Futuna - History and Cultural Relations



Occupation of Futuna has been documented for about 3,000 years, divided into three periods: Kele Uli, Kele Mea, and Kele Ula. Lapita~associated pottery has been found related to the first period, when first settlement apparently was on the coast. In the Kele Mea period, Futunans took up residence in the interior of the island in fortified sites; Alofi was also inhabited during this period. Kele Ula is the period covered by oral tradition, when Futuna was linked with Tonga and Samoa (and possibly Fiji) through visits by chiefs and their followers for both peaceable and warlike purposes. Oral tradition also records the arrival of a "Chinese" ship whose crew left numerous descendants. In 1837 Father Chanel, a French Marist priest, was one of the first Europeans to take up Residence on Futuna; he was murdered in 1841, but the Catholic mission continued its strong presence. Chanel was beatified and his relics returned in 1976 to rest in a shrine on Futuna. In 1842, the lavelua (high chief) of Wallis sought protection from France, a move with which the two traditional leaders of Futuna agreed. Futuna, together with Wallis, became a protectorate of France in 1887 and a colony in 1913. In 1961, Futuna and Wallis became an overseas territory of France. Futuna was marginally involved in World War II with a few ships being wrecked there, particularly off its northern coast. When nickel mines opened in New Caledonia, Futunans took advantage of the opportunity to work for wages; the stream of migration has continued to the present day, with a few returning to their home island, especially in their old age.

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