Also known as: Santa Cruz islanders

Nendo is the largest of the Santa Cruz islands. The people of Nendo lived in small, autonomous, egalitarian communities. Religion was based on a class of deities called dukna, most of whom were the spirits of culture-hero like beings who lived in the distant past, and some of whom were powerful enough to be considered gods. These beings were embodied in sacred figurines called munga dukna, many of which were collected by missionaries in the early twentieth century.

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Traditional Culture(1875)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Davenport (2005), pp. 14-15, 35-54
Nature god(s) Absent (Source)
Davenport (2005), pp. 35-54
Ancestral spirits Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Davenport (2005), pp. 35-54
Deified ancestor(s) Absent (Source)
Davenport (2005), pp. 35-54
God(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Davenport (2005), pp. 16, 35-94

Supernatural Punishment

Supernatural punishment for impiety Present (Source)
Davenport (2005), pp. 15

Afterlife and Creation

Myth of humanity’s creation Present, and evolutionary (Source)
Davenport (2005), pp. 55-65
Primordial pair Absent (Source)
Davenport (2005), pp. 55-65
Culture hero(es) Absent (Source)
Davenport (1964), pp. 12-13, 35-54, 67-94

General Features

Forces of nature are controlled by or imbued with the supernatural Present (Source)
Davenport (2005), pp. 4

Classes of Tapu

Social hierarchy tapu Present (Source)
Graebner (2003), pp. 110-111
Resource management tapu Absent (Source)
Graebner (2003), pp. 54-143, 110-111


Mana as a spiritual or religious concept Absent (Source)
Blust (2007)
Keesing (1984)
Blevins (2008)
Mana as a personal quality Absent (Source)
Blust (2007)
Keesing (1984)
Blevins (2008)
Mana related to social influence or technical skill Absent (Source)
Practice +

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Absent (Source)
Graebner (2003), pp. 107-126, 142-156
Costly sacrifices and offerings Absent (Source)
Davenport (2005), pp. 35-54
Graebner (2003), pp. 142-154
O'Ferrall (1904), pp. 32-27
Largest religious community Larger than a household, no larger than the local community (Source)
Davenport (2005), pp. 35-54
Political and religious differentiation No overlap (Source)
Davenport (1991), pp. 292


Tooth pulling Absent from culture (Source)
Graebner (2003), pp. 8-35, 128-130
Scarification Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Graebner (2003), pp. 32, 128-140
Piercing Present in the culture as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Graebner (2003), pp. 11-12, 136
Tattooing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Graebner (2003), pp. 32-34, 128-140
Genital cutting Absent from culture (Source)
Graebner (2003), pp. 8-35, 128-130
Social Environment +
Population 3600 (Source)
Davenport (1991), pp. 290
Population of largest political community 100-999 (Source)
Davenport (1991), pp. 290, 291
Importance of Patrilateral descent Medium (Source)
Davenport (1991), pp. 291
Importance of Matrilateral descent High (Source)
Davenport (1991), pp. 291
Polygamy Limited polygyny (Source)
Davenport (1991), pp. 291
Marital residence Neolocal - separate from kin (Source)
Davenport (1991), pp. 291


(No) external warfare Occasional, at least every generation (Source)
Graebner (2003), pp. 107-126
Speiser (1916), pp. 100-108
Davenport (2005), pp. 98
Conflict within community Endemic (Source)
Davenport (1991), pp. 292
(No) internal warfare Frequent, occurring at least yearly (Source)
Davenport (2005), pp. 40
Speiser (1916), pp. 100
Isolation +
Contact with other cultures Frequent, through trade, warfare, travel, etc. (Source)
Davenport (1991), pp. 290
Distance to closest landmass inhabited by a different culture (km) 42.5 (Source)
Davenport (1991), pp. 290
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Distance to nearest continent 2053.0 (Source)
Davenport (1991), pp. 290
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)
Davenport (1991), pp. 290
Subsistence and Economy +

Land-based means of subsistence

Animal husbandry as a source of food Minor (Source)
Davenport (1991), pp. 290
Graebner (2003), pp. 58-60
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Minor (Source)
Davenport (1991), pp. 290
Graebner (2003), pp. 58-60
Land-based gathering Minor (Source)
Graebner (2003), pp. 54-63
Land-based hunting performed by one or more groups Minor (Source)
Davenport (1991), pp. 290
Graebner (2003), pp. 58-60
Agriculture / Horticulture Principal (Source)
Davenport (1991), pp. 290
Graebner (2003), pp. 54-55

Water-based means of subsistence

Fishing and water-based hunting performed by one or more groups Medium (Source)
Davenport (1991), pp. 290
Graebner (2003), pp. 58, 64
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Medium (Source)
Davenport (1991), pp. 290
Graebner (2003), pp. 58, 64
Water-based gathering Medium (Source)
Davenport (1991), pp. 290
Graebner (2003), pp. 58

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Minor (Source)
Graebner (2003), pp. 54-107
Metalworking Absent (Source)
Graebner (2003), pp. 85-107
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture One (Source)
Davenport (1964), pp. 290

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Volcanic high island (Source)
Davenport (1991), pp. 290
Island Size (km²) 506.0 (Source)
Clark & Bedford (2008), pp. 64
Maximum elevation (meters) 550.0 (Source)
Clark & Bedford (2008), pp. 64


