NationalGeographic.com - Full Artice
For centuries, the Marquesans have preserved their home's rich natural heritage and distinctive cultural traditions.
By Amy Alipio
Photographs by Julien Girardot
The Marquesas Islands are part of French Polynesia and yet proudly apart. You won’t find overwater bungalows and turquoise lagoons on these 12 volcanic islands, six of which are inhabited. Instead, the Marquesas feature green peaks that plunge directly into the sea, waterfall-laced valleys, and dramatic rock spires. In addition to this rich natural heritage, the Marquesans are active in keeping alive distinctive cultural traditions in tattooing, dance, language—and horse riding.
Horses were introduced to the island of Ua Huka in the mid-19th century, a gift from French admiral Abel Dupetit-Thouars, who brought them from Chile. Islanders tamed and adopted them over the years, and they became the perfect transport for traversing roadless valleys, steep slopes, and high ridges. Horses enabled islanders to range widely in their hunt for wild goat and pig, which are traditionally slow-cooked in an umu, an underground oven...
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