History, Language & Culture Tuvalu

Histoire, langue et culture Tuvalu

The origins of the people of Tuvalu are addressed in the theories regarding the migration into the Pacific that began about 3000 years ago. During pre-European-contact times, there was frequent canoe voyaging between the nearer islands including Samoa and Tonga. Eight of the nine islands of Tuvalu were inhabited; thus the name, Tuvalu, means "eight standing together" in Tuvaluan (compare to *walo meaning "eight" in Proto-Austronesian). Possible evidence of fire in the Caves of Nanumanga may indicate human occupation for thousands of years.


An important creation myth of the islands of Tuvalu is the story of the te Pusi mo te Ali (the Eel and the Flounder), who created the islands of Tuvalu. Te Ali (the flounder) is believed to be the origin of the flat atolls of Tuvalu and the te Pusin (the Eel) is the model for the coconut palms that are important in the lives of Tuvaluans. The stories of the ancestors of the Tuvaluans vary from island to island. On Niutao, Funafuti and Vaitupu, for instance, the founding ancestor is described as being from Samoa, whereas on Nanumea, the founding ancestor is described as being from Tonga.

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