Thursday, February 09, 2012
Don't know if I'll be posting much until I hit my deadline this Friday. After posting pretty consistently in December and in January I've hit a lull this month, as so many deadlines loom around me. Once I finish this project however I'll work on being better about providing content for this blog! Despensa yu'!
In the meantime here is something I wrote a few years back for the website Guampedia. It is an entry meant to give a brief overview of Chamorro peskadot, which can translate to both fisherman or hunter.
Pumeska (fishermen, hunters)
Ancient Chamorros were avid and skilled hunters both on land and sea. As I tasi (the ocean) was their primary source of sustenance, Chamorros developed dozens of methods of eguihan (fishing). The basic methods of catching fish were etupak (line fishing), laggua (net fishing), fisga or pulus (spearfishing) and lalago (fishing by hand). These were enhanced by different techniques or devices meant to trick or lure fish.
One such device, made from coconut shells and stone was a poiu. An e’eguihan (fisherman) would lower a poiu filled with ground coconut into the water. Holes were drilled in the shell and stone, so as the poiu was raised and lowered, small bits of coconut would escape, attracting huge schools of fish. For weeks they would return to the same spot, each day lowering the poiu a little less. On the last day, a laggua achuman (large net) would be set beneath the spot, to catch the feeding fish, who were by now close to the surface.
Ancient Chamorros used fish themselves as lures. Catching them, feeding them, attaching a line to them and thus treating them as pets. Once the fish was trained and tamed it would be used to lure other fish in the Chamorro’s nets.
Ancient Chamorros also constructed structures in order to trick fish. They built fake shelters for fish to hide in at night, and then surrounded them with a net and speared them. They also built gigao made from wood or stone, which would channel fish into certain spots where they could not escape.
For centuries, visitors to Guam marveled at the skills of Chamorro maneguihan (fishermen). The fact that they were one of the few Pacific peoples who successful caught deepwater fish attests to this. According to one account, a Chamorro caught a marlin with a hook and line, and so as not to break the line, began to tire it out. A shark soon appeared and attacked the marlin. The Chamorro capsized his boat, tied his line to it and then swam out to the marlin and diverted the shark away from his prey. After the shark was gone, the Chamorro returned to his craft with the marlin and sailed home.
The labors of I tasi was divided by gender and class. Women were responsible for fishing within the reef, while men, beyond it. Furthermore, the lowest class, manachang, were prohibited from fishing.
On land, Chamorros hunted the fanihi and ayuyu. E’efanihi (fruit bat hunters) used a laggua attached to a long wooden pole to snare the creatures as they flew by searching for fruit. E’eayuyu (coconut crab hunters) used ponne’ or stale coconut meat to lure out the crabs and then sneak from behind and catch them. Since the Spanish introduction of binadu (deer) and babui (pigs), Chamorros have become skilled hunters of them as well.
In 1919, Chamorros became e’echa’ka (rat hunters) after Governor William Gilmer decreed that all Chamorro males must deliver five dead rats each month or pay a fine.
Topping, Donald, Pedro Ogo and Bernadita Camacho. Chamorro-English Dictionary. University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu, 1975.
Russell, Scott. Tiempon I Manmofo’na: Ancient Chamorro Culture and History of the Northern Mariana Islands. Division of Historic Preservation, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, 1998.
Cunningham, Lawrence. Ancient Chamorro Society. Bess Press, Honolulu, 1992.
A Journey with the Masters of Chamorro Tradition. Guam Council for the Arts and Humanities, Hagatna, Guam, 2000.