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New Caledonia
In Mélanesia, where the society arise not treated on a hierarchical basis and are divided into multitudes of small communities, Heads are not hereditary as in Polynesia, and are selected according to their ability to make live their community ; so they must constantly defend their position.

Mélanésie counts the vastest territories (98 % especially due in New Guinea New Guinea, but with Solomon, Fiji, New Caledonia), the most populated and have d?importantes mining resources.

The concept of ground and tribe is always strongly rooted and respected on the territory. These tribes were regulated by Europeans on their arrival on the territory. France has drawn their territorial limits, organised their power by naming Chiefs of various ranks : here is an extract of a book

"the Chief Teïn appeared, dressed in European, with a white jacket to the braided sleeves . The government indeed had decided that the indigenous Chiefs would have stripes according to their caste. Teïn, Big Chief, have five of them.

Extracts of the novel "girls of Néama" of Paul Block:

"the hearts get out and avenged on the alive ones. Nenegut is the heart of the world ; it is a god, but who deals little with the canaques ones ; it is rather with the devil that they have to make. There are devils, geniuses everywhere. The forests, the rivers, the sea have theirs; they have their retirements and misfortune to who penetrates there: it dies immediately. The wizards see the devils and one should make nothing without consulting them. The wizard go and see the deaths and talk with them. Those are not hidden in the trees but are suspended in the trees or are in the hollows of rocks. They must see what occurs on the earth ; one puts near them food and weapons ".

A tribe in the city.There are "squats" inside Nouméa which have been organised freely for a few years. They are ten of them now, which names respond to a soft "zones of spontaneous habitat" for finally in fact, to recognise them more or less officially. They are installed on municipal grounds, except one of them which is in private ground : one reaches it by the bas of the Veyret allotment, along the road of the Anse Vata, in the heart of the city. These squats are in fact gathered in tribes, with a small Chief who reigns as a Master and makes pay, one says, the royalties due to the community.

On the evening but not only kava and one undoubtedly practises one other exchanges there, like the cannabis. These "tribes in the city" would be the result of variously interpreted situations : installation of kanaks (especially from the islands?) having flied their tribe at the time of the "violent events" of the eighties, or natural migration towards the capital? it is also said that these "takings possession" are encouraged by the freedom fighters who thus make occupy the ground. Surely all of these points plus, plus the unemployment and the difficulty of French adaptation.
By tribe, it should be understood that one cultivates there according to the tradition, like sometimes nearby of the HLM (low rate flats), and that traditional Chiefs rule the community. Two kanak groups are opposed on the subject, because one of them asserts the property by claiming that tribes existed there in the past (what would be manifestly false, but many grounds were asserted thus, and the other, nearer to the laws of the Republic, thinks that one defies there the concept of respect of the property. Reported by the last news, there would be a project of resumption of the private squat with rehousing or displacement of the squatters. But the kanaks balk to move in "HLM" (low rate flat).

Mark of a tribe territory (Northern part, NCtour1 still).

A quite pleasant tribe but all of them are not on this model and one sees some built with breeze blocks and metal sheet in a much more austere natural environment which resemble shantytown. A large hut or a square makes it possible to gather the inhabitants. In the tribe one traditionally cultivates yams, manioc, tarots, banana trees, coffee sometimes which was formerly a source of income (plummeting for various reasons).

Entry of tribe; the hut of the Chief is further, on the right (non visible on the picture). It is a photograph of files and I am not sure that the panel still exists; the essence, surely, did not change: in short, one should not be taller than the Chief (what is also true in our society in a different form : impressive counter behind which the authority dominates, raised armchairs, cushions, are not so rare) . Thus it is necessary to get out of bicycle while passing in front of the hut of the Chief and one saw cases where only the driver of a car can stay at the wheel.

In kanak and French language : "prayer for all people to go down here"

Palaver : it is the rite which regulates any exchange, any project of establishment of anything. The palaver is matched with the habit by which are exchanged menus gifts of courtesy.

