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Te Rii ni Banaba - Backbone of Banaba by R. Sigrah & S. King

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Te Rii ni Banaba (the backbone of Banaba) is a history of the people of Banaba, through their genealogies, myths, legends, customs, culture, sports, music, dance, totems, and magic rituals.  The authors discuss anthropological, archaeological, and linguistic evidence that point to the uniqueness of the Banaban people.

Te Rii ni Banaba, which brings to light new research, including long kept secrets of the te Aka clan, and the successive invasions of Banaba. The Auriaria established Tabwewa District and their customs were distinct from those of the people who preceded them.  Nei Anginimaeao's arrival led to new boundaries and the introduction of new rights, resulting in the emergence of a different culture again.  Then the I-Matang arrived.  First, White beachcombers, blackbirders, whalers, and missionaries came, followed by miners.  The Japanese occupied the island during World War II.  Mining and war led to displacement of the Banaban people, who were twice exiled from their homeland - first to Kosrae, Nauru, and Tarawa during the war, then to Rabi (Fiji) afterward.  Always remote and now decimated form mining, Banaba remains in the hearts of all Banabans who still retain their original culture, as detailed in this book.

Raobeia Ken Sigrah is a Banaban, born and schooled on Rabi and elsewhere in Fiji.  His elders educated him on Banaban genealogies, myths, legends and customs.  He danced, sand, and played Banaba's living culture as he grew up.  He has worked for the Rabi Council of Leaders and represented Banabans in cultural performance abroad.  Until now, he has carried much of this knowledge in his head, utilizing this information in his role as clan spokesman.

Stacy M. King, called Nei Titeiti Naking by the Banabans, hails from an Australian family, who for four generations, were involved with the phosphate mining industry on Banaba.  Led by family interest, she conducted her own research, visiting Rabi for the first time in 1991.  She began to publish Banaba/Ocean Island New in 1992 and in 1993 formed the Banaban Heritage Society Inc, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of history and bettering the lives of the Banaban people. 

Together Sigrah and King have built a vast collection of original documents and research material, and interviewed people who have lived and worked on Banaba.  All the Banaban clans involved in this history have sanctioned their work for this book.  With the elders permission, Sigrah and King's findings are now finally published.  Te Rii ni Banaba offers not only traditional knowledge, but also research.  Its vast number of pictures and diagrams show the essence of Banaba. The book is essential reading for Banabans and all people interested in Banaba's story.

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