Yap students learn about canoes in Micronesia


Yap Catholic High School juniors Jayvie Taruweliut, left, and Nicholas Untun study the display of historic materials about canoe building and navigation on loan from the Yap Living History Museum. (JOYCE MCCLURE)

COLONIA, Yap—Students in Yap are learning about the heritage of traditional navigation in Micronesia, thanks to a four-panel pictorial history display created and donated to the Yap Living History Museum by ethnographic filmmaker, scholar and Palu navigator Eric Metzgar Ph.D. of California.

Metzgar was the keynote speaker at the recent 8th Annual Canoe Festival held in Colonia at the museum and sponsored by the Yap Visitors Bureau.

Included on the display are historic photos and artwork of traditional canoes, hand-carved charms used to ward off bad weather when at sea, schematic drawings of canoe designs, a famous master navigator teaching celestial navigation to young boys, and even a postage stamp honoring the history and craft of canoe building and navigation.

The display will be sent to local high schools in Yap, beginning with Yap Catholic High School last Jan. 22.

Tom Tamangmow, YVB’s product development manager, introduced the display to the YCHS students and showed Metzgar’s recent film, A Voyaging Odyssey, which documents the 2010 ocean crossing that rediscovered the ancient, traditional routes between the islands of Lamotrek, Guam, Yap, and Palau.

“It’s very important that our young people do not lose the knowledge of canoe building and celestial navigation,” Tamangmow said. “Traditional skills are in jeopardy and it our responsibility to make sure they are not lost forever. This display gives us the opportunity to increase our children’s knowledge. We also hope some of the boys will be interested in joining the elders in their respective communities or at the canoe house to learn more about our rich history.” (PR)

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