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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

Homegrown Plus: Traditional Dance from American Samoa

We’re continuing the Homegrown Plus series with a very special presentation of Samoan dance. In addition to the dance video, the blog features an interview with Eti Eti, one of the members of the dance group. The dance video was created by the Student Association For Fa’asamoa, a program of the Samoan Studies Institute at American Samoa Community College. The Samoan Studies Institute’s mission is to ensure and promote the continuity of Samoan culture, traditions, language, and heritage. Since its inception, SAFF has been active in performing the Siva Samoa (traditional Samoan dance), and in teaching and practicing old Samoan customs. For their Homegrown video, the SAFF dancers performed a 30-minute program of traditional dances in several locales at the college, under the direction of Molitogi Lemana. See the video right here in the blog!

Homegrown Plus Premiere: ‘Ukulele Master Herb Ohta, Jr.

We’re continuing the Homegrown Plus Premiere series with international recording artist Herb Ohta, Jr., who is one of today’s most prolific ʻukulele masters. In this blog you’ll find an embedded concert video, an interview video, and a set of related links to explore! We’re very excited to present Herb Ohta, Jr. in the series. Influenced by jazz, R&B, Latin and Brazilian music, as well as traditional Hawaiian sounds, he puts his stamp on Hawaiian music by pushing the limits of tone and technique on this beautiful instrument. The son of ʻukulele legend “Ohta-san,” he started playing at the age of three, and began teaching at the age of nine. Based in Honolulu, he shares the music of Hawaiʻi and the beauty of the ʻukulele with people around the world, performing concerts and conducting instructional workshops. As a special treat, Herb asked his good friend Jake Shimabukuro to join him for a medley of traditional Hawaiian songs. Shimabukuro, also a Honolulu native, is one of the most highly acclaimed ʻukulele players in the world, and has collaborated with many great musicians, including Willie Nelson, Bette Midler, Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Loggins, and Amy Mills. He’s never forgotten his roots in Hawaiian music, though, and was kind enough to join Herb in his Homegrown concert.

Navigating AFC Collections Geographically: U.S. Territories

Staff at the American Folklife Center continue to use new digital tools to support remote discovery and access for our resources by users of all kinds. Whether you are a community scholar, a teacher, an academic researcher, a creative artist, or a curious consumer of local culture we hope that our geographically-oriented research guides offer […]

Navigating AFC Collections Geographically: Pacific Region States

Staff at the American Folklife Center continue to use new digital tools to support remote discovery and access for our resources by users of all kinds. Whether you are a community scholar, a teacher, an academic researcher, a creative artist, or a curious consumer of local culture we hope that our geographically-oriented research guides offer […]

Holehole Bushi: Franklin Odo on the Work Songs of Japanese Sugarcane Workers in Hawai`i

Japanese agricultural workers began immigrating to Hawai`i in 1868, primarily to work on sugar plantations. This immigration peaked in the late 19th century. At this time the population of Native Hawaiians was crashing. As Hawaiians had more contact with Europeans they contracted diseases that they had no immunity to. Sugar plantations, mainly owned by American […]

King David Kālakaua: Royal Folklorist

This blog post is part of a series called “Hidden Folklorists,” which examines the folklore work of surprising people, including people better known for other pursuits. King David Kalākaua (1836 – 1891) is often known outside of Hawai’i by his nickname, the Merrie Monarch, so-called for his patronage of Hawaiian music, dance, and culture.  He […]

How Hawaiians Saved Their Language

At the time that turned the heat of the earth, At the time when the heavens turned and changed, At the time when the light of the sun was subdued To cause light to break forth, At the time of the night of Makalii (winter) Then began the slime which established the earth, The source […]

Recognizing the Service of Asian Pacific American Veterans

The following is a guest blog post by Andrew Huber, Liaison Specialist for the Veterans History Project (VHP). Throughout the month of May, we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage, and remember the contributions made by people of Asian Pacific descent. Those contributions are numerous, from Duke Kahanamoku, who brought the sport of surfing […]

Dance!

Note: This is part of a series of blog posts about the 40th Anniversary Year of the American Folklife Center. Visit this link to see them all! April 29 is International Dance Day, established by the International Dance Council (CID) in 1982 to call attention to the importance of dance worldwide.  So get your dances […]