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Cultural flag of the Kanak community, showing a flèche faîtière (a spear-like wooden totem monument placed atop traditional dwellings).
Kanak women in Mission dresses.

Kanak (formerly also Canaque) are the indigenous Melanesian inhabitants of New Caledonia in the southwest Pacific.

Kanak comprise 44.1% of the total population states of New Caledonia.The word is derived from kanaka maoli, a Hawaiian word which was at one time applied indiscriminately by European explorers, traders and missionaries in the region to any non-European Pacific islander. Prior to European contact there was no unified state in New Caledonia, and no single self-appellation used to refer to its inhabitants.

Other words have been coined from Kanak in the past few generations: Kanaky is an ethno-political name for the island or the entire territory. Kanéka is a musical genre associated with the Kanak, stylistically a form of reggae with added flutes, percussion and harmonies. Kaneka often has political lyrics and is sung in Drehu, Paici or other Melanesian languages, or in French. The word "kanak" is invariable.

By contrast, "Kanakas" were people from various Pacific Islands, who were recruited or enslaved, to perform unfree labour in places such as Australia, California, Canada, Chile and Fiji (with the inter-Asian slave trade to India, Japan, Malaysia and South Africa) during the 19th century. The German racial epithet Kanake — which is now applied to all non-whites, even southern Europeans in some cases — also derives from the same source, and was originally applied to people from German colonial possessions in Oceania.

Most Kanak are Christian, but a few still follow traditional beliefs. Ethnographic research has shown that Polynesian seafarers have intermarried with the Kanaks over the centuries.[1]

See also

A Kanak woman with "bougna"[2].

Notes and References

  1. ^ Deryck Scarr (1990). The History of the Pacific Islands–Kingdoms of the Reefs. Macmillan Publishers. pp. 13–The Scientific Record of Early Human Beings. ISBN 0 7329 0210 X. http://www.amazon.com/History-Pacific-Islands-Kingdoms-Reefs/dp/0732902096.  
  2. ^ This word comes from the drehu "puhnya" meaning "bundle", "pack"
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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also kanak

Contents

English

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Etymology

1910. From French canaque, probably < English kanaka (a Hawaiian) < Hawaiian kanaka (person).

Noun

Singular
Kanak

Plural
Kanaks

Kanak (plural Kanaks)

  1. Indigenous Melanesian inhabitant of New Caledonia.

See also


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