HATOHOBEI SASOH BA NAWERI
TOBI SAYS NO

Peter W. Black

Village path, Tobi Island
Village Path, Tobi island
Photograph:  Peter W. Black, 1972


Throughout the rest of this story, click on the Tobian to hear Justin Andrew reading it in Tobian.
Click on the photographs to see a larger version in most cases.
Click here for a printable PDF version.



Distad ma ye usuwar fauhur titini fitehiri kafermenteri Panou ifiri marawe yotori Marek.

The person in charge of Palau’s government during the American administration was the Distad.

 


Old Palau District Legislature

Old Palau District Legislature
TTPI Archives: Palau District Legislature, House Chambers. (N-1761.01)

Page 2  






Distad ma heifitehir uruteri faraur kaferment. (1)  
Yetoh kafernor ifiri marawe yotori Marek. (2)

The government’s laws came from the Distad.
There were no governors at that time.

Dancing with flag, Christmas

Men and boys dancing with American flag, Christmas
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 3  





Makisteret ma heikenamari kaferment ma hafatitinini faur kafermenter iwori Hatohobei. (1)
Heifaruh ma hesenkyoh Makisteret. (2)

On Tobi the Magistrate was in charge of government laws.
The magistrate was elected by the people.

 



Marcello Hangaripaii, the Magistrate in 1972

Marcello Hangaripaii, the Magistrate in 1972, with one of his daughters
Photograph:  Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 4  






Heimong Marino Fitihang me ye usuwara titini fitehiri ma hawerewereri faruh, ma fauhuh ma moumou-uh chori faruh.

Chief Marino Fitihang was in charge of the island, the people, and their customs.


Chief Marino Fitihang

Chief Fitihang Marino
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 5  



 

Chief and Magistrate worked together to make sure the people followed the government’s laws and the island’s customs.

 


Saturday island cleanup, East Side, Tobi Island

Taking a break from Saturday island cleanup. East Side, Tobi Island 1972
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 6  






During that time the government ship was very important to the people of the Southwest Islands.


Map of Palau and Map showing Palau's location

Left: The islands of the Republic of Palau showing the main islands of Palau proper and the Southwest Islands of Palau. 
Right: Palau’s location in the Western Pacific

Source:  GraphicMaps.com


Page 7  
 






Mere waafaruhaye ma har yerari yaah hei hapari faruh bitiho ma bita ma Hororo.

This ship was the only way they could travel back and forth to Koror.



The government ship, Yap Islander

The government ship, Yap Islander, in Malakal harbor 380 miles from Tobi
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 8  





This ship was the only way the people could sell their copra to get money to buy the things they needed or wanted.

 

 

Blind Ireneo carrying copra on ship day

Blind Ireneo carrying copra to be sold on ship day.
Photograph:  H. Helfand, 1971

Page 9  



                                                 

 

Mere waafaruhaye ma har yerari yari paserei bitiho ma bita ma Hororo.
This ship was the only way the priests from Koror could visit the islands.

Church on Christmas Eve

Church on Christmas Eve
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 10  
 



 

This ship was the way the government met its responsibility to the islands.



Yap Islander loading for field trip

The Yap Islander loading for Southwest Island Field Trip
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 11  






Waari field trip ma iteri waaye nga hapaupouri fasoruwo haye fari fau retiperi sewa maisarap ma waaye ye ha bitiho hapari faruh.

It was called the field trip ship and came three or four times a year.



Yap Islander ready to depart Malakal harbor

The Yap Islander ready to depart Malakal harbor
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 12  







Hei bitiho ma bita haye hei bitihorimir ma hehapuhuhotuho waafaruh. On it came people coming home to their islands, either to visit or to stay.



Ship's passengers.

