Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cetti and Sella

This is the of Cetti Bay from the river. Cetti Bay and Sella Bay are both spots in Southern Guam that are favorites for people with boats and hikers to visit. People known them as beautiful secluded places. In truth their history goes much deeper than that. Sella in particular was notorious in the 1970s as a site of protest against US militarization. The US Navy had wanted to build an ammuniation wharf there. Chamorro rights activists, Senators and environmentalists came out to protest this and were able in delaying the process so much the Navy eventually gave up. Before there was Pagat or even Pott's Junction, there was Sella Bay.

But even beyond this, if we look at these two villages in ancient times, we can see a tragic lesson they embody. In ancient times these bays were actually villages. Cetti was known as Atte and Sella was known as Sidya. They were on different sides of the Chamorro Spanish Wars. Sidya sided with the Spanish, while Atte sided with rebel Chamorros.

Atte was the site of the killing of a Catholic priest, and like most villages that challenged the church and the new regime it vanished from Guam's landscape during that tumultuous period. Sidya remained on the map of Guam for a longer period for two reasons. The first reason is that it was pro-Spanish and so wasn't burned to the ground like other villages were. Sidya is note-worthy for many reasons, but chief among them is that in one account it is recognized as the only village where a woman holds political power and leads the village. Although every clan and every village had Maga'haga, and while the Spanish mention them, they don't give them the due they deserve. The leader of Sidya is not erased or forgotten as so many others were, but this is only because she was vehemently pro-Spanish and had her villagers go out and capture and kill anti-Spanish Chamorros. Despite proving her loyalty in this way she was still not given a name by the Spanish. But this was normal for the accounts, the Spanish had an almost genetic aversion for naming women in Guam.

The second reason is only possible because of the first. Whereas Atte disappeared in the reduccion, Sidya technically did as well, as Guam was reduced to just a half dozen villages.  But during the Spanish period the village re-emerged due to the fact that the Umatac - Hagatna road was basically the Marine Drive of the day. When ships were expected to arrive on island, the center of the island would shift south to Umatac. These ships meant new goods, money, news from the outside, tourists, visitors, all sorts of things and so that road connected to two centers of the island. Sidya or Sella was positioned on that road and was the site of a leper colony, stores, houses.

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