Intro Lesson About

Lesson 1

Lesson 2

Lesson 3

Lesson 4

Lesson 5

Lesson 6

Lesson 7

Lesson 8


Lesson 1: Arrival


Lesson at a glance

You'll use maps, local proverbs, books and the Pacific Worlds web site examples to explore the origins of habitation and the legendary setting in your land division.

Key Concepts: Pacific Island Migrations: when, how, and where they would have landed and why. Also, the comparison of scientific ideas about Pacific Island settlements, versus the traditions of your own culture.

Lesson Outcomes

  • You will learn the basic principles and methods of archaeology.
  • You will learn the principles of Pacific Islander navigation and land-finding.
  • You will be familiar with theories and notions of the settlement of your island entity
  • You will investigate the origins of peoples in their land division
  • You will learn meanings of place names in their land division

Come Ashore Who were the first peoples who might have landed their canoes on your shore? What did this place have to offer them? Knowing what you know about your land division system, would this have been a good place to settle, or maybe not so great? Is it well-watered or dry, for example? Is there a protective reef? Shelter from the winds?

The Ancients explores who these earliest peoples might have been, and when they arrived. Both local tradition and modern archaeological viewpoints are engaged. Let's explore who the earliest peoples on your islands might have been, and when they arrived.




  • The prevailing migration theory of Pacific Island settlements
  • The possibility of a people previous to your own having been here earlier
  • Archaeological perspectives—how do archaeologists date things?
  • The tension between scientific approaches and indigenous approaches to understanding ancient times.



Legendary Setting The mythology relevant to your area is the next theme. Stories of legendary figures or gods may touch on your area. Or perhaps stories of famous chiefs, or warriors, or priests.



  • to identify some indigenous historical or mythological connection that is distinct to your area. It may be lodged in the place names.



Neighbors Here you should think about the intimate and traditional relationships between neighboring places. In some cases there are important reciprocal (or hostile) relationships.



  • at neighboring places, their place names, and proverbs or sayings associated with them helps to enrich the indigenous sense of place.




Use maps, local proverbs, books and the Pacific Worlds web site examples to explore the origins of habitation and the legendary setting in their land division.

  • An appropriate Atlas
  • Books, materials or resources on archaeology of your area.
  • Books, materials or resources on legends of your culture
  • Books, materials or resources on place names of your culture

The Polynesian Voyaging Society website has a range of information and educational materials regarding traditional Polynesian navigation:

"Traditional Navigation in the Western Pacific," a website by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, is a sequence of dynamic pages on the art and science of navigation.

Let’s Go Voyaging Teacher’s Guide is a complete set of lessons in pdf format, focused on Hawai‘i and Polynesia, produced by the Moanalua Gardens Foundation and available on the web at

A user-friendly Archaeology Lesson Plan with exercises is available for you at the Center for Archaeological Studies' Old Mobile Archaeology website

How Islands Form is another lesson plan from, this one on island-building (Grades 6-8)




Exercise 1: Come Ashore
Website: Arrival >Come Ashore pages

Use the Traditional Navigation in the Western Pacific website to familiarize yourself with the principles of traditional navigation in the Pacific. Micronesian and Hawaiian star charts can be found on the Polynesian Voyaging Society web site.

Read the essay, “Voyaging” (also linked from the top of any Arrival home page).

Why would people leave their homes and go off in seach of other islands?

What would they need to take with them

What would life be like on a long ocean journey with no clear destination?

What are the characteristics of a “good home” on a Pacific Island to an ancient voyager

Explore the voyaging or sailing/navigation tradition in your culture, and/or nearby cultures. Are there any traditional canoes to be seen today?




Exercise 2: The Ancients
Website: Arrival >The Ancients pages

Here we learn that “tradition” and “science” are different ways of approaching the same topic.

Use the Old Mobile website ( ) and perform Lesson 1: The Importance of the Past This lesson helps you gain perspective on the relevance of the past to the present, and the way in which archaeology uses “garbage” to learn about cultures.




  • Are archaeologists likely to find the first place where anyone lived in your island group or local area?
  • What do your own traditions say, if anything, about the arrival of your people to these islands?
  • Do your traditions agree with what archaeologists say? If not, what do you make of that difference? Who is right, or is anybody?



Exercise 3: Legendary Setting
Website: Arrival >Legendary Setting pages

Learn about the stories describing the creation of your island(s). How do you interpret them? What lessons are to be learned from them? If you are doing a lesson on Pacific Island geology, you can compare the scientific version to the legendary version.

In some Pacific Island cultures, there is a geography associated with legendary figures: certain gods, demigods or traditional figures are associated with particular areas, or went on journeys that connected some places, not others. Is there such a situation within your own culture? Does your area fit within a geography defined by your creation story? Is it, for example, part of the body of a legendary figure?



Exercise 4: Neighbors
Website: Arrival >Neighbors pages

Identify the areas nearby that would be considered “neighbors.” What are the land divisions on either side of yours? Do the neighboring areas or islands have traditional reputations, proverbs, or stories that say something about them?

What other areas, if any, do you know of that had traditional ties with yours? Were they good ties, or hostile ties? Do these relationships define the geographical position of your area in any way? See examples on the Pacific Worlds websites.

On the larger scale, what are your neighbor island entities, if any? How far away are they? How do you view these neighbors? Do they speak the same language?



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