Monday, June 30, 2014

Para i Famagu'on

For years Peter Onedera's column gi Fino' Chamoru has been my favorite part of the Pacific Daily News. Many Chamorro speakers are critical of the way that Onedera writes in the Chamorro language and the way that he spells, but often times I feel these criticisms have more to do with people feeling inadequate in terms of their ability to read Chamorro or just feeling plain lazy. Ondera's columns can be difficult to read, and many people simply turn their minds off because they don't like the way he spells certain things. Others make their way through it, but don't like the Chamorro he uses because it is different that the way he speaks or the way most people speak. There is some truth to this, but the far greater truth that people don't want to acknowledge is that while we do have thousands of Chamorro speakers out there, we don't have nearly as many Chamorro readers or writers. Even if there are people who are fluent in the language, it doesn't mean that they are necessarily comfortable reading or writing the language. Many students trying to learn Chamorro come across this when asking their grandparents for help. Although their grandparents may be fluent, they may feel apprehensive about advising someone on speaking Chamorro when typing or spelling or reading is involved.

I have always felt that Peter Onedera gets way too much criticism for his Chamorro. He and a small group of others are really pushing to perpetuate our language in ways that are difficult or uncomfortable for most. His column in the Pacific Daily News is challenging to read at times, but that is a good thing. The grammar is correct, the spelling may seem different to some, but it follows what is becoming standard in schools and colleges. The Chamorro language has remained stagnant for very long. Those who push passionately for its use in many ways are not actually revitalizing the language, but only reanimating certain choice parts, while as a whole, the language remains in place, no longer adapting to the world around us. Peter Onedera with his regular columns in the PDN takes on such an incredible variety of topics in the Chamorro language it is so impressive. He has talked about so many things that aren't generally talked about in Chamorro and because of this unfamiliarity many people tune out, but people simply write it off as not being real Chamorro or being formal somehow fake Chamorro.

Peter Onedera recently moved to the states, and this island will surely miss his presence and his voice. He is a true champion of the Chamorro language. Here is his most recent column from the PDN.

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Ha'ani-hu ni hu onra i famagu'on-hu

Peter Onedera
June 17, 2014
PDN

Sembunitu i ha'åni' ni' maloffan guini gi ma'pos na Damenggo ni' manma onra todu tåta siha. Siguru yu' na mangomfotme i manåta na i famagu'on-ñiha gi magåhet i rason na guaha ni' este na ukasion ni' hu ayao ginen i sesso ma usa na på'a gi i tiempon Påsgua annai ma onra lokkue' si Jesukristo gi mafañagu-ña.

Para guåhu, acha parehu i dos gupot para Ha'ånen Manåta yan Ha'ånen Mannåna tåtkumu ha na'hasso hit tengnga ni' takhilo' upblegasion para sumaina annai manhuyong gi lina'la' ni' essalao katen-ñiha ya ma nå'i hit minagof yan bendesion gi iya hita. Desdeki tutuhon na mangilesyånu, ta poksai, fa'nå'gue, hulof, guaiya yan prutehi siha astaki ittemon lina'lå'-ta. Estague' hu tungo' sigun ginen kinemprende-ku na gof empottånte este na puesto gi håyi na låhi ni' manliles påtgon gi tano'.

Kuåtro famagu'on-hu, tres na famalao'an yan unu na låhi. Annai manma fañågu, hu chåhlao i siñenten apurao yan minagof na bai hu eksperensia tumåta kontåt tiempo gi lina'lå'-hu. Gai kostumbre kada unu ya måtto gi gima'-måmi difirensiao na hinasso, tiningo', nina'siña yan tinalente ni' asigurao na u fitme kostumbren-ñiha ni' mismo u finetma håyi siha gi i kinahulo'-ñiha.

