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(1830-1855)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 230-283, 239-242, 246
Nature god(s) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 87, 230-283, 238, 264
Ancestral spirits Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 251-254
Deified ancestor(s) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 260-283, 252
God(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 232-238, 241-243

Supernatural Punishment

Supernatural punishment for impiety Present (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 250

Afterlife and Creation

One's actions while living can affect the nature of one's afterlife Actions while living do not affect the nature of one’s afterlife (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 247-251, 248
The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife Actions of others after one has died are one factor in determining the nature of one’s afterlife (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 247-251, 249
Myth of humanity’s creation Present, and creationist (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 232-236
Primordial pair Present, and genealogically linked to humans now living (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 232-237
Culture hero(es) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Spennemann (1993), pp. 36-38
Erdland (1914), pp. 230-283

General Features

Forces of nature are controlled by or imbued with the supernatural Present (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 60

Classes of Tapu

Kinship tapu Present (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 198
Resource management tapu Absent (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 29-44, 71-102, 230-283
Social hierarchy tapu Absent (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 71-102, 230-283

Mana

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)
Mana as a spiritual or religious concept Present (Source)
Keesing (1984), pp. 144
Blust (2007), pp. 419
Practice +

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Absent (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 69-72, 230-283,
Costly sacrifices and offerings Present (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 242-245, 253
Size of largest ritual social group Larger than a local community, no larger than the largest political community in the culture (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 230-283, 242
Political and religious differentiation No overlap (Source)
Senft (2010), pp. 15

Rites

Piercing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 15
Genital cutting Absent from culture (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 15-24
Senft (2010), pp. 11
Scarification Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 15-24
Tattooing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 15-18
Tooth pulling Absent from culture (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 15-24
Social Environment +
Population 9000 (Source)
Williamson & Sabath (1982), pp. 75
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

Conflict within communities High (Source)
Senft (2010), pp. 20
Erdland (1914), pp. 89
Conflict between communities of the culture Common, at least every five years (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 70
Conflict with other cultures Occasional, at least every generation (Source)
Hezel (1983), pp. 197-201
Cultural Isolation +
Distance to closest landmass inhabited by a different culture (km) 307.4 (Source)
Williamson & Sabath (1982)
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Distance to African or Asian mainland (km) 4244.3 (Source)
Erdland (1914)
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
Erdland (1914), pp. 1
Subsistence and Economy +

Land-based means of subsistence

Animal husbandry as a source of food Minor (Source)
Hezel (1983), pp. 93-94
Erdland (1914), pp. 29-36
Agriculture / Horticulture Principal (Source)
Hezel (1983), pp. 93
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Minor (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 29-44
Terry & Thomas (2008), pp. 75-79
Land-based gathering Minor (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 29-44, 35
Land-based hunting performed by one or more groups Absent (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 29-44
Terry & Thomas (2008), pp. 75-79

Water-based means of subsistence

Fishing and water-based hunting performed by one or more groups Major (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 29, 37-44
Water-based gathering Medium (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 29-44, 29
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Major (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 29, 37-44

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Major (Source)
Williamson & Sabath (1982), pp. 75
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture Four or more (Source)
Erdland (1914), pp. 1
Google Maps (2014)

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Latitude 9.3 (Source)
Mason (2010), pp. 16
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Kwajalein) (2014)
Google Maps (2014)
Longitude 167.4 (Source)
Mason (2010), pp. 16
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Kwajalein) (2014)
Google Maps (2014)
Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Atoll (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Kwajalein) (2014)
Island Size (km²) 16.0 (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Kwajalein) (2014)
Maximum elevation (meters) 5.0 (Source)
Hunt & Peterson (1980), pp. 1
Post Contact History(1855-2014)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, 202
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Present, and from non-Austronesian societies (Source)
Carucci (1991), pp. 192
Hezel (1983), pp. 198-210
Adoption of a world religion Present and predominant (Source)
Carucci (1991), pp. 192, 194

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)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (American Samoa) (2014)
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)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Marshall Islands) (2014)
Air travel Present and long-distance (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Marshall Islands) (2014)
Sea port Present (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Marshall Islands) (2014)

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)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Marshall Islands) (2014)
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

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.

Encyclopaedia Britannica (American Samoa) (2014). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/20153/American-Samoa

Encyclopaedia Britannica (Kwajalein). (2014). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/325787/Kwajalein-Atoll

Encyclopaedia Britannica (Marshall Islands). (2014). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/366624/Marshall-Islands

Erdland, A. (1914). The Marshall Islanders: Life and Customs, Thought and Religion of a South Seas People. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files. 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

Hezel, F. X. (1973). The Beginnings of Foreign Contact with Truk. The Journal of Pacific History, 8 (1), 51-73. DOI: 10.1080/00223347308572223

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.

Hunt, C.D. & Peterson, F.L. (1980). Groundwater resources of Kwajalein Island, Marshall Islands. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii, Water Resources Research Center.

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

Mason, L.E. (2010). The Economic Organization of the Marshall Islanders. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files. 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 (Originally Published 1947)

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. (2010). The Marshall Islanders. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files. 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)

Spennemann, D. H. R. (1993). Enaanin etto: A collection of essays of the Marshallese past. Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands: Historic Preservation Office, pp. 115-119.

Terry, J. P., & Thomas, F. R. (Eds.) (2008). The Marshall Islands: Environment, History and Society in the Atolls. Suva, Fiji: University of the South Pacific.

Tobin, J.E. (1952). Land Tenure in the Marshall Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin, 11, 1-36. 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=or11-016&tocOffsetId=tocPubInfoP

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

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.