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Engineering and Technology Colloquia Series

The Art of Traditional Oceanic Navigation and Land Finding

Presented by: Doug Herman (The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian)
Category: Science Colloquia   Duration: 1 hour and 15 minutes   Broadcast date: March 22, 2016
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The settling of the Island Pacific over 1000 years ago is one of the greatest adventures of human history. Using double-hulled voyaging canoes built with stone-age tools, and navigating by stars and swells, Pacific Islanders journeyed as far as 2500 miles to find tiny dots of land in the middle of an ocean covering one third the surface of the planet. Then they traveled back, and forth, and back, and forth to settle those islands. With no maps, instruments or written texts, how did they do it? Until the 1976 voyage of the H?k?le?a scholars did not believe that such intentional navigation and landfinding had been possible. In this engaging presentation, Doug Herman reveals the intricate arts of Oceanic navigation and landfinding that enabled this amazing feat. Tales recounted from dozens of interviews with contemporary Hawaiian navigators, voyagers, artisans and canoe builders testify to the skills involved in building and navigating deep-sea voyaging canoes.