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Last updateWed, 17 Jul 2019 12am







    Tuesday, July 16, 2019-2:06:41P.M.






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Regional News

Clan histories and traditional place names in Micronesia

KNOWING our past helps us understand the present day. Clan histories in Micronesia provide a rich source of indigenous information that explains cultural traditions from pre-historic to the present times.

A clan’s history helps identify cultural roots, and the relations, connections and similarities of languages and traditions among the islands in Micronesia.

A clan’s name often refers to an important individual member of the clan, a distinct character, skill, symbol or pattern that identifies a particular group.

Rose Peredo

Local resident Rose Peredo said her clan name “Dasu” originated from her great-grandfather who was from Guam. “Although we are scattered around the region, our clan name ‘Dasu’ symbolizes the true love and connection between families and we are proud that all the members of the clan  are close-knit and watch each other’s back,” she added.

According to research conducted by Jeff Marci of the Australian National University, there are 27 matrilineal clan names which occur on two or more of the Chuukic-speaking islands of Chuuk and Yap and on the atolls of  Palau. These clan names describe people, symbols or places. They include tawu-alai, “Tall People”; wao-ni-rae, “Forest (People)”; tawu-wene, “Upright People”; (wu)waa-ni-kara, “Canoe of Sweetness”; kainanga-weneyaa, “Clan of Woleai”; and tapwo-ni-ppia, “Village at the Beach.”

Meked Besebes and  Lynda D. Tellames’s report, “Preserving Traditional Place Names in Palau,” states that each state of Palau has traditional names. For example, Koror’s traditional name is “Sureor” which means energetic and feral. Koror  is one of the busiest and crowded towns in Micronesia and also a home to Paramount Chief Ibedul.

Knowing traditional place names is significant in the ongoing effort to pass down oral histories and valuable cultural lessons to the next generation.