The Marquesians are well known for being cannibal tribes. There are about 9,500 people, primarily Polynesians, living in the Marquesas today. Its estimated that when the European ships first started stopping by the islands the population was 130,000. The tribes were fairly isolated from each other, living in valleys that had such steep mountains around them that direct connection between tribes was somewhat limited. On the island we are at now, Nuka Hiva, which is the largest in the Marquesas, the tribes were basically allied on a NW to SE line dividing the island into two teams. These teams were pretty much continuously at war. The explanation given to us was that they didn’t have anything else to do. When the wars tapered off between the groups, then each group had time to have some war bonding time with their closer by allies.
The results of being captured by your enemy were not pleasant. Likely a sacrifice for the chiefs and priests- to eat.
We got to view a Marquesain dance. There has been a concerted effort to recover the old ways and tribal history over the last few decades. These dancers put on a great show and clearly enjoyed what they were doing. And those are real tatoos.
It could have been a contrived cruise-ship moment – but it wasn’t. If you’ve ever seen the New Zealand All-Blacks do their pre-game Haka, it is pretty obviously derived from these Marquesian dances.