistent, recumbent Fools and Deaf Mutes, had them free and raise the carapace of the universe, which became the sky.

In one version, Na Areau the Younger took the eyes of the elder Na Areau to form the sun and the moon, his brains to make the stars, and his spine for the Ancestral Tree on Samoa, a land that Octopus and Wave had formed. Humanlike and nonhumanlike deities, male and female, grew happily on and under the tree, each in his or her place, until Red-tailed Tropic Bird, who lived at the crest of the tree, defecated on those below. Na Areau then burned the tree, forcing the ancestors to seek new homes in the Kiribati, which had been created by Na Areau's commands (or other means). Red-tailed Tropic Bird then settled in Makin, where it ate people until the ever-benevolent Titua-bine, whose pet it was, ordered it killed. Red-skinned men grew on what had been its pandanus perch, and women grew on the coconut tree that had been planted by the goddess on her pet's grave. These newcomers (both male and female) became chiefs in the local assembly house. Other Kiribati also have local ancestral trees that have sprung from an ancestor's grave.

Some Kiribati replace Na Areau in his role as the transformer with Auriaria, son of Tituabine and Tabakea (hawksbill turtle), who are sister and brother born as a result of Earth and Sky rubbing together. According to this alternative version, Na Areau sprang from Tabakea's head. When Auriaria, having directed the separation of Earth and Sky, struck Heaven with the staff given him by Tabakea, the islands on top of Heaven tumbled upside down into the sea with Tabakea under Ocean Island. Then Auriaria planted his staff on Samoa, which he had raised from the sea, so that the staff could grow into the Ancestral Tree. Later he married Na Areau's daughter, whose descendants now live in the Kiribati.

The high god who had been described in most detail, Enuunap of the Chuuk area, lives in a mansion, one part for himself, the other for his ten siblings. Flounder, who has both eyes on the same side, guards Enuunap; while Sandpiper, on the clashing rocks at Enuunap's door, shrieks as souls of the dead try to enter, allowing only the worthy to pass safely between the rocks. The now aged, white-haired, long-breasted, weak, and virtually inactive god has two men to raise his eyelids so that he can see; they also open his mouth and raise his upper lip so that he can eat. Like Puntan, Enuunap does not receive worship. Nonetheless, he is omniscient, the creator, the ruler of the pantheon, and with his brother Semenkooror (Father of Determining), he is the god of wisdom, the greatest itang. Among the high gods there are others of similar inactivity.

The Ifaluk high god Aluelap's only activity is to advise his son Lugeilang (middle of heaven), who raises Aluelap's eyelids to get his attention. Yet there are also high gods who actively help people. Yalafath of Yap, a most helpful deity, had Dessra, the thunder god, bring people fire; Yalafath also sent his wife as a frigate bird to scout a flooded island's needs, and once, after resuscitating a dead boy, he gave the boy and his mother sand to form islands and seedlings to plant.

Human Ancestors

Except in those Micronesian mythic traditions in which the primal deity and his or her spouse have children, it is usually unclear how the first people originated. Rather, attention is paid to particular individual mythic figures, male or female, and the role of the opposite sex is often denied. Husbandless females, human or animal, bear human beings and animals and so establish clans. Children also emerge from parts of the body or from maggots on the body of a deity who is more often male than female. Even trees bear people, as in the Kiribati, and in some traditions a tree growing from a person's head splits open to release children. In one story the earthly parentage of a clan's female ancestor is denied when she, a fingertip-size baby, falls from heaven.

A female animal ancestor often becomes her clan's totem. In one of several variations on the "swan maiden" theme, a Yap man, by hiding the fins of a dolphin girl who came ashore to dance, captures and marries her. Years later, on finding her fins, she leaves her human family to return to the sea, and her daughters establish the Dolphin totemic clan. Occasionally a totem animal is helpful, as in the Pohnpei story in which stingrays blanket the sea, tossing a disrespectful minor chief from one to another until they finally kill him for sending their totem descendant, the king, a pregnant woman's corpse instead of the bananas he had requested.

Many traditions include the tale of an animal mother's beautiful daughter who marries a king who has never seen his mother-in-law. For example, in one version Good Lizard makes channels on Pohnpei Island as she crawls to visit her daughter, who was married to the king, holder of the dynastic title Sau Deleur (Lord of Deleur). When the husband brings his mother-in-law her food, she tells him not to look at her. He disobeys, panics, and sets fire to the enormous guesthouse he had prepared for his wife's mother. His wife runs into the flames; he, for love of her, follows, and the three perish.

