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Notes on the Geography of Micronesia (Pohnpei): Pohnpei: Photo 48

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Berg's successor was smart enough not to go digging at Nan Madol, but he still managed to get himself killed when he and a few other men tried to calm a group of islanders angry over the 15 days of road-building labor required annually in lieu of taxes. The situation had been inflamed when a German had ordered the beating of one man who was not working hard enough. The whole episode was linked to a major land reform the Germans imposed. Here's the beginning of the story as related in the Handbook of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, a suitably hefty volume prepared for the U.S. Navy in the early days of American administration: "The Ponape trouble began in 1907 when Governor Hahl visited the island from New Guinea and announced to the assembled chiefs that the old feudal-like system based on class distinctions and local customs of land tenure was abolished... Tribute was to cease and those formerly having only limited use-hold rights in land were to become fee owners" (p. 78).

Sound good? Maybe, but along with the program came the compulsory road-building program in lieu of taxes.

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