An Account of the Marquesas Islands

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William Pascoe Crook

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On the 7th of June 1797, when William Pascoe Crook disembarked from the Duff onto the Marquesan island of Tahuata, he had just turned 22 years of age. At that time, the society which took him in was a traditional one, forced to deal with the natural disasters of drought and its ensuing famine, and the new products brought for trade by western travellers, whalers and beachcombers – particularly alcohol and firearms.- Because he took the trouble to learn to speak their language, Crook became an important witness to these first contacts, as well as to the new everyday lifestyle of the Marquesans, their customs and their aspirations – and their resistance to foreign ideas.- Crook reports the words of Kiatonui, one of the main chiefs of the island of Nukuhiva, who exclaimed : “How can Mr Crook claim to know God, when he cannot even tell one tree from another?“2007