Two old men from Sonsorol traveling on the Yap Islander. They’ll sleep on the deck until reaching their home.
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 13  






Hei fitehiri West he ha puhuhotuh waafaruh ba habe paruheri kabure nga he katuh karisini, raes, tabaka ma bar pahur fauhumir ba chori faruh habe paruheri. Paserei nga ye puhuhotuh waafaruh ba yebe fauh misa nga chori faruh habe konfesar–bar pahur hei kaferment nga he bitiho–buris, tahata, chori fitiheri imweri sukur ma hei eisei. Yebe hei Panouchoh ma hei hapeyach  maka he hapuhuhotuh wafaru ra hesahu ba iih hei field trip party–nga mena habe tohotuh hapari faruh nga ha mouru nguchuyehiri mireri ichuru waafaruh nga hasa mouri haberaroh mireri iwori Panou.

Also on it were people from WCTC to buy copra and sell kerosene, rice, tobacco and other supplies; a priest to hear confessions and say mass; and government people, like doctors and public health workers, policemen, education workers, and sanitarians. This whole group was called the field trip party, and its members were Palauans and Americans all of whom, by the time the ship got to Hatohobei, usually were very tired of living on the ship and being away from Koror.


Field trip passengers

Field trip passengers

Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 14  



  
  

Mena haani waafuruh ma haani keheri tipeh chori faruh. Chori faruh hahura ba yebe bitiho waafaruh ngara hetahura haye hatorsur inget ma yebebitiho–ye mena hanera waafaruh yetahipangahi, chori faruh ha tahuwohuwori fiteh ba habe habangini mena habe fauhuni imowari ma yebarachuh waafaruh, ba yebe woh yotori yaah hureni fauhur titironi Hapesang.

Ship day was always very exciting:  people living on the island had no way to know when the ship would appear, so when it did, everyone had to work very hard and fast to get everything done before it left, and still have time to learn all the news from Eang.



Ship day visiting on Tobi
Ship day visiting on Tobi
Photograph: H. Helfand, 1972


Page 15 
 



 

One day the Distad came to Tobi on the field trip ship.

Tobi from the ship

Tobi from the ship
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 16  






Esa fasonguhoto chori faruh ba habe uwohongohong ba yewoh titironap ra ye be hasiyah hataingehir.

He called a meeting of all the people because he had something very important to ask them.

The Abai on Tobi Island

The Abai on Tobi Island
Photograph: H. Helfand, 1972

Page 17  



 

Uruteh chori faruh hasa bitiho irani bai ba habe hasuteringamo mena Distad ye masari ma ye be hasiyah.

Everyone came to the bai to listen to the Distad and learn his big question.

Magistrate Marcello listening hard

Magistrate Marcello listening hard
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 18  



 

Distad ye sa hangerih chori faruh ba yerap sewa paruheni wafaruh ma yebe bitiho ma bita ma Marahar. The Distad said it costs the government too much money to send the field trip ship all the way from Malakal to Tobi and back.

Meeting in the Abai

Meeting in the Abai
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 19  

 





Nga Distad ye sabarasohu ba yehamatahi sewa ifiri hataingehiri kaferment ma ye be hatofiyachah ba mena sukurur ma sipitarari Hatohobei ye be wohochah hanifah ma pitehitehih ba Hatohobei ye tawa sewa ma ifiri Hororo.

Also, the school and the dispensary were so far from Koror, it was hard for the government to keep them supplied.

Kids on way to school

Kids on way to school
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 20  

 



 


Ba unu ma ye be woho yahamat ra ye be hamatahi ma iwori Hatohobei nga hapaupour ma ye be birasipitar, yemara mesechah ifiri wetiwetiri wafaruh.

And if someone were sick on Tobi and needed to get to the hospital, they might die while they waited for the ship to come get them.



Tomasa pounding taro

Tomasa pounding taro
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1968

Page 21  
 





Ye mena ma chapiri ma Distad yemasari ma uruteh hei Hatohobei hebe bita mire iwori Panou.

Therefore he wanted the people of Tobi to move to Palau.


Map of Palau

Map of Palau
CIA, 1974

Page 22  





Distad yesoh ba yemasari ma ye be hariih tot machohori ruhuri Panou ba he be mire iwor.

He said that he wanted to give them some land in Babeldaob to live on.

