Friday, November 28, 2014

Ancient Chamorro Cure for Sea-Sickness

I haven't posted much for the past week because I have been rushing to finish up my novel this month for ChaNoWriMo or Chamorro Novel Writing Month. The goal is to reach 50,000 words by the end of November. It is almost the end of November and with two days to go I am at 45,000 words. I should be able to make it this weekend but it has been a long slog. 

For three years I have worked on the same story tentatively titled "The Legend of the Chamurai." In it a warrior makahna or wizard during the ancient times has a vision where she witnesses the end of the Chamorro people. In order to prevent that end from taking place all sorts of giant mythical creatures and samurai and Spanish soldiers get mixed in. The first 50,000 words of this story were very focused, establishing the world of ancient Chamorros, the types of powers and spells they might have, the lore and the cultural knowledge that guided them at that time. The next 50,000 words built on this while trying to establish three basic story arcs. The third 50,000 words, which I am working on finishing right now has wrapped up one story arc and will be building another. 

The story arc I am currently working on follows three chosen individuals, Ganao, Lulao and Goflinan as they sail up the Marianas chain in order to complete a challenge on each island. Whether or not they can complete each challenge will determine whether or not they can unite the villages of Guam against the dangerous threat that is coming. It has been a strange journey writing this story. Guaha na biahi Guiya lamo'na. There are times when it is in charge. The characters or the scenes for some reason push in directions I didn't intend.

Here is a part of that story arc, when the three chosen ones, a healer, a navigator and a warrior are sailing north from Tumon to Rota. This scenes references an "ancient Chamorro remedy for sea sickness" which you probably shouldn't try yourself unless you are that desperate. Para hamyo ni tumaitaitai este, this is not a real cure for binilachu gi tasi, try it at your own risk.


"The Greatest Game"

The trip to the next island north, Luta did not take long. It was short, but an ideal chance for Goflinan to find her sea breath. Having never sailed upon the open ocean before, the first few hours were miserable. She had brought with her a set of roots meant for the illness women felt with pregnancy, but it did little to stop the pounding, spinning pressure in her head.

Lulao could offer little advice. He had only been on a few voyages and was hardly a master navigator. Ganao knew several remedies that he had learned from his master, but did not feel comfortable sharing them. Goflinan had become insistent, not understanding the ways of this strange kinachang boy. She begged him to please help her, she could not imagine a year of being like this. Ganao, cocked his head to the side and said, “alright, if you insist.”

He came up close to her, closer than she ever thought he would or was even capable of. He stared into her eyes. She felt a spark as their eyes locked. Behind the water over his eyes there was a hidden depth. She knew it.

Ganao slapped her on the side of the head, knocking her down to the floor of the canoe. She felt like something, some important bone had been knocked loose in her head. She imagined her brain to be a collection of broken bones shaking about in a spinning pot. She heard Lulao shout above her and Ganao say in the most irritatingly detached way possible, that she asked him to do it to her.  

As she listened to them argue, she realized that it had worked. Whatever he had knocked loose in her head, it had fixed her. She was still a little shaky, but nothing like before.

“Wait” she cried out, hoping to intervene before the two came to blows. “Ganao, I appreciate what you did, I feel much better.”

Ganao smiled, beaming with pride to Lulao. “But I wish you had warned me that you were going to hit me so hard.”

Ganao apologized, “I felt the same thing when my master hit me so. He told me that it only works if you are not prepared for it. I am sorry.”

She smiled back at him. Even Lulao couldn’t help but smile.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Thanksgiving Reminder

The Politics of Thanksgiving Day

November 26, 2014
Thanksgiving Day is rooted in a myth of friendly cooperation between Native Americans and European settlers, celebrated a year after the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts and nearly starved. But the reality was more of one-sided generosity and two-faced betrayal, as William Loren Katz explains.
By William Loren Katz
As family excitement builds over Thanksgiving, you would never know November was Native American History Month. President Barack Obama publicly announced the month, but many more Americans will be paying much greater attention to his annual declaration of thanksgiving with the ceremonial pardoning of a turkey.
Thanksgiving has a treasured place in the hearts of Americans, established as a national holiday by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 to rouse Northern patriotism for a war that was not going well. Since then, Thanksgiving has often served other political ends.
In 2003, in the age of U.S. Middle East invasions, President George W. Bush flew to Baghdad, Iraq, to celebrate Thanksgiving Day with U.S. troops. He sought to rally the public behind an invasion based on lies by having a host of photographers snap pictures of him carrying a glazed turkey to eager soldiers. Three hours later, Bush flew home, and TV brought his act of solidarity and generosity to millions of U.S. living rooms. But the turkey the President carried to Baghdad was never eaten. It was cardboard, a stage prop.
Thus, as an example of hypocrisy and insincerity, Thanksgiving 2003 had a lot in common with the first Thanksgiving Day celebrated in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621. A year earlier, 149 English Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower landed at Plymouth and survived their first New England winter when Wampanoug people brought the newcomers corn, meat and other gifts, and taught the Pilgrims survival skills.
In 1621, Governor William Bradford of Plymouth proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving – not for his Wampanoug saviors but in honor of his brave Pilgrims. Through resourcefulness and devotion to God, his Christians had defeated hunger.
Bradford claimed that Native Americans were invited to the dinner. A seat at the table? Really? Since Pilgrims classified their nonwhite saviors as “infidels” and inferiors — if invited at all, they were asked to provide and serve, not share the food.
To this day, we are asked to see Thanksgiving essentially through the eyes of Governor Bradford (albeit with a nod to the help provided by the Native Americans). Bradford’s fable about stalwart Pilgrims overcoming daunting challenges through God’s blessings was an early example of “Euro think” which cast the European conquest of the Americas as mostly heroic and even noble.
Having survived those first difficult winters, Pilgrim armies soon pushed westward. In 1637, Governor Bradford sent his troops to raid a Pequot village, viewing the clash as mortal combat between devout Christians and godless heathens. Pilgrim soldiers systematically destroyed a village of sleeping men, women and children.
Bradford was overjoyed: “It was a fearful sight to see them frying in the fire and the streams of blood quenching the same and horrible was the stink and stench thereof. But the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice and they [the Pilgrim militia] gave praise thereof to God.”
Years later, Pilgrim Reverend Increase Mather asked his congregation to celebrate the “victory” and thank God “that on this day we have sent six hundred heathen souls to hell.”
School books and scholarly texts still honor Bradford, ignoring his callous brutality. The 1993 edition of the Columbia Encyclopedia [p. 351] states of Bradford, “He maintained friendly relations with the Native Americans.” The scholarly Dictionary of American History [p. 77] said, “He was a firm, determined man and an excellent leader; kept relations with the Indians on friendly terms; tolerant toward newcomers and new religions….”
The Mayflower, renamed the Meijbloom (Dutch for Mayflower), continued to carve its place in history. It became a slave ship carrying enslaved Africans to the Americas.
The Earliest Freedom-Fighters
Thanksgiving Day in the United States celebrates not justice and equality but aggression and enslavement. It affirms the genocidal beliefs in racial and religious superiority that justified the destruction of millions of Native American people and their cultures, extermination campaigns that began soon after the Pilgrim landing in 1620 and continued through the U.S. Army’s punitive campaigns in the West during the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries.
Still, Americans proudly count themselves among the earliest to fight for freedom of the individual and independence from tyranny. In that sense, on Thanksgiving Day, Americans might think to honor the first freedom-fighters of the Americas – those who resisted the foreign invasion of these lands – but those freedom-fighters were not European and their resistance started long before 1776.
Even before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth in 1620, thousands of enslaved Africans and Native Americans had united to fight the European invaders and slavers. In the early Sixteenth Century during the age of Columbus and the Spanish invasion, these brave freedom-fighters were led by Taino leaders on the island of Hispaniola. One, a woman poet named Anacoana was captured at age 29. Another, a man named Hatuey, led his 400 followers from Hispaniola to Cuba in 1511 to warn the people about the dangers from the foreigners.
The following year, Hatuey was captured, too, and, the next year in behavior fitting with the civilization represented by the European invaders, Anacoana and Hatuey were burned at the stake.
Resistance to the invaders and their reliance on slavery continued to erupt in other parts of the Americas. In 1605, 15 years before the Mayflower reached Plymouth, thousands of runaway Africans, known as “maroons,” united with Indians in northeast Brazil to form the Republic of Palmares, defended by a three-walled fortress. From there, Genga Zumba and his 10,000 people repeatedly threw back Dutch and Portuguese armies. The Republic of Palmares survived until 1694, almost a hundred years, before finally being suppressed.
These early nonwhite freedom-fighters kept no written records, but some of their ideas about freedom, justice and equality found their way into the sacred parchment that Americans celebrate each July Fourth, declaring that all people are created equal and endowed with fundamental rights.
So, the fairest way to celebrate freedom-fighters in what the Europeans called the New World would be to start with the stories of Anacoana and Hatuey resisting the depredations of Columbus and his men and then move to the “maroon” resistance at Palmares.
Looking at the injustice that the victors often meted out to indigenous people and imported slaves, there is little reason to feel grateful for the later arrival of — and encroachments by — the ungrateful Pilgrims.
William Loren Katz is the author of Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage [Atheneum] and 40 other books. His website is: This essay is adapted from the 2012 edition of Black Indians.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Your History, My Cage

