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The Islands of the Pacific 902

coconut, white, food, copra, people, trees and native

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THE ISLANDS OF THE PACIFIC 902. The scattered lands of the brown men.—In the great stretches of the mid Pacific there are many small islands; how many no one knows.

Their original settlers are supposed to have come from Asia, in canoes, and they spread over all the Pacific from Hawaii to New Zealand, and from Tahiti to Samoa. Many of the islands are not inhabited; indeed most of them are only little low reefs of coral rock covered with sand and shaded by groves of coconut trees.

903. Native characteristics.—The Polyne sians are brown people, friendly and polite.

They welcome the stranger and treat him kindly. They love music, dancing, and sports. Often they deco rate their bodies with gar lands of flowers and won derful designs in tattoo. Among the Polynesians, men are often honored for their artistry, a high place being given to tattooers, carvers, and builders of canoes. The men are expert boatmen, and everybody swims a great deal in the warm waters of the Pacific. In 1921 Pau Kealoha, the Hawaiian champion, broke the world'sswimming record at Adelaide, Australia, by making 100 yards in 521 seconds.

904. A bounteous land.—This ocean world is a land of delight for the brown man. The tropic heat and moisture, which are so trying for people of the white race, seem to interfere but little with his welfare. Living is easy, because nature has covered these islands with crops. An American, traveling in the Marquesas Islands, says: " In a couple of miles from the water's edge to the jungle tangle of the high hills were thousands upon thousands of coconut palms, breadfruit, mango, banana, and lime trees.

"There is scarcely a need of the islander not supplied by the coconut trees. Their wood makes the best spars, and furnishes rafters and pillars for native houses, the knee and headrests of their beds, rollers for the big canoes or whaleboats, fences against the wild pig, and fuel. The leaves make baskets and covering, screens and roofs of dwellings. . . . On the stiff stalks of the leaves, oily candlenuts are strung to give light for feasts The network that holds the leaves of the young tree . . . has

every appearance of coarse cotton cloth, and is used to wrap food, or is made into bags, and even rough garments, for fishermen especially." The nuts are a nutritious food, used in many forms.

905. The breadfruit.—The coconut is only one of many food trees of this bounteous region. Before white men began to trade with these people, the main food of the native was breadfruit. Breadfruit grows on a tree, and looks like an enormous rough-skinned orange. Not only do the Polynesians eat this fruit daily, but they make of it a starchy food called popoi, which they store in pits dug in the earth, and thus keep it for many months to guard against famine.

"As bread is to us, so was popoi to my tawny friends. They ate it every day, some times three or four times a day. As the peasant of certain districts of Europe depends on black bread and cheese, the poor Irish on potatoes, . . . . the Scotch on oatmeal, so the Marquesan (and other Polynesians) satisfies himself with popoi, and likes it really better than anything else." 909. The coming of the white man.— The white man's trading ships have changed the life of the people on the larger islands. Small trading vessels, which are really float ing stores, sail around Polynesia. The trad ing room of such a vessel is packed from floor to ceiling with a great variety of goods, such as pins and anchors, harpoons and pens, crackers and jewelry, cloth, shoes, medicines, tobacco, soap, socks, and writing paper. These goods are traded for copra, the dried meat of the coconuts. Thus the coconut be comes the great basis of trade with the white man. The copra is carried to Sydney, Aus tralia; to Wellington and Auckland, New Zea land; and to Samoa, and At these ports it is crushed for oil or shipped on steamers to Europe and America. We use copra for shredded coconut; also the oil from it for cooking fat, or for soap fat. We can get enormous quantities of copra if we should need it, for the coconut tree grows on nearly all shores between Cancer and Capricorn.

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