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  • Cargo Cults

    After reading about this in a Sci-fi books years ago I thought this was very interesting culture. Another part of WWII that had a lasting effect on another culture. Robert


    John Frum and the Cargo Cults

    Written by Gerry Matlack on February 19th, 2007 at 9:07 am
    From DamnInteresting.com

    "One day in the early 1940s, the relatively isolated group of islands was descended upon by hundreds of thousands of American soldiers who arrived by sea and by air. The world was at war, and America had plans to build bases on the Pacific islands. The newcomers recruited the locals' assistance in constructing hospitals, airstrips, jetties, roads, bridges, and corrugated-steel Quonset huts, all of which were strange and wondrous to the natives. But it was the prodigious amounts of war materiel that were airdropped for the US bases that drastically changed the lifestyle of the islanders. They observed as aircraft descended from the sky and delivered crates full of clothing, tents, weapons, tools, canned foods, and other goods to the island's new residents, a diversity of riches the likes of which the islanders had never seen. The natives learned that this bounty from the sky was known to the American servicemen as "cargo."

    http://www.damninteresting.com/john-...he-cargo-cults
    For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman

  • #2
    The Christmas Spirit Over The Pacific

    "December 15, 2008: For the 57th year, the U.S. Air Force will air drop Christmas gifts (donated by military personnel and civilians from the larger islands) on 68, mostly isolated, islands throughout the Central Pacific. The gifts include toys, medical supplies and all manner of goods that will be useful to the islanders. This effort began after World War II, when military transport pilots flew past these islands and noted the islanders waving at them. On Christmas, the aircrew put candy and other small items in a socks, rigged improvised parachutes and dropped the items to the grateful islanders. Around the same time, American transport pilots flying supplies into Berlin (during a yearlong land blockade of the city by the Russians) began doing the same thing to parachute candy to the kids below.
    But the practice in the Pacific continued, and was related to a curious phenomena that developed on some of the islands during World War II. On some islands, there were communities that had little, or no, contact with the outside world until American troops showed up. It was often the 20th century meeting the stone age. The tribal peoples were generally friendly to the Americans, largely because the U.S. troops were friendly, and generous. The Americans had so much stuff, like metal tools (which the natives found tremendously useful), and they not only distributed it freely to the natives, but left a lot behind when the war was over and nearly all the Americans left.
    On some islands, the natives developed the belief that the Americans, and all their "cargo" (the word the locals tended to use for all the foreign goodies) were a gift from the Gods. The belief was that if the Gods were made happy, the "cargo" would return, delivered by those ghostly looking men. On some islands, wooden facsimiles of C-47 transport aircraft (which often flew in the cargo that the natives eventually received) were built and worshipped.
    While all this bothered Western missionaries, who later came to some of these islands, the annual "Christmas Drop" kept the belief alive in the bounty of the Gods or, at the very least, the spirit of Christmas giving. The transports parachuted the gifts, and the people below waved and smiled, and assured the aircrew that, if they ever got into trouble and had to come down on one of these islands, they would be well received. In the Christmas spirit. That would be a continuation of another tradition, for during the war, many downed pilots were found and saved by the natives, only too happy to help these men who had been so generous with their cargo. The Allies also offered rewards for rescuing downed airmen, but the natives were already acting in the spirit of reciprocity and goodwill. The Christmas spirit, which is alive and well over the Central Pacific. "

    http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htl.../20081215.aspx
    For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by JCFalkenbergIII View Post
      After reading about this in a Sci-fi books years ago I thought this was very interesting culture. Another part of WWII that had a lasting effect on another culture. Robert

      http://www.damninteresting.com/john-...he-cargo-cults
      In the first part of Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel," he talks about a Pacific islander who asked him, "Why do you white people have so much cargo and we have so little?" To the islanders, "cargo" was synonymous with "goods" of any type.
      "There are only two professions in the world in which the amateur excels the professional. One, military strategy, and, two, prostitution."
      -- Maj. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

      (Avatar: Commodore Edwin Ward Moore, Republic of Texas Navy)

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Jon Jordan View Post
        In the first part of Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel," he talks about a Pacific islander who asked him, "Why do you white people have so much cargo and we have so little?" To the islanders, "cargo" was synonymous with "goods" of any type.
        From what I understand the term "Cargo Cult" pretty much came into use after 1945 due to the huge amount of military goods that were left behind also.

