September 11, 1671

Every September 11th since September 11, 2001 has a surreal quality to it. As if in a world where history repeats and meaning is always muddled, somehow the events of that day achieved a special, extra level of meaning for those that were alive and of age to experience it. At least this is what they say, and how true this seems depends a lot on your relationship to the US and what type of imaginary tissue connects you to it. 

9/11 always means another set of memorial or retrospectives. These commemorative acts help us lock in a particular narrative for conceiving what happened that day, what it means, and whether or not we allow any understanding of events that helped led to that attack. At these memorials people recall where they were when they learned of the attacks and reminders of how scared they were, but how America rose again from those ashes.  Mixed into this naturally is a lot of what you might call blind patriotism or shallow patriotism. September 11th, as the US sees it and…

IG GA June 2019

Independent Guåhan will present on the risks of drafting a constitution as a territory and honor the late Lt. Governor Frank F. Blas for June GA
For Immediate Release, June 18, 2019- Independent Guåhan (IG) invites the public to attend their upcoming General Assembly (GA) to take place on Thursday, June 27th,  from 6:00-7:30 pm at the Main Pavilion of the Chamorro Village in Hagåtña. This GA will focus on the risks involved should Guam decide to pass a constitution as a territory of the US. As part of this educational focus, the group will honor as maga’taotao the late Lt. Governor of Guam Frank F. Blas. 
Following the passage of a federal law that enabled Guam to draft a local constitution, the second Guam Constitutional Convention (ConCon) was held in 1977. A constitution was drafted and approved by the US federal government; however, it was rejected at a 4-1 margin by the voters of Guam. There are many reasons why the draft constitution was rejected, but many of them stemmed from the…

The Future Fire Interview

Last year a graphic story that I wrote titled "I Sindålu" was published in the creative anthology Pacific Monstersedited by Margret Helgadottir. It was a fun story, that I thankfully got to write in the Chamoru language, with English translations. It tells the story of a Chamoru soldier who is dealing with the trauma of what he experienced while being deployed in a foreign land. He comes home to Guam and live in a ranch at the edge of the jungle, and begins to feel menaced by the spirits of his ancestors, the taotaomo'na.

I really liked writing this story and was happy to see it in print, but I am terrible at promoting things, especially if I'm the one who created it (ai lokkue'). Here is an interview that I did with the website The Future Fire.

Sunday, 6 May 2018Interview with Michael Lujan BevacquaThe Future Fire May 2018 In the last in our series of five inter…

A Family With Any Other Name...

I put this together for a Chamoru language curriculum project I was working on a few years ago. It was meant to be an appendix to go along with other cultural components about learning Chamoru. The list started with the work of Malia Ramirez and then I added on a few more here and there. It is by no means meant to be exhaustive or complete. Chamoru family names are still evolving, although perhaps not at the rate they have previously. For every Chamoru, there are a number of names they can claim, but unless they are running for office, tend to only invoke one or two when representing their identity. 
I returned to this list recently while discussing the topic in one of my Chamoru language classes. For many Chamorus in the states or who grow up on Guam without much emphasis on their heritage, they assume that their "family name" is their last name. I have had many troubling conversations with young people who assert that their clan name is "Leon Guerrero" or "Pe…

These Times, These Manhoben

Ti å'amko' yu' trabiha hun, lao ti enao i sinientete-ku. 
I am a little over a year from 40 years of age. The closer I get to 40, the closer I get reflective and ruminate on things. The closer I get to 40, the more I try to make sense of things I've been through and the more I try to figure out what impact, if any I've had on Guam or in general. 
I sanhilo' i sabåna muna'lagefpågo i intan påpa'. 

Whether my reflections yield things to make me cringe, smile, laugh, shake my head or want to hide away in Yokoi's Cave, changes daily. As someone who studies Guam history I can see places where I, working with other have definitely had an impact. I can see ways in which I haven't succeeded in certain goals, I have seen places where I have changed my goals as the island has changed. 
I barångka muna'kåpas hao salamanka. 
Robert Underwood once told me that while he was a young Chamoru faculty member at the University of Guam, a white professor chast…

Direchon i Manggayero

This is a list of items that Independent Guåhan made a few months back following the federal ban on cockfighting in the US territories. That was a very interesting time for IG and for me, since a certain part of the Guam/Chamoru community suddenly became hyper-engaged on issues of political status. 
For me personally, what made it interesting is that for a few weeks, everywhere I went I would end up having cockfighters talk to me and ask me questions about what can be done and what's going on. One of these days I'll write more about my reflections on that time, but for now, here is the call to action items we created. 
What Can WE Do About the Cockfighting Ban NOW?
1. Cockfighting is Culture! It is important that we continue to defend and practice our culture in the present. Cockfighting is one of those traditions, and it is imperative that we defend our heritage.  
2. Call Your Elected Leaders! Finding and influencing elected leaders who are willing to support coc…

Many Nenis

For the past few months my Saturday morning Chamoru coffee shop classes have been structured around two activities. Each class begins with the translation of a Chamoru song into English. Usually the students get to the pick the particular song, or at least the type of song. Second, we go through a longer narrative, sometimes a story, a speech or a poem in Chamoru and also spend time translating it and practicing reading it.

As a result of this, I've been translating lots of Chamoru songs lately. When I first started learning Chamoru, gi minagahet, I was terrible at transcribing Chamoru songs. I hadn't grown up with the ear for hearing or catching Chamoru and so my transcriptions of songs were often wildly inaccurate. For the first few years I had people both politely and impolitely correct my attempts at transcription and then translation. My ear for Chamoru has gotten better, but I still struggle sometimes with particular artists who may have their own flair for pronunciatio…