Mampos meggai na sina hu sangan pat tuge' put hafa masusesedi giya Ferguson

Lao fihu hinalang yu' ni i kuentos otro.

Sesso i mas a'gang i mas taitiningo' lokkue'.

Para i gaihinasso pat gaitingo' na taotao fitme esta i sinangan-na yan hinengge-na.

Ti guailayi na u essalaogue i batkada.

Lao gi i tiempon pa'go, guaha meggai na prublema siha giya Amerika.

Lao ga'o'-niha i pumalu pumupuni siha, kinu umadmimite.

Este na prublema ti ma'pos, ti antigu, ti put estoria ha'.

Este na prublema put taimanu na dumadana' ha' i ma'pos yan i pa'go.

Ko'lo'lo'na para i mangaikulot na taotao.

Para i manggaikulot, para i mannatibu Amerikanu siha, para i manattelong (black).

I estorian otro (manma'pos) i gigao-mu pa'go. 

Para siha, para hafa na ta chathassuyi este.

Lao para Hita, este na prublema siha, este na estorian hinekse i oriya-ta yan i minagahet-ta.

Guini papa' hu na'chechetton un tinige' ginen as Cory Booker, un mayot pa'go giya New Jersey.

Mange' gui' put i hinasso-na yan siniente-na siha despues di ma anunsia i verdict put anai maana Si Rodney King.

Nina'hasso yu' put este anai hu hungok put hafa masusesedi giya Ferguson.


This article was published in Volume 201, Number 52 of The Stanford Daily on Wednesday, May 6, 1992, shortly after the controversial Rodney King verdict.
by Cory Booker ’91 M.A. ’92 He is currently the Mayor of Newark, N.J. While at Stanford, he was a columnist for The Stanford Daily.

HOW CAN I WRITE, when I have lost control of my emotions? Not Guilty… Not Guilty… Not Guilty… Not Guilty.
Not Shocked–Why Not?
Five police cars. Six officers surrounded my car, guns ready. Thirty minutes I sat, praying and shaking, only interrupted by the command, “I SAID, DON’T MOVE!”
Finally, “Everything check out, you can go.” Sheepishly I asked why. “Oh, you fit the description of a car thief.”
Not Guilty… Not Shocked–Why Not?
In the jewelry store, they lock the case when I walk in.
In the shoe store, they help the white man who walks in after me.
In the shopping mall they follow me–in the Stanford shopping mall. Last month I turned and faced their surreptitious security: “Catch any thieves today?”
Not Guilty… Not Shocked–Why Not?
September 1991, Tresidder Union, back patio. A woman was struggling with her bags. “Can I help you, ma’am?”
“Oh yes, please… WAIT! You’re black.” She hurried away.
Not Guilty… Not Shocked.
I’m a black man. I am 6 feet 3 inches tall and 230 pounds, just like King. Do I scare you? Am I a threat? Does your fear justify your actions? Twelve people believed it did.
Black male: Guilty until proven innocent.
Reactions to my kind are justified. Scrutiny is justified. Surveillance is justified. Search is justified. Fifty-six blows…Justified.
Justice? Dear God…
I graduated from Stanford last June–I was elated. I was one of four presidents of my class–I was proud. In the fall, I received a Rhodes Scholarship–I approached arrogance.
But late one night, as I walked the streets of Palo Alto, as the police car slowed down while passing me, as his steely glare met me, I realized that to him and to so many others I am and always may be a Nigger: guilty till proven innocent.
I’m struggling to be articulate, loquacious, positive, constructive, but for the first time in so long, I have lost control of my emotions. Rage, Frustration, Bitterness, Animosity, Exasperation, Sadness. Emotions once suppressed, emotions once channeled, now are let lose. Why?
Not Guilty… Not Shocked.
The violence did not surprise me. If I were the powers that be, it would not have taken me three days to call the National Guard. But maybe when you’re disconnected from reality you move slowly.
Poverty, alienation, estrangement, continuously aggravated by racism, overt and institutional. Can you leave your neighborhood without being stopped? Can you get a loan from your bank? Can you be trusted at your local store?
Can you get an ambulance dispatched to your neighborhood? Can you get the police to come to your house? Can you get an education in your school? Can you get a job? Can you stay alive past 25? Can you get respect? Can you be heard?
NO! Not until someone catches on video one small glimpse of your everyday reality and even then, can you get justice?
Our inner cities are stacks of dry leaves and lumber, waiting for a spark. This is but a mere campfire compared to the potential inferno awaiting us. Conditions are worsening and the Rodney King verdict is certainly not the most egregious injustice in our midst.
Why have I lost control of my emotions? Why do my hands shake as I write? Tonight, I have no answers.
Dear God… help us to help ourselves before we become our own undoing.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Nation Follows Nation

I was reading recently a book on "Native American Wisdom." It to be truthful a beautiful book even if it was very simplistic at times. There was a beauty and a power to some of the words, which were quoted from leaders of Native American tribes over the past 300 years. There were ways that in their wisdom I saw the cosmology, the culture of so many other native peoples, Chamorros included. There were ways that they made sense of their tragedies, railed against it, accepted it. The book didn't promote one perspective for Native American identity or world-view, even though it do at some points argue for a harmony or unity amongst the people, and made claims to the way all the different types of Native Americans see the world. There were some who continued to challenge the authority of the US over Native Americans and there were some who accepted it. Some drew a line and argued their spirituality was different than the kind that came with colonization, others argued that they could co-exist or even that they were ultimately different ways of doing the same thing. 

They included in the book the speech below, one of the most famous by a Native American, the speech of Chief Seattle in 1854. It has been reproduced countless times and also rewritten and changed over the years to suit different peoples' needs. What I am pasting below is not the transcript of the speech because the speech was never written down. In fact it wasn't even in English, but was translated twice over before it arrived in English even as it was being spoken. The version I am including here was published in 1887 by someone who was there, but who admitted to this copy not being authentic, but being based on notes and recollections. In Guam history we have a similar problem where the content of a speech is written down, and while it is incredibly suspect, it may nonetheless be an important document to give insight to that historical moment.

