After reading the novel Nest in the Wind: Adventures in Anthropology on a Tropical Island, written by Martha C. Ward, I learned about a culture on an island that is much different but similar in many ways to ours. The Climate of the Island was tropical with heavy rainfall. The Island was known as a “tropical paradise”. Ward a female Anthropologist went to this Island to study its inhabitants . Some area she focus on was Family, Religion, sex, tradition, economics, politics ,medicine, death, resources and daily activities .
Ward approach to getting this information as accurate as possible was to live among the Pohnpeians as . She got involved in their culture and community. She even , though unwanted gained rank in their society. Her and Her Husband lived in a tin hut, learned customs and manners. They were forced to do the daily chores , find food learn the language and be an active part of the community When the first arrived they had little idea what to expect. They went for information and what they got was a life changing experience.
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Their study is one of the few done on the traditional way of Pohnpei life recording everything from chores to beliefs. One Major belief in Pohnpei is sorcery. During her visit to the Island, Martha Ward and her husband hear many traditions and beliefs. One of these beliefs is sorcery. In Pohnpei they believe that jealousy or greed towards others was the same as sending a curse”(ward 2005). Pohnpei is a society in which cooperation and being humble are key values of life. The Islander are still human though , they believe that hidden feelings are causes of bad fortune.
The author claims scientifically she can not prove the were the victims of sorcery but the most problems including stepping on toads, losing items, and nightmares all occurred at this time. Its was believed that Sohn Alpet threw feast to rid the two of the curses but he never spoke of it. Martha Ward He says he was too good of a Christian which at the time didn’t believe in witch craft . I believe that the author was probably exposed to a type of cold she had never got before and probably didn’t build up an immunity too. All the other events and mishaps were just coincidental.
Many societies believe that jealousy and greed will lead to misfortunes. This show s that unity is a very important part of the Pohnpei culture. The unity and the respect required for the feast makes it effective in getting rid of the curse . During Sohn Alpet’s funeral we can see how Pohnpeins value the connection of the tribe. One example of this is the “women of Sohn alpets [Marriages] and women in the families he created .. Prepared his body for burial”. (Ward 2005) . This is also seen in how the men prepare for funerals. men brought food prepared the earth oven and pounding kava” (Ward 2005). It is very clear that the Pohnpeians had close social bonds in their families and communities. Every event joyful or tragic was solved and celebrated by much of the community. One thing all these celebration had in common was a drink called Kava. Kava plays a very important role for traditional inhabitants of Pohnpei . Kava is used to bring peace to this Island. Although Christianity has denounced the uses of kava those who have converted do take part in the ceremonies but may not drink the fluid.
One reason People of Pohnpei drink kava is “It is said that if you drink kava you can no longer be mad” (Ward 2005) . Kava was used many times in the book. Often it was used for celebration . Once during a feast when a Pohnpei man left out the chief’s son by accident, two men ran out side and grabbed a kava root and pounded it offering it to the chief. This was a sign of remorse and like a peace treaty. The chief drank the Kava and forgave the speaker. The Essay Assignment: What is the role of Kava on the island of Pohnpei?
How does the author describe the processing and use of Kava in different social situations? Does she and her husband use Kava and does it do the same thing for them as for the other Pohnpeians? How is the Kava ritual important in building relationships and social standing? What are the differences between kava in capsule form sold in health food stores and the kava found on the island? What accounts fo these differences? What does this tell us about the role of culture, especially in temrs of ritual, exchange, and social relations? In 30 years the Culture of Pohnpeians has changes significantly .
After Martha Ward had left the island much changed. One of the biggest changes was that the Island was now part of a nation and a government recognized by the United States. Another change in Pohnpeian culture was in their relations ships. One example of this is quoted “Dating customs were changing. Young Couples hold hands and eat together in public “(Ward 2005). When Martha Ward visited the Island couples would go out of their way to show no public relation let alone affection. They tried so much not to even make contact with one another.
The reason for this change was young people visiting other civilizations and seeing these actions in such places as movies and bars. The culture of children changed just as much as the adults. When Martha Ward was first at the Island the children where running around wearing almost nothing . She describes a child in her return trip thirty years later as “Jesse wore baggy pants that hung down to reveal his underwear a muscle shirt and arm bands like urban gang members”(Ward 2005). On her return trip the author note that there was schools, playgrounds, a college and even a wall mart now located on the Island.
Even though the Pohnpeians appear to be a victim of westernization there are some tradtions that still persisted. One of the aspects of life that didn’t change with time is “the same themes of respect for tradition and high people , cooperation , reditribution , prestige striving and conspicuous consumption remained vital “(Ward 2005). Although the Island had added roads and buildings “There was no signs , no systems of controlling flies or odors and no more regular supplies of fresh produce”(Ward 2005) . Kava gathering and feast will still see as big parts of life.
Pohnpeian still offered little tourist attractions though. There was no shopping or organized entertainment. Although for those who would be more familiar with traditional customs on the Islands they still have feast with giants yams ,cultural dances and kava. Pohnpeians even kept the tradition of “lifting up a child” (Ward 2005) or adopting them . Ranks are still also seen on the island. It is said “Another example of the genius of Pohnpeian culture in keeping alive tradition systems by incorporating new elements “(Ward 2005). One example of this would be the Kava plant. Kava still tasted like slimy mud and kava bars had sprung up where one could buy a cup or bottle. “(Ward 2005). The Pohnpeians took their natural resource kava and still use it for their traditional spiritual practices. Along with this they have turned kava in to a cash crop. Kava has become one of their leading exports and can be bough in bars around the Island. Although unlike thirty years in the past the “pounding” of kava is now regulated with health standards. Also the stores owned by the Islanders and seen as social investments not financial ones.
Through the store they can become “better people”. The blood pressure experiment on the Island was a failure in my opinion. One Pompeian is quoted to say ” I’m a borderline diabetic I went to Manilla for a hysterectomy … I used to weight 200lbs… I lost weight… and got a D-I-V-O-R-C-E”(Ward 2005). The blood pressure experiment did not prevent high blood pressure. In fact the integration of those westerns who were less then serious about the project may have added to it. When Ward originally came to the Island blood pressure was relativity low for the Islanders.
It was thirty years later after they westernized that dieses such as diabetes occurred. Also the blood pressure project was never really finished the only recorded of diet and health on the Island where through Wards notes. Since the Project was not completed it never led to the answer of why the Pohnpeians truly had lower blood pressure, when it started to rise and how fast it did. I think the information would have been more useful if they would have completed it and if they had data for the thirty years in which it grew along with lifestyle changes.
It is very clear that the modernization of the once tropical paradise and the change in the diets of the people had a huge correlating effect on their blood pressure. I think that the researchers where ethnically bound to publish their finding to the Pohnpeians and the people who funded this projects. I don’t think that it necessarily had to be publicly published but it would have certainly aided in helping future projects and experiments on the island be more accurate.