Map of Babeldaob Island, Palau

Babeldaob Island, Palau

Page 23  



 

Nganachah nga heifaruh he ngutahayahiri mena Distad yesoh, ira nga wafaruhara sewa ra ye be bitiho ma ye be hauhuri wafaruh ra ye be bitiho Hatohobei. If the people agreed to this, then the next field trip would be the final one.

Meeting in the Abai

Meeting in the Abai
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 24  

 





Distad ye hangerih hei Hatohobei ba nganachah nga hou ngutahae ba hou be bita mire iruhuri panou ira nga ifiri wara seyau ra yebebitiho retiperi mahamahaka ye be bito hou be hasini uruteri hapitehitehimi hou sa hasinitah panou. Yechuh ma hou be hasini waami waari faruh, raumi peih ma koko ma uruteri yami patu ma pereiti, ma harami raes ma chowo ma harami wot ra hoube fahiriniwou ma ifiri yami boru. He said if you agree to move to Babeldaob, then a few months from now when the next ship comes we will take you and all your possessions to Palau.  You can bring your canoes and your pigs and your chickens and your cooking pots and plates, your rice and coconuts and the taro from your gardens.  We will bring you and all your possessions to your new home on Babeldaob.

   Feeding chickens   Going fishing   Cooking taro   Cooking taro

Feeding chickens, going fishing, cooking taro
   Photographs: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 25  

 



 


Ye yesabarasohu ba, nganachah nga hou tei ngutahae mere yai mangimengi, ira nga waaye meihara ma yebe hauhuhuri wafaruh ra ye be bitiho Hatohobei, ye tawaibarawoh wafaruh ra ye be bitiho.

But, he said, if you do not agree to this idea, then no more field trip ships will come to Tobi.  Today’s ship will be the last one.

Yap Islander at Tobi Island

Yap Islander at Tobi Island
Photograph: H. Helfand, 1972

Page 26  

  



 

Distad ye sa sohu ba, ihura ba mere tarapari titiro, bito ba hou be uwohongohongoh ma iworumi ma urutemi ye ngangu ra ibebuhou hatauhat ichuri wafaruh yesa bwang isa birong sisa mwayahi ba meta ma hou mouri ngutahae nga houmouri masa ba hou be fauh. Ifirimena ma sibe hura hae waaye meihara ma yebehauhuhuri waa hae meta. I know this is a big decision, he said, so you should talk about it while I go to the ship to eat my lunch.  Then I will come back to get your answer and to learn if this is the last ship or not.

Meeting in Abai

Meeting in Abai
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 27

 




Ye chori faruh hesa uwohongohongoh mena yari Distad mangimengi ma mena yesuh. Chori faruh hesa hasubu yah mangimengi ma yah hau ifiri ma habe fauh.. The people looked at each other and began to talk about the Distad’s idea. They made their decision.

 

Meeting in Abai

Meeting in Abai
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 28  

 



 


Ye ifiri me Distad yesa wehirong ihout nga chori faruh hesa bara wehitafari irani bai, Distad yesa hasiyah chori faruh haye hamouri hasubu yaah mangimeng.

When the Distad came back ashore and everyone returned to the bai, he asked if they had an answer for him.

Meeting in Abai

Meeting in Abai
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 29  

 



 

Heimong Marino yesa suta ye sasoh ba. (1)  Haparu sewa ma hatawahi. (2)  Hei mouri hura sewa mena yamu mangimengi. (3) Chief Marino stood up.  He politely said: Thank you very much.  We understand your idea.

Chief Marino

Chief Marino
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 30 
 



 

Nganachah nga hei sa ngutahey mena yamu mangimengi nga yesa bitiho wara seya, nga yesa hasihemamitah ba heirou mire iruhuri ponou.

He said: If we say yes then when the next ship comes it will take us to live in Babeldaob.

Field Trip Ship

Field Trip Ship
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 31  





Ho sahu ba yechuh ma heibe hasini uruteri pitehitehimemi, waamami ma raumemi koko ma peih ma haramami wot ma chowo ma yamami paturu kook ma pereiti.

