The Republic of Marshall Islands consists of 34 coral atolls and 5 islands, which can be divided into two island chains, Ralik Chain and Ratak Chain (meaning "sunrise" and "sunset" chains). On July 26th from 6 pm to 8:30 pm at the Murphy Park in Springdale you'll be able to join the Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese (ACOM) in celebrating the culture of these islands and immerse yourself in an amazing cultural experience at the Stroll the Atolls event. Learn more about this unique event organized by ACOM and made possible with the help of Crystal Bridges Museum, the Walton Family Foundation, the House of Songs, Ozark Sound, the Shiloh Museum, and the Beaver Water District.
The idea behind this event is to get both Marshallese and non-Marshallese members of the Northwest Arkansas community to come and experience culture: to "enjoy Marshallese food, enjoy Marshallese performances, dancers, music." Besides hosting the main activity—where people will walk from one Atoll to the next learning about each small island and its unique characteristics—folks will also be able to enjoy several other activities: "People will get the chance to see the building of a Marshallese hut. We will have Marshallese men out there building a hut from scratch." Also, there will be a demonstration of a ball game called "Anideb" and canoe rides on the kōrkōr, a traditional Marshallese wooden canoe that was constructed by master boat-builder Liton Beasa last year. "We are known for cultural projects, but this is really pushing beyond the realm of the work that we've done thus far." The event will also feature a celebrity guest: they can't say who, but we were told it is a food critic, journalist, and host of a television series.
Photo by Gomez Zackious
Laelan hopes that this event will leave a lasting impression on the community: "I think it will elevate the visibility of the Marshallese community and create more awareness ... many people don't know about the Marshallese community. They don't know its history. I'm hopeful that the Northwest Arkansas community will come out to learn more about us because a lot of people don't know the the issues we're facing. We'll get a chance to talk about climate change, how that has become a threat to the Marshall Islands, and also the history ... like when the Americans dropped sixty seven [nuclear] bombs on the islands. We'll have all of that there." She believes that Stroll the Atolls will be a great opportunity to talk about these issues, addressing and solidifying the bond between the Marshallese and American communities: "Where do we begin? We begin from when the relationship of the Marshallese and Americans became initiated. I think that's the story: put everything together in one place and one event." Even more, Stroll the Atolls will be an amazing learning opportunity for the younger generation descended from first-generation of Marshallese who came to America; they will also get a chance to learn about this culture to which they hold a special connection.
Stroll the Atolls Dance Practice
Stroll the Atolls is open to the general public. Everyone is invited to come and participate in the many activities to learn about the Marshallese community while having a great time. Learn more and RSVP HERE.
The Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese (ACOM) is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of the Marshallese community in Northwest Arkansas, a population of about 4,500 to 6,500 people in the region.