Micronesian Diary
Felicia R. Beardsley
Petrus Tun
Yap State, FSM - March 1999

March 28, 1999

Petrus Tun touched a lot of people. To John Tun he was a hero; he was a man who preached action --- you put action to your words, otherwise don't talk. And that is what he did --- if he said he was going to do something he did it. The faces in the crowd were thoughtful, somber, and reflective, and there was an air of sadness all around; a quiet that is so very unlike daily Yap. It made me wish I knew more about the man. Petrus Tun was a senator during the Trust Territory times, and worked a great deal with the Trust Territory government; he was the first vice president of Yap; he was governor of Yap; he was a special cousultant to the governor; and he held numerous high positions in both government and private industries. He was a simple, straightforward man of action who hated bureaucracy. When he saw a problem, he wanted to attack it straight on, in the simplest manner possible.

He told his family he did not want to have a state funeral, so in the speeches the daughter apologized to the memory of her father for this act of disobediance, this one last time.

Waiting for the plane
The plane arrives carrying the body of Petrus Tun

Honor guard and van
The honor guard and van transporting Petrus Tun to the state legislature building

Eva and Sal made it. It seems they were traveling with Petrus Tun all the way from Hawaii. So, now they have seen him arrive, and seen him all the way to the State funeral. All of us attended the funeral, Eva and Sal too. Teresa served as guide for them. Eva and Sal

I could not get into the actual funeral itself, but like so many others stayed outside. It was an amazing event, though. Many people came to the airport to greet the arrival of Petrus Tun. The police honor guard was there parading the body off the plane, saluting his arrival. At the funeral, held at the legislature building, many, many people gathered. The legislature is on a slight hill, and people were gathered on the street below, lining the street by staying in the shady places. Up at the legislature, many people sat outside --- a few went to the windows to listen and watch the ceremony, which consisted of a eulogy and several speeches. Then afterwards, for those who remained, sodas and snacks.

Honor Guard
The Petrus Tun honor guard

Carrying the casket
Taking Petrus Tun into the state building where services are to be held

Watching through the windows
Those who could not get into the building looked in through the windows

Casket goes to Gagil
Petrus Tun being transported to village of Gagil for burial

After the state funeral Petrus Tun began his journey back to the village in Gagil, where he will be buried Wednesday. We will not be attending that.

Funerals and burials are not one of those events that are traditionally celebrated here. The State funeral is a new, Western addition to the culture. Normally, death, dead bodies, and family of the deceased are considered tainted and taboo for a period of time. They may not go fishing, may not go to the taro patches, may not prepare meals. They are not supposed to be touched or to touch things of life and sustenance. The burial itself is not even handled by the family, but by members of the lower castes --- special people who handle such aspects of death. How much of the latter is maintained today, I don't know. People are busy, they have jobs, they have to do things that earn their passage through the Western monetary system that governs daily activity nowadays. They are part of the global community, whether they want to be or not.

It's on such occasions that you get interested in history, and in particular the colonial period. I took a look at the foundation of a old Spanish fort. It now serves as the foundation for an administration building. It was placed on the U.S. Register of Historic Places during the American administration of Yap.

Spanish fort foundation
Foundation of the Spanish fort. Teresa is sitting on the crest.

This might be the place to relate a story concerning the Spanish and German occupations here. What follows is a transcription of William Mueller's monograph on Yap, written in 1917 as part of the series from the Suedsee Expedition of 1908 to 1910, published out of Hamburg by L. Friederichsen and Co. The transcription is about the German vs. Spanish claims to the island; this is the only place I have found this account, and it is pretty hilarious.

"The first German trading station was a branch of the House of Godeffroy of Samoa, established in 1869....

"The attempt of Germany to annex the Caroline Islands for the protection of her important trade interests led to the well-known conflict with Spain in 1885, which almost came to war, but then, through the arbitration of Leo XIII, called for by both sides, ended in 1886 with the acknowledgment of Spanish sovereignty, the establishment of a European administration and the simultaneous erection of a mission, and therefore, for the natives, in a complete upheaval of their situtation.

"Looking back, it cannot fail to be interesting for us Germans to examine the report of an eyewitness, the traveler Kubary (who incidentally was a Pole), of these events, which he described in a letter of August 20, 1885, to Adolf Bastian ('Berliner Museumsakten').

"Kubary's Report: 'On the 21st of this month the Spanish freighter ST.QUINTIN, Captain Guil. de Espana, arrived here, and on the following day the CARRIEDO, Captain Pinzon, both laden with soldiers, prisoners (! the author), officials, and materials for founding a settlement. Yap Island is to be the first for the time being, and the main seat of the administration is to be here. A governor, Don Henrique Caprilez y Ossuna, two priests, a whole shipload of stones for the church and for the residence of the governor, riding horses, oxen, buffalo, etc., were brought along. Instead of annexing the island quickly and hoisting the flag, the Spaniards wasted five valuable days in choosing a place, landing the animals, and the like, and when, on the 26th, they finally decided to formally celebrate the occupation of the island on the following day and to inviite the foreign residents, a ship appeared about 4:30 P.M. (on the 26th of the month), which raced with full sails and steam, ventured into the harbor, despite the late hour and darkness, with the aid of a pilot, anchored at about 6:30, and at 7:00 a violent beating of drums and loud cries from land announced that something unusual had occurred. It was nothing other than the hoisting of the German flag on Yap and the formal occupation of the Carolines in the name of the German Kaiser. The smart ship was the ILTIS and the brave commander was Lieutenant-Commander Hofmeier, who had accomplished his task so energetically, skillfully, and precisely that the dumbfounded Spaniards were thunderstruck. Not satisfied with the disgrace as a result of their own stupidity and carelessness, the Spaniards sullied themselves by a miserable attempt to put the gallant deed of the German commander in question through bold lies and a knavish trick, namely, during the night they raised the Spanish flag and wanted this regarded as proof of legal occupation.

