CANNIBAL NIGHTS Pacific Stories, Volume II

The untold truth of the Wendigo
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For the next four days, the Adventure was trapped in the Sound by alternating gales and complete stillness, during which time the crew 'neither saw Canoe or Indian'. Once the weather improved, they immediately set sail for England rather than making any further attempt to reunite with their sister ship. When Cook and the Resolution reached New Zealand on 13 October , Wales recorded in his own log book that it appeared the Adventure might have already visited. Someone had cut down trees that the astronomer had previously used while sighting, and a bottle containing instructions which Cook had left for Furneaux under a stump carved with 'Look Underneath' had also disappeared.

Wales then wrote a long entry describing the ill ease which built in himself and then in Cook and the crew as it became clear that the Maori on shore were trying to describe a terrible recent event to them:. On our arrival here we met with none of the Natives, nor indeed saw one of them untill [sic] Cap.

I afterward received the same Information from two or three other, different Companies, either in the whole or in part, which made me think it necessary to acquaint Cap. On pointing them out, he questioned them concerning it, but could get nothing from them no[r] could I ever after induce them to talk on the subject. While disturbed by this revelation, the crew maintained normal relations with the local population and remained in the area for almost a month. This incident was not unique in the annals of early interactions between Britons and South Sea islanders.

Europeans were largely ill-informed about the belief systems and perceptions of their indigenous counterparts, and vice versa. In her book The Trial of The Cannibal Dog: Captain Cook in the South Seas , Dame Anne Salmond provides endless examples of this, such as the British mistaking the Tahitians' gesture of dismissal as one of beckoning, and their expecting immediate reciprocity from the Maori who traditionally delayed return gifts 'in counterpoint of chiefly generosity'.

Often when these interactions were not going the way the Europeans intended, they would employ a show of force. For example, in during Cook's first voyage, he directed that muskets be fired upon some Maori when they tried to claim a buoy he was not interested in trading and then had 'a great Gun' fired to make them move further away.

Such actions sometimes backfired, setting off more violent confrontations like that involving the Adventure 's cutter. The deaths in also point to another prominent and problematic theme in Britons' perceptions of and relations with the Maori and other island inhabitants - so-called cannibalism. As authors have explored in recent decades, the spectre of cannibalism haunted fiction, purported non-fiction and exploration as imperialism advanced in areas such as the Pacific islands.

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A number of anthropologists and legal historians now argue that it was largely a concept invented by Europeans, and that the ritual anthropophagy which may have taken place in a more limited fashion in some indigenous cultures, such as mortuary cannibalism, held different meanings for its practitioners than most Europeans could fathom or accept. The invention of widespread native 'cannibalism' seems to have mainly stemmed from factors including the popularity of literary accounts of such fearful practices and reactions against the savage, unknowable, un-Christian and potentially threatening native 'Other'.

British explorers actively sought evidence of cannibalism among the peoples they encountered and reported back about their observations, including to the Royal Society. However, their means of identifying the practice were sometimes suspect. Cook wrote during his second voyage that upon seeing a partial, dismembered skull in New Zealand, 'I concealed my indignation and ordered a piece of the flesh to be broiled and brought on the quarter deck where one of these Canibals eat it with a seeming good relish before the whole ships Company had such effect on some of them as to cause them to vomit [ There are other similar records of explorers miming flesh eating before indigenous people who then mimicked them, which was taken as proof of cannibalism.

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More often, evidence of the eating of human flesh appears to suggest limited ritual anthropophagy, sometimes clearly intended to honour and to incorporate the deceased. Sections of his body were presented to the local kings and chiefs, apparently to incorporate him into their aristocracy, and to his Lieutenant.

The British then tried to determine whether this was part of a cannibalistic practice, asking a number of Hawai'ians how they had disposed of the other deceased men: 'finding them very constant in one story, that, after the flesh had been cut off, it was all burnt; we at last put the direct question, Whether they had not eat some of it?

They immediately shewed as much horror at the idea, as any European would have done; and asked, very naturally, if that was the custom among us?

Brian Simpson have addressed the relatively common occurrence of 'survival cannibalism' among Europeans lost on sea and land without sufficient provisions - sometimes comparing this with the perception and treatment of so-called native cannibalism. The accounts in the Board of Longitude archives about the incident with the Adventure in New Zealand in , are also interesting because they may reflect the somewhat different approaches of the commanders and astronomers of the expedition to the indigenous populations whom they encountered and to possible 'cannibalism'. Cook and Wales were more interested in observing and interacting with the natives than were many crew members and were willing to continue meeting with them even after incidents such as that which befell the cutter crew.

