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An Introduction to Polynesian Anthropology

Bishop Museum Staff Expeditions

Bishop Museum Staff Expeditions

In addition to research work conducted in the Hawaiian Islands by Emory in archaeology and Handy in therapeutics and agriculture, the ethnologists on the Museum staff made field trips to other parts of Polynesia as follows:

Society Islands (1923)

E. S. C. Handy, Ethnologist; Willowdean C. Handy, Associate in Polynesian Folklore; and Jane Winne, volunteer assistant, spent seven months in the Society Islands. The islands of Tahiti, Moorea, Raiatea, Huahine, Tahaa, Borabora and Maupiti were visited. Measurements, observations, and photographs of 200 natives were obtained. Handy paid particular attention to history, culture, and some phases of material culture; Mrs. Handy made a study of native plaiting, net making, food preparations, and string figures; and Miss Winne devoted her attention to songs and music. Dr. and Mrs. Handy also made short visits to Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji. In Samoa, Handy made a study of Samoan houses and Mrs. Handy studied cooking and tattooing.

Society Islands and Tuamotus (1925)

K. P. Emory, after leaving the Kaimiloa, spent almost the entire year of 1925 in the Society Islands and some of the Tuamotu atolls studying archae-page 50ology, particularly the stone religious structures termed marae. He was assisted by Mrs. Emory, formerly Mlle. Marguerite Thuret of Papeete, whose knowledge of the Tahitian language and native life were of much value. The islands visited were Tahiti, Moorea, Raiatea, Huahine, Tahaa, Borabora, and Maupiti, and short trips were made to the Tuamotu atolls of Kaukura and Arutua. Observations were made on more than 50 maraes. Financial assistance was given by Medford R. Kellum.

In 1926, Mr. and Mrs. Emory went to Europe, where a study and photographic records were made of the Polynesian material in some of the principal European museums.

Samoa (1926, 1927)

A Museum party, consisting of C. Montague Cooke, Jr., leader; A. F. Judd, President of the Board of Trustees; and T. T. Dranga, collector, spent February and March of 1926 in American Samoa (Tutuila and Tau) collecting landshells. Mr. Judd also gave considerable attention to collecting ethnological material to fill gaps in the Museum collection. In his report to the Director he stated:

  • The material culture of the Samoans is changing very rapidly. Some of the things I obtained were curiosities to the younger Samoans, who did not know their names or uses. It is my conviction that with all due speed we should send a competent ethnologist to Samoa to complete our collections.

Following upon Judd's report of the previous year, a party consisting of A. F. Judd, leader; Bruce Cartwright, Associate in Ethnology; and me as Ethnologist, visited Tutuila in September 1927. We made a complete tour of the islands of Tutuila and Aunuu and were hospitably received in every village. The object of Bishop Museum in making a complete survey of the Polynesian people was explained to the people through a bilingual talking chief attached to the party, and hearty cooperation was accorded both in information and material objects illustrating the arts and crafts. Judd and Cartwright returned to Honolulu at the end of a month and Mrs. Buck joined me in Samoa.

We visited the Manua Islands, Tau, Olosega, and Ofu. We were joined by Paul T. Diefenderfer, Assistant in Ethnology. However, he was shortly offered the position of Superintendent of Education by the Naval Administration, and as the position would enable him to continue research in ethnology, he accepted it. Mrs. Buck and I then visited Upolu and Savaii in British Samoa, where, with the cooperation of the administration, additional information and artifacts were obtained. Work was concentrated throughout on material culture and the technical details of the various crafts. Mrs. Buck and I returned to Honolulu in March 1928.

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Cook Islands (1929-1930)

I was deputed by the Museum to make a survey of the Cook Islands. Accompanied by Mrs. Buck, I reached Rarotonga early in 1929 after a month in Tahiti. Gerrit P. Wilder, Associate in Botany to Bishop Museum, assisted me in Rarotonga by taking photographs of ethnological material.

Visits by trading schooner were made to the northern atolls of Manihiki, Rakahanga, and Tongareva (Penrhyn). Complete sets of the genealogies of the inhabitants were obtained and, at Tongareva, a detailed survey was made of the religious marae structures on all the islets, many on the uninhabited islets being in fair preservation. The return to Rarotonga was made by way of Raiatea and Tahiti.

The high islands in the lower Cook group were visited in turn. Short stays were made on Aitutaki and Mitiaro, a month each on Atiu and Mauke, and a longer stay, over part of the hurricane season, at Mangaia. Anthropometrical measurements were made, and Mrs. Buck helped with the recordings as well as in entertaining informants with the necessary hospitality. Great assistance was rendered by Judge Ayson, Resident Commissioner of the Cook Islands, and the government agents throughout the group. The return was made by way of New Zealand, where public lectures were given. We reached Honolulu in April, 1930.

