Monday, June 01, 2009

Antes Di Gera: American Style Colonialism

I've been a writer for the online Encyclopedia Guampedia for about four years now and have written more than a dozen entries for them. In fact I still owe them half a dozen dealing with Chamorro cultural symbols that I've put on hold until July because I need to finish up my dissertation. But in the meantime I thought I would share below an update on some new entries that have been added to the site.

As I wrote last month on Guamology in my article "Guampedia - A Procrastinating Student's Dream Come True," the importance that I see in Guampedia is how information which for the longest time was only available in the minds of scholars or certain elders can now be gotten so easily online:

For me through the true gift of Guampedia is that there are so many things contained there in its entries, that I never would have imagined would be available online, that would be so easily accessible. It goes far beyond any other Guam or Chamorro based website in terms of providing good, critical information. For instance most websites gloss over the colonial side of Guam’s history, in particular over the past 110 years. Guampedia however supports those sorts of writings and ideas, because while they may make us uncomfortable by revealing the less pleasant side of our relationship with the United States, it is the truth, and it should be communicated to us in all its unpleasantness.

For my part I've had the chance to write some essays for Guampedia that I am very proud of, because they allowed me to say so many things that I always talk about on my blog, but say them in a very polished academic way, to a much larger audience. Some of the entries that I've written for Guampedia were far longer than just a paragraph or even a page, but some ended up being ten pages long when I was finished. These articles dealt with important questions of Chamorro and Guam history, and required the explaining of important concepts and so they took much longer than I even initially anticipated when I began writing them.

But I appreciated being asked to chronicle or explain some of the moments of Chamorro history that I feel are crucial in providing a worthwhile narrative of where we have come from, where this island has come from. Some of these longer essay entries that you can check out are:

"The Transmission of Christianity into Chamorro Culture" which is about the cultural negotiations that went on during the early Spanish colonial period.

"Blacksmithing" which is about the evolution of Chamorro arts in terms of tool making.
"Religious Life Under the Japanese Occupation" which is about the struggles that Chamorros experienced to maintain their religious practicies during I Tiempon Chapones.

"Ancient Chamorro World View" which is about the epistemological frameworks that Ancient Chamorros may have used to think about issues of spirituality, morality, langhet yan sasalaguan.

And finally the last piece that I wrote, which is part of the recent Antes di Gera updates is, "American Style Colonialism," which, as the title indicates is about Chamorro responses to American colonization from 1898-1941.

Below is the Press Release from Guampedia regarding their new entries. Yanggen malago hao tumungo' mas put este na bunito na isla-ta, falak guatu ya espiha mas.

May 22, 2009

News Release: Guampedia publishes 35 new entries about the U.S. Naval Era on Guam

The arrival of the USS Charleston at Apra Harbor, Guam June 20, 1898 and the capture of Guam by the Americans during the Spanish American War heralded the beginning of significant change for the Chamorro people. Captain Henry Glass claimed Guam for the U.S., seized the Spanish officials, and set sail for the Philippines.

After 230 years of Spanish control the Chamorros of Guam had a new colonial master who brought a new style of governance with an emphasis on the separation of church and state. The U.S. colonial government also issued many rules by an ever-changing naval administrator, who was only stationed on Guam for a year or two. Besides a three and a half year occupation of Guam by the Japanese during World War II, this situation continued until 1950.

The Early American section of Guampedia, published today, describes how the Americans brought not only a new style of governance but also imposed economic restrictions on the island. Each naval governor had his own ideas about how things should be done and ordered the Chamorros to comply.

The first published newspaper was created during the early years of American colonial rule, more youth learned to read and write in English, American music, such as jazz and band ensembles, was introduced influencing Chamorro music of the time. Baseball made its debut with fields carved out of the jungle and teams established in many villages. Theaters, stores and even soda fountains were built and enjoyed by island residents. Hagåtña and Sumay were bustling towns.

Guampedia, Guam’s Online Encyclopedia, was founded by the Guam Humanities Council beginning in 2002. The site, with its first 400 entries and 2,000 photographs, was launched online in April 2008. A grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities “We the People” initiative paid for these new entries. Guampedia recently separated from the Council and is now its own non-profit organization.

Beginning last year, the Guampedia team, while still with the Council, delved into this little known era of Guam’s history, focusing on the periods from 1898 to 1941 (U.S. Naval Era) and then again from 1944 to 1950 (Post World War II Era). During World War II, Guam was taken over and occupied by the Japanese from Dec. 8, 1941 until July 21, 1944.

While some of the entries describing the U.S. Naval Era and the Post World War II Era were written with earlier grants, the new entries created with this grant are:

1. Guam’s Early American Historical Overview
2. Partitioning of the Marianas
3. American Style Colonialism
4. Early American Period has Profound Implications
5. Early Naval Executive Orders
6. Institute of Ethnic Affairs
7. Governor Willis W. Bradley
8. Leprosy – Hospitals and Colonies
9. Leprosy – Local Reaction
10. Leprosy – Insular Patrol
11. Hospitals during the Naval Era
12. Dr. Ramon Manalisay Sablan
13. Development of the Guam Code
14. Island Court System
15. Judges and Island Attorneys
16. Chamorro Migration to the U.S.
17. Communications and Transportation Advancements
18. Newspapers
19. Postal History of Guam
20. Transpacific telecommunications
21. Apra Harbor
22. Port of Guam
23. First Pan American Flights
24. Resettlement Patterns under American Rule
25. American Red Cross, Guam Chapter
26. Cushing Family
27. Young Men’s League of Guam (YMLG)
28. Guam’s Role in World War I
29. Changes in Construction Styles
30. Americans bring upheaval in religious practices
31. Post-World War II Education
32. Language Policies during the U.S. Naval Era
33. Banking
34. Early American Economic History

The entries were created by various researchers and writers, to include the Guampedia editorial team.

“This section also includes great historic video and photographs that will lend to a greater understanding of this crucial period of Guam’s colonial history,” said Shannon Murphy, Guampedia managing editor. “Doing the research was an eye opener for all of us. We hope that these entries will provide a better understanding of the past so that we can better prepare for the future.”

Editors: Contact Guampedia at 734-0217 for further information.

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