Latitude -10.7 (Source)
Davenport (1991), pp. 290
Google Maps (2014)
Longitude 165.9 (Source)
Davenport (1991), pp. 290
Google Maps (2014)
Post Contact History(1875-2014)Expand All +
Religious History +


Use of force in conversion Low (Source)
Davenport (1964), pp. 60
Davenport (2005), pp. 9, 103
Adoption of a world religion Present and predominant (Source)
Davenport (1964), pp. 60
Boerger (2007), pp. 141-142
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Present, and from non-Austronesian societies (Source)
Davenport (2005), pp. 4, 6

Syncretic Movements

Syncretic religious movements Absent (Source)
Davenport (2005), pp. 1-10, 98-99
Davenport (1964), pp. 60
Secular History +

Demographic and Social Changes

Foreign government systems Present, and of high importance (Source)
Davenport (1991), pp. 290
Immigration Absent (Source)
'Santa Cruz Islands' (2018)
Language shift Medium (Source)
Boerger (2007), pp. 129, 145-148
Foreign education systems High (Source)
Boerger (2007), pp. 138-139
Central Intelligence Agency (Solomon Islands) (2014)

Economic Changes

Changes in means of subsistence Medium (Source)
Atkinson et al (2009), pp. 3
Exportation of goods to other cultures Present but minor (Source)
Boerger (2009), pp. 103
Davenport (1991), pp. 290

Modern Infrastructure

Vehicles and roads Present and widely used (Source)
Dunbar et al (2014), pp. 393
Boerger (2009), pp. 102
Air travel Present, local only (Source)
Davenport (2005), pp. 5
Sea port Absent (Source)
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (2009), pp. 180

Loss of Autonomy

Nature of loss of autonomy Largely involuntary (Source)
Davenport (1964), pp. 60
Loss of political autonoomy High (Source)
Davenport (1964), pp. 59-60
Current Culture(2014)Expand All +
Belief +

Religious Demographics

Dominant world religion Christianity (Source)
Boerger (2007), pp. 142-143
External Links
Acord, S. (2009). Yap’s education system combines the old with the new. Journal of the Pacific Circle Consortium for Education, 21(2), 5-15.

Atkinson, J.; Bobogare, A.; Fitzgerald, L.; Boaz, L.; Appleyard, B.; Toliau, H.; & Vallely, A. (2009). A Qualitative Study on the Acceptability and Preference of Three Types of Long-Lasting Insecticide-Treated Bed Nets in Solomon Islands: Implications for Malaria Elimination. Malaria Journal, 8 (199). DOI: 10.1186/1475-2875-8-119

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

Blust, R. (2007). Proto-Oceanic *Mana Revisited. Oceanic Linguistics, 46(2), 404-423. Retrieved from

Boerger, B.H. (2007). Natqgu Literacy: Capturing Three Domains for Written Language Use. Language Documentation and Conservation, 1 (2), 126-155. Retrieved from

Boerger, B.H. (2009). Trees of Santa Cruz Island and their Metaphors. In D. Law (Ed.). Proceedings of SALSA-XVII (Texas Linguistics Forum 53) (pp 100-109). Austin, TX: University of Texas.

Central Intelligence Agency (Solomon Islands). (2014). The World Factbook: The Solomon Islands. Retrieved from

Clark, G.R. & Bedford, S. (2008). Friction Zones in Lapita Colonisation. In G.R. Clark, G.R, S. O'Connor & B.F. Leach, Islands of Inquiry: Colonisation, Seafaring and the Archaeology of Maritime Landscapes (pp 59-73). Canberra, Australia: ANU Press.

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

Daft Logic Distance Calculator. (2014).

Davenport, W. (1964). Social Structure of Santa Cruz. In W. Goodenough (Ed.), Explorations in Cultural Anthropology: Essays in Honour of George Peter Murdock (pp 57-93). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Davenport, W. (2005). Santa Cruz Island Figure Sculpture and its Social and Ritual Contexts. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Davenport, W.H. (1991). Santa Cruz. Encyclopaedia of World Cultures (Volume II: Oceania) (pp 291-292). New York, NY: G.K. Hall & Co.

Dunbar, P.; Mungov, G.; Kong, L.; McCullough, H.; & Harris, E. (2013). Preliminary 2013 Solomon Islands Earthquake and Tsunami Data Report and Historical Retrospective. In Kontar, Y.A.; Santiago-Fandino, V.; & Takahashi, T. (Eds.) Tsunami Events and Lessons Learned. Retrieved from

Google Maps (2014). Retrieved from

Graebner, F. (2003). Ethnography of the Santa Cruz Islands. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files. Retrieved from (F. Schutz, Trans; Originally Published 1909).

Keesing, R. M. (1984). Rethinking "mana". Journal of Anthropological Research, 40(1), 137-156,

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (2009). World Port Index Nineteenth Edition. Bethesda, MD: National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

O'Ferrall, W. (1904). Native Stories from Santa Cruz and the Reef Islands. The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 34, 223-233. Retrieved from

Santa Cruz Islands (2018). Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. Retrieved from

Speiser, F. (1916). Ethnological data on the Santa Cruz Islands. Ethnologica, 2, 153-214 (F. Schütze, Trans.).

Speiser, F. (1990). Ethnology of Vanuatu: an Early Twentieth Century Study. Bathurst, NSW: Crawford House Press. (Originally published 1923).