        "In the final scenes of the film Mondo Cane, Gualtiero Jacopetti’s original “shockumentary,” we see eager Papua New Guinea islanders clustered around a huge, roughly-made model of an airplane. They are high up in the mountains, sitting on a new airstrip they carved out of the forest. Their eyes search the skies, so the film tells us, for airplanes full of wonderful “cargo” that they expect will soon arrive. But they are destined to be disappointed. No planes will land. These islanders are the misguided followers of a cargo cult.
        Anthropologists, journalists, and others have used the term cargo cult since 1945 to describe various South Pacific social movements. Cargo cults blossomed in the postwar 1940s and 1950s throughout the Melanesian archipelagoes of the southwest Pacific. People turned to religious ritual (which was sometimes traditional, and sometimes innovative) in order to obtain “cargo.” The term cargo (or kago in Melanesian Pidgin English) is rich in meaning. Sometimes cargo meant money or various sorts of manufactured goods (vehicles, packaged foods, refrigerators, guns, tools, and the like). And sometimes, metaphorically, cargo represented the search for a new moral order which often involved an assertion of local sovereignty and the withdrawal of colonial rulers. In either case, people expected and worked for a sudden, miraculous transformation in their lives. Cargo cult prophets commonly drew on Christian millenarianism, sometimes conflating the arrival of cargo with Christ’s second coming and Judgment Day (locally often called “Last Day”). Among the most notable cargo cults are the John Frum and Nagriamel movements of Vanuatu, the Christian Fellowship Church of the Solomon Islands, and the Paliau and Yali movements, Hahalis Welfare Society, Pomio Kivung, and Peli Association of Papua New Guinea."


        And I forgot to post the series I mentioned.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dream_Park

        Robert
        For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Jon Jordan View Post
          In the first part of Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel," he talks about a Pacific islander who asked him, "Why do you white people have so much cargo and we have so little?" To the islanders, "cargo" was synonymous with "goods" of any type.
          Hi, Jon. I saw that one as well but wasn't too convinced by his conclusions. What did you think? Also, have you read the book, and if so is it worth the time?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by JCFalkenbergIII View Post
            The Christmas Spirit Over The Pacific

            "December 15, 2008: For the 57th year, the U.S. Air Force will air drop Christmas gifts (donated by military personnel and civilians from the larger islands) on 68, mostly isolated, islands throughout the Central Pacific. The gifts include toys, medical supplies and all manner of goods that will be useful to the islanders. This effort began after World War II, when military transport pilots flew past these islands and noted the islanders waving at them. On Christmas, the aircrew put candy and other small items in a socks, rigged improvised parachutes and dropped the items to the grateful islanders. Around the same time, American transport pilots flying supplies into Berlin (during a yearlong land blockade of the city by the Russians) began doing the same thing to parachute candy to the kids below.
            But the practice in the Pacific continued, and was related to a curious phenomena that developed on some of the islands during World War II. On some islands, there were communities that had little, or no, contact with the outside world until American troops showed up. It was often the 20th century meeting the stone age. The tribal peoples were generally friendly to the Americans, largely because the U.S. troops were friendly, and generous. The Americans had so much stuff, like metal tools (which the natives found tremendously useful), and they not only distributed it freely to the natives, but left a lot behind when the war was over and nearly all the Americans left.
            On some islands, the natives developed the belief that the Americans, and all their "cargo" (the word the locals tended to use for all the foreign goodies) were a gift from the Gods. The belief was that if the Gods were made happy, the "cargo" would return, delivered by those ghostly looking men. On some islands, wooden facsimiles of C-47 transport aircraft (which often flew in the cargo that the natives eventually received) were built and worshipped.
            While all this bothered Western missionaries, who later came to some of these islands, the annual "Christmas Drop" kept the belief alive in the bounty of the Gods or, at the very least, the spirit of Christmas giving. The transports parachuted the gifts, and the people below waved and smiled, and assured the aircrew that, if they ever got into trouble and had to come down on one of these islands, they would be well received. In the Christmas spirit. That would be a continuation of another tradition, for during the war, many downed pilots were found and saved by the natives, only too happy to help these men who had been so generous with their cargo. The Allies also offered rewards for rescuing downed airmen, but the natives were already acting in the spirit of reciprocity and goodwill. The Christmas spirit, which is alive and well over the Central Pacific. "

            http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htl.../20081215.aspx
            That's very interesting. I've read in several Pacific airwar books that one reason the allies were able to rescue so many pilots was good treatment of the local populace, especially compared to the Japanese.

