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A Creek Named Malaita

With broad support, Malaita, the most populous province of the Solomon Islands, a Pacific nation northeast of Australia, has decided to launch an independence referendum. For any American, this story could not be further from interest. In a world of COVID, of mass protest, of China, and of an extremely turbulent election, an irredentist movement in the Solomon Islands seems about as far away as the Solomon Islands. Nevertheless, you are connected to this faraway province. For this event isn’t happening in a void. It’s a continuing story that relies on the same ingredients that affect us, and there are important takeaways and connections that we have to this archipelago.

The Iron Earth of Tulagi

The sky’s constitution was peppered with shiny metal. Up above was a solitary plane flying low. As the Zero approached the tiny island of Tulagi, its Type 97 machine guns lit up with typical fury as they strafed the American Marines on the beach. Later that night, the channel south of the island shook with fury as the Japanese handed the Americans their worst naval defeat ever at Savo Island. So many ships were sunk in this channel that it is now named Iron Bottom Sound after the metal carcasses that lie on the ocean floor.