Marshalls' nuclear legacy: Country's oral history at risk

12:02 pm on 25 November 2019

The nuclear legacy in the Marshall Islands is having a lingering effect on the handing down of the country's oral history.

A file photo from July 2014 shows an atomic bomb explosion in Bikini Atoll.

A file photo shows an atomic bomb explosion in Bikini Atoll. Photo: STF / AFP

An investigation by the Los Angeles Times has examined the high rates of thyroid cancers in the Marshall Islands, where the US detonated dozens of nuclear weapons in the 1940s and '50s.

A co-author and researcher at Columbia University, Ali Raj, said Marshalls' culture was shared by orators, many of whom had now been affected by thyroid cancer.

"A lot of their cultural continuity, or their history, their stories about their lineages, manuals about going out to sea, fishing, all of that is recorded in song and that's how it has been passed on from generation.

"So, music really binds that society together, and it has really enabled the society to move forward for generations," he said.

Mr Raj interviewed 12 Marshalls artists, who had all been affected by thyroid cancer.

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