Tuamotu Archipelago (1929-1931)

Kenneth P. Emory was delegated by the Museum to conduct a thorough survey of the numerous atolls which comprise the Tuamotu Archipelago. J.Frank Stimson, who had attended Yale University and later taken up residence in Tahiti, had assisted the Museum in translating Tahitian and Tuamotuan material and had been appointed to the Museum staff in 1928 as Research Associate in Linguistics. He was appointed assistant to Emory in carrying out the Tuamotu survey. As the atolls were widely scattered and as transport by trading schooner was uncertain and irregular, Emory was authorized to have a suitable motor boat built in Tahiti to accommodate the survey.

Emory arrived in Tahiti on March 2, 1929, and, while the boat was being built, visited Takaroa and Takapoto. The motor boat Mahina-i-te-pua was ready by September 7, and the atolls of Faite, Katiu, Raroia, Napuka, Fagatau, and Fakahina were visited during the remainder of the year.

The first six months of 1930 were spent in overhauling material in Papeete, Tahiti, with an interlude visit to Makatea. After June 17, visits were made to Anaa, Hikueru, Amaru, Vahitahi, Takoto, Nukutavake, Vairaatea, Pinaki, and Reao, whence the boat returned to Papeete. In December, a trip was made to Meetia with H. D. Skinner, Lecturer on Anthropology at the University of Otago, New Zealand.

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In 1931, on his return trip to Honolulu, Emory visited a number of museums in New Zealand. He arrived in Honolulu on July 10, after an absence of two and a half years, with a rich amount of information, particularly with regard to maraes, and a large assprtment of dictaphone records of native chants and songs. Stimson had been particularly busy in collecting the native texts of songs and traditions and in making translations. He continued in Tahiti the task of translating myths and legends and compiling a Tuamotuan dictionary.

Mangarevan Islands, Tuamotus (1934)

The Mangarevan Expedition, as it was termed, was organized by the Museum for the survey in natural history and ethnology of the little-known islands of southeast Polynesia. A converted sampan of 75 tons, renamed the Islander, was chartered in Honolulu and placed under the command of Captain William Anderson. The natural science party, under the leadership of C. Montague Cooke, Jr., malacologist, included Donald Anderson, malacologist; Harold St. John and F. R. Fosberg, botanists; and E. C. Zimmerman, entomologist. Under the direction of Cooke, the sampan visited islands in the Tuamotu, Austral, Pitcairn, Mangareva, Society, and equatorial islands. The expedition resulted in the richest collections ever made in landshells, insects, and plants in Polynesia. The members of the crew assisted in collecting. One of them, Yoshio Kondo, did such fine work that he was afterwards appointed to the staff of the Museum as Assistant in Malacology.

For the ethnological part of the expedition, the schooner Tiare Tahiti, under Captain Robert S. Burrell, was chartered, as the itinerary and length of stay on islands differed from that of the sampan party. The ethnological personnel consisted of Emory, Stimson, and me. Emory sailed in the Islander from Honolulu and spent a few days at Fanning Island to check on archaeological data. Stimson joined in work in the Tuamotus which commenced in Napuka and moved to Tatakoto, where I joined the party on September 5. As the Tiare Tahiti had to go into dock for repairs, the party was transported by the trading schooner Moana to Pukarua, Reao, and Mangareva. Emory and I remained at Mangareva to make a thorough survey, while Stimson returned to Tatakoto to complete investigations there. Emory visited Temoe in a local schooner and later sailed in the Tiare Tahiti for Tahiti, touching at South Marutea, Vahanga, Tenararo, Tureia, Nukutavake, and Pinaki, where he met Stimson. He went on to Tahiti, then returned to Honolulu. Stimson remained in the Tuamotus, and I returned to Honolulu via Tahiti and New Zealand.

The Micronesian Expedition (1935-1936)

The attention of Bishop Museum had been directed toward Micronesia, because it formed a route of migration between Polynesia and the Asiatic mainland. In 1935, a cooperative agreement was made whereby an expedition was page 53possible. Through the recommendation of Dr. Joji Sakurai, President of the Research Council of Japan, the Japanese Government granted permission to conduct a collecting expedition in the mandated islands and provide facilities for work. The Museum's contribution to the cost of the expedition was made possible by substantial gifts from C. Montague Cooke, Jr., Henry G. Lapham, and the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association. The agreement provided that all collections and field records be sent to Bishop Museum and that, after they had been studied, representative sets of specimens be deposited in Japanese institutions.

Professor Shinkishi Hatai, Director of the Palau Tropical Biological Station, made the arrangements for the selection of personnel and the conduct of field work. He selected two botanists, two entomologists, an assistant conchologist, and an anthropologist from the staff of the Saito Foundation Museum, which continued the salaries of the members in the field. Yoshio Kondo, Assistant Malacologist at Bishop Museum, was admitted to the party, and he joined the expedition in Japan. He was accompanied by his wife, who rendered invaluable service in the field. The expedition left Japan on December 8, 1935 and returned to Japan on June 10, 1936, having visited Saipan, Truk, Kusaie, Ponape, Palau, and Yap. As many of them had not hitherto been worked systematically, the collection of natural history specimens, particularly in land-shells, was extremely valuable to science. No doubt Mr. Kondo's previous field experience on the Mangarevan Expedition had much to do with his fine collecting. The anthropologist, Y. Muranashi, collected artifacts and took photographs which were sent to Bishop Museum.