There are numerous myths about marriages between sky gods and mortal women. Olofat, the Caroline Islands trickster, is the son of Lugeilang and an earthly woman, from whose head he emerges. Like many culture heroes, he grows precociously. Later he flies to his sky father on a column of smoke. A Kiribati semidivine clan ancestor, Bue (burn), snares his father the Sun to demand knowledge and magic; Bue is not, like the Polynesian Maui who performed a similar feat, trying to regulate the sun's speed.

On both Pohnpei and Kosrae it is said that Isokelekel (Ijokelekel, shining noble or wonderful king) is the son of the Pohnpei thunder god Nansapwe (Nan Djapue) and the latter's aged clan sister from Katau (which may be Kosrae or a spiritual place to the east). The tart lime given to her by Nansapwe makes her pregnant, and in her womb Isokelekel learns that he is to take revenge on the irreverent Sau Deleur, the ruler who had once imprisoned Nansapwe for seducing his wife. When he is a young adult, Isokelekel sails against this Sau Deleur with 333 warriors and their families. Isokelekel defeats his enemy, seizes power, and puts an end to a long line of increasingly oppressive rulers who had set their subjects impossible tasks. For instance, a certain Sau Deleur had demanded a rare shell; a boy, aided by fish, went under the sea to get the shell, but on his return he and his family committed suicide to escape having to perform any further such tasks.

Tricksters and Death

Cycles of myths tell of divine and semidivine tricksters who are magicians, shape-shifters, transformers, and gross adulterers. When the demigod Olofat (Chuuk Wonofaat Stamper), who is known throughout the Carolines, was insulted by boys in the sky world, he gave their pet sharks teeth and their stingrays barbs such as they have now. Pretending ignorance of his relationship to him, Olofat jealously kills his half brother. When Half-Beak kills Olofat for stealing his wife, Lugeilang resuscitates him. Na Areau also enrages gods and men. When carpenters jam a house post down on him, Na Areau, like Olofat in a similar story, has a side passage ready. With red earth and coconut he simulates blood and flesh and deceives his enemies into thinking he is dead; then he appears and mocks them.

In the myths of the Marshall Islands, Etao and Jemaluut are either the sons of Iroojrilik and Lijebake (Libage Lady Turtle) or spring from the thunder god Wullep's head. Etao constantly outwits his elder brother and others, and like Na Areau he plays the oven trick. Telling his host of an easy way to get food, he lies down in a hot earth oven, is covered over, and later strolls up from the beach to uncover an oven full of fish and taro. His foolish host, imitating him, perishes, and the trickster takes his wife. This is an Austronesian-wide mythic theme found, for example, among the people of New Hanover in Papua New Guinea.

In these Micronesian myths there is little interest in the origin of permanent death. Olofat decrees that all must die and stay dead, and his sister adds that Olofat too, but not the gods, must die when the world ends. Forgetfulness leads to permanent death when children forget to dig up their mother's corpse as directed or when those who, having learned a man's god-given secret of eternal life, forget a part of the secret and fail to revive him. Stories of temporary death and resuscitation are frequent. When the Belauan semidivine Milad dies in a flood, the gods whom she had once sheltered restore her to life and send Mud Hen, a personified mythic bird (progenitor of Rallus pectoralis ), to fetch the "water of immortality" in a leaf. However, selfish Mud Hen has a hibiscus bush pierce the leaf. While the spilled "water" makes the hibiscus immune to harsh conditions, Milad loses the chance of immortality. The angry gods, striking Mud Hen's head, give it a red stripe to make it a symbol of wickedness and ugliness. All mud hens now have that stripe.

The Land and Its Fruits

According to the myths of the area, numerous islands and islets developed not only from sand but also from taro, flowers, branches, and the like that were cast on the sea, often by disgruntled women leaving home. Dead bodies could also be the bases of islands. Belau developed from a giant's corpse and the people of Belau from its maggots; Lelu developed from a whale-mother's corpse. Except on Fais and Mile, island fishing is less important in the myths of Micronesia than in those of Polynesia. When Motikitik (a cognate of Mauitikitiki, or Maui) fishes up Fais, his dead mother's signal confirms that he, not his brothers, owns it and can divide it into its present three parts. Because it acquired the magical hook, a Yap district dominates Fais politically; were the hook lost, Fais would sink. Etao capsized Mile to test some diviners' skill in coconut-leaf divination; they located the island, fished it up, and made a drain hole that is now a taro pit. Stories of building an island, usually with rocks flying magically into place, are common. Aided by an octopus, explorers found an exposed reef on which to build Pohnpei and shelter it with mangroves and a barrier reef. Later Olsihpa and Olsohpa constructed eighty or ninety artificial islets, Nan Madol, as sites for a ceremonial center, now in ruins. Olsohpa was perhaps the first to bear the royal title Sau Deleur. According to some folk beliefs, bands of "little people," also known in other islands, did the actual work of construction. In most accounts the work is communal, and the heaviest labor is accomplished by magic and a couple of large, strong people.