One of the things that drew me to this speech and made a connection to Chamorro culture was towards the end where Chief Seattle invokes the inevitable end of the United States.

A few more moons, a few more winters, and not one of the descendants of the mighty hosts that once moved over this broad land or lived in happy homes, protected by the Great Spirit, will remain to mourn over the graves of a people once more powerful and hopeful than yours. But why should I mourn at the untimely fate of my people? Tribe follows tribe, and nation follows nation, like the waves of the sea. It is the order of nature, and regret is useless. Your time of decay may be distant, but it will surely come, for even the White Man whose God walked and talked with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We will see. 
When local historian collected oral history and cultural knowledge from Chamorro elders, there was one saying that truly struck out at me, that represented the Chamorro as a colonized, yet still consciously sovereign subject. The Chamorro who was a resident in a colony, who lived and breathed colonial logic and power, who was constantly being marginalized and oppressed, but who saw themselves as being fundamentally different from their colonizer. No matter how much their life was wrapped in the colonizer's power and influence, they still believed themselves to be something different, their own subject, with their own context to the world. This was not a belief that the colonizers were not powerful, but a recognition of the fact that they could never be as powerful as they claimed to be and that history and time could never end with them. There would always be something more. 

As those elders would say, "Chumachalek hao pa'go, tumatanges hao agupa'. I agupa', ti agupa'-mu." Just because one flag flies over the island at present doesn't mean it always will and doesn't mean it won't be replaced. Many of those elders witnessed the power on Guam shift four times in forty years, from the Spanish, to the Americans, to the Japanese and then back to the Americans. For them, life was staying alive and enduring, it was not saluting the flags of whichever colonizer was now in charge. There was a sovereign timelessness to the Chamorro. This is something which has now been lost as Chamorros as a community tend to see life beginning and ending with their current colonizer and not learning this simple lesson. 


Version 1 (below) appeared in the Seattle Sunday Star on Oct. 29, 1887, in a column by Dr. Henry A. Smith.

"CHIEF SEATTLE'S 1854 ORATION" - ver . 1

Yonder sky that has wept tears of compassion upon my people for centuries untold, and which to us appears changeless and eternal, may change. Today is fair. Tomorrow it may be overcast with clouds. My words are like the stars that never change. Whatever Seattle says, the great chief at Washington can rely upon with as much certainty as he can upon the return of the sun or the seasons. The white chief says that Big Chief at Washington sends us greetings of friendship and goodwill. This is kind of him for we know he has little need of our friendship in return. His people are many. They are like the grass that covers vast prairies. My people are few. They resemble the scattering trees of a storm-swept plain. The great, and I presume -- good, White Chief sends us word that he wishes to buy our land but is willing to allow us enough to live comfortably. This indeed appears just, even generous, for the Red Man no longer has rights that he need respect, and the offer may be wise, also, as we are no longer in need of an extensive country.
There was a time when our people covered the land as the waves of a wind-ruffled sea cover its shell-paved floor, but that time long since passed away with the greatness of tribes that are now but a mournful memory. I will not dwell on, nor mourn over, our untimely decay, nor reproach my paleface brothers with hastening it, as we too may have been somewhat to blame.
Youth is impulsive. When our young men grow angry at some real or imaginary wrong, and disfigure their faces with black paint, it denotes that their hearts are black, and that they are often cruel and relentless, and our old men and old women are unable to restrain them. Thus it has ever been. Thus it was when the white man began to push our forefathers ever westward. But let us hope that the hostilities between us may never return. We would have everything to lose and nothing to gain. Revenge by young men is considered gain, even at the cost of their own lives, but old men who stay at home in times of war, and mothers who have sons to lose, know better.
Our good father in Washington--for I presume he is now our father as well as yours, since King George has moved his boundaries further north--our great and good father, I say, sends us word that if we do as he desires he will protect us. His brave warriors will be to us a bristling wall of strength, and his wonderful ships of war will fill our harbors, so that our ancient enemies far to the northward -- the Haidas and Tsimshians -- will cease to frighten our women, children, and old men. Then in reality he will be our father and we his children. But can that ever be? Your God is not our God! Your God loves your people and hates mine! He folds his strong protecting arms lovingly about the paleface and leads him by the hand as a father leads an infant son. But, He has forsaken His Red children, if they really are His. Our God, the Great Spirit, seems also to have forsaken us. Your God makes your people wax stronger every day. Soon they will fill all the land. Our people are ebbing away like a rapidly receding tide that will never return. The white man's God cannot love our people or He would protect them. They seem to be orphans who can look nowhere for help. How then can we be brothers? How can your God become our God and renew our prosperity and awaken in us dreams of returning greatness? If we have a common Heavenly Father He must be partial, for He came to His paleface children. We never saw Him. He gave you laws but had no word for His red children whose teeming multitudes once filled this vast continent as stars fill the firmament. No; we are two distinct races with separate origins and separate destinies. There is little in common between us.
To us the ashes of our ancestors are sacred and their resting place is hallowed ground. You wander far from the graves of your ancestors and seemingly without regret. Your religion was written upon tablets of stone by the iron finger of your God so that you could not forget. The Red Man could never comprehend or remember it. Our religion is the traditions of our ancestors -- the dreams of our old men, given them in solemn hours of the night by the Great Spirit; and the visions of our sachems, and is written in the hearts of our people.
Your dead cease to love you and the land of their nativity as soon as they pass the portals of the tomb and wander away beyond the stars. They are soon forgotten and never return. Our dead never forget this beautiful world that gave them being. They still love its verdant valleys, its murmuring rivers, its magnificent mountains, sequestered vales and verdant lined lakes and bays, and ever yearn in tender fond affection over the lonely hearted living, and often return from the happy hunting ground to visit, guide, console, and comfort them.
Day and night cannot dwell together. The Red Man has ever fled the approach of the White Man, as the morning mist flees before the morning sun. However, your proposition seems fair and I think that my people will accept it and will retire to the reservation you offer them. Then we will dwell apart in peace, for the words of the Great White Chief seem to be the words of nature speaking to my people out of dense darkness.
It matters little where we pass the remnant of our days. They will not be many. The Indian's night promises to be dark. Not a single star of hope hovers above his horizon. Sad-voiced winds moan in the distance. Grim fate seems to be on the Red Man's trail, and wherever he will hear the approaching footsteps of his fell destroyer and prepare stolidly to meet his doom, as does the wounded doe that hears the approaching footsteps of the hunter.
A few more moons, a few more winters, and not one of the descendants of the mighty hosts that once moved over this broad land or lived in happy homes, protected by the Great Spirit, will remain to mourn over the graves of a people once more powerful and hopeful than yours. But why should I mourn at the untimely fate of my people? Tribe follows tribe, and nation follows nation, like the waves of the sea. It is the order of nature, and regret is useless. Your time of decay may be distant, but it will surely come, for even the White Man whose God walked and talked with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We will see.
We will ponder your proposition and when we decide we will let you know. But should we accept it, I here and now make this condition that we will not be denied the privilege without molestation of visiting at any time the tombs of our ancestors, friends, and children. Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished. Even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead as the swelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people, and the very dust upon which you now stand responds more lovingly to their footsteps than yours, because it is rich with the blood of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch. Our departed braves, fond mothers, glad, happy hearted maidens, and even the little children who lived here and rejoiced here for a brief season, will love these somber solitudes and at eventide they greet shadowy returning spirits. And when the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Men, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children's children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway, or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The White Man will never be alone.
Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not powerless. Dead, did I say? There is no death, only a change of worlds.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Live-Blogging the UOG Sexual Harassment Forum

I nobia-hu Isa ha ayuda mama'tinas Forum gi UOG gi painge put "sexual harassment." Gof impottante este na asunto, lao ti meggai umadmimite este. Ti meggai tumungo' put este na asunto. Guaha famalao'an yan lalahi lokkue', mansinexual harassed, lao ti ma tungo' na ayu hafa masusedi. Hinasson-niha na ossitan ha' pat linachi ha', ya taya' sina u macho'gue put este. Maolek na ha hatsasayi hit este na babao gi UOG.

