Jeremy Gast


Education: Bachelor of Arts in history (December 2012)

McNair Project: The Consequences of the Introduction of Firearms on the Culture and Politics of Palau (2012)

Mentor: Kristin Mulready-Stone, Ph.D.

The islands known as Palau were first sighted in 1522, and first visited in 1542. As with every other incident of European "discovery", the culture of Palau would forever be changed. Despite these early visitations, Palau remained largely untouched by foreign influences until 1783, when a British ship wrecked off its coast. The survivors of this wreck changed the culture and politics on Palau forever by introducing firearms. This introduction caused a previously unheard of centralization of power and irreversible shifts in the traditional dynamics of the islands, through which two rival leaders, the Ibedul and the Raklai struggled to gain total control. This rivalry would persist for over 100 years until German Imperialism eliminated Palauan self governance-was in 1899. When Palau again became an independent nation in 1980, the power and importance of the Ibedul and the Raklai that were established in 1783 were still to be found.