Cargo Cult

Sat Oct 19 04:36:33 UTC 2002

        The OED has 1949 for "cargo cult," but anthropologists have traced the term back further.  From 1945, and believed to be the first use of the term in print:

>>Stemming directly from religious teaching of equality, and its resulting sense of injustice, is what is generally known as "Vailala Madness," or "Cargo Cult." . . . In all cases the "Madness" takes the same form:  A native, infected with the disorder, states that he has been visited by a relative long dead, who stated that a great number of ships loaded with "cargo" had been sent by the ancestor of the native for the benefit of the natives of a particular village or area.  But the white man, being very cunning, knows how to intercept these ships and takes the "cargo" for his own use . . . .<<

Norris Mervyn Bird, "Is There Danger of a Post-war Flare-up Among New Guinea Natives?" Pacific Islands Monthly 16(4, Nov. 1945):  69 - 70 (quoted in Lamont Lindstrom, Cargo Cult:  Strange Stories of Desire from Melanesia and Beyond 15 - 16 (1993)).

John M. Baker

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