Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pagat Means to Speak Out

Today, the word Pagat, is primarily associated with the area known as Pagat in Northeastern Guam, where you can find cliffs for jumping off of, a freshwater cave to swim in, and plenty of ancient artifacts.

But Pagat is a Chamorro word, which has plenty of meanings, although it is not a commonly known or used word in Chamorro today. For some younger generations of Chamorros, who may not speak the language, but have been around it enough to understand, Pagat might be a negative term. It is a word meant to criticize or attack someone verbally. For the Guam Preservation Trust, in their recently started Save Pagat Village campaign, they define it as "to give advice." Pagat is a word sometimes associated with counseling someone, even lecturing them.

For me however, I know of the word Pagat from its use as pinagat, which means a lecture, speech or sermon. One way in which you could consider the meaning of Pagat, would be the same as to "testify" in a gospel-style church. To not only speak and say something, but to do it with conviction, force and with the truth behind you. So for me, when I use the word Pagat, the most important aspect is the public element of it, the idea that what you are saying is mana'oppan, humuhuyong gi entre i publiko siha, that it is being made in the public square, for the public.

So one way in which you can translate Pagat, is "to speak out" or "to make a statement." Originally this is something which would have only be considered in a religious context, but as Guam as changed, I feel that you can now use it outside of that.

It is with this in mind, that for the past six months I worked on writing a show for the dance group Inetnon Gefpago, which culminates in two performances this weekend at the Sheraton Resort in Tamuning. I will be writing more about this soon, but the first performance was last night, and it was inspiring to say the least. In the meantime, I wanted to post an article from Thursday's Marianas Variety, which can give you some background on the production.

or those of you who'll be in the Hagatna area today, be sure to check out the "Celebrate Pagat" fiesta at Skinner's Plaza, starting at 6 pm.

Also, don't forget to sign the online petition for protecting Pagat.

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Dance group show centers on Pagat
Thursday, 27 May 2010 00:31
by Zita Y. Taitano
Marianas Variety News Staff

IN CELEBRATION of its 10th anniversary, the Inetnon Gef Pago Chamorro dance group will stage a theatrical production called “Guahan: Fanhasso, Fanhita, Fanacho,” which focuses on the future of Pagat after the military buildup.

“Guahan: Fanhasso, Fanhita, Fanacho” is loosely translated as “Remember to stand together.”

The shows are set for tomorrow night and Saturday in the ballroom of the Sheraton Laguna Resort and Spa in Tamuning.

Vince Reyes, program director of Inetnon Gef Pago, said the group wanted to do something different instead of a regular recital to commemorate the anniversary.

“What we decided was to take as many of the dances as we can, put them together, and try to think of a beautiful storyline that would be able to hopefully inspire our people,” Reyes said.

He worked with culture advocates Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero and Michael Lujan Bevacqua to put a script together for the show.

“I said I got a crazy idea, here are all these songs and chants. Can we figure out a way to just make some sort of inspirational story,” Reyes said. “We were blessed and hammered it out.”

Bevacqua said he and Leon Guerrero were approached by Reyes about the production right around the time of the comment period on the draft environmental impact statement. Bevacqua mentioned the military’s plans to lease 2,300 more acres of land and from there the script started to develop.

“When we were looking for a story, that’s something we could do. We could take (the) dances and tell in a compelling, funny, refreshing way the history of the Chamorro people,” Bevacqua said. “It’s really like an incredible journey.”

The production centers on a group of former Inetnon Gef Pago students who dream that they are called into the jungle area of Pagat one night.

“This is set in the future after the military has already leased and closed off the Pagat area and so the public no longer has regular access and so they are called there, they don’t know why, they’re really confused and out of nowhere they find the voice that called to them and it’s Fuuna,” said Bevacqua, referring to the legend of the Chamorro goddess who formed the Chamorros and Guam with the help of her brother, the Chamorro god Puntan.

“She tells them I’m here to give you strength. There’s something I’m going to ask of you guys. There’s something that you have to do and that’s why I called you tonight to give you strength so you could do what you can do for your future,” he said adding that Fuuna is asked questions by the students and her answers are in the form of dances by members of Inetnon Gef Pago.

Clifford Guzman of Galaide Group was elated when he was asked to be the director for the production as he enjoyed working with the organization.

“There are seven or eight actors and actresses that we’re working with. We’re all nervous and it’s a challenge to them but like anything else with Inetnon Gef Pago and the kids, they’ve always risen to the challenge,” Guzman said.

Tonight’s show is for family and friends. Ticket costs $25 for regular seating and $35 for VIP seating.

Tomorrow night, the show is designated as corporate gala night with ticket prices at $50 for regular seating and $75 for VIP seating. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the production will begin at 7 p.m.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

300 Videos

I recently hit 300 videos on Youtube.

My videos are literally nothing special. Most of them are just random snippets of my life, whether in California or Guam. You'll see my kids, events I attend, my classes, things that I pass by which are interested. They aren't edited, they aren't flashy and for many of them, the camera is so shaky, kulang manunukot gui'.

My hope for these videos is that 1,000 years from now, when humanity has been wiped from the face of the earth, as in the movie A.i., and an advanced alien race visits the planet to try and discover what used to be here, someone, for some insane reason, one of my videos will be the only remanants of human life. And so those alien researchers, archeologists really, will have to conclude that the rules of this world was a cute little girl named Sumahi and that everyone spoke Chamorro with a cute valley girl accent.

Anyways, enough silliness. I'm past belowing some of the more interesting picks from the last 100 videos I've uploaded:

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I recently co-wrote the script for a play/show which will be premeired this weekend May 28th and May 29th, titled "Guahan: Fanhasso, Fanhita yan Fanachu." The show will celebrate the 10 years anniversary of the cultural dance group Inetnon Gefpago. In order to prepare the kids for the show, we had a number of workshops with them, one of which, as you can see in the video below, was at the Pagat Cave area.




The DEIS comment period for the military buildup happened from November 2009 - February 2010. During that period there was a flurry of activity around criticizing the buildup and informing people about its impacts. At one of the public meetings that was held to provide comments for the buildup, I filmed those who were entering in a group to show their outrage at certain aspects of the buildup.




I went on a number of hikes since the start of this year, one of which was to Cetti and Sella Bay in Southern Guam. This is a video of the Cetti Bay.




The Syfy show Destination Truth came to Guam, to film a show about taotaomo'na and local spirits. By chance, I caught them while they were visiting an Ancient Village recreation at Ipao Beach in Tumon.




Segundo Maga'lahi of Guam, Michael Cruz finally announced that he's running for Governor of Guam this year.(with Senator Jim Espaldon as his running mate) I was invited to their kick-off event by my cousin who works in his office. Cruz has known my family for a long time, and so it is possible that Cruz will be i gayu-hu gi i maimaila na botasion para i Maga'lhin Guahan.



Even though my grandfather has been sick for the past 6 months I still apprentice under him and work with him in his shop (an guaha fuetsa-na). Right now, there are only three tools that I can make on my own: the kamyo (coconut grater), the soh'soh (coconut extractor) and the hehgao (coconut husker). In this video, I am working on making a hehgao from a piece of rebar.




In my brother Jeremy 's (Kuri) effort to be involved in almost anything musical on Guam, he was a part of the show "Disney Through the Years" which featured the UOG Jazz Band and University Singers performing famous hits from various Disney movies.



For Chamorro months I went around and gave alot of presentations, both for myself and on behalf of my grandfather. Its usually one of the busiest months for me. This past Chamorro months however I was given a special treat by one of my students who was hoping to bring up their grade. He asked if he could receive some extra credit if him brought some musicians in to the class to celebrate Chamorro music and share a Marianas Homegrown song. I said sure, and as you can see from the video below, it was gof paire.




Sisigi ha' i mas paire Si Sumahi. Ti puniyon este na fakto. Yanggen ti un hongge este, siempre taihinengge hao, ya umabak hao gi este na lina'la' yan mundo. Hami, Si Sumahi yan i otro manhohongge, para bei in taitaiyi hao.




And last but not least, a new addition to this blog, i lahi-hu Si Akli'e'.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Schrodinger's Karabao

My art show at I.P. Coffee is still up for those who are interested in seeing my latest pieces. Email me at mlbasquiat@hotmail.com if you have any questions.

The week before last I typed up an artist statement basically explaining to those who were interested, where the notion for the show and its title "Before the Storm, After the Fire" came from.

