Piailug was giant in voyaging rebirth
What’s so ironic is that Hawaii could have lost the connection to its indigenous maritime past without the gift of a master navigator who was not even native Hawaiian.
Mau Piailug died this week on Satawal, the Micronesian island where he was born. Rather than take his wisdom with him, he had years earlier schooled a new generation of Hawaiians in the art of charting a course through the seas by consulting the stars.
He embraced the mission and he respected Hawaii as well. On a 2004 visit, he remarked that Kahoolawe, with its panoramic view of the heavens, was known to Micronesian navigators as a guidepost: "They would come here first, and they talk to the spirit of this place," he said then.
No wonder the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the extended family of cultural practitioners here treated this man, who was not physically imposing, as a giant.
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