- Takes note that the Federated States of Micronesia has nominated Carolinian wayfinding and canoe making (01735) for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding: Carolinian wayfinding and canoe making refers to the centuries-old tradition of building and navigating long-distance canoes. Communities in Micronesia, and particularly in the outer islands of Yap State, continue the traditions of building the ocean-voyaging sailing canoes from local materials and of navigating, or wayfinding, without maps or instruments. The entire community participates in the construction of the canoe, which begins with the selection and felling of a tree and involves a detailed measurement system based on an indigenous mathematical tradition that is both accurate and verifiable. The carving is done almost exclusively with the indigenous adze. The asymmetrical design supports high-speed sailing and allows access to shallow water. Traditional wayfinders use environmental cues, including atmospheric phenomena, to navigate. Although they have been lost in most Pacific nations, these wayfinding and canoe-making traditions and technologies enabled the settlement of thousands of islands in the Pacific Ocean. The practice is passed on through traditional apprenticeships led by master canoe carvers and navigators. Today, only a limited number of navigators and canoe carvers remain, with few opportunities to pass on the knowledge and skills due to the reduced size of nuclear families and migration to high islands. The element is also threatened by faster transportation alternatives and environmental degradation.
- Considers that, on the basis of the information included in the file and the information provided by the submitting State through the dialogue process, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:
U.1: Canoe building is a community project involving people in various roles, such as carving the canoe and making the cords and sails. Each person is a bearer and practitioner associated with the element. Knowledge is passed on through traditional apprenticeships with master canoe carvers and navigators organized into guilds. Only four such guilds remain. The element is a source of cultural identity and has served the livelihood of the community through marine food-gathering. The skill of the wayfinders is actively reopening traditional seaways. The element does not contravene existing human rights instruments and its practice demonstrates mutual respect among communities.
U.2: Only a limited number of navigators and canoe carvers remain, with few opportunities to pass on the knowledge and skills due to the reduced size of nuclear families and migration from outer islands to high islands for education and economic opportunity. Faster transportation, environmental degradation, pressure on subsistence living and the limited availability of the wood needed to make the canoes are some of the threats to the continued viability of the element.
U.3: Safeguarding efforts include the hosting of a Canoe Summit, Canoe Fest and National and State holidays. Since 2009, efforts have also been directed at engaging youth to learn traditional navigation and canoe making, while a Navigation Club was set up to have elders teach about navigation. The State itself has supported consultation, inventorying, documentation, promotion and incorporation of the element into curricula. A set of safeguarding measures are proposed over a period of two-and-a-half years that address concerns regarding transmission, awareness raising and capacity building. The roles of the State concerned and of organizations and bearers in the safeguarding efforts are elaborated.
U.4: The file demonstrates wide community participation, including the participation of several organizations, municipal and State governments, traditional leaders and master navigators, in preparing the nomination file and in related activities. Free, prior and informed consent is established in the file, given the collaborative arrangement among the communities, individuals and organizations concerned. Some knowledge, such as that related to navigation methods, is secret and kept by the bearers and practitioners.
U.5: The element is included in various inventorying mechanisms on the islands, namely: the Oral History Database (Yap State), Ethnographic Evaluation and Inventory Assessment (Kosrae State), FSM National List of Ethnographic Surveys (National Archives of Culture and Historic Preservation (NACH)) and the Oral History Inventory (Chuuk State), administered by the State Historic Preservation Offices of Kosrae, Yap and Chuuk, and the National Archives of Culture and Historic Preservation. The element has been included in the inventories over several years, as stated in the file, including 2005, 2007, 2010, 2014, 2017 and 2019. The inventory is updated through community celebratory events, as well as through community-based data collection, and may take place sometimes on a monthly basis when the element is celebrated.
- Decides to inscribe Carolinian wayfinding and canoe making on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding;
- Commends the State Party for its first inscription;
- Reminds the State Party that updating is an important part of the inventorying process and invites it to include detailed information in their next periodic report on the implementation of the Convention at the national level concerning the periodicity of updating in accordance with Article 12.1 of the Convention.