The principal cultivated plants or certain varieties of these came directly or indirectly from celestial beings, usually women. Even modern Micronesian gardeners think any new variety of plant has fallen from heaven. When three swamp taros (Cyrtosperma) fell into the sea from the Kiribati sky, they became porpoises, swam to Arorae, turned back into taros, and were planted by a man whom Tituabine instructed. Two sky men gave taro to Majro Atoll after Namu had rejected it. Milad taught the people of Belau to cultivate Colocasia taro; each island learned differently.

More than one mythical woman who bore both human beings and food plants had a coconut son. Limkade, Iroojrilik's sister, planted her coconut son Tobolaar after he told her of benefits that would grow from him and therefore prove his value to his hostile, older, human brother. Like other Pacific Islanders, Micronesians tell of coconut trees growing from the head or the grave of an eel or a person. Nikowupwuupw saw her first child's eyes and mouth in the nuts from the coconut tree growing on his grave. When a female eel, which Yalafath sent to Yap to populate the island with people, was killed generations later, a coconut tree grew from her buried head, a banana plant from her middle, and a swamp taro from her tail.

On Pohnpei, kava grew from a bit of the god Luhk's flesh that he gave a kind woman to plant, and sugarcane grew on the grave of a man he had ordered buried. Observing that rats stupefied themselves on kava and then chewed sugarcane as a chaser, people imitated them, as did the sky dwellers.

According to the myths, easy ways to get food eventually fail through envy or carelessness. Jealous neighbors who chopped down Milad's god-given tree, which produced breadfruit and fish, thereby caused a life-destroying flood; carved wooden storyboards from Belau portray the scene. Travelers bring home new foods or carry them elsewhere. Yalafath, on sending his guest Galuai flying home on a chicken-festooned pole, said that if he took proper care of the chickens they would excrete yams. Soon Galuai became careless, and the hungry chickens, by eating the yams, lost their magic (as in another tale did another man's mistreated money-excreting bird). Travelers, including gods, who eat from an inexhaustible taro plant, coconut tree, or fishpond in an alien land or from a tree growing in midocean must watch out for supernatural hazards.

Origin of Fire and Technology

People ate only sunbaked food until male spirits, usually from the sky and consigned to earth against their will, rewarded helpful women or boys with the knowledge of fire and cooking. Etao taught a generous boy; a disoriented spirit (only a head) instructed a Mortlock boy who escorted him home (and also restored the life of the boy's brother). When a Yap woman extricated the thunder god from a prickly pandanus, he put two sticks under his arm to imbue them with fire and then demonstrated how to make fire with them and cook; he also taught her pottery making. Fire from a god's body is a recurrent motif in Austronesian mythology. On Chuuk, Rat, a personified mythic being, taught a sympathetic woman to make fire and cook after Nuukeyinen (Lugeilang) had set Rat's muzzle on fire and driven him from heaven for thievery. On Mortlock and Namoluk, Olofat, after escaping from being burned alive for his tricks, became the god of fire and the condemned and sent fire to earth in a starling's beak.

In the myths of the Kiribati, fire came from the ocean. Because the sunbeam that was caught by the boy Te-ika (the fish) set numerous fires in the ocean world, his father Bakoa (shark), Lord of the Ocean, exiled him. On earth, Tabakea, Lord of the Land, beat Te-ika and his sunbeam to death with sticks that absorbed the fire. Subsequently he revived Te-ika with the same sticks because of Bakoa's grief, but the fiery boy died at the water's edge. Like Maui in Polynesia, Na Areau in the Kiribati repeatedly demanded fire from its keeper (here, Lightning); but unlike Maui, Na Areau did not want to learn the secret of making fire. He wished only to provoke the thunder god Tabuariki to a wrestling match and to weaken him by breaking his arm.

