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In his quest to preserve traditional indigenous culture in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Beacon College anthropologist Dr. Stefan Krause returned earlier this month from his stint as a speaker and collaborator at a historic Canoe Summit there.

2017 Canoe Summit
Dr. Stefan Krause (back row, left center) with traditional canoe carver Bruno Thargnan (to his right), 500 Sails founder and CEO Peter Perez (to his left), US Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia, Robert Riley (on Thargnan’s right), and other key stakeholders and participants of the 2017 Canoe Summit held in Yap.

The summit was convened in advance of the 8th Annual Canoe Festival in Yap State, FSM to gather several of the dwindling traditional navigators and canoe builders still alive to brainstorm and discuss strategies for safeguarding and preserving their valuable knowledge and practices, Krause said.

Master Navigators and Canoe Carvers
(left to right) Master Navigator Ali Haleyalur, traditional sailor and healer Edmund Pasan, Dr. Stefan Krause, and canoe carver Bruno Thargnan.

An expert on Yap State culture and their canoe building tradition, Krause, who served in the FSM from 2012-2014 as the national cultural anthropologist, explained that with “only a handful of ‘wayfinders’ and canoe carvers surviving today, it is extremely important that their ancestral wisdom is protected before it disappears forever.”

During his presentation, he revealed that after consultations with FSM government officials, he’s agreed to take the lead in the nation’s efforts to have traditional navigation and canoe building inscribed on to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. According to UNESCO, “inscriptions on this list help to mobilize international cooperation and assistance for stakeholders to undertake appropriate safeguarding measures.”

In his presentation, Krause shared thoughtful strategies to preserve this traditional knowledge. He closed his discussion with an ironic observation: that he now too is a “navigator” — a Beacon Navigator, the nickname of America’s first college or university accredited to award bachelor’s degrees to students with learning differences. Later, he presented three close friends and traditional knowledge-holders with Beacon College Navigator T-shirts.

For more information on the 2017 Canoe Festival and Summit, please visit: