Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chamorro Public Service Post: Sakman

Last year the group TASI or Traditions About Seafaring Islands organized a Sakman Summit, or an event where experts on Chamorro culture, language, history and Micronesian traditional navigation gathered together to discuss various aspects about the recreation of the Chamorro sakman, or open-ocean large canoe. Central to the gathering was developing a standardized vocabulary for all of the terms which you would need for navigation in Chamorro, such as parts of the canoe, tools, sea-birds, names for the different parts of the day, etc.

I've written before about how critical in today's Guam the work of TASI is. They are decolonizing. They are not returning to a previous era, but rather showing us how it is entirely possible that things which were lost or prohibited long ago, such as the seafaring skills and technology of Chamorros can find a place in today's world. Decolonization is not about preserving, because preserving assumes that something is dead or on the verge of death, that it must be captured like as in a photograph before it fades. In this instance it is about taking something from the past and bringing it to life in the present. A common mistake which people assume is that this means taking everything from the past and replacing the present with the past, kabales na tinahgue. So that if you want to decolonize and bring to life something such as the sakman again then you have to also start walking around naked, not use anything which has come to Guam since colonization and live in huts. This is something you hear all the time, but is one of the stupidest things which you can hear all the time.

Where does such a ridiculous comment come from? What makes people believe that something so ridiculous would be the truth or the way things have to be? Where do people get such ideas about such rules existing whereby if you want to revive the sakman you also have to do everything Chamorros once did as well? I have answers to this, plenty of them. I wrote an entire master's thesis about this issue, and how it relates to fear of not having the US at the center of life Chamorro life, and that the world would fall apart the moment that centrality of even threatened. So Chamorros create irrational sometimes schizophrenic fantasies meant to ward off and prevent any possible discussion of decolonization or changing things in ways which might challenge the idea that America and it's dominance makes Guam and makes it possible.


But what TASI shows us is that decolonization is a process of choosing what we want from the past and crafting our own future. It means ignoring the empty but domineering logic which states that what is lost is lost and the past is past and that indigenous peoples should simply look forward and accept the rule of those who claim their lands and not look to the sovereignty they once enjoyed in the past. TASI is built around the idea that something beautiful from the past, something important should be revived, it should not remain solely in books and in rhetoric alone, but should be brought to life, made concrete again on this island. This is something which can be duplicated in so many other ways, as Chamorros look to their past and seek their own ways of organizing themselves, their culture, the world around them.

In honor of the work that TASI is doing I want to share with everyone the list of canoe parts and Chamorro names that they came up with:

ENGLISH WORD /FINO’ CHAMORU


0. CANOE - SÅHYAN

1. AFT – REAR OF SAKMAN SANTATTE

2. BAILER - SOHGUE (MAÑOHGUE)

3. BAILER – 3RD PERSON MAÑOHGUE

4. BOW - MÅTA, MÅTAN LAHI OR MÅTAN MO’NA

5. NECK OF BOW - AGÅ’GA’, AGÅ’GA’ LÅHI

6. GUNWALES - TUHONG HALIGEN SÅHYAN

7. HELMSMAN (1ST PERSON) - UMULIN

8. HULL - SAHGUAN

9. KEEL - TA’TALO’ SÅHYAN

10. LASHING - GINEDDE

11. LEE PLATFORM (i.e. EPEP) - FAMO’LUYAN

12. MAST - FALINA

13. MAST DIAGONAL SUPPORT - HAFEN FALINA

14. MAST STEP - MÅDDOK FALINA

15. NAVIGATOR (Fortunate Navigator) - FAULOSNGA

16. NET FOR FISHING - LAGUA’ PESKA

17. NET FOR SAFETY (BELOW BATALAN) - LAGUA’ TÅOTAO

18. OARSMAN (2ND PERSON) - MAMOKSAI

19. OUTRIGGER - LUCHA

20. OUTRIGGER BOOM - GÅHET

CENTER BOOM - GÅHET TALO’

OUTER BOOM - GÅHET SANHIYONG

21. OUTRIGGER CROSS STABILZER - HA’FEN GÅHET

21. OUTRIGGER STANCHION - GU’OT LUCHA

22. OUTRIGGER “V” STABLIZER - HÅFEN LUCHA

23. PADDLE (n), TO PADDLE (v)  - POKSAI, PAGÅSI,

24. PLANKING - BATALÅN

25. PLANKING PARALLEL BRACE - HÅFEN BATALÅN

26. PULLEY - LICHENG

27. RIGGING  - TINÅLI

28. ROPE - TÅLI

29. ROPE - COCONUT FIBER LINE - FILAK NIYOK

30. ROPE - COCONUT THREAD - HÅLON NIYOK

31. ROPE – SAIL BOOM LINE - TÅLEN LÅYAK PALAO’AN

32. ROPE – SAIL OUTRIGGER LINE - TÅLEN LÅYAK LUCHA

33. ROPE – SAIL YARD LINE - TÅLEN LÅYAK LÅHI

34. RUDDER - ULIN

35. SAIL, SAILING (Verb) - LÅYAK, LUMÅYAK

36. SAIL BOOM (DIAGONAL) - LÅHEN LÅYAK /LÅYAK LÅHI

37. SAIL BOOM (HORIZONTAL) - PALAO’AN LÅYAK/LÅYAK PALAO’AN

38. SAIL STEP - TÅ’CHONG LÅHI

39. SAIL YARD (DIAGONAL) - LÅHEN LÅYAK

40. SHEET - TÅLEN MANGLO’ (TÅLEN ESSOTTA=NOEL Q.)

41. SHIPPING STRAKE - BATALÅN SÅTPON

42. SHUNTING (TO FRONT OR TO REAR) - LAILAI (TATTE YAN MO’NA)

43. SKILLED ADZE PERSON - GÓFHIGAM

44. SKILLED FISHERMAN - GÓFSIPEK

FISHERMAN PESKADOT (Sp)

45. STAYS YARD OR BOOM) - TÅLI (LÅHI YAN PALAO’AN)

YARD STAY - TÅLEN LÅHI

BOOM STAY - TÅLEN PALAO’AN

46. STEERING PADDLE OR RUDDER ULIN

47. STERN - MÅTA, MÅTAN PALAO’AN OR MÅTAN TATTE

NECK OF STERN - AGÅ’GA’, AGÅ’GA’ PALAO’AN

48. THWARTS (CANOE SEAT) - TÅ’CHONG

49. VESSEL (CANOE) - SÅHYAN

50. THROW NET - TALÅYA

51. THROW NET FISHERMAN - TALAYERU

52. HALYARD TÅLEN - LÅYAK

1 comment:

Tamagosan said...

Very useful distinction you make (on one part of the "definition" of decolonization). I actually feel armed with another tool to explain the way I feel about it, which is pretty powerful.

And as a translator (albeit French to English), the public service you are performing is admirable; there are times during certain translations that I would so rejoice at having a specialized, culturally relevant glossary on hand. I'm currently reading a personal account of living in occupied France (actually on the border, in the Southwest) and I can think of a number of glossaries that would be useful to me. (Not to mention a better understanding of gascon, the language of that region before French took over.)

Thanks for the read and to TASI for being a part of decolonization.

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