The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead: A Historical Analysis of Her Samoan Research

By Derek Freeman | Go to book overview
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8
In Manu'a:
The First Two Months

ON MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 1925, in the company of Ruth Holt and her newly born daughter, Moana, and numerous Samoans, Mead traveled to the island of Ta'ū in a U.S. Navy minesweeper. It was a rough passage, during which she was seasick. When they finally reached Ta'ū, a whaleboat landing schoolchildren capsized when crossing the reef. Ta'ū, a forested, reef-encircled island of fourteen square miles, rises like a huge cone to an elevation of over 3,000 feet. Some seven miles to the west lie the smaller islands of Ofu and Olosega, also volcanic in origin, which together with Ta'ū make up Manu'a. In the mid-1920s, the total population of Manu'a was 2,060. On Ta'ū, there were four different villages. On its west coast were Lumā, Si'ufaga, and Faleasao, with respective populations of 251, 331, and 274, and seven miles away at the northeast corner of the island, Fitiuta, with a population of 346. Olosega had a population of 427, and Ofu, 431. The U.S. Naval Dispensary, where Mead resided with the approval of the chief medical officer, was situated in Lumā, facing west and overlooking a lagoon and coral reef. It was a substantial weatherboard building with a corrugated iron roof. As well as housing the medical dispensary, it provided accommodation, complete with a bathroom, for Chief Pharmacist Mate Edward R. Holt, his wife, Ruth, and their children, Arthur and Moana, as well as for a "young sailor," referred to by Mead as "Sparks," who maintained and operated the radio station within this same building. There was also a Samoan "maid" named Leauala, who made faces behind Edward Holt's back. A

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