In the hopes that my daughter Sumåhi will grow up to be someone who is clear-eyed and well informed about the history of her people and her island, and not someone who speaks of yellow ribbons or tiny American flags as her most prized cultural artifacts, I took her to a number of historic sites around the island today. Although she is young and as many have told me, she won't remember anything that happens to her now, I think its more important that I get myself into the habit of communicating to her, no matter how old she is, issues of history and issues of what must be done, no matter hard or difficult it seems. I've realized that when we have kids, no matter who we are, we have a literal world of dreams of what we will do for our new baby, and what we will do to help her grow as a person. On Guam over the past few decades, so many new parents have made plans that their children will have a different life then they did, and often times make these promises to the universe in economic terms but also in cultural and languge terms. The economic promise is one which is rarely forgotten, as each generation in some way hopes to make things better for the next. In terms of culture, history and language however, these promises are quickly forgotten or cast aside, because of the difficulty in teaching children Chamorro language today, fear that they will turn into "activists" or simply fears that if they are "too" Chamorro, it will hurt their economic or social chances in life.
Although I've only been a father for a few months, I'm doing my best not to give into this logic, doing my best to ensure that they better life I am trying to prepare for Sumåhi involves her loving her island and her people, regardless of whether or not it or they are the tip of America's spear, and also using the language that she has inherited from grandparents, great-grandparents, great great grandparents, yan todu i mañainå-ña desde i tinituhun i hinanao i taotao-ta.
Here is part of the text for the panel which stands in front of the Manenggon Survivors Memorial Monument in Manenggon Valley in Yo'ña, Guam, one of the sites which I brought her to:
Ta honra yan rekoknisa i Manchamorro ni' manmaså'pet yan manmåtai guini na lugat iya Manenggon, duranten i gera. Inasi’i fumufunas i lagu gera. Mungga hit ta fanmaleffa.
July 10, 2004
July 10, 2004