Two New Papers
Pacific Studies, a multidisciplinary journal on the people and cultures of the Pacific, has accepted my article, “Amelia Earhart on Nikumaroro: a Summary of the Evidence.” The article is what it’s titled: a straightforward summary of the Nikumaroro Hypothesis and the evidence we’ve gathered over the years relating to it. Nothing new, but I thought it would be useful to put it all in one place, and a peer-reviewed journal seemed like a good venue. Pacific Studies can be accessed at https://ojs.lib.byu.edu/spc/index.php/PacificStudies/, and the article should be out in the fall.
And for a bit of balance (or something), the Northern Mariana Islands Council for the Humanities has accepted “Amelia Earhart in the Marianas: a Consideration of the Evidence,” by Tom Roberts, Joe Cerniglia and me. It will be published on the Council’s website -- http://www.nmihumanities.org/ -- coincident with their Marianas History Conference (“One Archipelago, Many Stories”) scheduled for June 14-16, 2012. In this paper, we tried to take a sober, objective look at the many stories that put Earhart and Noonan in the Marianas (usually on Saipan) as a prisoner of the Japanese. Although there are many overlapping anecdotes, reported in various ways by different authors, they essentially comprise eight stories:
- That Earhart and Noonan flew their Electra 10E directly to Saipan from Lae, New Guinea;
- That Earhart and Noonan landed elsewhere in Micronesia and were brought to Saipan by the Japanese;
- That the Electra was at Aslito Airfield (now Saipan International Airport);
- That Earhart (and in some versions, Noonan) was incarcerated at the jail at Garapan on Saipan;
- That Earhart was incarcerated or otherwise kept elsewhere on Saipan;
- That U.S. Military personnel found physical evidence of Earhart on Saipan and elsewhere in Micronesia;
- That Earhart and Noonan died or were executed on Saipan or Tinian, and were buried there; and
- That the U.S. government covered up the facts of the matter.
We briefly examine how each story has evolved, and what evidence supports it, and then attempt to evaluate the basis for each.
One of the interesting aspects of working on this paper is that it’s caused me to dip into the extensive literature on the reliability and vagaries of eyewitness memory – an understandably hot topic in jurisprudential and law enforcement circles, and very relevant to the AE-in-the-Marianas stories, which are almost entirely based on such memories. It was also interesting to find evidence – albeit anecdotal – that some U.S. troops as they fought their way through the islands of Micronesia were actively seeking Earhart, and in some cases believed that she was alive and feeding information to military intelligence. And though we don’t propose an answer to the question of whether Earhart and Noonan wound up in the Marianas, we do conclude that:
“the stories of an American woman in captivity on Saipan…may well reflect something that really happened, someone who really was imprisoned and executed. An effort to identify this shadowy person and reconstruct her story – without assuming that she must have been Earhart – could result in a valuable contribution to the history of Micronesia during the Japanese period and World War II.