Descendants of the Mutiny on the Bounty on Pitcairn Island Part 4

About the desendants of the Mutiny on the Bounty on Pitcairn Island led by Fletcher Christian in an effort to build a utopia, how they live now.

Descendants of the Bounty Mutineers on Pitcairn Island

The ship's bell in the square has always been the basic means of communication on the island. Over the years, the bell code has remained the same:

Five bells: "Sail Ho!"

Four bells: Public share out of goods received from passing ships.

Three bells: Public work, in lieu of income tax, for all able-bodied men between 15 and 65.

Two bells: Village meeting.

One bell: Religious services.

The children are taught that they must never, never in play ring the main bell or the relay bell. Ian Ball noted that "the relay bell today has a deep hole dug beneath it, the remedy the islanders adopted when one toddler could not be cured of reaching for the rope, clanging the bell a confusing number of times, and putting the community on false alert."

When the bell sounds 5 times, there is great excitement in the village. The men scurry to the longboats, taking with them their supply of handcarved curios, baskets woven by their women, postage stamps, and fresh fruits to sell on the visiting ship. Pitcairn postage stamps, incidentally, are popular with dealers and collectors throughout the world. Five bells may also mean that medical aid is near, if the ship has a doctor aboard. There has never been a doctor on the island. In the past, if home remedies failed, the patient died. Now the island has a ham radio operated by Tom Christian, 6th-generation descendant of Fletcher, and emergency aid can be summoned if a ship is near enough to answer a call. In recent years the Seventh-Day Adventist Church has required the pastor assigned there to have a wife who is a registered nurse.

According to Ian Ball, the present pastor of the island feels that most members of his congregation regard their origins as "dishonorable history." There is no folk culture and little thought is given to the past. When asked for their own interpretation of why their fore-fathers mutinied, men of some standing in the community answered:

--"Oh, it was the row over the coconuts...."

--"It was all in that Charles Laughton film. It was the cruelty of Bligh.... I would've done the same thing as Fletcher did.... But that's not to say we have any grudge against Bligh."

--"No one here really has strong feelings about it."

Fletcher Christian's hopes for an island utopia never materialized. The Pitcairners continue to face daily hardships and an uncertain future--the uncertainty compounded by France's recent nuclear tests 500 mi. away.

Despite many and constant threats to the continued existence of their community, old residents prefer to remain on Pitcairn. The young, however, seem to be succumbing more and more to the lure of the outside world and talk with eagerness of a 3rd and perhaps final evacuation.

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