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Traditional Micronesian SocietiesAdaptation, Integration, and Political Organization in the Central Pacific$
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Glenn Petersen

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780824832483

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824832483.001.0001

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The Prehistory of Micronesian Societies

The Prehistory of Micronesian Societies

(p.37) Chapter 3 The Prehistory of Micronesian Societies
Traditional Micronesian Societies

Glenn Petersen

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter discusses the prehistory Micronesian societies. It details how Micronesia was originally settled, how its peoples adapted to conditions there, and how several basic adaptations diffused throughout the islands. It shows that despite their different historical origins and the different languages spoken in them, Micronesian societies were not merely in contact with one another but were connected to one another through a common, shared system of matrilineal clanship by the time Europeans first arrived in their waters. The central tenet of this common system was the maintenance of links among the localized lineages of dispersed clans. The evolution of this system as a composite whole was a specific adaptation to conditions in eastern Micronesia, a fundamental element in an original Nuclear Micronesian lifeway. The system dispersed throughout the Nuclear Micronesian homeland in Chuuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae, the Marshalls, the Kiribati, and Nauru. In later centuries it spread, with the diffusion of hybridized breadfruit, westward and eventually came to characterize all the island societies of western Micronesia as well.

Keywords:   Micronesian societies, prehistory, Micronesia, adaptation, settlement, matrilineal clanship, clans, lineages, breadfruit

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