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seahorse "Footprints"

The Footprints chapter is for telling stories concerning places and place names. These are the marks left on the landscape not only by those who came before, but in some cases by gods and supernatural beings as they traveled this land. This chapter has been entitled "Footprints" to emphasize that such stories and names are the marks left on the landscape.

Carlos Andrade, of the University of Hawai‘i Center for Hawaiian Studies, remarks that these storied places "provide lessons, examples, through the words and through the eyes of the stories and of our ancestors. Place names themselves are messages from the ancestors that contain warnings, or urgings to look at something important there. They're stories about how to live."

Johnson Toribiong of Airai Village, Palau, remarks "When I was a kid, it was a folk entertainment. In the home, in the bai, or for example when we work, during the lunch break, somebody would be telling a story, and then it would end, ‘to be continued….’ It was a real art form. In the evening they’d have the lamp burning and the kids."

For this chapter, we try to choose five physical sites with which there are legendary associations. This differs from the Native Place chapter, which focuses on sites of human use or occupation. In this case, these may be certain rocks, or water holes, or coral formations about which stories of legendary beings are told.

Note: in some cases where legends have been lost and there are no such sites to discuss, we have used this chapter to examine other ways that the cultural heritage continues today. This may include crafts, ceremonies, or other practices.


It must be kept in mind that we are providing one version of any given story. Within the culture or community, there may be many variations of the story, and the version presented in Pacific Worlds is by no means the true, accurate, or definitive version. Children should ask their elders to share their versions, and should respect what their elders tell them as equally–if not more—authentic than the version presented here.

From here, the story of the community moves into the period of Western contact, and the arrival of these Visitors from outside.



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