            Comment


            • #7
              That is true. Quite a few owe their lives to them. Kennedy was another for example. Robert
              For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman

              Comment


              • #8
                Good thing I found this thread, I was just about to post this article. I discovered this cult while on the computer at work, after doing a quick 10 most bizarre cults.

                The reason the islanders believed the "cargo" brought to the island in WW2 was meant for them, was because the shady figure "John Frum" told them that they had to remove themselves of all western possessions, and return to their traditional way of life. In return the prophecy made by John Frum said they would receive the same wealth the white men had. Naturally the cargo brought to the island during WW2 seemed to complete the prophecy.

                Now the islander try to attract planes and boats to return and bring more cargo:

                The hold mock military style parades


                And have constructed landing strips and communication towers from coconuts and straw:


                “Come and take it!"

                Comment


                • #9
                  It's an interesting phenomenon.
                  Last edited by Jon Jordan; 29 Jul 10, 14:43.
                  "There are only two professions in the world in which the amateur excels the professional. One, military strategy, and, two, prostitution."
                  -- Maj. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

                  (Avatar: Commodore Edwin Ward Moore, Republic of Texas Navy)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by llkinak View Post
                    Hi, Jon. I saw that one as well but wasn't too convinced by his conclusions. What did you think? Also, have you read the book, and if so is it worth the time?
                    Sorry for the delay responding. It is an outstanding book. I don't know that I agree 100 percent, but it is both entertaining and informative as it deals with the really big picture, about how civilizations and technology develop. (For instance, how the Incas had beasts of burden but no wheeled vehicles, while the Aztecs, just several hundred miles to the north, had two-wheeled carts to use as childrens' toys but no animals to pull them. Another example of conscious technological backwardness is what I'm using now: a QWERTY keyboard, designed in the days of manual typewriters when keys would stick if you typed too fast - ergo, most often used letters (a,s,e,r,t) are keys for the traditionally non-dominant left hand. There are faster keyboards, but we don't like to use them.)

                    I think the broader conclusions are the most interesting - societies that moved to agriculture sooner (typically those along the temperate latitudes) became dominant. The reason: crops enable one family to feed several families, and those other families not needed for food production can take up specialties and become warriors, merchants, politicians, scientists, etc.
                    Last edited by Jon Jordan; 29 Jul 10, 14:54.
                    "There are only two professions in the world in which the amateur excels the professional. One, military strategy, and, two, prostitution."
                    -- Maj. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

                    (Avatar: Commodore Edwin Ward Moore, Republic of Texas Navy)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I found this a good read on the subject too,

                      50 Years Ago: Cargo Cults of Melanesia

                      http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...ults-melanesia

                      Robert
                      For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        steel drums

                        I once saw a television program that showed the creation of the steel drum as a musical instrument. According to this show, the now-familiar steel drum that creates the unique sound associated with the Pacific islands was created by islanders using empty steel drums (containers) left behind by US troops. The instrument is now played world-wide and is usually available at any major musical instrument store in the US.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Not sure if you know of Paul Theroux's book 'The Happy Isles of Oceania'. It is a travel book of his trip through the pacific in 90/91 and he came across many tribes that were waiting for Frum to return and still worshipped him, believing he would come back soon. They actually beleived that as the Gulf War was about to kick off (at the time people were worrying it would escalate) it would come to the Pacific like WW2 and they were scared. But alos it would bring Jogn Frum back.

                          Theroux was actually lucky enough to witness some ritual dances from the cult though it is a touchy subject and alot of it is considered 'taboo' and so cannot be shown to outsiders.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I forgot to mention I found the book again in a local used book store and re- read it . . I had forgotten how much I liked it. Robert

                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dream_Park
                            For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Interesting Stuff. Any nominations on what our cargo cults are? Western Societies looking for riches in processes they do not understand? Futures or Currency Trading anyone?





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                              Last edited by Chukka; 01 Aug 10, 19:31.
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