History, Language & Culture Wallis and Futuna Islands
The earliest signs of human habitation in these islands are from the Lapita culture, dating to around 850 to 800 BCE. The islands served as natural stopover points for boat traffic going between Fiji and Samoa. During Tongan invasions in the 15th and 16th centuries the islands showed varying levels of resistance and assimilation, with Futuna retaining more of its pre-Tongan cultural features while Wallis underwent more fundamental changes in society, language and culture. The original inhabitants built forts and other identifiable ruins on the islands, some of which are still partially intact. Oral history and archaeological evidence suggest that the Tongan invaders reoccupied and modified some of these structures. Oral history also preserves a cultural memory of long-standing relationships between Samoa and Futuna going back to the islanders' origin stories.
Futuna was first put on European maps by Willem Schouten and Jacob Le Maire during their circumnavigation of the globe in 1616. They named the islands "Hoornse Eylanden" after the Dutch town of Hoorn where they hailed from. This was later translated into French as "Isles de Horne." The Wallis Islands are named after the British explorer Samuel Wallis, who sailed past them in 1767 after discovering Tahiti. The French were the first Europeans to settle in the territory, with the arrival of French missionaries in 1837, who converted the population to Roman Catholicism. Pierre Chanel, canonized as a saint in 1954, is a major patron of the island of Futuna and the region. On 5 April 1842, the missionaries asked for the protection of France after the rebellion of a part of the local population.
On 5 April 1887, the Queen of Uvea (on the island of Wallis) signed a treaty officially establishing a French protectorate. The kings of Sigave and Alo on the islands of Futuna and Alofi also signed a treaty establishing a French protectorate on 16 February 1888. The islands were at that time put under the authority of the French colony of New Caledonia. In 1917, the three traditional kingdoms were annexed by France and were integrated into the Colony of Wallis and Futuna, which was still under the authority of the Colony of New Caledonia.
World War II
During World War II, the islands' administration was briefly pro-Vichy until a Free French corvette from New Caledonia deposed the regime on 26 May 1942. Units of the US Marine Corps later landed on Wallis on 29 May 1942.
In 1959, the inhabitants of the islands voted to become a separate French overseas territory, effective since 29 July 1961,thus ending their subordination to New Caledonia. In 2005, the 50th King of Uvea, Tomasi Kulimoetoke II, faced being deposed after giving sanctuary to his grandson who was convicted of manslaughter. The King claimed his grandson should be judged by tribal law rather than by the French penal system. As a result, there were riots in the streets involving the King's supporters, who were victorious over attempts to replace the King. Two years later, Tomasi Kulimoetoke died on 7 May 2007. The state was in a six-month period of mourning, during which mentioning a successor was forbidden. On 25 July 2008, Kapiliele Faupala was installed as King despite protests from some of the royal clans. He was deposed in 2014. A new king, Patalione Kanimoa, was eventually installed in Uvea in 2016; Lino Leleivai in Alo on Futuna succeeded after Filipo Katoa had abdicated, and Eufenio Takala succeeded Polikalepo Kolivai in Sigave. The French president, François Hollande, was present.