Island Hopping

This is another oblique one.  Today I’m thankful for Polynesian navigators.

Some of my academic background is in geography.  The idea of “place” underlies more concepts than most people ever consider.  My particular interest is migrations – how mass human movements affect the places they visit, often leaving physical and cultural traces lasting thousands of years.

When European explorers “discovered” the Pacific Ocean (it is the largest body of water on earth, after all) they also found hundreds of settled islands, covering huge areas of ocean.  Many of the islands are very remote, several days’ sail from each other.  The Europeans couldn’t fathom how Pacific Islanders had found their way to all of these rocks amid the water.  The peoples of the Pacific developed a sophisticated body of navigational skills and knowledge wholly unrelated to other navigational methods anywhere.  At the risk of sounding geeky, it’s an incredible accomplishment, and really, really cool.

Only slightly related, but it was a fun film, the music geek in me enjoys the harmonies, and my language nerd side finds the Tokelauan lyrics fascinating to hear.  I claim no rights to anything.

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