Monday, November 12, 2012

Satawal canoe arriving in Saipan

From an article written in a 1938 Guam Recorder issue, we get the story of "Yapese" coming to Guam during Spanish times looking for a certain kind of rock for use as money (åcho' Yap).   The famous stone money in Yap, we know, was actually obtained in Palau.  But there is speculation that some of it could have come from the Marianas.

Antonio Crisostomo Suarez, a mestizo Chamorro of the late 1800s and early 1900s, who had spent some time in the Northern Marianas, then talks about natives from Satawal and Lamotrek making the voyages up to the Marianas in the same breath.

So I wonder about this, since people from Satawal and Lamotrek are part of the State of Yap, but are not ethnically Yapese.  Their language and culture are part of the extended Chuukese group, though they have some affinities with Yapese customs, such as betel nut chewing.

Still, it interested me to find out, from Suarez, that when the Carolinians (the term used for the Outer Islanders in Yap State) sailed for the Marianas, they had an easy source of protein : the fish they caught on the way.  For carbs, they soaked green breadfruit in salt water (unpalatable to others) or baked and pounded it and mixed it with coconut milk.  Other roots were brought along as food.  Fresh water was stored in bamboo tubes, and replenished with rain water.

It makes one wonder if there were any similarities between this and the way the first peoples of the Marianas brought food with them from their original lands to their new home in our chain of islands.

The Carolinians were so much a part of Saipan's history and community that the Chamorros could say Sataguåt (for Satawal) and Oleai (for Woleai).

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