Unlike Bayly, Wales entered keen and often laudatory observations on the locals into his log book. For example, on 14 March the astronomer praised the abilities of the disappeared indigenous people who made the statues on Easter Island , describing how: 'On every part of the Coasts of this Island there are erected large stone Statues of human Figures, half lengths.

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Most of these stand in Groups ; but others singly ; the former stand on Platforms of Stone Work the Majority of which is very neat and Artful, scarce executed, I think, by any in England : no cement is used. Their Complexion is a pretty dark Copper, and their hair in general black where it is not turned brown by the application of a very white Powder which Many of them use as plentifully as any Gentleman in England. Of course, as can be seen in these excerpts, even more enlightened or engaged Europeans such as Wales and Cook as well as Joseph Banks -- who, on Cook's first voyage, eagerly immersed himself in Tahitian culture and returned to England with tattoos -- were still various shades of patronizing, exoticising and moralistic.

Very few Georgian Britons would have questioned the ultimate superiority of their culture and religion to those of non-white populations or would have questioned their right to behave rather presumptuously, and at times violently, towards them. Captain Cook may not have tried to punish or to alienate the indigenous people whom he judged 'cannibals', but his writings show that not only was he horrified by and deeply censorious of their beliefs, but that he was mainly able to set them aside in the case of the Maori because he believed that these 'savages' were 'in some degree civilized'.

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He judged them somewhat civilised in part because of their 'readiness to oblige' and their being 'far less addicted to thieving than the other Islanders' and thought that they would abandon the presumed practice of eating their enemies as they became more 'civilized' and fought less among themselves. Please refresh the page and retry. T he former President George HW Bush narrowly escaped being beheaded and eaten by Japanese soldiers when he was shot down over the Pacific in the Second World War, a shocking new history published in America has revealed.

The book, Flyboys, is the result of historical detective work by James Bradley, whose father was among the marines later photographed raising the flag over the island of Iwo Jima. Lt George Bush, then a year-old pilot, was among nine airmen who escaped from their planes after being shot down during bombing raids on Chichi Jima, a tiny island miles south of Tokyo, in September - and was the only one to evade capture by the Japanese. T he horrific fate of the other eight "flyboys" was established in subsequent war crimes trials on the island of Guam, but details were sealed in top secret files in Washington to spare their families distress.

Mr Bradley has established that they were tortured, beaten and then executed, either by beheading with swords or by multiple stab-wounds from bayonets and sharpened bamboo stakes. Four were then butchered by the island garrison's surgeons and their livers and meat from their thighs eaten by senior Japanese officers.

T he future president escaped a similar fate because he ditched his plane further from the island than the other crews, and managed to scramble on to a liferaft. American planes launched a hail of fire at Japanese boats which set out to capture him, driving them back, and he was eventually rescued by a US submarine. W hen the black hull of the USS Finback surfaced in front of him, he thought he was hallucinating, he told Mr Bradley in a television film made to coincide with the publication of Flyboys. He had been vomiting, bleeding from a head wound, and weeping with fear.

He said only four words to his rescuers: "Happy to be aboard.

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Mr Bush's part in the raid - for which he won the Distinguished Flying Cross - has long been known to Americans. Not known until now was the grim fate of his downed comrades - none from his own plane - who swam ashore. M r Bradley pieced together the horrific truth from secret transcripts of the war crimes trials, given to him by a former officer and lawyer who was an official witness at the time, and the testimony of surviving Japanese veterans. A radio operator, Marve Mershon, was marched to a freshly dug grave, blindfolded, and made to kneel for beheading by sword, testified a Japanese soldier, named as Iwakawa, at the war crimes trial.

T he next day a Japanese officer, Major Sueo Matoba, decided to include American flesh in a sake-fuelled feast he laid on for officers including the commander-in-chief on the island, Gen Yoshio Tachibana. Both men were later tried and executed for war crimes.

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A Japanese medical orderly who helped the surgeon prepare the ingredients said: "Dr Teraki cut open the chest and took out the liver. I removed a piece of flesh from the flyer's thigh, weighing about six pounds and measuring four inches wide, about a foot long. Another crewman, Floyd Hall, met a similar fate.