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The clans of the Micronesian islands

CLAN histories in Micronesia provide information that helps us explain and understand the movement and migration of islanders from pre-historic to present times as well as the settlement patterns of the Micronesian islands and how they were connected.

For example, a local family whose great grandparents were Satawalese are known as “Carolinians.” They can communicate with the Chuukese and the Sonsorolese of Palau. Some say they can also communicate with some native groups of Pohnpei.

Clan names may describe the origin of a group while language similarity complements a group’s identification. Clan names explain the pattern that can be found in Satawal in Yap and Chuuk.

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 the Republic of Palau.

He said all 27 are of some antiquity “but not all can be attributed to Proto Chuukic, perhaps as few as 11 being reconstructable to that age. Eight clan names seem to have their origin in the central and western Chuukic- speaking atolls. Only two or three Chuukic clan names have cognates among the Pohnpeian clan names and none of the clan names are cognate with those of Nauru or the Marshall Islands. Comparison was not made with Kosraean for lack of data and Kiribati no longer has a lineal clan system at all.”

The 27 clan names of Marci’s study given in Proto Chuukic orthography:

faa-ni-mai “Under the Breadfruit Tree”

imwa-o “House - ?”

kainanga-i-liku “Clan from Outside”

kainanga-i-sawa “Clan by the Pass in the Reef”

kainanga-weneyaa “Clan of Woleai”

ka-sama-anga “To Make the Outrigger”

kaú-fanúa “Land’s Fishhook”

luuka-(na)-fanúa “Center of the Island”

mwangau-ni-faca “Eaters of Pandanus”

mwaoco “Ashes”

pike “Sand Islet”

pwalú “Taro Swamp”

raki “Sailing Season”

rape-fanúa “? – Land/Island”

talasi “Loosen (?)”

tapwo-ni-ppia “Village at the Beach”

taro “Birthmark”

tawu-afangi “People of the North / Winter Tradewind”

tawu-alai “Tall People”

tawu-fanaa-ciki “Little Needlefish People”

tawu-pelaya “People of ?”

tawu-pwolowasa “People of Puluwat”

tawu-wene “Upright People”

wao-ni-rae “Forest (People)”

wii-sakaú “(People of) Namonuito”

wi-TuuTuu4 “Opened (?)”

(wu)waa-ni-kara “Canoe of Sweetness (?)”