Gi fino' Audre Lorde, ti prinitehi yu' ni taisangan-hu. Siempre ti prinitehi hao lokkue'.

Estague iyo-na Live Blog ginen i Forum gi painge.


5:50 – Excited to see Mary Camacho Torres, senator-elect, and Prof. Ron McNinch in the audience.  Approximately fifty to sixty students are currently present.

6:07 – Dr. KB begins speaking.  “Sexual harassment at the University of Guam.”  Intersectionality.  Privilege, domination, and oppression.  —Imbalance of power relations regarding gender, class status, wealth, education, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, political status, etc. —Example: older, white, male, wealthier professor & younger, Pacific/Asian, female, less wealthy student. —Example: older, male, wealthier, heterosexual professor & younger, male, less wealthy, homosexual student.  Not politically neutral situations.

Social identity is experienced on multiple levels including ethnicity, cultural background, sex, gender, age, level of education, socioeconomic status (wealth) sexual orientation, etc.  Feminist studies brings to the foreground subjectivity, the individual identity. The historic academic pretense or façade of objectivity usually meant power was understood normatively as white and male. Look at the demographics at UOG. It’s not an accident that so many professors are white expatriates from the U.S. or European areas and/or male. This is not an attack on individuals, but a social system of oppression. It’s important to acknowledge historical and present-day realities.  Power relations matter. These are categories used to oppress many people and give power to a select few. It’s normative, it’s unquestioned, and it’s unethical.

What is sexual harassment?  Primarily an issue of respetu. Respect. Meaning, is this happening in a context where the people involved are able and willing to consent? Are you inside of a community that really do equally understand and appreciate certain jokes or behaviors? Is anyone incapacitated, for example by alcohol? Is one person in a position of much more social power than the others in the situation (like a professor in a classroom)? In such cases, it is important to be respectful and thoughtful of all involved. Consent. Respect.

Legal definitions: Unwelcome sexual or flirtatious jokes, comments, gestures. —Being called gay, lesbian, etc., in a negative way. —Being shown unwanted sexy or sexual images (including in texts and apps). —Unwelcome sexual touches. Being pressured or forced to do something sexual or physically intimate (kiss, touching, intercourse, etc.).

Other forms of violence: Dating violence and intimate partner (domestic) violence (physical, emotional, verbal, etc.). —Stalking. —Rape or sexual assault. —Attempted rape or sexual assault. —Preliminary events – coercive, intimidating, creepy, inappropriate behaviors and situations. —“Grooming” (sexual predation).

People living in a social context are well aware of social norms. Harassers know what they are doing.
People have told me “That’s just how things are” or “that’s just how men are” or “men have their needs.” Well, I personally do not believe all men are inherently evil.  I believe we can change the world.  I am glad that great social reformers of history like Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr., did not believe “That’s just how things are.” I am glad they worked to make the world better and safer.
Legal definitions:  Lack of consent — a joke, a touch, a comment, an invitation, a sex act — unwelcome, unwanted, inappropriate, nonconsensual.  —Gathering concrete evidence: email, witnesses, written or recorded messages, keeping dated records for self, or a log.  —Not legally required, but helpful.  —UOG will not refuse to address a report simply because there is no concrete evidence.

—UOG is not above the law – Title IX / Clery Act / 2013 Campus SaVE Act.  Sexual harassment is a federal offense. Existing protections for whistleblowers or reporters: —Confidentiality; protection against retaliation; legal or court recourses such as orders of protection, no-contact orders, restraining orders, etc.  So you technically are supposed to have some protections under the law, but, in reality, confidentiality can be broken, and a person can choose to ignore a restraining order.

Recommended resources:

—Women & Gender Studies – —Elizabeth Kelley Bowman, EC 213A, 735-2701
—Title IX Compliance Office – —Elaine Faculo-Gogue, 735-2244,
> —Guam Police Department – 475-8551
—Public Defender’s Office – 475-3100
—Crime Victim’s Assistance Unit – 475-8620
—Healing Hearts Crisis Center – 647-5421
—Stop Violence Against Women – 475-9162

Discussing her survey — “95% of respondents agreed with the statement that professors sexually harass students at UOG. That was a much higher percentage than I was expecting and it is very troubling to hear that.  Second, I noticed that most of the students who stated on the survey that they had experienced an unwanted or nonconsensual sexual comment, image, touch, genital exposure, etc., from a professor, did not then identify themselves as having been sexually harassed in a later question (the second one listed on the slide).

“This indicates to me that students perhaps do not understand the legal definition of sexual harassment, which would call for more training and awareness, or that students do not want to think of themselves as having been injured or of their professors as having injured them.
“More education of students and more awareness workshops are called for.”

The 2011-2013 Campus Security Report (mandated under the Clery Act): This was sent to me via email on October 1, 2014. Emphasized “bystander intervention.”  Zero (0) reports of forcible or non-forcible sex offenses on campus, in UOG buildings off campus, on public property, etc.  No record of sexual harassment. —Zero (0) reports of motor vehicle theft — I mention the report on motor vehicle theft because I have been personally informed by the victims of at least two incidents of motor vehicle theft that happened during this time period. So the question is, why aren’t those in the Campus Security Report? and what else might the Report be missing?

We cannot put the onus or burden on an imagined bystander to solve the problem. Not always safe or feasible for a bystander to try to intervene. UOG leaders must recognize and take responsibility for these issues. The entire community must take responsibility.

—“Bystander intervention”: not a substitute for training, workshops, and support from authorities
—Lack of reports of crime =/= lack of crime.
—Lack of reports of crime = climate of fear and silence

—Students, faculty, and all community members must be empowered to voice and report concerns
—“The national statistics are that 60 to 80 percent [of rapes] go unreported” (Dr. Ellen Bez, Healing Hearts Crisis Center consultant).  So we are talking about a “tip of the iceberg” type of situation.
—Sexual harassment is usually an invisible or hyper visible crime. Hypervisible – focused on stereotypes or attacks — —example: women lie / students ruin professors’ lives.  Sexism (like racism, homophobia, etc.) is systematic and social, not individual and isolated.  A supportive community is crucial.  Publicity is crucial – finding your voice.

A word from Audre Lorde (important African-American lesbian activist and scholar):

“In becoming forcibly and essentially aware of my own mortality, and of what I wished and wanted for my life, however short it might be, priorities and omissions became strongly etched in a merciless light and what I most regretted were my silences. Of what had I ever been afraid? To question or to speak as I believed would have meant pain, or death. But we all hurt in so many different ways, all the time, and pain will either change or end. Death, on the other hand, is the final silence. And that might be coming quickly, now, without regard for whether I had ever spoken what needed to be said, or only betrayed myself into small silences, while I planned someday to speak, or waited for someone else’s words. And I began to recognize a source of power within myself that comes from the knowledge that while it is most desirable not to be afraid, learning to put fear into a perspective gave me great strength.

