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Bates College

Publication Date

Fall 2013

Program Name

Samoa: Pacific Communities and Social Change


Traditional Polynesian voyaging techniques, which rely solely on the surrounding natural environment, have been undergoing a revival in the past 50 years. This study examines the Aiga Folau o Sāmoa, or the Sāmoa Voyaging Society, a modern entity which accurately undertakes traditional sailings around the world, and the cultural perceptions and knowledge on traditional voyaging lore and techniques in Sāmoa. Research efforts included primary interviews, visits, participant observation, as well as secondary sources. The study investigated not only how traditional sailing techniques enabled a watercraft to be navigated accurately over the open sea but also current cultural knowledge and perceptions of this information in present-day Sāmoa. The study revealed that most of this knowledge lies with the Aiga Folau o Sāmoa. Currently the Ministry of Education, Sports, and Culture (MESC) is documenting words in the Sāmoan language pertaining to sailing culture, however this has not been finalized for publication. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has also published a draft of an education module on traditional voyaging in the Pacific, but it too remains in draft form and has yet to be implemented.


Place and Environment | Regional Sociology | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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