In explaining myself, I ended up using the old Quantum Physics paradox/experiment famously known as "Schrodinger's Cat." Except my version, as you'll read in the first paragraph, is localized to become "Schrodinger's Karabao." I would have given this a completely different name, like "Tun Sakati's Karabao," but since most people already have no idea what this means, I decided not to make it even more obscure.

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BEFORE THE STORM, AFTER THE FIRE
Michael Lujan Bevacqua - Artist’s Statement

Put fabot, imahina na guaha un kuåto, ya gaige gi este na kuåto, un potta, un karabao yan un makina. Un baba i petta yan un chule’ halom i makina. Annai humalom hao, la’la’la’ i karabao ya maolek ha’ gui’. I makina un pega gi i satge gi fi’on-ña, un bomban tinatse. Un ora pat un diha (ti tungo’on), u la’la’ ayu na makina ya u tatse (ya siempre u puno’) i karabao. Achokka’ Hågu bumitatanga ayu guatu, tåya’ tiningo’-mu put ngai’an u mana’la’la’.

Gigon un huchom ayu na petta, i hiniyongña gof interesao. Kontat ki mahuhuchom ha’ ayu na potta. Matai yan la’la’la’ ayu na karabao. Siña esta matai, yan siña la’la’la’ ha’ achagigu.

The above paragraph is my Chamorro version of the quantum physics paradox known as Schrodinger’s Cat. In it, a hypothetical cat is placed in a box with some sort of poison which will be released at an unknown future point. When the box is closed with the cat and the poison device, so long as the box remains closed, the cat is both dead and alive at the same time.

This show is full of monotypes, which is a certain form of art which exemplifies very well the difficult truth in Schrodinger’s experiment. A monotype is created by printing a painting. You first paint your image onto a piece of glass, and then once it is ready, you place a sheet of paper over it and then apply pressure until the painting is reborn on the paper. The bonus to this technique is that the amount of pressure applied and the consistency of the paint all affect how the painting will be reborn and can lead to incredible effects which would be very difficult otherwise to create. The drawback is that, all the work you put into creating that initial image, may be for nothing, since if your paint is too dry, too wet, or you apply too little or too much pressure, it could become a smeared, ugly mess.

For me, all monotypes are born through that process of existing before a storm, but after a fire. At the half way point in a piece’s journey, they have just endured the violent forming of their initial image, and then await the chaotic and unknown process which will transfer them to paper. They inhabit that anxious and uncertain moment where they, like Schrodinger’s poor cat, could be vibrant and alive, or could be already dead, but we simply don’t know it.

If you are interested in purchasing any artwork in this show, or learning more about the artist, you can contact me at: mlbasquiat@hotmail.com.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Importance of Ethnic Studies

Whenever I read about some new development in Arizona, it constantly reminds me why Ethnic Studies is important as an academic discipline.

Since graduating from Ethnic Studies UCSD, I've been trying to get a job at the University of Guam. I haven't been successful yet, and sadly I don't have much hope for the future either, lao sinembatgo bai hu konsigi. One of the reasons why I don't have alot of hope, is because while you could say that all academic departments or schools have their conservative or archaic elements, UOG, as a mixture of a colonial and a "isolated" institution is tough to beat. Most of the faculty, in all departments at UOG have never heard of Ethnic Studies (or many other similar critical disciplines which have come into being over the past 40 years), and have no clue as to what it could be. I'm used to non-academics not knowing and assuming that the degree has something to do with anthropology or "mere" culture, but its strange for me to be around 200 or so academics, all of whom have never even heard of such a program. I might be able to understand people in the "hard" Sciences not knowing, but for those in Humanities and Social Sciences? Ai na'ma'ase.

Guam may be geographically isolated in the minds of most of these faculty, but so much of the intellectual isolationism is literally in their heads. Being here on Guam, is a very easy excuse to not keep up, to not take seriously general pursuits of knowledge and how the academy itself might be changing. Some discussions with faculty about what I know about their fields end up being completely disjointed, because all that I know about their fields, they know nothing about (happened too recently), and they know nothing about my fields.

So naturally, a degree in Ethnic Studies at UOG is about as useful as high-priced merchandise at the Chamorro Village. Taibali. Even though I have a doctorate, and an inter-disciplinary one at that, which means I can potentially teach in any number of Social Science or Humanities fields, it is very likely that I will end up teaching nowhere at UOG. Or rather, nowhere permanently. UOG always needs adjunct and emergency faculty, so there will always be a place for me in that regard.

In recent months, because of this climate I've come to doubt sometimes my degree. Not the intellectual growth or the theories or the critical lenses which I learned there, but simply the formal shell of it. Even though I would never trade my degree for any other, I've sometimes wished I went into something more "traditional" so at least then I wouldn't have to endure clueless or disbelieving looks when I describe how yes my degree is real, and its really inter-disciplinary and so it does qualify me to teach _blank subject______.

But one thing about Ethnic Studies as a set of critical tools, is that the more screwed up and violent the world gets, the more you realize how important it can be. Chumachalek yu' mientras hu tytype este, I'm laughing as I'm typing this, because as I said before, whenever I think about what is going on in Arizona right now, I think of the importance of Ethnic Studies, but in Arizona, state legislators are trying to ban Ethnic Studies programs. So ironic...

Although a black man is President of the United States for the first time, and now there has been possibly for the first time ever an Arab American Miss America winner, this in no way means that issues of race and ethnicity have become devalued. Racism doesn't end or isn't eradicated because of the tokenistic elevation of individuals or even the resolutions or recognition of the importance of culture. It goes much deeper than that, and so Ethnic Studies at its very foundation is about ensuring that the discussion of race goes beyond the surface and that we see how it operates in both silence and invisibility.

One of the importance of discourse analysis as a theoretical tool is that it insists on meaning lying deeper than what is said, or the surface of speech. That we don't speak in facts or simply reflect reality, but we actively try to shape it through what we say and how we say it. The relationship between race and speech changes, so for instance the use of certain racially charged words might have very different social meanings and implications compared to one hundred or two hundred years ago. But we should never reduce racism to solely that which is said or that which is intended. Racism is not only the acts of racists, but it is systems of privilege and oppression, which most of the participants may not even be aware of. It is a system which marks, depending on the context some as being deviant, some as being universal, some as being immoral, some as being angokuyon, some as being violent, and some as capable of feeling trauma. It is never absolute, just just some subtle and some obvious tendencies in the discursive map of a society.

I recall speaking to one of my classes once about how divisions in societies work, and how often times we accept and reify their divisions but don't even realize it. I asked my students what they thought about it, and if they felt like Guam was a divided island, and amongst those who responded, they all stated that it was definitely not. Each spoke to their own experiences and how they had friends of all cultures and races, never ever use racist words, and how some of them were so mixed anyways that they couldn't be racist, since they already are all races! One of the reasons why something like Ethnic Studies hasn't become more prominent on Guam is because of the pervasive belief that Guam doesn't have racism, and that racism is something white people used to do to non-white people. Because I don't get to teach classes where I can really draw these issues out, I try my best, in a Guam History context, but I look forward to some day working in either the community or in the classroom to expand ideas of race and ethnicity in Guam. Ti mamparehu guini yan gi lagu (maseha manu), lao ni' unu na lugat sahnge. Buente diferentes na estoria siha, diferentes na rasa siha, lao gi todu i lugat, guaha some sort of violence of exclusion pat difference.

My intervention in my class, was clumsy to say the least, but I did my best to try to talk to them about how thinking about racism and thinking about issues of power and division in a society means going beyond the surface. We each all have missions in our lives, to create a shiny, happy, not bad, not evil exterior. We all do our best to keep ourselves from bearing certain stains of social inappropriateness, which is why the mantra of having friends or family of a certain types is so crucial in terms of deflecting any potential critique. That is why we should never use ourselves and our own experiences as the gauges for very much in this world. Our ego exists for a reason, and that reason has nothing to do with the truth or reality. It exists gi fino' Chamoru, i u puno' i annok na ti puniyon.

I asked my students to stop thinking about racism in terms of people who admit to hating a certain group and think about it in much quieter and subtle terms. I asked them to think about it as if it were a ghost, or a cloud which follows you around. Something which holds in it all the negativity and hate, so you don't have to say it out loud, but it can still be there for you to draw from. It is this cloud which helps dictate so much, whether you admit to it or not: where you hang out, who you consider to be your friends, whose houses you go over to, how you respond to suspected criminals on the news, or what comes into your mind when you drive through a certain area. To understand racism, I can listen to what comes out of your mouth, but what would be far more helpful in understanding the society we are studying, is to look to that mass, which is an amalgamation of everything that we do or don't know about the society we come from and what it produces, that follows each of us around.

