Also known as: Marshallese

The Marshall Islands is a group of atolls spread over a large area of Micronesia. Marshallese religion involved a multitude of spirits, known collectively as anij, who are difficult to classify.

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Traditional Culture(1856)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 121-138
Nature god(s) Absent (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 121-138
Ancestral spirits Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 128
Deified ancestor(s) Absent (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 121-138
God(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 121-138

Supernatural Punishment

Supernatural punishment for impiety Present (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 133

Afterlife and Creation

One's actions while living can affect the nature of one's afterlife Absent (Source)
Erdland (2010), pp. 247-251
The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife One factor in determining one's afterlife (Source)
Erdland (2010), pp. 247-251
Myth of humanity’s creation Present, and creationist (Source)
Erdland (2010), pp. 232-238
Primordial pair Present, and genealogically distinct from humans (Source)
Erdland (2010), pp. 232-238
Culture hero(es) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 121-138
Erdland (2010), pp. 232-238

General Features

Forces of nature are controlled by or imbued with the supernatural Present (Source)
Erdland (2010), pp. 60

Classes of Tapu

Social hierarchy tapu Present (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 132
Resource management tapu Absent (Source)
Erdland (2010), pp. 29-44, 71-102, 230-283
Kinship tapu Present (Source)
Erdland (2010), pp. 198

Mana

Mana as a spiritual or religious concept Present (Source)
Keesing (1984), pp. 144
Blust (2007), pp. 419
Mana as a personal quality Absent (Source)
Blust (2007), pp. 420
Keesing (1984), pp. 144
Mana related to social influence or technical skill Absent (Source)
Practice +

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Absent (Source)
Erdland (2010), pp. 69-71, 230-283
Costly sacrifices and offerings Present (Source)
Erdland (2010), pp. 243, 253
Largest religious community Larger than a local community, smaller than the society (Source)
Erdland (2010), pp. 230-283
Political and religious differentiation Some overlap (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 125-126

Rites

Tooth pulling Absent from culture (Source)
Erdland (2010), pp. 15-24
Scarification Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Erdland (2010), pp. 15-24
Piercing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Erdland (2010), pp. 15
Tattooing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Erdland (2010), pp. 15-18
Genital cutting Absent from culture (Source)
Erdland (2010), pp. 15-24
Senft (1903), pp. 11
Social Environment +
Population 10,000 (Source)
Gorenflo & Levin (1994)
Population of largest political community 1,000-9,999 (Source)
Williamson & Sabath (1982), pp. 75
Carucci (1991), pp. 191
Importance of Patrilateral descent Medium (Source)
Carucci (1991), pp. 193, 194
Importance of Matrilateral descent High (Source)
Carucci (1991), pp. 193, 194
Kinship system Hawaiian (Source)
Carucci (1991), pp. 193
Polygamy Full polygyny (Source)
Carucci (1991), pp. 193
Wedgwood (1942), pp. 16
Marital residence Ambilocal - with either wife's or husband's kin (Source)
Carucci (1991), pp. 193
Wedgwood (1942), pp. 15

Conflict

(No) external warfare Occasional, at least every generation (Source)
Gorenflo & Levin (1994), pp. 97
Conflict within community High (Source)
Senft (1903), pp. 20
Erdland (2010), pp. 89
(No) internal warfare Frequent, occurring at least yearly (Source)
Erdland (2010), pp. 70
Gorenflo & Levin (1994), pp. 97
Isolation +
Contact with other cultures Frequent, through trade, warfare, travel, etc. (Source)
Gorenflo & Levin (1994)
Distance to closest landmass inhabited by a different culture (km) 307.4 (Source)
Williamson & Sabath (1982)
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Distance to nearest continent 3048.0 (Source)
Erdland (2010)
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Pre-Austronesian population Absent: No evidence of human occupation prior to Austronesian settlement (Source)
Bellwood (1995), pp. 109
Hindu / Buddhist influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence and not in region of known contact (Source)
Cribb (2000), pp. Map 2.21
Islamic influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence and not in region of known contact (Source)
Cribb (2000), pp. Map 2.23
Christian influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Carucci (1991), pp. 192
Subsistence and Economy +

