Kitti has always been a place of beginnings. Pohnpei’s founder, Sapwkini, was said to have first arrived at a location in what is now Salapwuk. The earliest traditional religion began in Kitti, and some say, the system of priestly titles originated there as well. The first foreigners to make landfall came on a Spanish vessel sometime in the late 1500s or early 1600s and landed at Sekeren Iap, though they were eventually forced to flee when feasting turned to violence. About three decades later, the conquering hero Isokelekel, who would later overthrow the tyrannical Saudeleur dynasty at Nan Madol and establish the paramount chief system, entered Pohnpei’s lagoon through Dauen Kehpara. The first person to map the island and its neighbor atolls — Fedor Lütke — also chose Kitti as his point of access (though, the experience was not a positive one for him). Over the years, the good natural harbors in the area continued to draw foreign visitors. Whaleships used Rohnkitti extensively and Protestant missionaries found their first success there. Henry Nanpei, perhaps the richest and most powerful Pohnpeian of all time, was from Kitti, as was Luelen Bernart, the first Pohnpeian to ever write a book chronicling the island’s history and legends. Two of the most notorious and influential local chiefs both occupied the title of Nahnken of Kitti for extended periods of time, significantly affecting the course of history.
Today, the people of Kitti continue to set themselves apart and celebrate their strong ties to Pohnpei’s past, utilizing their own form of the language and, perhaps, holding the closest to tradition of any Pohnpeians. You can still visit the crumbling ruins of the state’s ancient past: Sapwtakai, a hilltop fortress that served as the seat of Kepihleng, and Nankeptor, a major political and religious center for Onohnleng (now called Wene) and the place where the “first fruits” ceremonies were held.
This 18 x 20 inch (45.72 x 50.8 cm) full-color double-sided field guide folds down to 9 x 4 inches (22.86 x 10.2 cm) and covers all but the most interior regions of Southern Kitti. It contains:
Kalangan to Miller Benjamin for helping to check southern Kitti place names for accuracy; Danny and Arlene Rosencrans for assisting in the exploration of Kitti’s paddling destinations; Peterson Anson of Pohnpei Transportation & Infrastructure for helping to create the beautiful shaded relief on our maps; Danko Taborosi of Island Research & Education Initiative (IREI) for his considerable support and technical assistance; and the Australian Government for funding the production of this guide.