A Little Exploitation of the Solomon Islands

In the second installment of a series of random posts, I’ve blindly selected to explore an entry from page 1132 of the Webster’s New Explorer Desk Encyclopedia about the Southwest Pacific Solomon Islands.

I knew diddly-squat about the Solomons prior to reading the entry, but I have heard of one of the prominent islands in the chain – Guadalcanal. In 1942 Guadalcanal was one of the scenes of fierce fighting between the U.S. and Japan over control of the strategic island during WWII.   Guadalcanal Diary is also the name of a band I used to listen to in the mid 80’s whose only noteworthy song in my opinion is “Cattle Prod” off the album Jamboree.

The entry says the Spanish “visited” the Solomons in 1568, though I hardly think visited would be the correct characterization.   The Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendana landed on the island he named Guadalcanal after his hometown.  On the island, he discovered a substance thought to be gold.  Believing he had stumbled upon King Solomon’s treasure, he named the chain of islands, the Solomons.   The islands are also known as the “pearls of the pacific”.  Hardly an innocent visit to befriend the natives.

“Explored and charted” by the Dutch, French and British, the Solomon islands became a British protectorate and eventually gained full independence as an island nation.  What of this term protectorate?  Did the Brits offer the islands protection?  Would not the term colonial oppression be a better descriptor?  Protectorate?  From what – active volcanoes for which the chain is known?  Or to protect the indigenous people from the problems  wealth can create as chronicled in Steinbeck’s The Pearl.

Visit and protect – such innoncent terms.  I wonder if the New Explorer Desk Encyclopedia is interested in exploring the truth?

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