What Ethnic Studies at its best is about, is reminding people about the hidden dimensions of racism, and that you can't dismiss them by repeating platitudes about how much progress we've made. It is about making the structures of violence, power and privilege through which race operates, visible for all to see (ko'lo'lo'na yanggen ti manmalago lumi'e').

I remember when I first started in Ethnic Studies at UCSD, an older student and a friend of mine Theo, said something to me about his masters thesis which really helped me clarify what we were doing in that department. For his masters thesis, he did a comparative analysis of Japanese internment during World War II in the US, and the treatment/detainment of Muslims in the United States after 9/11. When he was discussing it with me, he said that if you read the entire Patriot Act (which he apparently had), you will not find any mention anywhere about race or ethnicity. But, when you look at who was rounded up and who quickly became the objects of that law, it was overwhelmingly people who were identified in the American racial imaginary as being of the same stock, Muslims, Arabs, Middle Eastern peoples, etc. Despite race not being written into the Patriotic Act, its effect was clearly racist, and there was some connection between how the law was written and who it was written with a mind towards.
In the theory of race which celebrates America fundamentally changing since a black man has become President of it, this is consistent. It is after all, not the law which is racist, but merely those who carry it out. So, the intent of the Patriot Act, might be raceless, and its problems are the implementation. This logic is anti-racism or fighting against racism (or another other system of oppression) by eradicating its explicit dimensions. It is about getting rid of the public face of racism, making sure that no one makes any overtly racist remarks, or that there are no laws which explicitly make subordinate one group beneath another based on their races. This is understanding racism through the lens of politics, it is about simple solutions to racism, and not addressing anything too deep seated or less tangible.

In one of my Guam History classes, we were discussing the chances of Guam becoming a state of the United States. I said that it was unlikely, and in my opinion, it would be more difficult for Guam to become a state, than to become an independent country. I gave some examples of racism and resistance because of Guam's "background" and its size. My remarks were met with a chorus of statements on how things are different now. A black man is now President, people don't have to drink at separate water fountains. Things are different.

I agreed that things are indeed different, but I also asked my class to conduct a simple mental experiment. I told them to imagine being a slave in the United States, two hundred or three hundred years ago. Imagine if one day your master came up to you and told you that a new law had been passed, saying that white people could not longer refer to their slaves by the N-word since it was an offensive term. You might feel elated at this, but once you get past that elation of this new world being promoted, you would hopefully see that while the surface of things had changed, not much else had. I reminded my students that, in the Constitution of the United States it does much slaves, but it never mentions them in terms of race. It doesn't say black slaves, it just says slaves. So in a sense, you could claim that the Constitution wasn't racist since it didn't explicitly use any racial categories, but simply mentioned an economic relationship between a man who owns another man. That means, that when the surface of racism disappears, the fight is far from over. Gi minagahet, fihu lumamappot i mimu, it generally becomes more difficult.

A similar argument is being made in support of Arizona's SB1070. Nowhere in the law does it target any particular race, and even when people who drafted the law are asked very obvious questions about what the law is meant to target or who is it meant to be about, lawmakers plead ignorance, and act as if they have no idea what was intended in the law, other than to protect America from raceless, colorless illegal immigrant bogeymen!

But this is why Ethnic Studies is so important, is to make the connections and help show how race is present in these laws, even when it doesn't appear to be. To help make connections between power, violence, race, which are rarely open and obvious anymore, but now take much more circuitous routes. It is about depriving the position of those who claim that laws such as the Patriotic Act or SB 1070 of the innocence of claiming, that simply because I never said "I hate Mexicans" or "Arabs scare me," race is not an issue here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Stuff on Arizona


If anyone has any good links or info on how to boycott Arizona let me know.

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Sign the Petition Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Against SB1070

We the undersigned oppose SB 1070, the bill signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010. SB 1070 will create second-class citizens of those who are perceived to be foreign and undocumented. We ask that Governor Brewer and the Arizona state legislature repeal SB 1070.

The Asian American and Pacific Islander communities particularly understand the unequal burdens of this law because of the racially and economically motivated restrictions on Chinese immigration in 1875 and 1882, Alien Land laws in western states, and the unlawful imprisonment of Japanese Americans based on their ethnic heritage during WWII. Various politicians have noted that the bill is not meant to apply only to Latinos but also to Chinese and Middle Eastern individuals as well.

We believe this bill is unconstitutional. Individuals stopped for traffic violations or infractions of city codes will have to prove their citizenship to any law enforcement officer who has reason to question their status%u2014based on dress, behavior, and accents. This places an unequal burden of proof on immigrants, foreign-born individuals, and people of color, and violates the right of equal protection under the law.

We protest the criminalization of humanitarian efforts to aid undocumented migrants through provisions of water, food, and sanctuary. We further condemn the assumptions that undocumented immigrants are criminals. Most immigrants--documented or undocumented--are hard-working individuals seeking economic opportunities that are not available in their homelands due to structural and global inequities. Furthermore, these immigrants--documented and undocumented--are recruited as a result of US immigration admission policies, and/or hired by US employers.

We urge groups and organizations that were planning on hosting conferences, meetings and conventions in Arizona to boycott the state and move their events elsewhere, to explicitly protest this law. This call to observe the boycott does not extend to those coming to protest and work with local organizations to overturn SB 1070.

We additionally call for immigration reform by the US federal government that treats all people equally and provides ways for immigrants who are contributing socially and economically to the United States to gain naturalized citizenship, reunite with families, and protects migrants from exploitation and crime.

As Asian American and Pacific Islander individuals, and organizations representing AAPIs, we sign in the spirit of other AAPIs such as Yick Wo and Gordon Hirabayashi who, in challenging local and national laws based on economic and racial considerations, strengthened the US constitution and our democracy.

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Illegal Immigrant Students Protest at McCain Office
By JULIA PRESTON
The New York Times
Published: May 17, 2010

In an escalation of protest tactics, five immigrants dressed in caps and gowns held a sit-in on Monday at the Tucson offices of Senator John McCain, calling on him to sponsor legislation to open a path to legal status for young illegal immigrants.

Four of the protesters, including three who are in the country illegally, were arrested Monday evening on misdemeanor trespassing charges. The three were expected to face deportation proceedings.

It was the first time students have directly risked deportation in an effort to prompt Congress to take up a bill that would benefit illegal immigrant youths.

Separately on Monday, a lawsuit was filed in federal court in Phoenix by a coalition of civil rights, labor and religious groups challenging the new Arizona law that allows the police to detain suspected illegal immigrants as unconstitutional, saying it would lead to racial profiling.

Though it was the fifth suit challenging the law, it was widely believed to have the best chance of being heard by the courts given the groups’ experience and the nature of the complaint.

Brooke Buchanan, a spokeswoman for Mr. McCain, said of the protesters, “The individuals have a right to peacefully protest in the senator’s office,” and added that Mr. McCain “understands the students’ frustrations.”

But she said: “Elections have consequences, and they should focus their efforts on the president and the Democrats that control the agenda in Congress.”

Mr. McCain, a Republican, has in years past repeatedly sponsored a bill that would offer legalization for illegal immigrant students who were brought to the United States as children by their parents, known to its supporters as the Dream Act. But this year he has not. Mr. McCain is facing a primary challenge from J.D Hayworth, a talk show host who has taken a tough stand on illegal immigrants.

The students protesting in Mr. McCain’s office said they wanted to increase pressure on Congress to pass the Dream Act this year, even if lawmakers do not take up a broader overhaul of the immigration system. The student bill is currently part of a Democratic proposal for an overhaul, largely written by Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York.

“I’ve been organizing for years, and a lot of my friends have become frustrated and lost hope,” said one of the students, Lizbeth Mateo, 25. “We don’t have any more time to be waiting. I really believe this year we can make it happen.”

Ms. Mateo, who came to the United States when she was 14, said she paid full tuition to earn a degree from California State University, Northridge, the first member of her family to graduate from college. She said her plans to attend law school had failed because she lacked legal status.

Ms. Mateo was arrested, along with Mohammad Abdollahi, 24, of Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Yahaira Carrillo, 25, of Kansas City, Mo. All three are illegal immigrants.

Also arrested was Raúl Alcaraz, 27, an immigrant from Mexico who is a legal resident and a counselor at a Tucson high school.

The protesters walked into Mr. McCain’s office just before noon and sat in the lobby.

Tania Unzueta, 26, who is from Los Angeles, joined the sit-in, but she said the group decided she should leave the protest in order to avoid arrest.

