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History I: Early Encounters

2007 (70:00 mins) Island Topics #54 History

The "People of the Sea", as they are still called, were the first to find the islands, arriving after long ocean voyages from the west and the south on their marvelous 'flying proas.' Centuries later, waves of other seafarers came to these islands, most to stop over for a short while, but a few to stay. They mapped the islands and renamed them. Some came to christianize the people, others came in search of a livelihood through beche-de-mer, turtle shell, whale oil, and copra. From the early 16th century, when foreigners first made contact with the islanders, through the end of the 19th century, a parade of Europeans, Asians and Americans left their marks on the islands.

This video, the first in a five-part series on the history of Micronesia, explores the impact of these early foreign visits on the islands and their people. They brought their religious beliefs, their guns, their diseases, and their wares to the islands, forever changing the features of island life. These visitors, especially those who remained, also made genetic contributions to the population. Some founded families that bear their names to the present day. The documentary attempts to show how these early encounters reshaped the way in which Micronesians live.



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