July 7 – Independence Day for the Solomon Islands

Posted on July 7, 2016

Today the Solomon Islands celebrate their 1978 independence from the United Kingdom.

I've already talked about the Solomon Islands here and hereand I've discussed such topics as their location, their importance in a U.S. president's life and during World War II, and the unusual blond-hair-dark-skin minority living on some of the islands.

Today I'm going to focus on a few different topics:

  • The tiny island of Anuta is just half a mile wide, but its 300-or-so people are crammed in as tightly as any population in the world. The island is so far from any other island, the Anutans have to be self-sufficient and have to act sustainably.

This sustainable way of life includes treasuring and upkeeping their canoes. Anutans know that wood is scarce, so they have had their canoes in their families for 150 years – or even more! – even though they use them daily or almost-daily!

Anutans have what is called a gift economy. They don't barter so much as give. But they know that “what goes around comes around.” (Naturally, such an economy is much easier to sustain in a tight-knit population of just a few hundred people!)

  • Some Solomon Islanders create grass bands. (They are also called panpipe bands or bamboo bands.) What that means is that pipes are created from various sorts of local grasses, and then a bunch of grass instruments are gathered together into a band! Check it out here and here!

Some of the "grass" or bamboo instruments
are made to blow into, like a sort of pipe (above),
and others are made to be hit, like a sort of drum

  • Shell money is traditional currency – and although it is only used in a few ways, these days, it is worth quite a bit in modern money. Here is a short video about shell money. 

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