Sunday, July 22, 2007

Destination: Hawaii

There are a zillion places around the world that fascinate me. Actually, it's the people and their cultures that trip me out. And more so, what happens when those people and cultures overlap.

But I'll start with my home, Hawaii. There are different estimations, but generally, historians place the first arrival of humans as early as 600 or 700 AD. From the Marquesas Islands, they arrived and prospered. The first landing is widely believed to have been at South Point, Ka‘u on the Big Island.

The second wave came at about 1100 AD from the Society Islands. First of all, the fact that Polynesians could get around the South Pacific, as well as Melanesia and Micronesia, is a feat that's on a level with any other pre-Industrial era technology. How do you nagivate 2,000 miles to find a tiny dot out there in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? It's almost unfathomable without modern technology. Even the Hokulea today navigates through Polynesia and Micronesia, but not without nearby help and technology. It's just so risky, even with modern anemities.

Second, there are different theories as to why islanders left Marquesas and the Society Islands. Famine? Warfare? I think both were elements, but I do believe the primary reason was overpopulation. Though war was a part of life in Polynesia, there simply isn't enough land to sustain a growing society. And overpopulation, or condensation of people in a small place, is usually a bad idea, even today. Especially today.

I just wonder, more than anything, how the first Hawaiians knew of the islands. Was it pure luck? Was it divine inspiration?

Some things, we'll never know.

It was, according to one thesis I read online, that religion arrived in Hawaii around the time of the second wave when a Tongan priest was requested. The first heiau was established, and the rest of Hawaiian religion developed. The migration of religion, and its evolution as it migrates, has also fascinated me. After all, we all came from somewhere, and as man traveled outward from his origin of birth, the myths and beliefs stayed the same, and yet changed.

Every culture has a creation myth. But that's for another post.

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