Mr. Abdollahi said he could not return to Iran, where he was born, because he is gay and feared persecution there.

Margo Cowan, a lawyer representing the students, said that the Tucson police said they would advise federal immigration authorities of the arrests, and that she expected the students would be put in immigration detention.

Illegal immigrant students have become increasingly public in their protests in recent months, as the prospects for an immigration overhaul faded in Washington. Four immigrant students walked from Miami to Washington, arriving in late April. So far, immigration authorities have not moved to detain student protesters.

Lawmakers are divided over whether to take up the Dream Act as separate legislation. Andy Fisher, a spokesman for Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, a Republican who is a lead sponsor of the bill, said that the senator did not support any effort to advance a comprehensive immigration overhaul this year, but that he believed the Dream Act could be “doable” separately.

An aide to Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, a Democrat who is the act’s other lead sponsor, said he continued to see it as part of an overhaul.

Lawyers for the groups that filed the suit over the Arizona immigration law Monday took aim at a chief argument of its supporters: that it largely parallels existing federal statutes. The lawyers said the Arizona law went further because federal agents are not required to check the immigration status of people they stop or arrest, as the state law requires.

Randal C. Archibold contributed reporting.

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Statement of the Association of Asian American Studies on SB 1070.

We are joining together to protest the recent legislation of SB 1070 signed by the Governor of Arizona and to draw attention to the racial profiling of Latina/os and other people of color in that state. Such legislation, which targets undocumented immigrants, has violent implications that affect many both in and beyond the Latina/o community.

This Arizona law gives local police officers broad powers to detain those suspected of undocumented immigration in order to check their legal status. The law not only allows but requires such detention whenever 1) a police officer has “lawful contact” with that person; and 2) the officer suspects the person is an undocumented immigrant. Such “lawful contact” may occur in a wide range of situations – when someone calls the police to report a crime, when a person is stopped for a minor traffic violation, or even when there is a chance encounter on the street. Requiring suspicion of undocumented status directs the application of this new police power in a particularly pernicious way – by focusing that power on people of color. The sad history of racial profiling in this country leaves little doubt that in the absence of careful constraints on the circumstances justifying a police intrusion, minorities are disproportionately stopped, detained and otherwise harassed. This law, by its very design, grants unconstrained power to do just that. History has shown us these sorts of legislative attacks affect all people of color, not only those who look like Latina/os.

Such legislation is fueled by the broader wave of fear that makes immigrants and people of color the scapegoats of the current economic crisis, and has paved the way for additional other actions that further exacerbate anti-immigrant hysteria. Of special concern to us as educators is that new legislation in the form of SB 2281, which has now been signed by Governor Brewer. This legislation essentially bars the teaching of ethnic studies in the K-12 curriculum, threatening schools with the loss of state funding if they offer any courses that “promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment of a particular race or class of people, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.” This directly attacks the study of communities of color as well as racial formations and effectively censors educators who might express dissent with Arizona’s history of racial discrimination. The department of education in Arizona is also making a move to ban teachers with accents from teaching English classes, a measure that directly targets Latino teachers hired in the 1990s as part of a broad bilingual education program and then, after a 2000 ballot measure, required to teach only in English.
The U.S., while priding itself on being a diverse “nation of immigrants,” nonetheless has had a long and troubling history of denying legal status and citizenship to many on the basis of race. We as scholars in Asian American studies recognize how this attack on those presumed to be undocumented immigrants is has its roots in prejudice, and sets a dangerous precedent by which many—whether U.S. citizen or documented or undocumented immigrant—might be harassed and abused. We are calling for interethnic solidarity over this legislation and the climate of hostility and paranoia it has fostered. Please join us in challenging this legislation through organizing, boycotting the state of Arizona, lawsuits, and media attention. This incident highlights the need for the United States to enact meaningful immigration reform that so that immigrants who are contributing socially and economically to the United States have a clear path to naturalized citizenship, can reunite with their families, and be protected from exploitation and crime.

On behalf of the board of the Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS)
Josephine Lee, President, AAAS

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pagat

During the DEIS comment period I was involved in alot of different activities or collaborations meant to respond to the document. Family issues and my work schedule didn't allow me to participate as much as I might have wanted to, but I still found some important ways of helping out.

In December of 2009 I attended a meeting with half a dozen or so other UOG faculty members, to discuss how, we as UOG professors might respond to the DEIS. A lot of different things were discussed, such as public meetings, presentations, reports or letters. It was exciting to attend that meeting and see others, some of whom I had not met before, working with a similar critical or oppositional intent as my own. But for a variety of reasons, people left that meeting unsure about what we were doing, and also a bit put off, by some of the combatative discussions that had taken place. Some suggestions were made about splitting into groups and taking on certain tasks, but all together, it seemed like taya' hiniyong-na este na miteng-mami.

As the mid-February deadline for turning in comments to the DEIS grew closer, one of the professors who had attended that meeting, Anne Perez Hattori, offered to coordinate the writing of a UOG professor response to the military's proposed taking/leasing of a large area on the Eastern coast of Guam, which would have most likely included taking the area around Pagat Caves and Cliffs. Anne did a great job, laying out the division of labor, so the writing of this statement wasn't too much for anyone. Different professors turned in different sections regarding different issues of history, culture, archeology and so on, and it was also combined together to produce a unified statement.

Yesterday when I was interviewed by the crew from Dan Rather Reports which is on Guam to film for a segment on Guam and the military buildup, I made several references to that report and the parts I helped write. The crew asked what was the importance of Pagat, either in history or today. I decided that it would be a good idea to share it on this blog, for those who might be interested in learning more about it as well.
For a couple of months, Pagat was a very hot issue on island. For about two months I ended up traveling there five times, twice with journalists from Japan and the US. The word operated as a signifier for so many of the pragmatic things that people disapproved of with the buildup. Things seemed to have died down lately, but only because Guam is now waiting to hear what the DOD plans to do next. Will they go ahead with their proposal to lease the lands around Pagat for their firing range? Or will they back off and find someplace else for their range? In about two months we'll find out.

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February 17, 2010

Dear JGPO and Department of Defense,

This report, written by a coalition of University of Guam Faculty, expresses our unified opposition to the use of Pågat Village as a firing range in the proposed military build-up on Guam. We, furthermore, reject the proposed mitigations as grossly insufficient means of ameliorating the loss of this culturally and historically irreplaceable site.


DEIS References:

Use of Pågat Village for Firing Range, described in Volume 2:

“Route 15 Valley and Escarpment
“The proposed firing ranges for Alternatives A and B associated with the proposed action are located on the Route 15 valley and escarpment east of Andersen South. Approximately 60% of the Route 15 impact area has been surveyed. The unsurveyed areas are considered to be medium probability areas for archaeology because archaeological sites are known from the vicinity. Resource potential in the Route 15 survey area is high. Near the coast outside the project area, the Pagat Site Complex (Site 04-0022) is contemporary with the historically known Pagat Village, where a Spanish church was built in 1672 (Table 12.1-15). The Pagat Site Complex includes at least 20 latte sets, more than 50 mounds of artifacts and midden, remnants of trails, more than 30 mortars and grinding areas, an unknown number of caves and rock shelters, and other features (Carson and Tuggle 2007). Limited test excavations revealed a widespread and dense Latte Period deposit associated with the surface-visible remains, and remnants of an earlier occupation period were present in some locations (Carson and Tuggle 2007). Surveys of the Route 15 impact area indicate as least three other NRHP-eligible sites are located within this area (Dixon and Carson 2009). They include sites 04-0021, 04-0024, and 04-0642. Two of these sites are also traditional cultural properties, including the Pagat site and Marbo Cave, already identified in the Route 15 area (Griffin et al. 2009).” (Volume 2, Chapter 12, Page 12-19)

Recreational Uses of Pågat, as described in DEIS:
“At present, there is a series of trails connected to the Pagat Trail. The trails are open to the public and feature sinkholes, caves, and rugged limestone formations. On a popular weekend, visitors comprising tourists, local boonie stomp groups, and morale, welfare, and recreation activities generating from Navy Barrigada may attract as much as 60 hikers (Andersen AFB 2009). Visitors have been known to swim at the bottom of a sinkhole where there is a fresh water source (Lotz and Lotz 2001).” (Volume 2, Chapter 9, Page 9-4)

Significant Impact to the Pagat site:
DEIS Table 19.2-3, “Summary of Training Impacts – Firing Range Alternatives” states that there will be Significant Impact due to the “Loss of access to and use of recreational resources (Guam International Raceway, Marbo Cave (spelunking and offshore fishing), Pagat Trail and associated trails, suruhana activities (Volume 2, Chapter 19, page 19-22).

