Native Place

The Sea

The Land






"The Sea"

The Sea is one of two layers of information focusing on cultural use and understanding of the natural environment. The discussion here will engage both pre-Western and contemporary cultural practices, emphasizing the continuity of culture.

The chapter is divided into four pages that are intended to move from the seaside to the deep ocean, so that we may examine different practices and traditions for different resource areas of the sea. However, the diversity of marine environments in the Pacific Islands requires some flexibility in interpreting these areas.

Seaside looks at practices, institutions or structures—physical, social, political—that take place on land and are related to use of the sea. This may include canoe houses and docks, or rules and governance of the offshore waters. The focus here is the connection between the community and the sea.

Beaches focuses more specifically on uses of the inter-tidal zone: how is this area discussed in the local language? Are there place names that tell us about locations along the shore? Gathering activities, such as crabs, clams and seaweeds are also considered here. The title "Beaches" can be misleading: not every place has beaches. And this should become a point of discussion about different island environments and practices.

On the Reef takes us the next step offshore. Again, not every community will have reef; in those cases, we will still be looking at the shallow or near-shore area. Here again, we will look for place names, stories and linguistic clues to understanding these areas from local perspectives. We will also look to fishing and gathering practices specific to this zone, as well as cultural control and management of these areas.

Fishing, as the name suggests, focuses more exclusively on fishing practices and traditions. These may include deep ocean and reef fishing, but the emphasis is more on fishing itself and its place within that culture, and that community.

The Language page is particularly important to this chapter, because it reveals, through the varieties and types of terms, how the marine environment and its uses are coded within that culture's understanding.

Having looked at the marine side of the picture, the next chapter moves us back on shore to consider The Land.



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