Land-based means of subsistence

Animal husbandry as a source of food Minor (Source)
Kramer (1938), pp. 154-156
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Minor (Source)
Senft (1903), pp. 1
Kramer (1938), pp. 156-158
Land-based gathering Minor (Source)
Erdland (2010), pp. 146-201
Land-based hunting performed by one or more groups Minor (Source)
Senft (1903), pp. 1
Kramer (1938), pp. 156-158
Agriculture / Horticulture Principal (Source)
Hezel (1983), pp. 93
Senft (1903), pp. 1
Kramer (1938)

Water-based means of subsistence

Fishing and water-based hunting performed by one or more groups Major (Source)
Senft (1903), pp. 1
Kramer (1938), pp. 158, 171-177
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Major (Source)
Senft (1903), pp. 1
Kramer (1938), pp. 158, 171-177
Water-based gathering Medium (Source)
Senft (1903), pp. 1
Kramer (1938), pp. 161

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Major (Source)
Kramer (1938), pp. 146-201
Williamson & Sabath (1982)
Metalworking Absent (Source)
Hezel (1983), pp. 93
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture Four or more (Source)
Erdland (2010), pp. 1
Google Maps (2014)

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Atoll (Source)
Mason (1947), pp. 3
Island Size (km²) 12.9 (Source)
Williamson & Sabath (1982)
Maximum elevation (meters) 4.5 (Source)
Wells (1951)

Location

Latitude 7.1 (Source)
Gorenflo & Levin (1994)
Williamson & Sabath (1982)
Google Maps (2014)
Longitude 171.7 (Source)
Gorenflo & Levin (1994)
Williamson & Sabath (1982)
Google Maps (2014)
Post Contact History(1856-2014)Expand All +
Religious History +

Conversion

Role of social status in conversion process Mixed / Neither (Source)
Hezel (1983), pp. 198-210, 209-210
Use of force in conversion Low (Source)
Hezel (1983), pp. 198-210
Adoption of a world religion Present and predominant (Source)
Carucci (1991), pp. 194
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Present, and from non-Austronesian societies (Source)
Carucci (1991), pp. 192
Hezel (1983), pp. 198-210

Syncretic Movements

Syncretic religious movements Absent (Source)
Hezel (1983), pp. 197-210
Rudiak-Gould (2010)
Secular History +

Demographic and Social Changes

Foreign government systems Present, and of high importance (Source)
Carucci (1991), pp. 192
Immigration Absent (Source)
Central Intelligence Agency (Marshall Islands) (2013)
Language shift Low (Source)
Central Intelligence Agency (Marshall Islands) (2013)
Creevey et al. (2021)
Foreign education systems High (Source)
Carucci (1991), pp. 193
Central Intelligence Agency (Marshall Islands) (2013)

Economic Changes

Changes in means of subsistence High (Source)
Central Intelligence Agency (Marshall Islands) (2013)
Exportation of goods to other cultures Present and substantial (Source)
Carucci (1991), pp. 192

Modern Infrastructure

Vehicles and roads Present and widely used (Source)
Central Intelligence Agency (Marshall Islands) (2013)
Kiste (2021)
Air travel Present and long-distance (Source)
Kiste (2021)
Sea port Present (Source)
Kiste (2021)

Loss of Autonomy

Nature of loss of autonomy Partly voluntary (Source)
Carucci (1991), pp. 192
Loss of political autonoomy High (Source)
Carucci (1991), pp. 192
Current Culture(2014)Expand All +
Belief +

Religious Demographics

Unofficial religious syncretism Low (Source)
Rudiak-Gould (2010), pp. 79
Dominant world religion Christianity (Source)
Central Intelligence Agency (Marshall Islands) (2013)
Kiste (2021)
External Links
References
Bellwood, P. (1995). Austronesian Prehistory in Southeast Asia: Homeland, Expansion and Transformation. P. Bellwood, J.J. Fox, & D. Tryon (Eds.), The Austronesians: Historical and Comparative Perspectives (pp 113-114). Canberra, Australia: ANU Press.

