Pacific ALLIES conducts research in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, by Simon Weiss (A24)

by MH
Sep 01

The Pacific ALLIES team traveled to the Republic of the Marshall Islands after their time in Honolulu to conduct a series of community risk assessments about climate change related droughts on the outer islands and to look at the human factors that influence implementing solutions to these issues. After we finished our 14 days of quarantine on the US military base on Kwajalein Atoll, we were joined by US Army Pacific’s Oceania Engagement Team for the Marshall Islands, MSG John Phillips and SSG Gary Likiak, who were brought on board to help us make connections and extend those connections to the US military.

During our first week, we met and were briefed by dozens of US and local partners who talked about their work and provided us with insights into the challenges facing the Atoll in the next few decades. Our meetings included briefings by the garrison commander, the host nation team, Ebeye city manager Scott Paul, the members of the Kwajalein Atoll Development Authority, the on-base army archeology team, the MIT Lincoln Laboratory radar team, and many more.

We were invited to attend the coronation of Mike Kabua as distinguished guests, and were honored to be included among the festivities of an event that has not happened in generations. In Marshallese, the event is known as “kailoojoj” and is reserved for the crowning of the paramount chief of the Atolls, where Mike Kabua was crowned as “iroojlaplap.”

The island of Ebeye, which normally hosts a population of around ten thousand, had an estimated four thousand guests who attended to see an event that has not happened in the modern history of the RMI. We listened to traditional Marshallese stories, watched traditional dance from the many Atolls that now form the new Iroojlaplap’s domain, and ate traditional Marshallese food including coconut crab and lobster.