Proposed Mitigation:
“Potential indirect impacts to NRHP eligible sites 04-0022 and 04-0021 (Pagat site) in the proposed firing area at Route 15 Alternatives A and B and to 04-0025 and 04-0642 (Marbo Cave and Marbo site) with Alternative B would be mitigated through implementation of a management plan. The Pagat Preservation Plan (sites 04-0021 and 04-0022) would be updated and executed. In recognition of the significance that Pagat cave has to various ethnic and historic groups, cultural access would be granted to the Pagat site when Navy procedures are followed. As stipulated in the PA, access to the Pagat site would be considered in light of military operational requirements and anti-terrorism/force protection security conditions and other pertinent circumstances as determined by the DoD at the time. Operational impacts would be mitigated through training of personnel working in the area to avoid impacts.” (Volume 2, Chapter 12, Page 12-49)


Discussion:

Pågat Remains The Most Archaeologically Significant Village Accessible To Civilians On Guam Today.

The Pågat Village site is irreplaceable – it is Guam’s single, largest repository of ancient Chamorro artifacts open to the civilian population, and thus it uniquely affords the Chamorro people a living link to the past. To desecrate Pågat would be akin to destroying Washington, D.C. It is a cultural center, whether or not all of the Chamorro people go there regularly, just as Washington, D.C. is the American political, historical, and cultural center, whether or not most Americans ever visit its quadrants.

The DEIS description of the Pågat site, from the 2007 Carson and Tuggle archaeological report, identifies some of the significant features of the Village, including “at least 20 latte sets, more than 50 mounds of artifacts and midden, remnants of trails, more than 30 mortars and grinding areas, an unknown number of caves and rock shelters, and other features” (DEIS, v2, ch 12, p. 12-19). In fact, Pågat Village contains extensive remains from both the Pre-Latte Period (1500 B.C.) and Latte Period (1000 A.D.). Its inclusion on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places (66-04-0022) reflects its archaeologically rich cultural resources.

Craib’s work at the Pågat site between October 1981 and May 1982 revealed that “Surface features within the site consist of two kinds, latte components (pillars and capstones) and mortars. Two standing latte are found near the center of the site. The first, designated here as PGT-1, is an 8 pillar latte oriented perpendicular to the shore, cliffline, and the nearby 12 pillar latte, PGT-2. The latte is oriented along a rough east-west axis. Towards the eastern end of the site four pillars, probably from a single latte (EDL), are still erect” (Craib 1986:130). “Fifty stone mortars were located at the site, the majority (n=35) were made from basalt while the remaining 15 were made from limestone outcrops…. Most mortars are proximal to latte areas” (Ibid: 131).

Craib considered the possibility that the abundance of Federico palm (Cycas circinalis) at the site might explain the abundance of mortars. He commented on the relative “expense” of the mortars at the site, considering the fact that most are basalt and hence exotic to the locale. Craib thought that, although the artifact assemblage at the site is common, the imported lithic component made it somewhat distinctive.

Midden analysis from Reinman’s work suggested that people occupied themselves with “generalized collecting and/or turtle hunting” (Ibid: 139). Craib’s excavations revealed that there were both near shore reef fish and pelagic represented in the assemblage. Two of the pelagic species identified were Mahimahi (Coryphaena hippurus) and Black marlin (Istiophoridae). [Pelagic fishing during prehistoric times is one of the procurement strategies that separates Guam and the Northern Marianas from the rest of Micronesia. Sites that have pelagic fish bones are especially significant in Micronesia because of their possible links with sites (and hence prehistoric peoples) in Taiwan and the Philippines.]

Countering the misinformation introduced by later chronicles that suggested that latte were lived in by high status individuals, Craib states, “(I)t is my contention that we must proceed on the assumption that all latte served as supports for all residences and that it is variations in size class which reflects ranking within each village and not simply among a separate, exclusive high status group”(Ibid: 169). Rather, Craib proposed that status did not reflect an apical hierarchy, but instead reflected “horizontal dimensions based primarily on the principle of seniority within one’s kin groups” (Ibid: 173).

Finally, Craib offered that the Pågat investigations revealed that the next focus for research on latte in the Marianas had to be, “larger scale, areal excavations in an around latte” in order to examine how space was utilized within the site (Ibid: 184).

Thus both past and current archaeological research at Pågat raises still-unanswered questions about our Chamorro ancestors and the environment they once inhabited. The apparent depositional and preservation characteristics of Pågat Cave may be the best opportunity to find older archaeological deposits if indeed they exist here, and future excavations may be designed to accommodate this possibility. The possibility of submerged artifacts in the cave waters should also be considered, including potentially rare and well preserved materials that would be perishable in other contexts.

Pågat Is A Significant Religious, Cultural, And Historic Site, Both In Ancient And Contemporary Times.

In contemporary Guam society, Pågat continues to be a place of religious, cultural, and historical significance, as it was in ancient times.

Religious Significance
While there are many reasons for delineating the area’s spiritual importance, one reason stands out in particular: the taotaomo’na of Pågat. Translated loosely, taotaomo’na can mean “ancestors,” “people of before,” or “spirits.” Ancient Chamorros believed that the spirits of their ancestors remained in the world to assist and protect them and therefore one had to treat their remains with great care and respect. Many Chamorros today continue to practice the ancient belief system, with an on-going respect for taotaomo’na and the places in which their spirits dwell. These spirit dwelling places can be found everywhere in Guam, and throughout the entire Mariana Islands as well, but are known to have an especially strong presence in Pågat.

One testimony of the spiritual power at Pågat, comes from Dr. Keith Lujan Camacho, assistant professor of Asian American Studies at UCLA, formerly a professor of Pacific History at the University of Guam.
Dr. Camacho states, “As a Chamorro, I, too, have experienced an encounter with
the taotaomo’na in Pagat during the late 1980s, as have many others who have visited the site. For the sake of brevity, the taotaomo’na communicated to me by sprinkling pebbles on my face while I was asleep on the bed of a truck and while my elders were fishing in and beyond the reefs. Awoken by this flurry of activity, I immediately relayed my encounter to those of us who remained on the beach. Upon the return of my elder fishers, and upon our shared realization of the taotaomo’na’s presence, we quickly distributed the catch of reef fish and lobsters, packed our belongings, and left the area. As a historian with interdisciplinary training in the humanities, and as a faculty member of two world-renowned universities (e.g., UCLA and UIUC), I can attest to the validity of these and related taotaomo’na experiences. In this respect, four points warrant both our attention and intervention: (1) the taotaomo’na in the Mariana Islands exist as a unique cultural phenomena; (2) a rich archive of familial histories verify the large presence of taotaomo’na in Pagat, Guam; (3) Pagat remains an integral site for the practice of Chamorro cultural beliefs; and (4) any material destruction of Pagat’s landscape and seascape infringes upon the vitality of Chamorro cultural survival.”
As a place of religious significance, Chamorros treat Pågat with great respect, and our generation’s responsibility is to protect and nurture the site so that it is treated with the respect paid to the world’s great cathedrals and temples.

Cultural Significance
The Pågat area is a symbolic place for contemporary Chamorros and the maintenance of their identity and spirituality. It holds this status for a number of reasons, relating in part to the presence of artifacts there and the site’s natural beauty, combined with the fact that it is one of the few places on Guam today where that combination can be experienced by Chamorro civilians without requiring a military pass or serving in the United States military.

In contrast to many historic sites on the island that have been looted or destroyed by development, Pågat still contains a great number of historic artifacts. Chamorros who visit there can see artifacts, pottery shards, mortars and latte several hundreds of years old, lying around, and thereby experience the feeling of literally walking in the footsteps of their ancestors. It is for this reason that Pågat has become a favored site amongst Chamorros who wish to reconnect with their ancient roots and become more in touch with their culture. Kie Susuico, a Chamorro artist and poet has become noted for taking regular trips to Pågat with groups of people of all ages, observes that group members love to hear the history of the area and see the artifacts there. It has become common for groups of Chamorros to visit the site and either meditate or chant around certain areas where there are concentrations of artifacts in order to show honor and respect to the spirits of their ancestors. Pågat is a village alive with opportunities for Guam’s youth to learn about and connect with their past – a past informed by both the traumas of violent colonization and the pride of a people who have survived numerous invasions.