Spirits keep secret their fishing techniques, gear, and magic except from generous and deserving individuals. A woman to whom a sea spirit has divulged family secrets in exchange for her new yellow skirt has to flee from the sea spirit's angry father to another island where, however, she sells her secrets. In exchange for secretly borrowing his canoe, spirits later show a Ulithi man how to make fish traps. According to a complex myth, the people of Chuuk did not know how to fish until the god Solal taught a neglected one-legged boy, whose success then led villagers to make him chief.

Because of the enormous hazards of seafaring, experts in the practice, lore, and magic of canoe building and navigation are highly prized by the islanders. Experts from the Marshall Islands fear that they may at sea forget their mnemonic, informational, magical, and courage-inspiring chants; others fear watchful Jemeluut (Rainbow), who might punish them for mistakes at sea. In Ulithi, when Palulop (great navigator), a sky man residing on earth, teaches his sons navigation, the as yet unborn Ialuluwe (Aluluei) listens. As elsewhere in the Caroline Islands, he subsequently became the supreme sea god. Like the Polynesian Tinirau, he has two faces, one looking ahead and the other looking back at dangers people cannot see. Of his sons, Rongerik studies diligently under his father, as a future navigator should, and later has to rescue his brother Rongolap, who had thought only of women and had neglected his studies.

Three women who transmitted navigational lore to people are the Yap goddess Legerem, who taught canoe building, navigation, and star lore; the Kiribati ancestress Branch of Buka, whose grandfather taught navigation and bonito fishing to her rather than to her selfish brothers; and in the Carolines, Aluluei's daughter, who, having given three navigation gods an inexhaustible drinking nut, received from them knowledge that was as yet unknown to her father.

Certain mythical canoes made of rock, sand, taro tubers, or pandanus drupes obey verbal commands even if the owner is not aboard. Others skim through the air, reflecting Micronesian interest in flying by magic over their vast island area; in one myth a man's hollow wooden bird carries him to his abducted wife. More pragmatically two Pikinni (Bikini) men are said to have invented the Tridacna adze and the paddling canoe. Subsequently the Marshall Islanders learned about Loktanur's invention of masts and sails, with which she had enabled Jebro, youngest of her five sons, to win a race to become chief. Like other Pacific Islanders, a canoe maker may find his or her felled tree restored by an offended spirit. When this happened to Rongerik, Aluluei told him to first greet a trilling bird named Seilangi, god of carpenters. This done, happy Seilangi made Rongerik's canoe in one night to start him on his great career as a navigator.

Politics and Power

Throughout Micronesia knowledge is power. Those who possess the narratives hide things, change things, and selectively reveal things that will give a certain shape to political and social reality. While myths seem to speak of the past, certain themes, such as the resistance to hegemony found in trickster stories, address the present and offers hope for the future. On Pohnpei, Isokelekel's victory over the increasingly despotic Sau Deleur becomes a motif for resistance to the regionalizing tendencies of the Federated States of Micronesia. In the Marshall Islands, Etao does prevail against the more powerful gods and thus becomes a symbol of hope in the struggle of the people of Pikinni, Anewetak, and Epja against the American military weapons program.

See Also

Myth; Nature, article on Worship of Nature.

Bibliography

The following publications are organized according to three eras of collection of mythological materials.

First Era

The Belief among the Micronesiana, the third volume of James G. Frazer's The Belief in Immortality and the Worship of the Dead (London, 19131924), gives English translations from the first era of Spanish and German collections of myths, tales, and legends that, despite Frazer's title, relate to more than simply death and immortality. These collections date up to and include 1914. The volume also contains many examples from Wilhelm Müller's Yap (Hamburg, 19171918), which is contained in Ergebnisse der Südsee-expedition, 19081910 (ESSE), edited by Georg Thilenius, a work that is conventionally identified as ESSE II. B. II.12. Frazer's Myths of the Origin of Fire (London, 1930) includes Micronesian examples from English sources, such as Frederick William Christian, The Caroline Islands (London, 1899; reprint, London, 1967), and English translations of Spanish and German sources, including examples from several ESSE volumes.

As almost every ESSE volume includes myths (some are devoted entirely to narratives and chants), the series is an indispensable primary source. Also during the first era, the series Anthropos Bibliothek published August Erdland, Die Marshall-Insulaner (Münster, Germany, 1914), and Laurentius Bollig, Die Bewohner der Trukinseln (Münster, Germany, 1927), both of which take into account the islanders' own classification of genres. Paul Hambruch, Südseemärchen aus Australien, Neu-Guinea, Fidji, Karolinen, Samoa, Tonga, Hawaii, Neu-Seeland (Jena, Germany, 1921), has valuable notes on the distribution of certain myths.