I remember a Chief who spoke on his "subjects" showing them his back at the time of palavers.
Why? the sight of somebody collects the attention and one is less receptive at what it is talked about. What think about it? did you notice that the sound of the TV is often stronger than for the radio set ? and that the loss of one of our senses increases the sensitivity of the others ?


Progress first : traditional huts are no longer being built but replaced by breeze block and metal sheet, more rapids to be gone up, more durable and windows of the progress of the white. But more moist too.
It is true that a traditional hut represents a very hard work : To seek and cut wood, then to assemble it, braid the palms for the roof and the interior trimmings, all that for one lifespan lower than two decades.

Flèche faîtière de case de kanala

This one is a small copy for tourists from my collection, donated by a Stone axe Kanak "souvenir", with its dogfish hair and shellfish hangingsCaledonian friend, Patricia. It is enough likeness to the real, albeit very small.

War axe but mostly symbolic ornament pageantry, it marks the rank of the Chief or other important character. It is also known as the "rain stick" because during ceremonies, the Chief was symbolically hitting the sun to make the rain falling.
The true stone axe
stone ornamental axe. For useful axes, a solid wooden handing was made on the tree itself ! one slit apart a suitable branch to put the stone inside, tightly tied. While growing, the wood then fitted itself on the stone. With, of course, some time ahead.

Big feats, woven hats,handcrat, cricket games for popinées (kanak womean), dances "pilou pilou" and "bougna" final (stones oven).

The Kanak culture lean on five elements:

The large hut, the person, spirits, the word, the yam.

The large hut: At the centre of the hamlet, at the higher end of a long alley and on a circular hillock which raises it on the ground, the men built the large hut, symbol of the power of the men who are there and signs of alliances with the close countries; it has sculptures at its top (with shells). The entry is decorated with carved panels, the casings. A very high central post out of wooden of houp supports the roof; it is also the image of the chiefs coming out of the forest, place of our origins. On the alley where the significant events of the social life proceed, one plants also sculptures.

The word is that of the chief; it is the respect of the commitments which are undertaken, sometimes sealed by the exchange of little gifts and "the Kanak currency" (see below).

The yam ; its culture conditions the first food resource; it demands a significant work, whose result is celebrated by great festivals during which all the pageantries and masks are noticed. The dances and the bougna (meal) are the strongest moments, but there are also songs, plays (cricket), hats making...

Kanak Currency : the currency kanak seals an agreement: on the islands, it is a vegetable fabric roller containing plants, and on the Main Land, they are shells (and pearls) threaded on wire of hairs of dogfish.

Photograph of files : what did they become ? there as everywhere youth is merry, curious, open. and full of hopes. It is not sure that the life out of the tribe has been better.

Demography is a strong means to gain. The French government thus encouraged the installation of the colonists and the arrival of the metropolitans to compensate.

Extracts of the novel of Paul Block, "the Broussard colonist "..the market of exchange between tribes of the shore and tribes of the the mountains : "those brought yams, tarots, dogfish, pigeons, fruits, dried mushrooms, roots of magnagna (aphrodisiac), plaits, fabrics (of banyan), long bands of bark of bourao whose women were rolling up several meters around the kidneys. Those of the edge of sea gave in exchange smoked fish, the shells, lobsters, the turtles, the dried or fumed marine cows. But what made the richness of the men of the mountain, was their trees of kaori, essential to the sailors to build their dugouts. It was an object of great covetousness, often of war. One never gave enough, and some times even, those of the mountain required one or more girls ".

kanak Revolts

There has been several Kanak revolts in the past of which the principal one when the colonists invaded the plains with the cattle for the first time. All were violently repressed : it had the merit, if I then to say, to be from a certain point of view, "natural and right", each one defending its asset and sometimes more than the grounds, the freedom of passage. One can understand that perfectly !



