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Pacific Worlds was very pleased to work with the chiefs of Airai Village, and to have the assistance of the Palau Ministry of Education; the Cultural Affairs Division; the Belau National Museum; and local staff from Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL) service center in Palau, to identify the following people to guide us through Airai and Palau:




Ngiraked Johnson Toribiong:

"I was born in Airai Village in 1946, after WWII—that’s why my name is Johnson, after the Americans who came here. And I was adopted by my father’s mom to live in a small village in Ngiual. My grandfather was a Palauan historian, magician, medicine man. He was one of the chiefs in Melekeok, the third ranking chief. So I grew up in a traditional family.

"On September 12, 1999 I was appointed to be Ngiraked, the number-one chief of Airai Village, who is really number three, as we will explain to you. I did not really want to be a chief, because I’m a busy man, but when my uncle who was Ngiraked passed away, I was appointed to succeed him. So my position there is chief.

"Now I’m enjoying learning my responsibilities, the history of the village, the traditions, the legends and chants, and I do think we have to actively try to preserve and perpetuate our traditional heritage."


Walter Metes:

"I’m register for Bureau of Arts and Culture. I register sites that are significant for the history of Palau, at the national level but also at the State and local level .I grew up in Oikull. Going to school, I had to come to the main village of Airai and live with relatives.

"Back then in Oikull, there were no cars. Nothing. There was no big store around, and very few houses. Also then is when they had all the rubak (chiefs), every seat in the bai was filled with elder rubak from Airai. They were very respected then. I think even today."

Walter Metes


Kathy Kesolei


Kathy Kesolei:

“I’m originally from Ngchesar. I was born in Ngchesar, Babeldaob, but my clan and my mother’s clan which in Palauan custom society, it is a matrilineal society, so you follow your mother’s lines so my clan would be the Uudes clan in the state of Melekeok. I’m a grandmother.

“Now I am the project coordinator for the Palau 21st Century Community Learning Center program. This is a program to help at-risk kids with lessons in math, English, science, and also provide other enrichment activities such as field trips, recreation and sports and also competitive sports and after school programs.”


Noah Idechong: “I am a Congressman representing the State of Ngiuál in the Palauan National Congress. I used to work for the government as Chief of the Resources Division, in the Ministry of Resources and Development. There I worked on fish-raising development projects and management projects and programs for Palau.

"Then my friends and I formed Palau Conservation Society and I spent seven years as the head of that organization, before I joined Congress. That non-governmernt organization focused on marine issues but also general environment programs.

"My work has been the administration of marine- related programs and developments, focusing on management.”


Noah Idechong


Masaharu Tmodrang


Masaharu Tmodrang:

"My name is Masaharu Tmodrang, I am a Palauan from Ngchesar, on the east coast of Babeldaob, but I have lived in Koror since I started school in the late 50's. I am retired educator from the Ministry of Education, now doing part-time teaching at the Palau Community College. I was teaching in Palau High School for about 10 years, and then moved to administration in the Ministry of Education, where my last job was Chief of Curriculum Implementation."


Faustina Rehuher:

"I am the Director of the Belau National Museum. In Palau, the people are connected to different clans or connected to different villages. I was born in and raised in Ngerechelong State, but now I live in Ngetkib, in Airai."



Icheyad Yaoch


Rurecherudel Iyechad Yaoch and the Chiefs of Airai Village:

This website became possible through the support and assistance of the ten chiefs (rubak) of Airai Village, who met with us to share the lore of their village. One of these chiefs, Rurecherudel Iyechad Yaoch, is 90 years old, and regaled us with many stories from Airai and from Palau. He and the other chiefs spoke in Palauan, and their stories were translated on site by Johnson.

This guide will be known by his title, Rucherudel.

When the chiefs speak collectively, they will be identified as "the chiefs of Airai."


We have also had valuable input from Tarita Holm, the National Biodiversity Coordinator for Palau's Office of Environmental Response and Coordination (OERC). Tarita comes from Ngardmau State.

Additional photographic materials were supplied by the Belau National Museum, Ethan Daniels (also of the OERC), and Scott Fitzpatrick of the University of Oregon.


Tarita Holm



Let these wonderful people take you on a journey through Airai and Palauan culture. Turn the page to see the location of Airai State and Airai village.



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