March 18, 2009
Over 1,000 years ago, the islands of Polynesia were explored and settled by navigators who used only the waves, the stars, and the flights of birds for guidance. In hand-built, double-hulled canoes sixty feet long, the ancestors of today's Polynesians sailed across a vast ocean area, larger than Europe and North America combined.
To explore this ancient navigational heritage, anthropologist/filmmaker Sanford Low visited the tiny coral atoll of Satawal in Micronesia's remote Caroline Islands. The Navigators reveals the subtleties of this sea science, transmitted in part through a ceremony known as "unfolding the mat," in which 32 lumps of coral are arranged in a circle to represent the points of the "star compass." To master the lore of navigation was to attain great status in traditional Micronesian society.
- A film by Sanford Low, distributed by Documentary Educational Resources