Goodenough Island - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Gardening is the main economic activity. Yams are the principal crop and their swidden cultivation dominates the calendar. Taro is a close second in importance, and bananas (plantains) third. Magic is used to ensure the growth of these crops and coconuts. Other crops (many of recent introduction) include sweet potatoes, manioc, sugarcane, sago, arrowroot, pumpkins, pawpaws, maize, and beans. Reef fishing and hunting for pigs and wallabies were more important traditionally than they are today since reefs and bush have been depleted. Mangrove crabs, freshwater eels, wild pigs, birds, cuscus, and other small game are still caught, but the main source of protein remains domesticated pigs and fowls (in some villages dogs are also eaten). Copra is the only significant cash crop, but Transport and marketing facilities are poor. Since 1900 migrant workers have earned money abroad and remitted a share to kin. Wage labor became a mandatory rite of passage for young men, and to some extent it remains so, though many young islanders (including women) now work in towns as clerks and minor public servants.

Industrial Arts. Traditional technology included Polished-stone ax heads, obsidian and bamboo knives, black-palm spears and clubs, single-outrigger canoes, wooden fishhooks and digging sticks, twine nets for hunting and fishing, and fighting slings. Woven crafts included pandanus-leaf sleeping mats and coconut-leaf baskets. Except for canoes, hunting nets, and pottery, craft specialization was minimal.

Trade. Largely self-sufficient in resources and peripheral to the main Massim trade routes, the island's trade links were not extensive. Canoe technology was comparatively poor, and only a few communities made seagoing vessels. Most Villages relied on visiting traders from western Fergusson, the Amphlett Islands, Kaileuna in the Trobriands, or Wedau and Cape Vogel on the mainland. Among the commodities Exchanged were ax blades, clay pots, pigs, yams and taro, sago, betel nuts, arm shells and necklaces, nose shells, belts, lime gourds, baskets, and decorated combs. The wares from the pot-making villages in the north did not circulate as widely as did those of the Amphletts. There was also an institution of interdistrict ceremonial visiting, undertaken on foot or by newly completed canoes, to solicit gifts of pigs, yams, and shell valuables from hereditary trade partners. The gifts received had to be passed on to a third party, and ideally each expedition was reciprocated. This ceremonial exchange has obvious affinities with that of the kula .

Division of Labor. Husband and wife cooperate in gardening after the communal clearing of new plots. Clearing is done by men, though women help to plant and harvest crops and perform most of the regular weeding. Most domestic tasks are done by women, including cooking, washing, fetching water, child care, and pig rearing; women also gather shellfish. Men build houses, fish and hunt, butcher pigs, and cook in large pots on ceremonial occasions. Both sexes cut and carry firewood.

Land Tenure. The clearing and planting of virgin forest establishes a group's rights to that land in perpetuity. Garden and residential land is inherited patrilineally and is in theory inalienable. There is a hierarchy of corporate land rights within the clan, though the sibling set is operationally the most important land-owning unit, and sons inherit land and fruit trees directly from their fathers. Although a daughter inherits land and trees too, she is more likely to use her husband's. Her children may use her land only if their father pays a pig to her brothers. In some communities plots of land may be transferred following a death, as a form of payment to nonagnatic buriers. Such land may be reclaimed in the future after the true owners have performed a reciprocal burial Service. These devices allowed an equitable distribution of garden land between groups, though in recent generations the planting of coconuts as a cash crop has made the tenure system more rigid.

Also read article about Goodenough Island from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: