Comments in random order
In general vocabulary was better than grammar. Grammar was probably the weakest area. Grammar interfered some with comprehension and cohesion.
Watch spelling on essays. A typo is a word with a single letter wrong yielding a misspelled word. A wordo is a word that is correctly spelled put is the wrong word. Like the word "put" in the previous sentence. Spell checkers do not catch wordos.
The object was to write an organized and cohesive essay. Some took the issues to be covered to be questions to each be answered with short answers. This did not produce a smoothly flowing, coherent essay. The essay should have an introductory paragraph, a number of body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Some refer to this structure as, "Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them."
Paragraphs that began "No, I believe that is not possible" and referred to an issue listed on the test did not make sense. The essay has to stand alone, readable by anyone, even those who never saw the test.
Material Culture does not need to be capitalized.
Medicinal plant use is NOT material culture. Food plants are also not material culture. Pohnpei has festivals for yams. The loss of the festivals – of the culture – would not necessarily end its use as food. China has rice festivals, but you eat the same rice without observing the festivals. Food is not cultural per se.
Dances are not ethnobotanical material culture. The costumes however, might be traditional ethnobotanical material culture. Think about Founding Day. The Yapese and Pohnpei campus students dressed in wear completely in keeping with their traditional culture, and did not cover those places that were not covered.
Protecting plants will not necessarily protect ethnobotanical material culture.
We cannot present foods to our chiefs in plastic bags. As long as our traditional social structures survive, the making of coconut leaf baskets will survive.
No one argued flat out that material is dead and gone and good riddance to it. No one argued that material culture should be tossed out. At the same time, my bet is that the day I hand this out there will be scant evidence of material culture present in the classroom either in the form of tradtional attire or baskets or other evidence. I will face a class that has de facto dumped material culture while trying to convince me that it is important.
A more intelligent argument was the one which argued: we will keep some of our traditional ethnobotanical material culture, not all of it, but enough to support the other sectors of traditional medicine, traditional foods, and traditional ceremonies.
There are arguably three things that are aiding the destruction of the ethnobotanical material culture: money, time, and prestige. Call these the three horsemen of the cultural apocalypse. People now need money and modern jobs do not include passing along material culture. People find the foreign ways to be more convenient, to be time savers. It is faster to buy lumber than cut it in the forest. Here money and time intersect: you need money to save time. Some argued that laziness underlies the use of money to save time. Prestige relates to social rank. If your social rank is high, you are unlikely to want to use a canoe to cross the lagoon or ride a carabao to work.
One student wrote, "Money is the root of all evil that may be the cause of the loss of culture." As a general statement of a cause of cultural loss, not just ethnobotanical knowledge, this may be a truism.
One student made an interesting argument that traditional material cultural items have more intrinsic beauty. Which does the tourist photograph, the cement house or the thatched hut? Which is better looking, the coconut leaf basket or the plastic bag? Which makes a nice model for the living room table, a traditional canoe or a model of a fiberglass outboard motor boat? The loss of traditional material culture is a loss of beauty. The student then noted that it takes many people working together to make a hut or a canoe. When baskets are made the family gathers to work together. No one gathers to make plastic bags. Traditional items bring communities together in cooperative ways. This leads to social interactions. The most important social rule in any social setting in Micronesia is respect and honor. Thus the loss of the production of traditional material culture is a loss of beauty, a loss of opportunities for communal cooperation, and ultimately a loss of respect and honor.
The old ways were safer. No canoe ever failed to come home because it ran out of gas or the engine failed.
If beauty is lost, the community is disintegrating, respect is declining, and things are now less safe, why not return to the old ways? This is the argument for the "return to the garden eden," the return to "Utopia." A utopia is a perfect place of great beauty. Ultimately the argument for a return to Utopia is specious: few if any people are actually doing this. The idea may be intellectually attractive, but as a practical matter it is not happening.
If material culture is lost then will no one drink sakau? No, that would not necessarily be the case. Sakau is not material culture, especially when drunk from a glass in market for money. Sakau as a drug may survive, sakau as a cultural ceremony could die. In any case, sakau is not a part of material culture but rather part of ritualistic/scared cultural rites. In the market the cultural use and meaning of sakau are gone.
Citing the love stick as a sign of the preservation of ethnobotanical material culture sounds valid – the sticks are still sold in stores – but ultimately is not true. Apparently no one uses the sticks anymore and they are made only to sell to foreigners. The object has survived, but the cultural use and meaning are gone.
Bear in mind that sakau is not ethnobotanical material culture, nor is medicine, nor food. Sakau is ceremonial culture, medicine is part of healing plants cultural knowledge, and plants as foods are a fourth separate area of ethnobotanical cultural knowledge.
The ngarangar is ethnobotanical material culture and its survival is arguably tied to survival of the ceremonial use of sakau.
You ability to defend the importance of ethnobotanical material culture will vary with your island and your culture. Yap has clearly kept more of its material culture allowing a Yapese to make an argument that ethnobotanical material culture is being conserved in Yap. The ability to make this argument is possibly unique to Yap. Kosraens and Chuukese may have a harder time arguing the importance of ethnobotanical material culture as so much has already been lost and foregone.
Schools might have a role in preserving material culture, but remember the teachers might not know their traditional material culture either.
One interesting idea is to run summer camps for youth where elders teach the youth the culture. Hedger Miguel (spelling?) is doing this with Project LEAP in Wone, Kitti.