“I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.”

I call on the administration to comply with the Clery Act by providing ongoing workshops and training sessions to students and employees.

I ask you to take a few moments, if you are UOG students, to fill out the sexual harassment survey. Please, make a report to the university if you have a concern about any potential crime on campus.
And finally, please, sign our petition to the faculty senate, the board of regents, and the president of the university, asking them to use their authority to make UOG a better place for us all.

Saina ma’åse – thank you.

6:19 – Dr KB has finished speaking.  Approximately 150 students present.

Ms. Carina Fejerang is being introduced, co-founder / charter member of grassroots women’s organization RaWR!

RaWR! was launched after the Federation of Asian-Pacific Women’s Event a few years ago.  Variety of different women from all over Asia-Pacific region and U.S.  Women today are still trying to find a voice, they’re still struggling.  Statistic: 7/10 women have been sexually assaulted, victimized, or raped in their lifetimes.  400 women at a major conference – made her think of how many are being affected.  Yet, really, all ten are affected by this.  Not long after — a terrible abduction and rape on Guam at the Crown Bakery (fall 2012).

So many groups are working on these issues.  Yet missing was a grassroots group working on victims of sexism from the bottom.  Victims, 85% are women.  Perpetrators are overwhelmingly men.
RaWR’s goal: to be a voice for victims.  Victims were being re-victimized by the system – judicial, social, etc.  It’s bad enough to have to tell the story once, but year after year, waiting for a verdict — the victim starts to give up.

What is it in our society that’s not helping the victim?

Education plays a crucial part.  Reflect: what is going on in our community?  What can I do to make a difference?

Man Up Guam oath – men will own their participation in a just community.  Speak up if they see a crime.  Speak up in general.  We all know that men have a heavier hand than women.  Men’s bodies more powerful than women’s.

Find ways of going into the schools and creating education around these topics.  It starts with all of us.  Knowing what is right — what is wrong.

To be educated in respect and care for others.  Your body is a sanctuary.  Care for it.  Don’t let anybody harm you.  If you see someone harming someone else, speak up.

6:32 – Ms. Monique Baza is being introduced.  GW (1995) graduate, B.A., master’s in public education, teacher at GW.  Survivor of the 15 October 2012 Crown Bakery kidnapping and assault.
Ms. Baza is sharing her powerful personal story.  Tow hours and forty-five minutes.  Sexually assaulted twice.  Confined, restrained in her car.  How does a man know how to restrain a woman with her own passenger seat unless he’s done this before?

Strongly believes the Audre Lorde quote, “My silences had not protected me.  Your silence will not protect you.”

That is why Ms. Baza shares her story as much as she can.  Very hard to be able to come out in the media and to others.  Nothing was okay.  For Carina to stand up here and speak about revictimization — for Ms. Baza to have to tell her story over and over and experience it again and again, that was definitely re-victimization.  She should not have to be punished so much.

“I honestly felt as if I were the one who was being punished.”  No communication with the AG’s office.  Knew nothing except what media was publishing and reporting on.  It was on morning talk shows, on her way to work, and she felt like the butt of the joke.  She was not being informed.
So Ms. Baza started going to the court hearings.  Made a point to find out where this was going.  Had the burden of having to be so proactive in her own case.  Given 49 minutes notice of hearings, no respect for her work or family needs.

The AG office is not supportive of the victim or centered on the victim.  Feeling of being talked down to.

It was a long struggle.  There were three perpetrators (two also stole her ATM card and drained her account).  Last November 19, 2013, two were released, and one approached Ms. Baza’s brother at the store.  They know where Ms. Baza lives.  She tried to fight, she tried to get away.
No one warned Ms. Baza that the perpetrator was going to be released.

Yes, the victim does get so lost and drained and exhausted by it all.  A part of me feels like the AG’s office was trying to make that happen, to make her pull away.  They would make decisions without giving Ms. Baza any voice.

She asked for an apology letter, asked the prosecutor.  Refused to make it a condition of the plea agreement.  Ms. Baza was the wronged party.  She didn’t deserve to be treated like that.
“I want you to leave here thinking that change has to begin with you.”

It was the home invasion situation that made Ms. Baza decide to go public with her story and her voice.

“I do not stand up here ashamed.”  Perpetrators want you to be embarrassed and shamed and messed up, so you won’t report it.  So they can go on harming others.

The more we silence ourselves, the more we enable and empower perpetrators of crimes.

6:44 – Dr. Ronni Alexander is introduced.  Professor of international relations and peace studies at Kobe University in Japan.  She is wearing a 37-year-old shirt “Don’t Tread on Me – Alexander v. Yale” in 1976, the first sex-harassment lawsuit in the U.S. under Title IX.  Currently she is exploring the role of art in making a community of peace.  Also author of the Popoki children’s book series (highly recommended!).

“In a spirit of solidarity, I want you to know three things about myself: as a child, I was abused; (2) as a child, I was sexually abused by a close friend of my father’s; (3) it took a really long time and lots and lots of tears and anger, but in about 1999-2000 I came out as queer, as a a lesbian, to, among other things, a million readers of a Japanese newspaper.  That’s been a really good thing in my life.”
Was a flute player, wanted to be a music major.  Yale in those days, early 70s — my year was only the fourth to allow women.  Yale was a men’s school for a very long time.  About 40% of incoming class were women in Dr. Alexander’s year.  Some complaints — men said they used to be able to swim naked in the pool till women came in.  [lol]

Music majors required to take private lessons and to play in symphony or band.  Generally, flute players were a dime a dozen — unless you were really, really, really good (which Alexander wasn’t) you had to study with a graduate student.  Only three seats in symphony for flutes.  Alexander was in band.  Keith Ryan, new band director.  “I’ll never forget that name.”

He offered to be my teacher — it was very flattering.  Of course she said yes.  Incidentally, he had a son a year behind me.  Not a peer relationship.  Man was much older, more powerful.  Alexander was put off, but also flattered.  Didn’t know what to do when he began grooming her — told her she was talented, “checked” her breathing, locked the door, got friendly — then — he offered her a ride home and took her to a private apartment of his and raped her, then took her home after that.

“I didn’t even know the word ‘rape,’ or I didn’t know that it could be used in that situation in my life.”  “There’s got to be nobody in the world as stupid as me.”  “I was upset, I was embarrassed, thought it was my own fault.”

Yale offered no recourse or redress for such a situation.  Dean, professor would sit down with student — “No, thank you.”  It was about November.  Took a bus across Canada in the middle of winter — left school — couldn’t tell anyone.  Finally, sister encouraged her to return and try it.  Changed her major.  Professor stalked her.  All kinds of things happened.  Went on with life.  One day, met him on the street — he said, what are you trying to do to me, you’ve accused me of rape!  She said — all I’m trying to do is forget you.

Women’s organization at Yale contacted her.  They were collecting stories of women abused at Yale.  1976 — sexual harassment just beginning to be spoken of in the workplace, but not in education, certainly not at a place like Yale.  Yale was intransigent.  We couldn’t get them to respond to us in any other way.  Catherine McKinnon [well-known feminist and legal scholar] was at Yale in those days and she was kind of the brains behind this.  Argued and decided in 1980.  It was a Title IX lawsuit: claimed women did not have equal opportunities at Yale; Yale had no proper grievance procedure.
Judge said claims were not relevant because Yale could not redress their injuries as four plaintiffs had already graduated.  “An apology might have been nice. . . . Nobody apologized.  Keith Ryan remained happily employed at Yale.”  BUT – Yale did create a grievance procedure; widespread interest and similar lawsuits at other universities occurred (Yale is a very important institution in the U.S. and lawsuit was covered in national media).  “It was happening everywhere.  So we lost, but, in a way, we won.”

