The 14th of July is a national holiday in France, often called la “fête nationale” or simply “le 14 juillet.” In English, we call in Bastille Day, and it is named for a major event during the French Revolution in 1789. As a French Overseas Territory, this holiday is also celebrated in French Polynesia. These islands, including the Marquesas, were colonized by the French, so parades and events held here to celebrate France’s national day bring out complex–and sometimes clashing–cultural layers.
In this photo, Kimi Teikiteetini, who is both a guide and a firefighter, “inspects” this group of school children with their handmade French flags. The Marquesas also have their own flag.
We attended a parade in Taiohae on Nuku Hiva and asked permission to take close ups of some of the most beautiful flowers.
Traditional Marquesan tattoo, called Patutiki, blends with a Tahitian style dress in the foreground of this photograph. In the background, French officials salute each other and the flag. Everywhere during this celebration, French and Polynesian symbols mixed together. Polynesia is a huge area which contains a great deal of diversity in culture, language, music, symbology, and daily life.
The Marquesas are a distinct area, both culturally and geographically, within the larger South Pacific context.