The ethnic origin of the Okinawa people is a mystery. Albeit inconclusive, archaeological research has discovered early evidence of Mongol, Malay, and Ainu settlements. Also, modern research has turned up Japanese Jomon and Yayoi influences in Okinawa's cultural history. The Japanese of the mainland and the Okinawan people share many cosmetic similarities. However, as with most island peoples, the Okinawans are distinguished by a darker complexion, and they are generally shorter and stockier in build.
The history of Okinawa is at once a sad yet triumphant legacy to the human struggle of survival and endurance. Having suffered through oppression, servitude and occupation for most of it's past 300 years the drums of the Okinawan people still sound as loud and determined as ever to maintain their uniqueness, strength and dignity.
The earliest records of Okinawa date back to 605 AD where references in Chinese history are found. Okinawa didn't seem of prime importance to either Japan or China so a scanty picture of the island and its people remain. Around the end of the 13th century Kublai Khan (Mongol Warlord) considered strategic designs for Okinawa. He thought it a prime staging area for attacking the mainland of Japan. This campaign quickly dissipated however, and once again Okinawa slipped back into its quiet home in the expanse of the Pacific. During the 13th century the King of Okinawa, Satto, did sign a trade treaty with China which started tribute from Okinawa to China, and Chinese culture to Okinawa.