1 in 4 women are sexually assaulted in college/university by faculty/staff and also by classmates.  Doesn’t include the men who are also assaulted — particularly LGBTQ people.  Universities continue to tolerate campus violence.

More services are available for survivors.  Legal requirement for transparency.  Grievance procedures must be in place.  “There’s supposed to be somewhere on the UOG website, assuming that those statistics were wrong, and there is at least one case of sexual harassment, it’s supposed to be there.   I looked for it.  Couldn’t find it.  You might be better at finding it than I am.”

We heard that people don’t report it.  It’s really tough to report it.  But, even when people do, universities engage in very complicated processes of trying to make believe it never happened.  Yale does it.  Kobe University does it.

Examples: Naomi Klein accused Yale professor Harold Bloom of rape.  Current case regarding professor at Yale Medical School.

Audre Lorde said it beautifully — we need to talk about it.  It’s really hard to talk about it, but if we don’t talk about sexual violence, nothing will change.  “Oh, don’t you look sexy today” — boss/professor — that comment is not okay.  Sexual violence is violence.  Not sex.  It’s disrespectful, it’s harmful, and it’s wrong.  Men, transgender people, gay people, are also being victimized by these acts of sexual violence.

We have to talk about it because if we do we may be able to stop it sooner.

“I have never played the flute since that day.  I did become a master of the Japanese flute [shakuhachi].  It took me about 15-20 years but I finally stopped hating myself for being so stupid, letting this happen to me.  I finally understood it wasn’t my fault.  I’m proud to say the experience, not only of sexual harassment, not only of rape, but also of the battle with myself to heal, has been really helpful in helping many others.”

Popoki Peace Project – age range 3-103 – books – a society with no violence – inclusive, respectful – where everyone can live to full potential – people and other creatures should be free and safe – filled with creativity and filled with love.  Sexual violence, abuse, harassment, all of that — in complete contradiction to peace.
:-) yay Popoki!

7:09 – Introduction of Q&A moderator Dr. Sharleen Santos-Bamba, humanities scholar, teacher training, community outreach.  Research encompasses Chamorro women’s roles; rhetoric and composition.

Dr. Santos-Bamba acknowledges the men in the audience who are here to make a difference for women in our society!  Yes!  Thank you to the wonderful men here!

Acknowledges the presence of Sen. Frank Aguon and Sen.-elect Torres.

Floor is opened to questions.  People can write down questions to be brought to Dr. Santos-Bamba,
Ms. Monique Baza is asked for advice on helping other women speak up — Answer: Whenever anything like this happens, at least get your feelings off your chest.  The feelings and emotions.  Cry, scream — that’s a big step for a survivor.  What’s going on in the family dynamic when she meets with people.  Unspoken sometimes — sometimes family is not communicating with the survivor.  Hard.  Don’t know if you’ll hurt the person.  Write it down — survivor, family, — to communicate — even just one word.

Dr. SSB – sexual assault/violence affects many people, not just the survivor.

Q for Dr. RA – systemic sexism — are gender roles learned, i.e., through media, ads, etc.? — A:  Yes.  They are learned everywhere.  They are learned sitting in this room, too.  Doesn’t mean we must cut ourselves off from media.  Means we must learn to be critical.  Learn to be a different kind of person.  Really hard.  But, it’s very important.

Dr. SSB – general question – presence of armed guards on campus — would that prevent these kinds of behavior?  – CF – no.  RA – in HS had armed guards – it brought solidarity among students – drug issues – all got together to beat up on armed guards — all it did was bring more violence.  Didn’t bring any kind of safety.

Another general question – if peace is not possible, does anyone on the panel condone self-defense?  CF: We do have to protect ourselves.  Monique Baza and CF have been trained in personal safety.
Q for all of the forum – Idea of rape has recently been humorized in today’s society.  What is the best way to de-humorize rape culture? — MB: teacher at GW HS, very common, challenge Torres and Aguon to walk the halls and listen to what is being said, the language being used.  It’s very disturbing.  “Rape” is a joke in common lexicon.  News broadcast of brawl at Tiyan HS, in halls today MB heard joke “we should go over to Tiyan High because they’re bashing chicks’ heads over there.”  RA: Yeah.  Yeah.  [agreeing with MB].  Story from Japan — homeless people — it’s common for HS students in Japan to harass and assault homeless people, set them on fire as a joke, etc.  Outreach in schools.  Very small effect, but an important change.  Working with the community, working with groups that are active.  EKB – remember that Guam is also “humorized” in national media.  Important to remember that violence happens on so many levels.  Agent Orange dumped by US gov’t on Guam = a man abusing and violating a woman’s body.

Q on respect in Chamorro culture and traditional gender roles.  CF: education, importance of respect, matrilineal culture.  Say “STOP” — “what you’re saying/doing is wrong.”  It takes someone to stand up.  Kudos to you if you took the time to stand up and say stop it.  You will start to see that you yourself have changed as well, and those around you.  SSB – violence against men and women happened in the past, but now with education we are hearing more about it.  Let us not pretend violence did not happen in islander culture.

Q to all – What signs identify women or men who have been sexually harassed or abused?  CF – someone who doesn’t want to be touched.  Shuts down suddenly.  Could be suicidal.  Guam ranks very high in suicides.  Starts to change normal, everyday behavior.  Very often with a survivor — they just want to be heard.  They just want to say what they want to say.  How they feel, how angry they are.

Q on attempted sexual harassment – is it a crime?  MB – absolutely – a violation of a person’s body and mind.  RA: she’s absolutely right.  Not sure what “attempted” sexual harassment is — intent and engagement in abuse was clearly present.  It is sexual harassment.  CF: for women in here, if you don’t like a guy, don’t act like you do.  Let them know from the start.  Those can be clear factors that get you in a situation you don’t want to be in.  Ladies, you have to know your boundaries too as well.
Q regarding family members and the survivor/victim – what can be done on a larger, cultural level to address family members who pressure people to retract a complaint or statement?  A – MB – never want to bring shame on your family – but we need to break that.  We don’t realize the snowball effect.  That the behavior will continue.  Might isolate one victim, but it will continue to happen.  EKB – would like campus and community authorities to speak out on this issue, ensure that people know it is right to speak out.

Q for MB – has anything been done since your experience to improve the way victims are treated in our community?  - MB: RaWR has tried to bring back the family justice center.  Literally a one-stop place for victims to receive all needed services.  Many such centers throughout the world.  Man Up Guam initiative — open to all.  We want the change to start.  Go into public school system, high schools, middle schools, start the outreach, the more we do that, the more we will see this big change.
Q – do I have to confront, forgive my abuser?  - MB – was asked this on a talk show.  Haven’t come to level of truly being able to say I forgive that person.  Think it will happen in my own due time when I am ready.  This is because I have not been able to gain any sense of closure.  Case has dragged out, such a long process!

Q for RA – how do I move on if peace and justice are unattainable? – RA: one very very small step at a time.  As a single person, very small and weak, may want to change the world.  Can’t.  But can make a difference.  To the people around us for example.  We have to take time out for ourselves, every once in a while, five minutes, a week, engage in self-care, take a deep breath.

