[Graphic Header] National Asian-Pacific Heritage Month

[graphic text] Federated States of Micronesia

[photo] A portion of a wall of the Leluh Ruins
Photograph courtesy of Kosrae State Historic Preservation Office

Leluh Ruins (Kosrae Freely Associated State, FSM)
The Leluh Ruins are the impressive remains of what was once the political and religious center of Kosraen society. Archeological and historical evidence suggests this society dates to around 1400 AD when a smaller Leluh society conquered other competing societies and unified the island. The first Europeans who arrived in 1824 were astounded to find a city with streets and canals and with immense walls around the compounds of the nobility, the king and sacred areas. Most of these huge walls were built over 400 years earlier. The capital center of Leluh housed the king, high chiefs, low chiefs, commoners, and servants. The crucial unit of Leluh was the walled compound. There were at least 100 compounds of three types--dwelling, royal mortuary and sacred. The nature of dwelling compounds varied according to the social stratum of the occupant. Commoners had compound areas with no or very low coral walls. Low chiefs evidently had residences in compounds with low coral walls at the west end of Leluh. High chiefs and the king lived in compounds in the center of Leluh, with high, thick walls of huge prismatic and round basalt stones, some of which weighed several tons. Leluh society was perhaps the most politically complex in Micronesia in hierarchical organization--equivalent in many ways to the Hawaiian and the Tonga societies in Polynesia. At the time of European contact the island of Kosrae was a unified nation of 6,000 estimated people. However, European contact brought disease, and by 1870 the population dropped to 200. Leluh was reduced to a hamlet. During the 20th century a large number of Leluh's walls were dismantled, and today walled compounds stand intact only in the center of Leluh Island. The Leluh Ruins possess immense research potential of great value. Because of its size, massive walls with unusual prismatic and block basalt stone, and its canal system, Leluh has been called a "wonder of the pacific" along with Nan Madol (see below) and the Easter Island statues.

Nan Madol (Temwen Island, Pohnpei State, FSM)
Nan Madol, known as the Venice of the Pacific, is a 321-acre central, core complex of man-made basalt islands and architectural remains built atop an atoll (a ring shaped coral island and reef that encloses a lagoon) on Pohnpei's eastern coast. The larger Nan Madol area encompasses approximately 14.7 square miles and includes a reef flat, lagoon and Madolenihwmw Bay. In prehistoric times, the remains of the Nan Madol residential complexes, ritual structures, and tombs formed the seat of Pohnpei's pre-eminent political and religious center during the rule of the Sau Deleur dynasty. Prior to being this powerful center, Nan Madol was part of a small, regional political entity called Dallier consisting of Temwen Island, adjacent reef islets, and part of the main island coast, and later expanded to include all of Pohnpei. According to oral tradition, Nan Madol later became the seat of the Sat Dallier dynasty of paramount chiefs which united all of Pohnpei's estimated 25,000 people. The ruling line was overthrown by invaders led by the cultural hero Isokelekel after Nan Madol had been fully built by the legendary brothers Olosohpa and Olosihpa. Nan Madol's position and centralized system appears to have collapsed circa 1500 AD Ongoing archeological research is conducted at the site to trace the development of the island's multi-ranked chiefly hierarchy, one of the most complex in the Pacific islands. The Nan Madol site offers an exceptional opportunity to examine the relationship between architecture and sociopolitical organization because its history spans nearly 1500 years during a period when political integration of large island segments was occurring. Around 1700 AD it was largely abandoned, although a few people still lived there until 1945. A fitting tribute to the sophisticated technology of its Pohnpeian builders, Nan Madol has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is on the World Heritage List.