Second Era

As the first era was that of Spanish, and then German, political control of the Marianas, Carolines, and Marshalls (the Gilberts remained British), the second era of collection was that of the Japanese between the two world wars. Lack of translation from the Japanese has made largely inaccessible such publications as those by Masamichi Miyatake and Masaachi Noguchi for Palau (now Belau) and especially Hisataka Hijakata for Palau and Satawal. Until Hijakata taught Palauans to carve portable storyboards, they had carved mythic scenes only on men's clubhouses.

Third Era

The third collecting era in the three archipelagoes began after World War II with the Coordinated Investigation of Micronesian Anthropology (CIMA) and led many Americans to do fieldwork in the area. A work of special note is Edwin Grant Burrows's Flower in My Ear: Arts and Ethos of Ifaluk Atoll (Seattle, Wash., 1963), which discusses myths and chants in terms of style and social values. Roger E. Mitchell, Micronesian Folktales (Nagoya, Japan, 1973), includes notes on distribution. Seventeen pages of annotated listings of Micronesian, including Kiribati, mythology are in Margaret Orbell, A Select Bibliography of the Oral Tradition of Oceania (Paris, 1974).

Collections by Micronesians themselves are increasing. Particularly remarkable is John L. Fischer, Saul H. Riesenberg, and Marjorie G. Whiting, eds. and trans., The Book of Luelen: Luelen Bernart (Honolulu, 1977). Luelen (18661946?), a Ponapean man, wrote and dictated between 1934 and 1946 what he considered significant for his family to know about Pohnpei, including its myths, oral history, and song texts. John L. Fischer, Saul H. Riesenberg, and Marjorie G. Whiting, eds. and trans., Annotations to the Book of Luelen (Honolulu, 1977), adds explanations, variants, and comparative data.

Yale University's Human Relations Area Files (HRAF) has produced English translations of parts of the German ESSE and other works. An example is the complete translation into English of the German work by Augustin Krämer and Hans Nevermann, Ralik-Ratak (Marshall-Inseln) (ESSE II. B. XI; Hamburg, 1938), as HRAF no. 1003. Most Micronesian school readers retell the traditions, but Pensile Lawrence et al., eds., Pohnpei ni Mwehin Kawa: Old Ponape (Saipan, 1973), uses Paul Hambruch's Ponape (ESSE II. B. VII.3; Hamburg, 1936), quoting his Ponapean texts and translating into English Hambruch's free German translations.

There have been significant attempts to collect, preserve, and use Micronesian myths. Students have become more aware of their heritage, as evidenced in Gene Ashby, comp. and ed., Never and Always: Micronesian Stories of the Origins of Islands, Landmarks, and Customs, 2d ed. (Eugene, Oreg., 1983). Museums and libraries have begun to collect local myths, for example, the Alele Museum on Majro, the Belau National Museum, the libraries at Belau Community College and the Community College of Micronesia, and the Oceania and Special Collections at Northern Marianas College. These and other sources contributed to Bo Flood, comp., Marianas Island Legends: Myth and Magic (Honolulu, 2001), and Bo Flood, Beret E. Strong, and William Flood, comps., Micronesian Legends (Honolulu, 2002).

Anthropologists continue to develop an understanding of Micronesian myths. Glenn Petersen explores the meanings and political uses of narratives in Lost in the Weeds: Theme and Variation in Pohnpei Political Mythology, Occasional Paper 35 (Honolulu, 1990). Ward H. Goodenough analyzes the relationship between myth and personhood in Under Heaven's Brow: Pre-Christian Religious Tradition in Chuuk (Philadelphia, 2002). A notable collection of myths is Jack A. Tobin's Stories from the Marshall Islands: Bwebwenato jan Aelon Kein (Honolulu, 2002). Tobin provides texts collected over the last forty years in both Marshallese original and English translations.

There have been some creative attempts to bring myths to bear on present realities. Robert Barclay probes the neocolonial arrangement on Kwajalein through parallel story lines juxtaposing life in the expatriate American community, life in the Marshallese labor community, and life in the spiritual world of Etao and Jemaluut in Melal: A Novel of the Pacific (Honolulu, 2002).

Katharine Luomala (1987)

Michael A. Rynkiewich (2005)

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