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An Introduction to Polynesian Anthropology


Futuna and Alofi are small volcanic islands surrounded by fringing coral reefs. The reefs of the two islands at their nearest points are separated by a deep channel about a quarter of a mile wide. They lie around 14° S. latitude and 178° W. longitude and are about 160 miles southwest of Uvea. The islands were first visited by Le Maire and Schouten in 1616 and named the Hoorn Islands after the town of Hoorn in Holland.

The traditions of different districts indicate that the earliest settlers came in separate small groups. The opinion held now is that they came from Samoa, but at an early stage before some of the more elaborate customs and techniques had been developed.

A mission was established by French Roman Catholics and information concerning the islands is to be found in the letters of the missionaries published in missionary journals.

Bishop Museum sent Edwin G. Burrows to the islands in 1932 on a Bishop Museum Fellowship. His work on the Ethnology of Futuna and on the music have been published by the Museum.

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