10 U. Haw. L. Rev. 81 (1988)
The Role of Custom and Traditional Leaders under the Yap Constitution

handle is hein.journals/uhawlr10 and id is 87 raw text is: The Role of Custom and Traditional Leaders
Under the Yap Constitution
by Brian Z. Tamanaha*
I.  INTRODUCTION
In Yap, the coexistence of the Western way of life and the Micronesian way
of life is everywhere apparent. Traditionally garbed, bare breasted women sip-
ping Coca-Cola while sitting on the back of a new pick-up truck is not an
uncommon sight. Pole-driven bamboo rafts are used for fishing almost as often
as fiberglass speedboats with forty horsepower engines. The radio station alter-
nates between broadcasting Yapese love songs and American country music.
Though less obvious, nowhere is this combination more intimately woven than
in the Yapese system of laws and governance.
The Constitution of Yap preserves a core group of fundamental rights for the
people, and sets out a government with a legislature, executive, and judiciary.
On the surface there appears to be little difference between the Constitution of
Yap and that of any state in the United States. This article will illustrate, how-
ever, that there are two remarkable, uniquely Yapese, differences. First, custom
and tradition reign supreme, even to the derogation of fundamental rights. Sec-
ond, the three branches of government are subject to the dictates of a fourth
branch composed of traditional leaders. Indeed, custom and traditional leaders
have in some ways gained strength in Yap through incorporation into the
constitution.
Part II of this article briefly describes the background of Yap. Part III elabo-
rates upon the Constitution and its treatment of custom and traditional leaders.
Part IV discusses the interaction between the Constitution of Yap and the Con-
stitution of the Federated States of Micronesia in their respective treatment of
custom and traditional leaders.
* Assistant Attorney General, Office of Attorney General, Yap, Federated States of Micronesia.
B.S., University of Oregon, 1980; J.D., magna cum laude, Boston University School of Law,
1983. The author wishes to thank B.K. Maglaw and the people of Yap for their friendship and
generosity.

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