7:48.  SSB says we have only a few minutes left.  One more Q.  Violence in the media.  Social issues in this day and age.  Dehumanization of mankind connected to the availability and abundance of violence through the media?  - CF: Statistically worldwide, men are no longer involved in the household at all.  FB – mean moms are the best.  Enforcing rules about staying off the TV.  RA – Nonviolence really, really difficult to achieve.  Spent life trying to work toward it, dedicated herself.  Violence in media not correlated necessarily with violence in life.  Society needs to talk about anger and frustration and ways to express them that are not violent.  We’re not really taught how to do that.  How to confront and overcome it in a way that’s peaceful.
Closing statements

EKB – Thank you so much to all for being here.  Please consider taking my survey or recommend to other students.  Please consider taking a look at our petition and signing it.

MB – As an educator – Parents, don’t pull away from your kids as they get older.  Need your guidance.  Middle and high school is a very vulnerable time.  MB sees it every day in public school.  You can see the difference between a student whose parents are actively involved and a student whose parents have pulled back.

CF – Thank you for having us here today.  I know those of you still here are definitely going to walk out and make that difference in the world.  If a victim, come forward, when you’re ready, and go to people that love and care for you, use the services available.

RA – Thank you from me too.  Thank you for staying until the very end.  It’s really been a pleasure and thanks for the really thoughtful questions.  I don’t live here, but I’ll be around on and off till Christmas time, so I’ll be interested to talk to any one of you and learn about your lives and whatever you think is important.  Thank you so much.

SSB – closing comments – There are timelines in reporting crimes.  Education is very important.  Important for men and women to speak up, move to the fore, make known crimes that have been done to them.  Go out and share what you have learned this evening.  Among your peers and among those your junior as well.  Very important to engage with those younger than us.  They look up to you.  You’re the role model.  You can make a difference in crimes against men and women in the future.  You are now the ambassadors of sharing that knowledge.  Good night and BIBA UOG!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Russell Means

Russell Means visited Guam in 2000 to work in solidarity with the group Nasion Chamoru in their fight for Guam's independence. On the website for Nasion Chamoru is features a thank you to Russell Means for his visit and inspiring people with his message. The section thanking Means features this quote about him:

"The L.A. Times has described him as the most famous American Indian since Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. Russell Means is a natural leader. His fearless dedication and indestructible sense of pride are qualities admired by nations worldwide. His vision is for indigenous people to be free... Free to be human, free to travel, free to stop, free to trade where they choose, free to choose their own teachers ~ free to follow the religion of their fathers, free to talk, think and act for themselves and then they will obey every law or submit to the penalty. The most difficult lesson of all is to respect your relatives' visions..." 

I didn't meet Russell Means when he visited Nasion Chamoru, but a few years after that I began to follow his activism as well as his memorable film career. He died in 2012 after taking a strong stand for Native American independence, something that made him very notorious even within Native American communities. I don't know why I ended up thinking about Russell Means this week, but I'm pasting below two articles about him. One written recently the other written soon after he had passed on. 

I think I may need to go around and interview some people about the meeting with Russell Means. Buente ayugue sa' hafa hu hassussuyi este.


The Russell Means I Knew

Russell Means was not only a visionary, he was also keeper of memories. Russell was both an orator and a man of action. Inspired by a legacy of strength, Russell was one who walked his talk and inspired others to follow his example.

Many words have been written and spoken about his highly publicized leadership roles during the Red Power era. This is important but just as significant were the little- known or unheralded actions Russell did to support Indigenous Peoples.

Russell was one of a very small group of leaders who responded to many calls from Indigenous Peoples and arrived to help out in whichever way he could. From personal experience, I’ve witnessed Russell travel at his own expense to support a cause even when it was not something that he had a personal stake in. The compelling reason was often that a small group of Natives were attempting to stand up to some injustice and decided to reach out to Russell.

Russell was often described as figure of publicity but I’ve seen him avoid the spotlight in many public gatherings and rallies. At other times, organizers would have to encourage him to take a turn on the microphone or suggest that he share words of inspiration with those on hand. When news cameras were on hand, Russell wouldn’t hesitate to do an interview and call out the local media if they had an anti-NDN bias in their reporting. His concern was not with being a media NDN darling but giving NDNs a voice in the media.

Another trait of Russell’s that I witnessed was that he led from the front and took the same risks as anyone else. Whether that meant going to jail, standing vigil in uncomfortable weather or carrying out tasks while exhausted, Russell Means wasn’t one to skip out on us. Many times we’d complete a rally and Russell would jump in his van to travel to a different state so he could fulfill another request for his support. A friend and I had discussion about this and we agreed that Russell was someone we could depend on while many young NDN men we knew who spoke loudly about supporting Native Peoples always seemed to have good excuses for never showing up for anything.

Russell was also someone who was willing to share a needed perspective for young people. He often spoke to small groups of Native youth about what motivated and inspired him. I’ve listened to Russell share lesson’s from his personal history about the early AIM days up to the present and what he’s learned from that. Often those lessons had to do with perseverance, sacrifice and compassion.
Several years ago I was struggling with how one overcomes anger and hatred when violence is inflicted on them for seeking justice for Indigenous Peoples. It was a period when many Native friends were the victims of police brutality and they were wondering if the pain was worth it.

Russell was visiting in town so I sought him out and had a discussion with him. I related that many of my friends were questioning their choices -- choices that brought public attacks from other NDNs for some, physical violence for others and for all, an overall sense of personal setbacks bordering on humiliation.

After listening and thinking about it for a bit this is what he said: “The way I’ve seen it is that every injury I took, every sacrifice I made and every personal cost I paid has been done on behalf of our people and ancestors. So I take these things as a badge of honor and they are things that I am proud of.”

He continued on with giving advice about how I could help out those who were going through tough times. He drew on his first hand experience and shared stories of his younger years. As we sat there I realized how much of an honor it was to know this man: Russell Means, Oglala and Indigenous Patriot.

Robert Chanate is a member of the Kiowa Nation and can be reached at and He is from Carnegie, OK and currently lives in Denver, CO. He is also co-authoring a forthcoming book with Gyasi Ross appropriately called “The Thing About Skins,” and the website and publishing company for that handy, dandy book is


Remembering Russell Means

October 31, 2012
By Tom Hayden
26 October, 2012
The Nation
Russell Means, who died on Tuesday, kept a place here in Santa Monica in recent years, with his wife, Pearl. Once my wife Barbara and I took our son Liam for a visit to meet this man we described as having fought a real war against the government. Still in good health a couple of years ago, Russell took great interest in our 10-year-old, as he did in all kids trying to understand the actual history of our country.

Russell was a strong, imposing figure. It wasn’t only his braided hair or the beads around his neck; his clear eyes gazed as if it was 1873. He had Liam’s attention. When they shook hands, Russell told Liam that his grip needed to be firmer, he should stand up straight, and that he always should look the other person straight in the eye. Our son will not forget the quiet authority this man quietly commanded.

Russell had that effect on people, the presence of a nineteenth-century warrior still alive as a force in the here and now. He touched millions.

I therefore was quite shocked to see Russell with Pearl in a local restaurant a few months later, gaunt and frail from cancer. I didn’t quite recognize him. He told me the diagnosis was terminal, and that he was living on tribal remedies and prayer. His face should have been on Mr. Rushmore. The great law of mortality would prevail where the Great White Father had failed, and Russell soon would enter the spirit world. He knew his time on earth was ending, eating eggs in an Ocean Park cafe.