He said: You say that we can bring all our possessions, our canoes and our chickens and pigs and our taro and coconuts and even our cooking pots and plates.

 Breadfruit wood dish  Fish hook box   Coconut oil press
left to right:  breadfruit wood dish with pouring spout; box for fish hooks; coconut oil press


Tobi dwelling with gutter  Large fish trap
        Tobi dwelling with a gutter                                              large fish trap

Illustrations drawn by members of the Thilenius expedition in 1908-1910, taken from Eilers, Anneliese, Westkarolinen: 
Tobi und Ngulu.  Ergebnisse der Sudsee-expedition 1908-1910 (II B9, Part I.).  G. Thilenius, ed.  Hamburg:  Friederichsen, De Gruyter & Co. m.b.H., 1936.  Pp. 154, 159, 168, 199; plate 2.

Page 32  





Nga hei sasoh ba naweri ira nga waaye ma yebe hauhuhuru waa.

He said: But if we say no. then this ship is the last one. 


Bird over the Tobi reef

Bird over the Tobi reef
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 33  



 

Ye tawai bara woh wafaruh ra yebe bitiho. He said: There will be no more field trips.

Tobi Island

Tobi Island
Photograph: Barbara W. Black, 2015

Page 34  



 

Haparu sewa ma Hatawahi. He said: Thank you very much.

Bird over Tobi

Bird over Tobi
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 35  
  



 

Hei be mirachah. He said: We will stay here.

Tobi village shore

Tobi village shore
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 36  
  





Hei hura ba yetawai bara woh sukur ngara ngamami hei hura fauhur ma heibe kauh wenoumemi mohori fauhuri miremami.

He said: We know that the government won’t have a school here anymore, but we know how to teach our children the best way to live here.


Everbody helped raise the children

Everybody helped raise the children
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 37   



 

Hei hura ba yetawai woh tafiye ma kaferment yebe fangatiho iyohomami ngara ngamami hei hura fauhuri fitehiri matamatari tafayari faruh.

He said: We know that the government won’t send us medicine for our dispensary, but we know how to make many of our medicines.



     Tobi dispensary                     Hamahi medicinal plant
               
                          Tobi dispensary                                                                                         Hamahi [scaevola] medicinal plant
Photograph:  Peter W. Black, 1972                                                                              Photograph: UBC Botanical Garden 

Page 38  




 

Hei hura ba ye tawaibara woho yamami maneri fitehi cho ma ifiri West ra heibe hora paruheni haramami raes ma yamami karisin ma ufemami ma haramami tabaka, ngara yechuhengarihemami nga hei hura fitehiri ufemami ma hiyemami chob. Faifini Hatohobei hehura hachapari wot ma mani Hatohobei hehura fitariih. Nga hei hura ma heibe hoho peiyon hatohotohori yef ba heibe hori fitehiri haramami ma tariyemami iih nga hei hura fitiheri yangahuru faruh ra heibe horingara habureri yamami haam ba hebe hakane fauhumir nibong–nga heihura fotofotori haramami tabaka. He said: We know we will not be able to sell our copra to WCTC to get money to buy rice and kerosene and clothes and tobacco, but we know how to make our own clothes and mats by weaving, and our women know how to grow very good taro and our men know how to catch lots of fish and we can make cooking fires with coconut husks to cook our taro and fish and burn coconut oil in our lamps to see at night. And we know how to grow tobacco too.

Tobi woven fabric

Tobi woven fabric 
Photograph: Barbara W. Black, 1995

Page 39  
 





(Har ma Heimong Marino yetaisoh ra hehura fitehiri rimeh hachimwaan.) (He didn’t mention that they also knew how to make their own alcoholic drink from coconut trees.)



