HOW WE MAKE CANOES ON CHUUK

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By Shinobu Rai College of Micronesia-FSM Student

WENO, Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia (February 21-March 6, 2002 – The Kaselehlie Press)---Making canoes on my island is very important because it is a unique tradition. Canoes are built at any time and are used occasionally. For example, they are used for fishing, transportation, and especially in competitions. A typical canoe is made of a breadfruit trunk. It has one outrigger and two paddles. Having the outrigger makes the canoe easier to balance and move smoothly. A man makes a canoe in a hidden place so that when it is finished people will be surprised and that person who made it will be well known and appreciated.

How do we make them anyway?

The first thing is you need to have knives, an axe, carving tools and sandpaper. When all of these materials are settled and are with you, then you may be able to go out and start the job. Then, you look for a fine breadfruit trunk, one that is big, long, and that doesn’t have any hole or scratch on it. You will have to cut down the tree, but you only need the trunk. Once you have the trunk, you now need your knife to remove the bark.

After all the bark has gone, then you may start to carve. Carving is the important thing with the paddles and the outrigger. When the carving is all done, then you can start to smooth it with sandpaper. After smoothing it with sandpaper, you paint it and put whatever drawing or writing you want to put on the outside of the canoe. This will make the outside of the canoe beautiful and attractive. The inside of a canoe is deep and normal. Some may have a little plywood seat, but the real traditional one doesn't have anything at all.

The third thing that has to be done for the canoe is a celebration. In order for the canoe to last long and be very successful in all its duties and journeys, you have to celebrate its first usage. The celebration involves eating with all the people that helped out during the carving. Kindly throw candies to all who come to the celebration, and try it out for the first time.

Finally, you may now start to use the canoe for whatever purpose, but remember that using a canoe wisely is always appreciated by people because it is an important thing in the culture. That means, you don’t always use it when you feel like using it, but use it only when you really need to. This includes using it during competitions in racing against others' canoes and going fishing.

In conclusion, I should say that canoe building on my island is the best way to show your strength, creativity, and care. All of these are shown in how you make your canoe, how many people you need to help you, the way you use it, and the way it looks. The person who made it will not judge himself but all the people on his own island will judge him. Some may even talk about it on the local radio and that’s what will make that person popular and well known. People from another island will come and see the canoe with their own eyes

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