" 'Since two flags could not wave here (!), the Spaniards gave in and lowered their flag, protecting, of course, against what had happened. Thus the brief Spanish occupation of Yap came to an end, and a German protectorate was established over the Carolines, which it is hoped will be a blessing for the islands and their inhabitants and will redound to the honor and venefit of its creators.'

"At first, to be sure, it turned out differently, and not until June 30, 1899, by a treaty of purchase, did the Carolines group, together with the Marianas, pass out of Spanish and into German possession."

March 29, 1999

I received a terrific note today from Aaron Smith, head of Surveyor's Supply Company in North Carolina. His company supports a lot of efforts out here in the Pacific, including equipment for PATS (Pohnpei Agriculture and Trade School). He wrote in part ---

"Hi, Felicia:

"I have a package that I am preparing to send to you. I am including a simple level with .25 inch accuracy at 75', a hand level, fiberglass tape, pocket rods, and some other miscellaneous items. As you know, the fiberglass tape is great for the climate, but unlike the steel tapes will stretch when pulled over longer distances. The pocket rods and tapes are graduated in 10ths. The pocket rods are designed to be pulled out of case and will stand straight like a rod. They will eventually rust there but they are so compact that packing becomes a breeze. Let me know where to send these items. I assume that there is still time for you to receive the package in Yap.

"What a great honor to be the first archaeologist to work with the people of Yap directly as well as the work to come in Kosrae! I wish that I had the resources to be able to tag along and learn. I am happy to be a part of your great work by sending this equipment!


Surveyor's Supply Company"

This contribution, along with the earlier contribution from ESRI's ArcView mapping software, gives me some useful tools to work with out here. This kind of support is critical. Money is also critical, but it's harder to come by. Just getting a foundation or corporation to recognize that there is something worth doing out here in the Pacific is chore enough. It has been an uphill battle to pursuade even my university colleagues that the Pacific has something more on the ground than a few quaint grass huts. When they see photographs of the stone remains and the marvelously designed traditional structures they express surprise. They tend to think of the statues and platforms of Easter Island and the Nan Madol complex as cultural flukes... the word "mysterious" is always attached, as if these people out here couldn't possibily have made such things. It's maddening.

March 31, 1999

For the last couple of days we have been taking a brief rest from the field. I have been working on a site coding system for Yap --- something to allow the state to systematically record and track their historical sites. There was a site coding system developed years ago, during the Trust Territory time, but it was never adopted, possibly because there was no one here to really put it into practice other than the TT archaeologist who operated out of the Saipan office and only paid sporadic visits to the island. I am building upon this previous system, and expanding it. Originally, it was intended only to cover Yap proper and excluded the Outer Islands, but I am taking it to that next step.

I spent some time with the Land Resources Office (mainly their Survey and Mapping division) going over every map they had of the Outer Islands, recording the names of each island and atoll, and the islets within an atoll. After discussions with Tharngan some time ago, I came to the conclusion that any site code has to be able to treat each islet in an atoll as a seperate entity. It would be too highly political to simply clump islets together for the sake of economy. The political part comes in when you start looking at the various levels of interaction and rights held by people within and even outside an atoll. Some folks from one or two islets may have rights to the resources on another islet, but that other islet may in fact be "owned" by someone from an altogether different place. Clumping would ignore these past relationships, and in effect, cause hard feelings on everyone's part. So, the best solution is to keep all the islets in an atoll as separate and unique entities in a site coding system.

The notion of clumping is basically the premise behind the municipalities on Yap proper. Before German time, there were no municipalities, just villages and village alliances. To ease their own administration, the Germans devised and executed the notion of municipalities, which in essence clumped villages that were unaffiliated and sometimes at odds with one another. People have become accustomed to municipalities now, but the old alliances have not been forgotten; I would suspect that the first few years of this new organization were devasting to many. This administrative exercise was not carried into the Outer Islands by the Germans or any other colonial government, so for me to simply clump a bunch of islets together in an atoll would be an affront to their history.

Tomorrow we return to the field, to prepare another architectural feature complex for mapping. It is my favorite in the site because it is so complete. It has all the components you would expect to see in a complex --- the house foundations, sitting platforms and terraces, a place for food offerings, fragments of shell (scattered on the ground by the platforms; this is the first feature where we have actually found shell), a kitchen area and the foundations of a kitchen, a large midden off the kitchen, multiple taro patches, and who knows what else we will find as we get our alignments cleared. The only drawback to this complex is that we have to run the gauntlet of baby poison trees, and that means staying covered and putting something between you and the tree --- a glove, a machete, or whatever happens to be handy at the moment.

I heard from Aaron Smith again. He is sending additional equipment. This is really good news. I am anxious to see what comes.

Next: Dinay: IV. Mapping