The cave of Ouvéa (in the north of the island). One was moved by the serious incidents which had as a theatre a cave of Ouvéa. For a long time, there were disorders, more or less significant. In 1984, according to "GEO", ten men of the tribe of Tiendanite whose brothers of JM Tjibaou, are killed by a band of "small white" thrown into a panic by days of anguish. But with this explosive situation, out of the white this time "whites are killed about which, moderately one hardly speaks. There are always "good" deaths, for a cause known as just, and the "bad ones", victims of repression. The gendarme (4 cut down by a commando kanak before the attack of the cave, then two in the cave), a teacher-however-well-liked killed by an engine of motorbike thrown on the windshield, the severe stones throwing, of the casualties, the revenges and claims of lands making the the "colonists" impossible life, one should not speak of all of that. It is only justice. Except that it is France which had distributed the lands to accelerate their development and which suffered, even if some (arrogant) fortunes built directed all or almost all and still direct. One would forget of them the politics which finance and promise, give advantages of which the first effect is to accentuate the claims.

What could bring colonialism as a positive effect ? the peace, because they were fighting each others at the least occasion and they could not understand either due to a lot of different languages. The French, as the English elsewhere, has allowed them to talk each others. We can add health because they had treatments too and also food because there has been heavy starvation periods. I do not say anything about the progress because it is not obvious and history shows that lot of people had to suffer from illness, alcohol, and now narcotics for that. It is the case for alcohol and narcotics there and a few years ago, you never could see some poor people in the street like that, with what is more unemployment. So, they they are not wrong anytime and they try to preserve what we have lost.


The whole Kanak people is not for the independence and lot of them had to suffer from the "strains" exerted by their "liberators", which conduct them to flee their own villages. Today Liberators are most often tomorrow dictators. Some people look at colonialism as a former image of African repression : proslavery : it is forgotten that kanak are under the rules of to the tribe rules and that they primarily work for the collectivity, the tribe ; productivity is an ignored word and they are not too much liable. You never know if you are going to see them tomorrow at work. Today, work is essentially assumed by whites, Asians, Wallisians and Polynesians. You don't see proslavery pictures in hibiscustour because they are Happy and I did not choose them. Of course, it is better now than before but the pictures of the past show the same thing; but I do not mean that they were the happiest people in the world ! thank you Boss !

Therefore, one can not ignore bad words or usual jokes from Caledonian or even metropolitans working with them.

 They "benefited" (they were a bit theirs !) these last years from a new repartition of the lands and it was a very gloomy moment for the colonist which had to work out with these problems because it was not plain sailing abut instants of violence and tears.

Some farms and village houses have been burnt and liberators complained now that whites does not want to come back any longer, mainly in the most tragic area of Hienghène (tribe of Tiendanite)

There has been a dramatic improvement since I lived there the first time and now Kanak females have now true jobs ; Therefore, there is a priority law for the jobs to be got by kanaks. They speak with you in the street or shops and seem free to do that without any complex. Instruction and knowledge of the french surely explain that.
It can seem a bit abnormal speaking like that now the change is effective but the past is always vivid for a time. And I tell what I personnally ressent.

"Why the Whites work ? Why are they always in a hurry? Why do they take so much sorrow to extract the stones from the mountain and ground which they put in boats? Why so much of effort, concern ? thus one can eat, to shelter and make love, why seek another thing.

"Kanaks work at the season of the yams with their wives and then they walk, fish, sleep. Does the activity of the Whites prevent them from dying " ?


Comments : It is wisdom, and one would like to live like in this way, it is true. And however. Why the kanaks did know the famine before the Whites ? Why did they make (also) the war ? Why are they obliged to rebuild boxes which did not last long ? Why do they claim White wealthy properties ? Why do they want Whites's goods ? Why?

The cannabis grows in Ouvéa but The French cops shut their eyes ; not only in Ouvéa.  Rules of the République don' t apply for tribes.

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