Blevins, J. (2008). Some Comparative Notes on Proto-Oceanic *Mana: Inside and Outside the Austronesian Family. Oceanic Linguistics, 47 (2), 253-274. Retrieved from http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/ol/summary/v047/47.2.blevins.html

Blust, R. (2007). Proto-Oceanic *Mana Revisited. Oceanic Linguistics, 46(2), 404-423. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20172322

Carucci, L.M. (1991). "Marshall Islands". In T. Hays, (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of World Cultures (Volume II: Oceania) (pp 191-194). New York: G.K. Hall & Co.

Central Intelligence Agency (2013). The World Factbook: Marshall Islands. Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/rm.html

Creevey, P. R., Foster, S. & Wendt, A. (2021). American Samoa. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/place/American-Samoa

Cribb, R. (2000). Historical atlas of Indonesia. Surrey, UK: Curzon Press.

Daft Logic Distance Calculator. (2014). http://www.daftlogic.com/projects-google-maps-distance-calculator.htm.

Dobbin, J. (2011). Summoning the powers beyond: Traditional religions of Micronesia. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.

Erdland, A. (2010). The Marshall Islanders: Life and Customs, Thought and Religion of a South Seas People. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files (Originally published 1914). Retrieved from http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu.ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/ehrafe/citation.do?method=citation&forward=browseCulturesFullContext&col=collection%28%27/eHRAF/ethnography/Oceania/OR11%27%29&docId=or11-003&tocOffsetId=tocPubInfoP

Google Maps (2014). Retrieved from maps.google.com

Gorenflo, L. J., & Levin, M. J. (1994). The evolution of regional demography in the Marshall Islands. Pacific Studies, 17(1), 93.

Hezel, F. X. (1983). The First Taint of Civilization: A History of the Caroline and Marshall Islands in Pre-Colonial Days, 1521-1885. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.

Keesing, R. M. (1984). Rethinking "mana". Journal of Anthropological Research, 40(1), 137-156, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3629696.

Kiste, R. C. (2021). Marshall Islands. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/place/Marshall-Islands.

Krämer, A. (1938). Ralik-Ratak (Marshall Islands). Hamburg, Germany: Friederichsen, De Gruyter and Co.. 1938. HRAF ms: xii, 1-438. Retrieved from https://ehrafworldcultures-yale-edu/ehrafe/citation.do?method=citation&forward=browseCulturesFullContext&col=OR11MarshalleseOceaniaOceania&docId=or11-002&tocOffsetId=tocPubInfoP

Mason, L.E. (1947). The Economic Organization of the Marshall Islanders. Honolulu, HI: US Commercial Company. Retrieved from http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/ehrafe/citation.do?method=citation&forward=browseCulturesFullContext&col=collection%28%27/eHRAF/ethnography/Oceania/OR11%27%29&docId=or11-020&tocOffsetId=tocPubInfoP

Rudiak-Gould, P. (2010). Being Marshallese and Christian: A case of Multiple Identities and Contradictory Beliefs. Culture and Religion, 11 (1), 69-87. DOI: 10.1080/14755610903528853

Senft, A. (1903). The Marshall Islanders. Berlin, Germany: Verlag von Julius Springer. Retrieved from http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu.ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/ehrafe/citation.do?method=citation&forward=browseCulturesFullContext&col=collection%28%27/eHRAF/ethnography/Oceania/OR11%27%29&docId=or11-011&tocOffsetId=tocPubInfoP (Originally published 1903)

Wedgwood, C. (1942). Notes on the Marshall Islands. Oceania, 13(1), 1-23.

Wells, J. W. (1951). The coral reefs of Arno atoll, Marshall Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 9(1).

Williamson, I., & Sabath, M. D. (1982). Island population, land area, and climate: A case study of the Marshall Islands. Human Ecology, 10 (1), 71-84.