Pågat also plays a key role in the instilling of an environmental consciousness in people on Guam today, especially amongst the youth. As a site that can help illustrate Ancient Chamorro lifeways and settlement patterns, and as an ideal hike for showcasing a number of different island ecosystems, Pågat is a popular location for high school and college field trips. Students who go there learn not only about the Guam’s environment, but also, when contrasting that location with other public sites, it helps exemplify the need to preserve existing natural and historic areas, so as not to be lost like so many others.

Pågat plays a role in maintaining Chamorro physical and mental health, endangered by the proposed build-up through the denial of access to native plants used by Chamorro healers (suruhanu and suruhana) to produce herbal medicines. The cessation of this cultural practice not only endangers Chamorro access to health care and medicine, but also violates the indigenous right to traditional intellectual property – in this case, to the production and dissemination of traditional herbal remedies. Pagat Village, for example, is one important site accessed by herbal healers. The DEIS states, “Potentially affected resources include: Guam International Raceway, Marbo Cave, Pagat Trail and associated trails in the vicinity, cultural gathering activities (suruhana), and off-shore fishing near Marbo Cave. Implementation of Alternative 1, regardless of the Training Complex Alternatives A or B, would cause the cessation of the present activities at all the resources mentioned because the Known Distance (KD) Range Complex is proposed in that location” (Volume 2, Chapter 19, page 19-11).

As a village where ancestral remains of the indigenous Chamorro people are buried, the defilement of Pågat due to its use in the firing range complex threatens the psychological health of the Chamorro people. This proposed action will exact immitigable psychological injury to the Chamorro people and is incompatible with the cherished notion of allowing our ancestors to rest in peace.

Pågat’s cultural significance also accrues from its importance as a fishing grounds for Chamorros. A statement from University of Guam Associate Professor Rick Castro shares the following relevant information and insight about Pågat:
In the early 1990s, when I was newly back from Hawaii and was getting into free
diving/spear fishing, my friends and I would go to the east side of the island periodically, especially in the mid-late summer months when the winds would turn around (the period of turning-around winds is called “bendibat”) or, at other times, altogether cease to blow, and the oceans would be dead calm for hours at a time. The Pågat region of coast was legendary for its fishing, as well as its difficulty and forbidding nature. When it was calm there, being in the ocean at night was otherworldly beautiful and eerie. I also went fishing there from the cliffs and tables as a teenager in the early 1970s. The ocean was terrible in its wild ferocity during the windy, stormy times…. During those times, the fishing was dicey and very difficult, very treacherous, but the prospect of bountiful catches that came hard and fast, without any warning, were astounding and rewarding.
I think it is safe to say that the Pågat region is a vital stretch in the overall Guam east coast fishing scene…. It is popular among a core group of seasoned, experienced spear fishermen (both free and scuba divers), as well as a core group of cliff/slide bait fishermen.

For these reasons, the idea of Pågat being lost to the people of Guam and the Chamorros in particular for military use would be considered offensive by most. The idea that the natural beauty or the artifacts there will be destroyed or disturbed to be used for a firing range will be detrimental in both a symbolic and a very concrete sense.

Land Dispossession at Pågat Perpetuates the Unresolved and Unsettling History of U.S. Military Land-Takings on Guam.

Authors of the DEIS have shown little understanding of the value of land to the Chamorro people and the enormity of the imposition that additional land takings place on future opportunities for the people of Guam. Guam is the only homeland that the Chamorro people of Guam have and they have seen the island become increasingly crowded with outsiders who have, over the last 65 years, arrived on island largely due to opportunities that stem from the American military presence here. While Chamorros have welcomed outsiders and have welcomed the military, there is simply not enough land on the island and monetary compensation is no equivalent for the loss of this ever-shrinking land base.

During World War II, the Chamorro people of Guam had little choice but to surrender their lands to the needs of the U.S. military and most did so willingly because they believed in the goodness of the United States. They also believed that much of this land would be returned one day. Some of this land was eventually returned, but much of it environmentally ruined, the long term impact being that Chamorros have lost much of their agricultural land base and now are dependent on imported food for survival. Nevertheless, Chamorros have shown their willingness and ability to accommodate the military presence and have adapted to the new way of life that the bases brought. While there are many unresolved issues regarding the process of post-war land takings and compensation for these land takings, the Federal Government has in the years since 1950 steadily returned lands to the Government of Guam.

Prior to this proposed build-up, the only major attempt to expand the military’s footprint on the island was during the Vietnam War when the Navy attempted to acquire 3,920 acres at Sella Bay for an ammunition wharf that would serve as a port for Naval Magazine, Guam. In this process, the Navy learned that, despite tremendous support for the Vietnam War, the public rose up against this proposed land acquisition. In the name of civilian-military relations, the Navy backed down and figured out a way to fit the ammunition wharf on property it already owned.

In the current plans for the Marine relocation to Guam, it appears that the lessons of history have been forgotten. Despite excess lands at Tarague, Naval Magazine and Admiral Nimitz Golf Course the military seems convinced that more land acquisition on Guam’s northeast coastline is the only way to accommodate a firing range. This area, if acquired, will disrupt both the quality of life in Guam’s civilian population center and will restrict access to some of Guam’s most pristine and culturally significant wilderness and coastline.

The DEIS presents alternatives that require a choice between private lands and culturally significant land and water resources of Pågat and the privately owned lands of Sasayan. However, there needs to be greater consideration of land already owned by the federal government. The reality of the Chamorro people’s finite land base needs to be taken into greater consideration and the military’s priorities need to be adjusted accordingly. This may mean taking a harder look at lands currently designated for military recreational purposes and a greater recognition of the sacrifices Chamorros have gone through to accommodate the military presence on the island since World War II.

Sites like Double Reef, Haputo, Spanish Steps, Ritidian, Luminao Reef (and even parts of Naval Magazine until the 1970s) are military owned lands that locals have had access to but we have learned that whatever program for access the military sets up can be changed at their convenience and there needs to be some kind of guarantee to protect access to such sites. There is also the issue of access to Jinapsan, Urunao and, of course, the demise of Star Sand Beach resort. Based on historical practices, the military has not gained the trust of the public when it comes to making sites accessible.

Recommendation:

Pågat is an irreplaceable Village of historical, cultural, and spiritual significance to Chamorros past and present, and the proposed firing range represents a gross desecration of a sacred site.

Preferred Alternative: In order to protect the human and natural resources of Pågat, as well in the interest of preserving the Chamorro people’s cultural, historical, and religious heritage, we, the undersigned University of Guam Faculty, support the “NO ACTION” Alternative.


This report has been prepared by and is endorsed by the following University of Guam faculty:

Anne Perez Hattori, History
Dominica Tolentino, Anthropology
Peter Onedera, Chamorro Language
Richard Olmo, Geography
Michael Clement, History
Michael Lujan Bevacqua, English/History
Rita Sharma Gopinath, Psychology
Lisa Natividad, Social Work
Victoria Leon Guerrero, English
Hope Cristobal, History
Rick Castro, Library Sciences
Therese Terlaje, Legal Studies

Any correspondence regarding this statement should be sent to:

Professor Anne Perez Hattori
University of Guam
Division of Humanities
UOG Station
Mangilao, Guam 96923
ahattori@uguam.uog.edu

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Matahlek na Chalan

Halacha, hiningok-hu este na sinangan, ko’lo’lo’na gi entre i manakhilo’ yan i mansappotte i buildup giya Guahan, “Ai gumof matahlek i chalan-ña este na buildup.”

Gi i hinasson este na taotao siha, estaba gof “simple” este na buildup. Madisidi todu esta, (ya mungga chathinasso sa’ siempre ma planunuyi hit esta lokkue’), ya gaiprubecho este para i taotao Guahan, kontat ki ti manggongon hit yan ti mamaisen kuestion hit.

På’go, ayu i manggof malago na u fåtto (ya u magåhet) i buildup, ma susukne i kumokontra i buildup, put i meggai na mampos annok na prublema na para u katga magi. Gi minagahet, desde 2005, ayu na prublema siha, esta manggaige guini, esta manggaige guihi giya Japan, yan esta manggaige lokkue’ giya Washington D.C. I manmalago i buildup, ti ma admite este siha, achokka’ annok, na guaha giya D.C. yan Japan ni’ ti ya-ñiha este na buildup, ya siña mas piligro gui’ kinu prubecho para Hita, ti ma admite. Instead, ma fa’finu todu. Kontra Hita ni’ sumångan na matahlek yan piligro este na chålan, ma esalaogue hit.

Lao på’go, ti manpuniyon este siha esta, lao sigi ha’ ma sukne i Hita i maladjusted na Hita i prublema.