Climbing coconut toddy tree

Climbing coconut toddy tree
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 40  
 





Ye Heimong Marino ye sasoh ba har mena sewa fauhumir ra hei Hatohobei habe hauboubara werihin ra ye tawai bara bitiho paserei ngara yemohochah ba ngamami ra hei be bita Rosario irani Keresia mena nimariyeri ma nifahafi. He then said: The only thing we will regret is that the priest will not be coming here anymore to say Mass, but we all come to the church every morning and evening to say the rosary and we will keep doing that.



A family in church

A family in church
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 41  

 





(Ifiri mere nga paserei ye hafatafata sewa Distad.)

(At this point the priest gave the Distad a very hard look.)



Small girl

Small girl
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 42 
 





Heimong Marino ye sasoh ba ira Haparu sewa ma Hatawahi, ngamami ra hei be mirachah iwori faruhemami. So thank you very much, said Chief Marino, we will stay on our island.



Chief Marino Fitihang

Chief Marino Fitihang
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 43  





Uruteh yahamat hemireri wetiwetichah ba habe hura meta ma Distad yebesoh.

All the people waited to see what the Distad would say.



People at meeting

People at meeting
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 44  



 


Distad ye sa hasiye: hatosumi sewa mena? The Distad asked: Are you sure?



Palau Supreme Court
Palau Supreme Court
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 46  





Uruteh chori faruh hesasoh ba unga. Yes, said all the people of the island.



Tobi landing

Tobi landing
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 46  





Ye werimihiri mena yaah uwohongohong, wafaruh yesa chuh nga Distad ye tai bengatah mena titini hachuhah chori Hatohobei ma Hatohobei. The ship left right after that, and the Distad never mentioned his idea again.



Bird at low tide

Bird at low tide
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 47  





Ye yesa maham ma maham nga masirap ma masirap nga waafaruh ye chuheri bibitihochah Hatohobei.

But the field trip ship continued to come every few months for many more years.



Tobi channel at sunset

Tobi channel at sunset
Photograph: Peter W. Black, 1972

Page 48  





Hatohobei Sasoh Ba Naweri
Tobi Says No

© Peter W. Black, 2019

  Visit http://www.FriendsofTobi.org/wordweek/tobisaysno.pdf for a printable version of Hatohobei Sasoh Ba Naweri.



Author:  The author, Peter W. Black, is an Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at George Mason University.  He has known the Tobian people since 1967 when he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer on Tobi Island and he has continued to work with the Tobian community since that time.  He has published extensively on Tobi Island and its people.  In collaboration with members of the Tobian community, he continues to work to document Ramari Hatohobei, the Tobian language, and repatriate Tobian cultural heritage. He has lived on Tobi Island and in Koror.  Most of the photographs in this story were taken by him.  He was one of the incorporators of Friends of Tobi Island. He has known the translator of this story, Justin Andrew, since he was a small child on Tobi Island.  He resides in Hawaii.

Translator and Reader:  Justin Andrew has been a member of the Board of Directors of Friends of Tobi Island since its incorporation in 2005.  A member of the Tobian community, Mr. Andrew has a deep knowledge of Ramari Hatohobei and of Tobian culture and history.  His knowledge of Tobian canoe and fishing lore is extensive.   He resides in Saipan. 

Technical Design and Production:  Barbara W. Black, an incorporator of Friends of Tobi Island, is the volunteer webmaster of the Friends of Tobi Island website and is responsible for all maintenance and development of that website.  She has a long-standing interest in the Tobian community and continues to work to document Ramari Hatohobei.  She resides in Hawaii.

 

I hongohong fiyongoye ma iwori Hatohobei ifiri masirapawe sahangas ma tiwobuhuh ma woreih ma waru.
Nganachah nga ye tai hatos, ira nga nawer, hapaupour ma yebe hatos.


I heard this story on Hatohobei in 1968.  If it’s not true, it ought to be.  PWB

Page 49  




 

Taro field with hills to south

Taro field with hills to south 
Photograph by A. Kramer.  Eilers, 1936:  plate 6.  
Photograph of this plate by Barbara W. Black, with kind permission of the ethnographic collection,
Tübingen University. Sammlung des Instituts für Ethnologie der Universität Tübingen