Also known as “John Frum” cults, cargo cults were truly a product of a strange time and circumstance. During World War II, Americans obtained multiple military bases in Oceania and Papua New Guinea.
These bases were close to local tribes filled with people who never saw a plane or Western technology before. When they saw guns and planes, many assumed that the people who they were seeing were deities, all of which were named “John Frum America.”
They believed that the cargo American soldiers brought was filled with magic powers and that radios used for communication could talk to the dead. The war ended, Americans went home, but the belief in John Frum America didn’t go anywhere.
Cargo became a holy item, and they began to mimic cargo items and American mannerisms in hopes that it would convince the “gods” to return. This resulted in cultists marching with guns made out of sticks, tarmacs being built out of leaves, and similar items. Though rare, some areas still have cargo cults today.