Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

An Introduction to Polynesian Anthropology

The Tanager Expedition

The Tanager Expedition

The National Research Council, acting through its Committee of Pacific Investigations, of which H. E. Gregory was chairman, had been in consultation with the officials of the United States Navy at Washington and Pearl Harbor with a view to exploring little known parts of the Pacific. In 1922, tentative plans were made for a scientific survey of the 13 islands of the Hawaiian group, extending northwest from Kauai to Ocean Island, and also Johnston and Wake Islands. Early in 1923, plans had reached a stage where official action was possible. At the request of the Department of Agriculture, the Navy Department agreed to supply a mine sweeper from Honolulu to carry a party of about 12 representatives from the Department of Agriculture and Bishop Museum to visit the islands mentioned for a period of about four months, beginning April 1, 1923.

An agreement was made that officers of the Navy should assume responsibility for collecting and charting hydrographic data; that the United States Biological Survey should provide the services of an ornithologist, a specialist in the destruction of rabbits, and a moving picture operator; that Bishop Museum should provide such other personnel as might be considered desirable; that Commander S. W. King should direct the activities of the Navy in the joint undertaking; and that Alexander Wetmore should be placed in charge of the scientific parties.

The minesweeper Tanager made four trips in 1923. The third trip took in Necker and Nihoa Islands, where proof of former human occupation was page 48found. On Necker were artifacts, platforms, and skeletal remains, and on Nihoa were house platforms and terraces. The details of the various trips and the scientific investigations made are given in the report of the Director of Bishop Museum for 1924, and the scientific results in natural history were subsequently published by the Museum.

The discovery of ethnological remains on Necker and Nihoa led to a fifth trip by the Tanager, in 1924. The party included Kenneth P. Emory, ethnologist of the Museum staff. On Nihoa, the 60 ancient building sites were cleared of brush, measured, and photographed; and much material—bowls, fragments of stone vessels, and other artifacts, with some skeletal material—was unearthed. At Necker, a similar procedure was adopted and a number of stone artifacts were collected. The artifacts collected from the two islands were deposited in Bishop Museum, and Emory's report on the archaeology of the islands was published by the Museum.