In traditional times, the Yapese people did not have specialized medical practitioners. In every family, members who had knowledge of magic associated with controlling weather, warfare, or fishing, also had knowledge in terms of health and disease.
These magicians gained prestige based upon the effectiveness of their knowledge in curing those who were ill or in aborting or controlling potential disasters in nature. Today, few Yapese use herbal medicines; most rely on the local hospital.
Death & Afterlife
A funeral is the most important life-cycle event in Yap. Even for an ordinary family member, it is a time to gather the most distant relations from the various parts of the islands. Everyone who comes brings gifts of cigarettes, food, money, or liquor in support of the mourning family. Family members prepare the body and wait for guests for three days. In some cases, the funeral concludes with a Christian service and the deceased is buried either in a church burial ground or an ancestral plot. About one month after the burial, the family members repay their guests by sponsoring a large party. The funeral and the following party re-establish kinship ties among dispersed relations.