How the First People Came to Tobi

The first ruler of Tobi Island and also its discoverer was a woman from Fais called Ramoparuhe. She and her husband Yongoihari and her father Tahabech were fleeing a war on Fais and came directly to Tobi without stopping. Patricio does not know how long it took them to get here, or anything about Ramoparuhe’s mother or about the equipment in the canoe except that she did have a piece of thatch which she used to eat her food off at every new moon. He doesn’t know if they had a crew or not, but he does know that their god’s name was Mabuwat. Ramoparuhe was the navigator.

They landed on Tobi about where the present channel is and Ramoparuhe buried a clam shell in a small hill near the beach. The island was much smaller then than it is now; it was about the size of Helen Reef. There was only one tree on the island, a tree called Moh. Moh is now extinct on Tobi, but they do grow on Sonsorol, Merir, Helen Reef, and maybe Pulo. There were no spirits on the island either.

They decided to go back to Fais for a while and they went straight back, not stopping on the way. After a short stay in Fais, they decided to go back to Tobi and once again they left Fais.

On arriving back on Tobi, they found Souhopit, Ramoparuhe’s full brother. A dispute arose because Souhopit and Ramoparuhe both claimed the island.

Souhopit asked: “You say that you were first but where is your sign?”

So they dug in the hill and found her clam shell, but underneath it they found an old piece of thatch which Souhopit said belonged to him and that proved he was the first to come to Tobi. Ramoparuhe said he had put it underneath her clam shell and chased him off the island. A little while later Tahabech left Tobi for Fais but his daughter and son-in-law remained.

On his way back to Tobi, Tahabech stopped at Merir where he found Souhopit who had discovered Merir after being chased off Tobi. Tahabech didn’t stay long but continued on to Tobi. After several years had passed, Tahabech, Ramoparuhe, and Yongoihari decided to go up to Merir and visit Souhopit. When they arrived Ramoparuhe was seasick so Tahabech asked Souhopit to take her ashore and keep her for awhile. But Souhopit answered that if she came ashore he would kill her and burn her like a turtle. So they turned back to Tobi, where Tahabech left the other two and went to Fais—never to return.

Ramoparuhe had her first child soon after this. His name was Yango and he was to be the next ruler of Tobi.

Ramoparuhe had six more children and from them she made five clans. About this time a woman named Roubah drifted to Tobi from Wolei on a bundle of material used in making mats. Her children became the sixth clan, Haworei, and Yango and Ramoparuhe were in the seventh or chief’s clan.

Patricio does not know the story of the first settlers of Sonsorol but he does know that it was settled before Tobi, and that Palauans used to live there until killed off by people from Wolei. Merir, of course, was settled by Souhopit who was the first king and Pulo had a god named Martaifur.

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Updated: January 18, 2017