Ontong Java - History and Cultural Relations



According to a local legend, the ancestors of the present Population arrived from the overpopulated island of "Ngiua" (which cannot be identified) and named their new home "Lua Ngiua," literally "Second Ngiua." Other legends refer to immigrants who arrived from the north and "Ko'olau," which could be Kiribati or Tuvalu. Comparative studies of language and material culture indicate strong affinities with Samoa and Tuvalu and probable contacts with Micronesia. The atoll was first sighted by Europeans in 1616 and occasionally visited during the following two centuries. In the nineteenth century the atoll's inhabitants were hostile toward foreign traders and whalers. The British bombarded the atoll in 1875 in retaliation for the slaughter of the crew of a trading ship. Afterward, traders established permanent businesses there. Germany administered Ontong Java from 1893 until 1900, when it was turned over to Great Britain, which placed it within the British Solomon Islands Protectorate. In the twentieth century the atoll adopted and incorporated many Western institutions and practices including Christianity, formal education, labor for wages, and governmental administrative services. When the Solomon Islands became an independent nation in 1978, Ontong Java was administratively incorporated into Malaita Province.

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