Swains Island community Prepares To Welcome Hokule‘a

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Polynesian voyaging canoe to visit Am. Samoa, Swains

By Joyetter Feagaimaalii-Luaman

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, August 11, 2014) – Members of the Swains community practice to welcome the Hokulea to the Samoan Islands and Swains.

"Members of the Swains Island (Olosega or Olohega Mamao) community from Seattle, Los Angeles, Hawaii, and American Samoa are pooling their resources to be part of a once in a lifetime experience in welcoming the arrival of the Hokulea to Tutuila on August 21 and later to Swains around September 17, 2014." This is according to Swains Island Delegate, Su’a Alexander Eli Jennings.

He pointed out that this event is being monitored worldwide. "The significance of Olosega to this voyage can be traced to before the copra boom of the 1800s, where researchers believe Olohega was an important destination for seafarers to rest and replenish supplies before continuing with their journey."

"An expedition of divers, scientists, archeologists, videographers and world renowned explorer Jean Michel Cousteau in August 2013, uncovered more scientific facts about Swains Island history. Notable are clues suggesting some time before the 1800s the lagoon was open to the ocean, possibly allowing vessels such as the Hokulea to seek shelter in the lagoon during their visit."

Su’a said the film narrated by Mr. Cousteau is filled with awesome underwater images of the reef and lagoon, and their exciting discoveries. He explained in an email to Samoa News that what started as a short promo film for the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa quickly transformed into a one hour Jean Michel Cousteau documentary: "Swains Island — One of the last Jewels of the Planet."

In Tokelauan, he said "vikia te Atua mo te Hokulea, (Praise God for the Hokulea), vikia te Atua o te lagi mo te Hokulea te ka pa mai ke momoli atu ai a matou alohaaga (Praise the God of heaven for the coming Hokulea that we may convey our Alohas)."

According to Sua, the Hokulea exemplifies the vision he shares with the Director of the National Marine Sanctuary when they first embarked on the search for sustainable development seven years ago.

"Basta’s personal visits provided firsthand experience of this magical paradise, along with the unfortunate circumstances that crippled a once vibrant economy, and resulted in the near extinction of the American Tokelau culture in the Territory of American Samoa." He said — then Swains became part of NMSAS in 2012.

"NMS recognizes the importance of cultural awareness and ancient practices to preserve the marine treasures and resources of our islands. Many have faded over time, but can still be found in traditional songs and oral presentations — and in cultural recreations, like the voyages of the Hokulea," he said.

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