[photo] Stone courtyard and exterior of Rull Men's Meeting House
Photograph from National Register collection, by Yvonne Brewer

Rull Men's Meeting House (Yap Freely Associated State, FSM)
The Rull Men's Meeting House, or faluw, is one of the best examples of this culturally significant building within the Yap Freely Associated State. Traditionally, these "mens houses" were used for planning war strategy, rites of passage for young men, and other important aspects of social life, a tradition that is still active today. A village's men, by tradition and custom, are responsible for providing various material for the faluw's construction. Preparation to undertake the actual construction of a faluw requires a meeting of certain village heads of household. After they have been informed, they contact others to begin gathering of needed materials to be ready to do their part in the actual construction process. Building begins after a village construction advisor is called. Of the many factors considered in choosing a site for a faluw, free access to the sea is one of the most important, as this location that would allow for fishing and water transportation convenience. The large Rull Men's Meeting House has a hexagonal floor plan, treated betelnut tree trunks for floor covering pandanus, nipa and coconut leaves for roofing, bamboo reeds for roofing support and coconut fiber ropes for tying. Its steep thatched roof juts out at both top ends. The structure is built on stones which create a raised platform and foundation. This faluw is maintained in the traditional manner. Today, these buildings continue to be used in the same manner for planning many aspects of village and community life. The Rull Men's faluw is a symbol of village pride, ceremonial grounds for occasions of an important and rare nature, a shelter for travelers and visitors; as well as a sleeping lodge for male elders, visitors of high rank and a resting spot for fishermen preparing to venture on fishing runs. Entertainment may also be staged at a faluw such as dancing by the people of the village.

[photo] Historic image of the Japanese fleet in Truk Lagoon, Feb. 4, 1944
Photograph courtesy of National Archives

Truk Lagoon Underwater Sea Fleet (Truk Atoll, FSM)
Truk Lagoon served as an important and formidable Japanese advance naval base during World War II, and today contains the remains of numerous sea vessels from this period. From July 1942 to February 1944, Japan's Combined Fleet operated out of Truk, extending its power into the Southeast and Southern Pacific. In August 1942, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander in chief of the Combined Fleet (First, Second, and Third Fleets and the Sixth Submarine Fleet) arrived in Truk, maintaining his headquarters on board the giant battleship, Yamato. When Admiral Yamamoto's plane was shot down near Rabaul on April 18, 1943, by American aircraft in an ambush attack, he was replaced by Admiral Mineichi Koga, whose flagship at Truk was the Musashi. The threat of an American attack in early February 1944 caused the Combined Fleet to withdraw from Truk on February 10, never to return. The U.S. Navy's carrier strike on February 17 and 18, 1944, coordinated with an assault on Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands, seriously impaired Truk's air force, destroyed virtually all Japanese shipping in the lagoon, and heavily damaged land installations. Truk was now virtually defenseless and the United States decided an invasion was unnecessary. The successful attack allowed plans to be made to bypass Truk and to strike at Japan's inner defenses in the Marianas. Within the lagoon are the submerged remains of freighters, tankers, supply vessels, the Fumitsuki, a Japanese destroyer, and the 1-169, a large Japanese submarine. At least 35 sunken sea vessels lie between Dublon and Fefan islands, and east and south of Dublon island, around Eten, and south to Uman. Today, the "underwater fleet" at Truk, resting amidst an infinite variety of marine life and containing the honored remains of Japanese warriors, is one of the world's underwater treasures. The Truk Lagoon Underwater Fleet, Truk Atoll, has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

[photo] St. Xavier High School
Photograph from National Register collection

St. Xavier High School (Winipis, Truk, FSM)
St. Xavier High School, formerly a World War II-era Japanese radio communication center, is on land that was purchased by the Catholic Church from the local Pwaraka Clan in the 1910s. In 1940, the Japanese government seized the land and assumed ownership for purposes of constructing a radio station. In 1945, when the Japanese were defeated, the American government gained control of the land and the facility. Seven years later, the Catholic Church attempted to regain ownership of the property, but it was not until 1952 that the American government recognized the Catholic Church as the legal owner. That same year, the facility was established as the St. Xavier Seminary and High School. It was listed in the National Register on June 21, 1976.

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Images for top banner from NPS Historic Photograph Collection (Rainbow over Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, by Thomas C. Gray, [HPC-001345]) and the Palau Historic Preservation Office.

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