Este na tinige’ hu na’chetton gi pappa’: estague un otro “tinilek” pat “diso’” dipende manu na metaphor ga’o’mu yumalaka.


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US Military Base Impasse Could Topple Japan Leader
By ERIC TALMADGE, Associated Press Writer – May 14 1:10 AM CST

TOKYO – It is possibly the most controversial U.S. military facility in the world after the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Local residents like to call it the world's most dangerous base. An impasse over its future could bring down the government of a key U.S. ally.

But this hotspot isn't in Kyrgyzstan, or Afghanistan.

It's an airstrip on the sleepy, semitropical tourist haven of Okinawa that hasn't directly been involved in a conflict since the Japanese surrender in 1945 ended World War II. For decades, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma has instead been a political quagmire — and now D-Day appears to be looming.

Haunted by a campaign pledge to relocate the base, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has vowed to settle the issue — or at least form a coherent set of proposals — by the end of this month. Polls suggest he will be under heavy pressure to resign, after barely nine months in office, if he fails to do so.

The debate has grown so convoluted and the pressure to find a compromise so intense that Hatoyama is suggesting a replacement airstrip be built on raised pilings so as not to destroy marine life below — an expensive, high-tech option that experts doubt would work and which has so far failed to appease many Okinawans.

"It is a terrible idea," said Masaaki Gabe, a professor of international relations at the University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa's most prestigious college. "It's no better than the previous plan. It won't persuade Okinawans, and I don't think it will be welcomed by Washington, either."

So far, it hasn't been — working-level talks in Washington this week ended in discord.

The base, home to about 2,000 U.S. Marines, has long symbolized Okinawan concerns over safety, crime and economic development. But efforts to remove it have shaken support for America's most important alliance in Asia, a region where — with China ascending and North Korea unstable — Washington badly needs reliable partners.

All sides agree in theory that the base, a noisy helicopter and transport-plane hub located in a crowded city, should be closed.

An agreement to that effect was made in 1996, following uproar over the brutal rape of a 12-year-old schoolgirl by two Marines and a sailor. The U.S. also has agreed to move about 8,600 Marines from other Okinawa units to the tiny Pacific territory of Guam by 2014.

But the devil is in the details.

Washington is demanding Futenma's replacement be built nearby. But suggested alternate sites have fiercely protested having the base moved into their backyard and, with Tokyo unwilling to rebuff its most important ally, the impasse has only festered.

Facing key elections in July, Hatoyama is scrambling to find a consensus by his self-imposed deadline of the end of the month. But his public support ratings have plummeted to the 20 percent level. Polls say many voters think he should step down if he can't demonstrate more leadership, and one of his coalition partners has said it may have to quit the government if Okinawa's concerns are not fully addressed.

Though the Obama administration has largely stayed out of the fray, the process has been a humiliating initiation for Hatoyama.

He ousted Japan's long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party last September with promises to forge a more equal relationship with Washington. As part of that pledge, he said Futenma's operations should be moved off Okinawa, where more than half of the 47,000 U.S. troops in Japan are stationed.

Hatoyama recently backed down, painfully apologizing to Okinawa during a trip there for the "nuisance" the base causes. At the same time, he said there was no feasible alternative to building the new landing strip farther to the north in the town of Nago.

"The Hatoyama government is as docile a satellite of the U.S. as the LDP ever thought of being," said Chalmers Johnson, president of the Japan Policy Research Institute, a private think tank based in San Francisco. "The U.S. is certainly the more culpable partner in simply refusing to negotiate, but the Japanese government is at fault in never standing up to us."

Johnson said Washington has stood firm because it is afraid that agreeing to close the base outright could lead to a flood of demands to close more. The U.S. has more than 100 bases and facilities — including depots and ports — across Japan.

The Pentagon operates more than 700 overseas bases worldwide.

"We had to be kicked out of the Philippines and Ecuador, and we paid through the nose to remain in Kyrgyzstan, probably including bribes to the former government there that has just been overthrown," Johnson said.

U.S. officials say a replacement for the Futenma base is essential because its air assets support the infantry units that will remain on Okinawa. They also argue that Okinawa — site of one of the bloodiest battlefields of World War II — is a key to Washington's strategy in the Pacific because of its proximity to China, Taiwan and the Korean peninsula.

"Is the Marine presence necessary in Okinawa? In terms of geostrategic location, the answer is a definite yes," said Mike Green, Japan chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "Okinawa is only a few days' sailing time and only a few hours' flight time from the major hotspots in the Western Pacific. Time matters in a crisis."

But that argument is drowned out in Japan's public debate.

Instead, a helicopter crash in 2004 just outside the base's gates on a university campus is used to justify claims the heavily populated area around Futenma is unsafe, though no one died in that accident. Japanese media frequently show images of schoolchildren playing soccer as C-130 transport planes buzz overhead, or of the razorwire fences and "keep out" signs that ring the airstrip.

Last month, 90,000 Okinawans protested the base and the relocation plan — the biggest demonstration against the base ever. This weekend, to mark the 1972 reversion of Okinawa from U.S. to Japanese administration, a human chain around Futenma is planned.

Organizers say they expect more than 10,000 people.

Weston Konishi, a Japan expert with the Washington-based Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation, said Hatoyama's dithering has allowed opposition to the security alliance to swell.

"The political leadership in Tokyo has not adequately counterbalanced that sentiment," he said. "The U.S. forces are increasingly seen as both unnecessary and bothersome to local communities that host them."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Dispatch from the Nation of Maladjusted Guam People

Tomorrow my Guam History classes will be conducting their political status forums. For this exercise, which is their last big group project, I divide them into three groups, one for each of the potential future political statues of Guam, and they have to debate which is the best for Guam. I'll write more about this project later, but it is usually the most fun part of my entire semester, since its high energy, usually gof na'chalek, and I'm always happy when students find small and large ways to surprise me with their arguments.

One of the highlights of tomorrow will be when some producers who work for the show Dan Rather Reports will be filming one of my classes when they are debating political status, and then interviewing me afterwards about Guam's history. They are on island doing a story about the infamous military buildup which is always looming in a menacing ambigous form on Guam's horizon. They spent a week last month following Congresswoman Bordallo around, and so now they are on island to get more video and do some interviews with business leaders, activists and academics.

For the past few months, Guam has received far more national and international attention than usual. As I've written about before, the DEIS comment period created a very simple framework through which people on Guam became more easily activated or animted. Whatever term you'd like to use to describe it, what it ultimately did was make Guam a more fertile ground for certain types of political speech or actions. These actions or forms of political discourse already exist, but the conditions which the period created made them more likely to be enacted, embodied, more acceptable to be publicly articulated. One way of conceiving of what the DEIS comment period enabled is, that it remapped and extended the borders of the imagined community of maladjusted folks on Guam. That angry irrational mass of people who are critical of the United States or the US military is always argued to be really small, minute and pointless. As such, the majority of people on Guam do not imagine themselves as belonging to that group, but define themselves against it, as belonging to a more reasonable, more patriotic American community. The imagined community grew for about 90 days, to the point where it appeared to gain the residency of thousands more than usual. And as a result the sort of political speech and actions associated with that maladjusted nation could no longer be dismissed as the kinachang in the consciousness of crazy people. And so as a result, policies shifted, attitudes shifted, perceptions shifted, and so much of what people took for granted a year ago, now seems more uncertain.

The DEIS comment period had a similar effect on making Guam a target for media. A regular series of articles have been written about Guam since 2005, all with the buildup and its impacts as their core subject. Every few months, some major American paper or magazine would come up with some barely balanced piece about the buildup and how it would benefit Guam, but could Guam handle the changes that need to be made to benefit from the buildup. Since the start of this year however, the coverage has been much more persistent, and at times even critical of the buildup. I won't go through the breadth of this coverage since I'm saving that for another post, but the DEIS period helped increase the coverage by providing a narrative lens through which Guam’s story was told in an easier and more compelling way.

On the one hand, as more and more revelations about the military’s plans and the savage negative impacts they would entail were revealed, it was far easier to not only create a sense of urgency or direness, but it was also a way of creating more balance. In previous articles, the balance was always lacking because of the lack of “credible” voices who could be counted on to give the other side. Instead, these articles rambled on without that side, since the only people who could be counted as having their beliefs, were that tiny group from the nation of maladjusted Guam people. With the DEIS document and the public comment period created the way in which that other side to the issues wasn’t only something that an activist would comment on, but made it possible that the military itself, their plans and their 87 million dollar words, could be used to bolster the opposition. Ironically, the credibility of the military (even against themselves) could then help give credibility to the grassroots or the mantenhos na taotao siha, who would be written off and out otherwise. After all, the angry words they are hurling aren’t really their own, but actually those of whoever wrote and approved the DEIS!

