Tikopia of Melanesia

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Date Submitted: 10/01/2012 03:30 AM

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Tikopia of Melanesia

Andrew Griffiths


Professor Shirisha Shankar

July 30, 2012

Have you ever wondered how people in far off places live? Ever wondered as a child what it would be like to run away to that mysterious area where no one would find you? Anthropologists have studied different cultures of the world for many years, often in remote underdeveloped areas. These studies have shown that a large number of cultural universals can been seen throughout different societies. This holds true for the Tikopian of Melanesia’s people. The beliefs and values, political structure, and social changes made by the Tikopian people have changed their society drastically during the last century. Tikopian’s have, however, proudly maintained traditional agriculture methods and ancient customs for sustainment of their population.

Located in the easternmost part of the Solomon Islands, Tikopia is a small remote island in the South Pacific Ocean. Belonging to the Temotu Province, formerly known as the Santa Cruz Islands, Tikopia has a population today of roughly 1,200 inhabitants (Kirch, 2007). Most of the population resides within one of the 20 villages situated along the beautiful coastline (Kirch, 2007). The island consists of remnants of an inactive volcano and coral reef. The famous British anthropologist, Raymond Firth, brought interest to the island after he published his first book about the island titled We the Tikopia: A Sociological Study of Kinship in Primitive Polynesia (1936). Before Firth’s visit to the island in 1928, few contacts were made with the outside world due to the remote and isolated location.

Tikopia's sustainability has been possible by society wide conservation methods that have been developed over three thousand years. An example of this would be their society wide decision to remove all pigs from the island (Lagace & Swanson, Unknown). Pigs were initially raised...