My wife, a descendant of the Oglala Nation, and our son, were blessed to know him even briefly. My old friends Bill Zimmerman and Larry Levin were touched enough to fly a plane with supplies into Wounded Knee when the fight was on. Governor Jerry Brown was courageous enough to harbor Russell in California when South Dakota wanted him extradited. Tim Carpenter, now of PDA, was inspired enough in 1971 to march across the United States on the latter-day Trail of Tears. Russell, the imprisoned Leonard Peltier and the American Indian Movement led many to try repealing the past. “No More Broken Treaties” was the slogan of the Indochina Peace Campaign at the time of the Paris Peace Agreement, a reminder of the 371 solemn pacts violated by the US government during the earlier Indian Wars. One of the most momentous violations was that of the 1868 Treaty of Laramie guaranteeing Sioux Nation ownership of the Black Hills, now the center of a vast corporate energy domain. That violation aroused a new generation of native American warriors.

The fundamental difference between a truthful, radical interpretation of US history and a merely progressive or liberal one is how deeply one understands that our permanent original sin, even preceding slavery, was a genocide against native people that underlay the the later growth of democratic rights. That truth is what is “buried at Wounded Knee”, what Russell Means’ war for recognition was all about, and why he will be long remembered by my son.

Until we in America finally accept and redeem the moral debasement of a Conquest that still underlies the achievement of democracy, our blindness will lead us into one war after another against indigenous tribes and clans in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Asia, Africa and Latin America, all stemming from a denial of our own blood-stained origins.

Russell was a reminder that the wars against indigenous people, and the conquest of their resources, are far from over, and that we cannot be fully human until remorse with our eyes wide open allows the possibility of reconciliation. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

ChaNoWriMo Interview

At the start of the month I was interviewed by the Marianas Variety on the topic of NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. I have participated in this since 2012 and it is the highlight of the later part of the year for  me. The goal is to make it to 50,000 words from November 1st to November 30th. I've done it for the past two years, and I'm struggling to make it this time as well. I lost several days due to curriculum writing (I've already written about 50,000 words in terms of curriculum writing this month). I'm supposed to be at 25,000 words by now, but I'm only at 22,000. I will complete my goal however as the story "The Legend of the Chamurai" that I have been working on for the past three years has to be written and it is exciting to see it take shape each year. 

Here is my interview below.


1. How many years have you participated in NaNoWriMo?

This is my third year, I hit the 50,000 mark in both 2012 and 2013.

2. How did you hear about the contest?

Through the internet and Facebook. I knew several friends who had tried it out.

3. How long have you been writing fiction?

Since I was a kid. My brothers and I always dreamed of working on comic books together. I’ve published more poetry than fiction though, but I love storytelling in general. I'm known as a teacher for telling decent to interesting stories in my history and language classes.

4. What inspired you to enter the contest?

I’ve had a story in my head for many years, about Ancient Chamorro warriors fighting alongside Japanese Samurai warriors against invading Spanish soldiers. I am a historian and a scholar of Chamorro culture and there were elements of Chamorro history that I wanted to give a different flavor to, most importantly adding fantastical elements, such as warriors with great powers to stories of taotaomo’na and legendary feats.

5. Describe the pace, frustrations with deadlines and what people should know before undertaking such a task.

The most important thing is to set up time each day to write. Setting aside that time will save you so much stress. Do not judge yourself too harshly, the most important thing about NaNoWriMo is that you write. Do not overthink things. You can always edit and change things later, but having that first draft to work with will save you so much more.

6. Have you published work that you've written for NaNoWriMo, or portions of it?

I have taken portions of it and worked them into different art projects. Eventually I plan to publish it in some form, perhaps an illustrated series of ebooks.

7. Do you have colleagues who are participating or have done so in the past?

I started organizing a variant called ChaNoWriMo last year or Chamorro Novel Writing Month. It is the same basic premise, but just an encouragement to include Chamorro language and cultural elements in your stories. To this end I provide prompts through the UOG Chamorro Studies Facebook page to give people ideas of ways to write creatively and in interesting ways while still taking seriously Chamorro history, language and culture. I started this because of the frustration I felt when talking to many young writers on Guam, most of whom were Chamorro, who felt that to be a serious writer or to make a serious story it needed to be about somewhere else, some other place that is bigger or more important than Guam. Guam is an interesting and unique place and we shouldn't’ shortchange and ignore it to write about places elsewhere because of some misperceived connection between smallness and story viability.

8. What have you learned about yourself as a result of participating in NaNoWriMo?

I write the way Lee Child (from Jack Reacher fame) writes. He doesn’t necessarily plan things out in length ahead of time, he lets the moments and the characters take him in different directions. There is a place where I want the characters to end up, but the way they get there is kind of up to them.

9. You also started a version of this contest on Guam last year. How many people participated and what was the scope of their themes, plots, etc.?

Last year three of us tried out ChaNoWriMo. This year at least six people are trying it out. Several people are using suruhanu elements in their stories, where they are taking Chamorro traditional spiritual and medicinal healers and putting them in a contemporary context. One person isn’t writing a whole novel, but just a set of short stories all set in Guam today. Another is writing a story about a Chamorro serial killer who (in a distorted throwback to Ancient Chamorro life) takes the bones and skulls of his victims as trophies.

10. Has any of the work submitted to you been published and is it available on Guam for sale?

Artwork that was inspired by my story can be seen in the MARC Library. A comic book taken from the world I’ve created in my NaNoWriMo/ChaNoWriMo stories will be published locally sometime in the near future.

11. Some people have called Chamorro a "dead language." Since those comments made several years ago, it seems institutions from banking to government have refuted the assertion. Is creating a contest like yours a refutation of his claim and others, or do you even think about such comments?

Chamorro is definitely not a dead language, but you can definitely argue it is dying. One thing I am always working on in a multitude of ways is just getting more people to use Chamorro whether in writing, singing or just speaking. Chamorro needs to adapt and evolve. If it remains the language of the elders and their lives it won’t survive. It needs to change as the generations change. As we write new stories within that Chamorro journey, we need to make sure the language stays with us.

Friday, November 14, 2014

GPSA Coming Soon

I've been so busy this week with writing Chamorro language curriculum for the I Ma'adahen Fino' Chamorro that I haven't been able to post much or even complete my Guam Political Sign Awards. I wrote up most of the winners in my Marianas Variety column last week, but haven't been able to get the full text together and edit the images of the winning signs. I promise to get to this either over the weekend or next week.

ChaNoWriMo hasn't been helping with this much either.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


CALL FOR PAPERS3rd Marianas History Conference
One Archipelago, Many Stories: Milestones in Marianas History
Dates: September 4-6, 2015

Location: Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Venue TBA

The Northern Marianas Humanities Council, University of Guam, Guam Preservation Trust, and Guampedia are pleased to announce a call for papers for the 3rd Marianas History Conference. It will be held on Saipan from September 4-6, 2015 with a welcoming reception on the evening of September 4th.

The conference will cover a full range of topics associated with the Archipelago’s history with a particular focus on the conference’s subtheme “Milestones in Marianas History.” Papers may be submitted under the following general categories: Ancient History; Early Colonial (17th – 18th centuries); Late Colonial (19th – early 20th centuries); World War II; Recent (post-war); and Oral History and Genealogical Research. The organizers also encourage student presentations.
Paper abstracts with a maximum of 150 words and the presenter’s bio may be submitted via this link. The deadline for abstracts is 30 April 2015. Conference presenters will be allotted 20 minutes to present with an additional 10 minutes for questions and discussion.

There will be a $20 fee for early registration which will begin on 1 July 2015. Those who register at the event will be charged $30.00. Students will be admitted free of charge. You will be able to pay online through Guampedia or at the Northern Marianas Humanities Council Office, Springs Plaza, Gualo Rai. You will be notified once the online payment option is set up and we will be in touch with more information about the conference soon. Please direct conference questions to the Northern Marianas Humanities Council.

3rd Marianas History Conference Planning Committee


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