The use of the DEIS as the focus and the forms through which critical words are cited is also what allows these news pieces to be somewhat critical of the military, and still be considered polite journalism and not anti-American screeds. The critical words come from the policies, the reports, the studies. They don’t stem from ideology, and they aren’t driven by the crazy ramblings of some activist who wants to go back to living in huts. To attack the military before the release of the DEIS, was to wade into dangerous, uncharted waters. It would have meant attacking things which the friendly American media isn’t supposed to attack. It would have meant addressing the issues of why America is in Guam anyways. It would have meant criticizing the American presence there, in colonial terms, rather than the policy-focused ways which appeared during the DEIS period. It would have also meant questioning the nature of American militarization, and its rights to certain things, and the way it extends its power and projects force. Through the DEIS, those larger, gof mappot na finasien siha, can remained unaddressed. So even if the piece which emerges is scathing, it is about military policy, not the military itself. It is not about fundamental questions of territoriality and the US and its rights to Guam, but about the military being fair and a nice neighbor. If you read carefully the critical pieces which are written from mainstream sources, they sometimes appear radical when you compare similar pieces from years past. But in truth, they can still be tied together by a narrative knot where if the military simply did a better study or paid more money, then everything would be fine.

Over the past few months I’ve been interviewed for literally dozens of international and national media outlets. Some of them in person, some over the phone, some over email. I’m always happy to share with these journalists, especially in hope that some of the critical or radical ideas or interpretations that I have or believe, might be taken as normal or commonsensical for that journalist. I do this, despite the fact that I know that most of what I say won’t ever make it anywhere near a blog post or a printed newspaper page. That most of what I will tell them, they won’t have the background to understand, or it won’t fit in the piece they are already writing and so on. But, itself still important to challenge things and work to shape things. The perceptions of Guam went unchallenged for so long, because even though people on Guam may have hated the way they were being talked about, those writing about Guam in the states rarely cared to contact anyone from Guam. Now that this has changed and so gestures are at least being made to reach out to talk to people from or on Guam, we need to make the best use of it.

I wanted to share a piece on Guam which appeared on the website Slate a few months back. I was contacted by the author of the piece Jessica Dweck, who framed the narrative of her intended short piece, as providing an answer to clueless or just ignorant Americans, as to why there are military bases in Guam and why the US will be spending billions of dollars building more there very soon. When she mentioned that her intent was to answer this question I was immediately interested, and hoped that she would write a piece which was, maybe not in-depth, but at least was a bit more insightful about issues of why America “owns” Guam, and not only what this meant 100 years ago, but what it means today. I wrote up about two pages of answers to her questions.

I'm pasting those two pages below, and you can click the link above to see how it matches up with her article.

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1.

The US took Guam from Spain during the Spanish American War. It was a bloodless occupation since at the time, communication with Guam was so poor that the Spanish officials on Guam didn't even know there was a war going on. The indigenous people of Guam, the Chamorros have been handed back and forth between three different colonizers since 1668, Spanish, US, Japanese (during World War II) and finally back to the US, where we are still today.

Guam was taken in 1898, because at that time coaling stations were needed across the Pacific in order to get US economic and military forces to Asia, which was seen as the next big market for the US. It was a sleepy Naval base for about forty years until it was attacked and occupied by the Japanese in 1941 at the start of World War II. When the US first took over, Chamorros were somewhat excited about the change of regime, since America had a reputation for being a democratic and progressive nation, but this was not the case. The US Navy set up an autocratic regime in which the lives of Chamorros were determined completely by a Naval Governor stationed on the island. Chamorros had no rights save for what the Naval Governor gave them and so at different points, freedom of speech was banned, whistling in public was banned, books written in the Chamorro language were burned by the Naval government and the Chamorro language was prohibited in schools.

Some Chamorros grew attached to the US during this period, although most do not because of the paternalistic treatment. Chamorros regularly petitioned the US Congress for more rights but each time were denied on the basis that if Chamorros were given more rights, it would interfere with "national security" or the ability of the US Navy to conduct its affairs or missions in the Pacific.

When the Japanese invaded, Chamorros got a taste of a different colonizer, a more violent and brutal one and so when the US re-invaded Guam in 1944, Chamorros then greet Uncle Sam's return as a liberation. The contrast between colonizers helps Chamorros forget the racist ways they had been treated before the war and helps instill in them a desire to be more American. In the immediate years after World War II, the US Navy starts the plans for the military facilities that Guam hosts today. They illegally take close to 2/3 of the island to build various military bases, displacing the majority of Guam's 22,000 Chamorros. These takings are illegal since Chamorros were not citizens of the US and therefore the taking of their land could not count as imminent domain. In order to legitimize these takings, and in response to Chamorro protests as to the lack of their political rights, an Organic Act is passed in 1950 creating limited self-government for Chamorros and also making them US Citizens.

Whereas Guam was a sleepy base before World War II, this was not the case after the war. Determined to never allowed another Pearl Harbor to take place and also seeking to protect itself from the emerging powers in Asia, the Pacific was to be transformed into an American Lake, a huge buffer zone of which Guam, on the very edge of Asia was a key part. This buffer zone would not only for defensive protection however, but also for the projection of power, as it would give the US the ability to strike easier its potential enemies in Asia.

Today, Guam is an unincorporated territory of the United States, which means that its place in the US union is never certain but always changing and always subject to whether Congress, the White House or some part of the Federal Government decides to include them. Guam doesn't have voting representation in the US Congress and no Electoral College votes for President. In the years since World War II, much of the land that was taken has slowly been returned as excess lands, although the Department of Defense still controls almost 1/3 of Guam, with an Air Force base in the Northern part of the island, and a Navy base in the Southern. Right now the US is in the midst of transferring roughly 8-9,000 Marines and their dependents from Okinawa to Guam, to establish a Marine Corps base on Guam.

2.
Guam's value is part geographic and part colonial. It is American in the sense that it "belongs" to the United States but is not a full part of it. It is an ideal site for American militarization since it is closer to hot spots in Asia than any "real" American communities, and its lack of sovereignty means that there is no foreign government to negotiate with, if the US military wants to do something on Guam, it can just do it. This is crucial as current and former allies of the US begin to resent the sea of bases American established immediately after World War II in their countries. Guam is a place where no matter how the military behaves, the people there cannot kick the US out, cannot demand anything, since as a territory there is no framework for them to have any power to make demands to negotiate (such as a VFA or a SOFA).

Under Rumsfeld there was a lot of (at least rhetorical) movement towards reconfiguring American forces across the globe. He advocated and helped develop smaller, less visible bases in younger American allies, which were to be called facilities and not bases. Rumsfeld had an intriguing vision which I think most people would find paradoxical. He wanted to on the one hand extend the grasp of American power, make it so that American forces could reach targets faster and with less interference, but he also wanted to decrease the visibility of America's forces by proposing that they be redeployed from their traditional bases to other sites such as Guam.

3.

Guam's relationship to its bases and to the US military is a complex one, full of plenty of patriotism, but also lots of feelings of being mistreated or disrespected. Since World War II, Chamorros have become a minority on Guam due to the influx of peoples from Asia and the Pacific seeking to take advantage of it being a US territory, and so from this point on I am not just speaking about Chamorros, but generically the people of Guam. In Guam today, the bases are seen as places of economic and educational advancement, military recruitment on Guam is astronomical and regularly the highest of any market in the US and its territories. The US is still celebrated each year in July as a liberator during the island's largest holiday called "Liberation Day."

But at the same time, so much of the military's presence on Guam is predicated on the US owning Guam, and thinking of it first and foremost as a military base, or a piece of strategically important land and so the people who live there are an afterthought. For instance when Dick Cheney visited Guam in 2007 he didn't even leave the military base but just spoke to the troops on base and then left. When Obama first made plans this year to visit Guam this week (the trip has been delayed until June), the plan was pretty much the same, speak to the men and women serving overseas and maybe some local leaders who come on base, but not much more. For many Chamorros their feelings of anger towards to the US come from the fact that the island is still a colony and hasn't been allowed to decolonize or change its political status to something more equitable (such as free association, statehood or independence). Also, the illegal land takings immediately after World War II are still the source of some serious resentment amongst Chamorro families who lost land or had land forcibly taken from them to make the bases of today

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