Outside Expeditions

In accordance with its program for the anthropological survey of Polynesia, the Museum was prepared to cooperate with field workers from other institutions. Where arrangements for the field work had already been made, the Museum gave financial assistance by publishing the ethnological reports on islands within the Polynesian area. Such outside expeditions are listed as follows:

Chatham Islands (1919)

H. D. Skinner, Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Otago, New Zealand, made a field trip to the Chatham Islands in 1919. He had already examined the Moriori (Chatham Islanders) material in the New Zealand museums when the outbreak of World War I took him to Gallipoli with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Before returning to New Zealand, he had the opportunity of taking a course in anthropology at Cambridge and studying the Moriori material in the British Museum, the Pitt-Rivers Museum, Oxford, and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. The museums visited contained more old material than could possibly be found in the Chatham Islands, but the field trip gave the geographical background in which the material objects were page 54made. Skinner's manuscript on "The Morioris of Chatham Islands" was published by Bishop Museum (Memoirs, IX, 1, 1923).

A second visit to the Chatham Islands was made by Skinner in 1924 with a party of scientists from the Otago Institute and the Canterbury Museum. His new material and information obtained from William Baucke, an old resident of the Chatham Islands living at the time in New Zealand, resulted in a combined manuscript on "The Morioris", which was published by Bishop Museum (Memoirs, IX, 5, 1928).

Niue (1923-1924)

Edwin R. Loeb of the University of California, and his wife, arrived in Niue on August 25, 1923, and left on March 24, 1924. Loeb completed a manuscript on the "History and traditions of Niue", much of it based on accounts written in native text by the natives themselves. The Museum provided some financial assistance, and part of the artifacts collected on the island were deposited with Bishop Museum. The Museum published Loeb's manuscript as Bulletin 32 (1926).

Manua, Samoa (1925-1926)

Margaret Mead, as a Fellow in the Biological Sciences of the National Research Council, spent nine months in American Samoa making a study of the adolescent girl among a primitive people. Before going to Samoa, she was made an Associate in Ethnology of Bishop Museum, where she spent several weeks preparing for her field work. As a result of her field studies, she also prepared a manuscript on the "Social organization of Manua", which was published by Bishop Museum as Bulletin 76 (1930).

Easter Island (1934-1935)

Alfred Métraux visited Easter Island as a member of the Franco-Belgian Expedition. The first plans for the expedition were conceived by the Institut d'Ethnologie de l'Université de Paris and by the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle in Paris. The Belgian Government and scientific institutions gave their support to the enterprise, which became a joint undertaking by the two countries. The expedition was originally composed of Charles Louis Watelin, French archaeologist; Henry Lavachery, Conservator of the Royal Museum of art and history, Brussels; Israel Drapkin, Chilian physician; and Alfred Métraux, Ethnologist. The French Navy conveyed the members of the expedition to Easter Island aboard the Rigault-de-Genouilly, but Mr. Watelin died on the way, in the Patagonian channels. The Belgian training ship Mercator returned the members of the expedition to France when their work was finished.

As I have stated, the Museum awarded Métraux a Bishop Museum Fellowship to enable him to write up his Ethnology of Easter Island at the Museum. The Museum published it (Bulletin 160, 1940) as well as a demographic study by Drapkin (Occasional Papers, XI, 12, 1935).

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First Zaca Expedition (1933)

An expedition to the Solomon Islands was organized by Templeton Crocker in 1933, and through his courtesy the Museum was represented on the Crocker yacht, Zaca, by Gordon Macgregor, Bishop Museum Fellow for 1931. The islands visited in Polynesia were Pukapuka, where Macgregor obtained information which was published by the Museum (Occasional Papers, XI, 6, 1935), and Hull and Sydney Islands in the Phoenix group, where 31 archaeological sites were studied. In addition to the Solomon Islands, a number of Melanesian islands, which are usually regarded as Polynesian outliers, were visited. These were Nupaki and Naloko in the Santa Cruz Islands, Sikiana, Rennell, Bellona, Matema, in the Reef Islands, and Anuda. Observations were made, and Mr. Crocker gave the Museum a fine set of photographs.

Second Zaca Expedition (1934-1935)

The second expedition organized by Templeton Crocker was accompanied by H. L. Shapiro. The Zaca visited the Society Islands, Tatakoto and Hao in the Tuamotus, the Austral Islands, Rapa, Mangareva, Pitcairn, and Easter Island. Shapiro was able to procure additional physical measurements to round off the material for Polynesia.