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AFC’s Community Collections Grants Recipients: Habele Outer Island Education Fund, Federated States of Micronesia

This is an excerpt from a post on the Library’s Of the People blog highlighting the 2022 AFC Community Collections Grant recipient, Habele Outer Island Education Fund and their project, “The Warp and Weft of the Remathau.” Written by AFC Senior Folklife Specialist Nancy Groce, the post is part of the Of the People blog series featuring the 2022 awardees of the AFC’s Community Collections Grants program. Check out Nancy’s full post here, and the first post in this blog series here.

Modesta Yangmog of Asor Island, Ulithi Atoll interviewing master lavalava weaver Conchita Leyangrow of Lamotrek Atoll in Talguw on Yap Island

Modesta Yangmog of Asor Island, Ulithi Atoll interviewing master lavalava weaver Conchita Leyangrow of Lamotrek Atoll in Talguw on Yap Island for the Community Collections Grants project. They are using a warp board as their interview “table.” Photo courtesy of Habele.

In spring 2022, the Habele Outer Island Education Fund in the Federated States of Micronesia was one of 10 projects chosen to receive a highly-competitive Community Collections Grant from the American Folklife Center (AFC) through the Library’s Of the People: Widening the Path initiative. Funded by the Mellon Foundation, the grant program serves to support individuals and organizations throughout the U.S. and territories to document their communities’ contemporary culture and cultural activities. The resulting documentation – in the form of recorded interviews, photographs, videos, and musical recordings, etc. – will be added to the AFC’s archives to enrich and expand the historical and cultural record.

This post highlights the important fieldwork undertaken by Habele’s lead researchers, Modesta Yangmog and Regina Raigetal, on their project “The Warp and Weft of the Remathau.” This year-long study is documenting the knowledge and artistry of women from the Outer Islands of Yap who weave the beautiful and highly-valued lavalava cloth, which remains an essential element in maintaining cultural traditions and community relationships among contemporary Remathau (People of the Sea). Ultimately, the researchers plan to record in-depth audio interviews with 20 master lavalava weavers, photograph the weaving process and, when appropriate, the community spaces and workshops where weaving takes place.

Michaela Sukulbech weaving a lavalava on Falalop Island, Ulithi Atoll. Photo courtesy of Habele.

An artisan weaving a lavalava on Falalop Island, Ulithi Atoll. Photo courtesy of Habele.

Both Modesta and Regina come from the Atoll of Ulithi, a string of the scenic outer islands of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) in the western Carolina Islands. Both are themselves respected weavers of lavalava and knowledgeable about local customs and traditions. They are also fluent speakers of Ulithian – the Micronesian language spoken on Ulithi and neighboring Fais Island – and thus able to conduct their interviews in the language of that best encapsulates the history and complexity of the weavers’ culture. (They are also creating English logs of each interview, but obtaining substantial fieldwork in this previously under-represented language will enable the AFC to expand its holdings of the roughly 500 languages currently represented in its archives.)

Recently, I had a chance to speak with Modesta and Regina about their research…

Click on over for the full Warp and Weft of the Remathau blog post here

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