Pacific Island migration and Pacific Island American identities

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Recent work on Pacific migration has moved well beyond a narrow focus on emigrants' experiences within the diaspora. Pacific Islanders' motivations for migration are diverse, but the desire to retain ties to their homeland and kin has long been a feature of their mobility and a crucial aspect of their identity.[1]

Migration is not a new phenomenon among the inhabitants of the many island nations and Western colonial territories that comprise the Pacific Islands. Between about 1300 and 900 BC—or within a mere three or four centuries—the Lapita culture, which was the ancestor of several cultures in Polynesia, Micronesia, and some areas of Melanesia, spread some 3500 miles further east from the Bismarck Archipelago until it reached as far as Tonga and Samoa, from where intrepid navigators later set out to explore the rest of what is now central and eastern Polynesia. Polynesian navigators were famed for their ability to make long voyages across thousands of miles of open ocean. For psychological, social and survival reasons, however, the islanders sought also to maintain ties across the vast distances between distinct island groups.[2] In keeping with the pioneering spirit of their ancestors, Pacific Islanders have continued to settle in new territories and countries. More and more of them now live outside their place of origin.

In 2000 the U.S. Census Bureau recorded as living in the U.S. 874,400 Pacific Islanders that identified as Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, including Samoans, Tongans, and Chamorros, .[3] How the history of these individual groups and their adoption of the Western way of life affects and is affected by the master narrative of American identity, culture, society and history,[4][5][6] and how this ongoing trend affects local matters in their places of origin[1] has been the subject of a number of recent studies.

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Area and San Diego, California area as well the San Francisco Bay Area is home to large Polynesian, Micronesian and Melanesian populations relocated to the mainland USA since the end of WWII.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Helen Lee and Steve Tupai Francis, editors (2009). Migration and Transnationalism: Pacific Perspectives, Australian National University Press.
  2. ^ John Edward Terrell (1997). "Colonization of the Pacific Islands"
  3. ^ Department of Health: Asian/Pacific American Census Facts and Figures
  4. ^ Cathy A. Small (1997). Voyages: From Tongan Villages to American Suburbs, Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-8436-7
  5. ^ Paul Spickard, Joanne L. Rondella and Debbie Hippolite Wright, editors (2002). Pacific Diaspora: Island Peoples in the United States and Across the Pacific, University of Hawaii. ISBN 0-8248-2562-4
  6. ^ Lila K. Booth (2007) "A Profile of Pacific Islanders in Oakland, California"

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