The interactive CD-ROM The Canoe is the People explores many facets of indigenous navigation in the Pacific. It developed from an earlier United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) program called Vaka Moana, which aimed to preserve the indigenous maritime heritage in the Pacific. The Canoe is the People responds to one of the goals of UNESCO's Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (LINKS) program (www.unesco.org/links): to revitalize the transmission of indigenous knowledge by strengthening the dialogue between elders and youth.
LINKS uses new information and communication technologies such as multimedia CD-ROMs to stimulate the interest and imagination of youth about their own knowledge systems. The Canoe is the People is thus designed primarily as an educational tool for Pacific youth with access to computers. An overview of canoe building, voyaging, and navigation encourages youth to learn more about their indigenous knowledge by revisiting their communities and renewing ties with their elders—a critical step in revitalizing the transmission of indigenous knowledge. To assist in this educational endeavor, the CD-ROM also includes important museum and book references.
For the intended audience, The Canoe is the People succeeds in providing an introduction to the technical skills and knowledge of canoe builders, sailors, and navigators in the Pacific. It offers a suite of videos, stories, texts, images, diagrams, animations, maps, and photos for each of the five main components of navigation, which are accessible through the main menu. In "Beginnings," the user discovers both Islander and archaeological accounts of the first voyages of exploration and discovery. "Canoes and Sailing" explains the technical aspects of canoe design, construction, and sailing. "Becoming a Navigator" describes different ways in which apprentices learn and remember navigational knowledge, the intricacies of being initiated as navigators, and the social role of the navigator. This section also explains the role of women in navigation. "Navigating" provides an overview of the technical methods of navigation, including steering by the stars, sea, sun, and wind; knowing and [End Page 266] adjusting position; and finding land. "Voyaging and Revival" describes traditionally documented voyages and chronicles many of the voyages of revival in the twentieth century and at the turn of the new millennium.
Importantly, The Canoe is the People portrays the social and cultural significance of seafaring to Island communities of the Pacific. Through video testimonies that describe the spiritual quality of mana and the importance of pride and respect for ancestors, the user gains an appreciation for the Mäori saying, "The people are the spirit of the canoe, the canoe is the spirit of the people."
One of the key features of the CD-ROM format as an educational tool is the ability to animate scientific and indigenous ideas that are difficult to conceptualize using two-dimensional drawings alone. For example, two animations in the "Navigating" section illustrate the rising of key stars over a destination island at night and how the navigator calibrates the sun to these stars as dawn approaches. Another animation shows the progress of a canoe toward its destination island while a navigator keeps track of his position according to the shifting star bearings of a reference island. A wave simulation demonstrates how islands disrupt the regular patterning of swells.
While The Canoe is the People celebrates the similarities and differences among voyaging traditions in the Pacific, it focuses on Satawal, an atoll in the Federated States of Micronesia that continues the transmission and practice of indigenous navigation into the twenty-first century. Video testimonies bring to life several Satawalese navigators, sailors, and canoe builders. In addition to master navigator Mau Pialug, the user...