Malåte', tomtom, osgon yan sentida i mås åmko' na hagå-hu as SelinaMaria. Desdeki ma fañagu-ña, hu tungo' na anåkko' yan fedda' nina'siñå-ña yan lokkue' embelekera ta'lo sa' guiya entre i famagu'on, ha hokka' i fino' CHamoru gi hiniben-ña asta på'go ni' para trentai sais na idåt.

Fifino', titige' yan guiya para tahgue-ku gi kinalamten todu manera put i fino' CHamoru ni' hu pikukura. Hu senangokku este na patgon-hu na para guiya u asiste yu' gi inamko'-hu ya guiya lokkue' ma pega ni' mañe'lu-ña na kulan nåna gui' sa' ha na'siña mañetbe tåtkumu ayudu, atbisu yan cho'cho' kånnai entre pumalu na kinalamten.

Gof meyeng gi kampiuta i mina'dos na hagå-hu as HelenDolores ya guiya umakukupa yu' kada chenglong yu' gi hinanao-hu mo'na ya hu fakcha'i prublema gi i internet yan i meggai prugråma siha ni' hu petsisigi. Yanggen ti siña tengnga hu sodda' håfa prublemå-hu gi iyo-ku laptåp yan inemprinta, sesso hu bira yu' guatu gi iya guiya para u ayuda yu'.

Trentai unu åños idåt-ña ya ha konsisigi digri-ña tåtkumu master's gi saikålayen klinikåt gi i inibetsedåt mientras machocho'cho' todu diha gi simåna yan ta'lo mapotge' ni' para mina'dos na patgon-ña. Unesto, sinseru, dibotu para prufesion-ña, intilihente, yan fiet tåtkumu hagå-hu yan lokkue' kumu atungo' para noskuåntos na mamprufesiunåt yan mampetsonåt na taotågues ni' ha fåfana' gi i hinanao-ña mo'na.

Maolek mama'tinas yan mampanadera si SelinaMaria lao maolek si Helen para mañodda' fañochuyan siha ni' manmånnge' na nengkanno' maskeseha mangguaguan ta'lo. Guiya tengnga ga'chochong-hu para chumocho gi lugåt siha ni' ti hu tungo' ya fihu di hu angokku na tomtom put sinostånsia yan minaolek na salut tåtkumu put nengkanno'.

Sesso di ha lemlem yu' ni' estoria siha put famagu'on yan manhoben ni' manma chånda yan manma abusu parehu put taotao siha ni' ha fakchacha'i gi che'cho' yan i trinatan este na klåsen famagu'on siha. Tåddong hinengge-ña para maolek cho'cho' piot gi academia na bånda ya ti u midi este na hinengge para babarihas osino disunesto na hinasso. Hu pega gi kirason-hu na ha risibi siempre i iyo-ña master's degree sa' esta ha entensiona na para u petsigi iyo-ña dåktoret.

Ha bendisi yu' si Yu'os ni' unu ha' na låhi para lahi-hu, as si CharlesPatrick. Frihon, indothensia, na'magof yan gaihinasso este na patgon-hu ni' fihu di hu sångan na para guiya u irensia i fettunå-hu parehu lokkue' yan i taifottunå-hu gi i lina'la'.

Desde dinikike'-ña, ha na'fa'nu'i yu' na gaikurason para taotao yan put este geftao gui' lokkue'. Hu tungo' na guaha na ha nå'i håyi na ga'chong-ña ni' gainisisidåt, salåppe' yan ayudu maskeseha ayu uttemo guinahå-ña. Put mås, kabesiyu gui' lokkue' ya sesso di ma entrega ni' mangga'chong-ña para u ge'hilu'i håfakao na kinalamten parehu na'dañu yan siriosu ya ti ma'å'ñao mamåna' kontråriu achokha' håyi.

Fa'na'an dipotsi bai hu siente inatborotu put i mina'kuåtro na patgon-hu as AngelineThaddea sa' hu pega gui' na neni para guåhu todu i tiempo maskeseha gaineni esta ni' mina'kuåtro na ñetu-hu. Fafatkilu yan empitosu este na patgon-hu lao måtto di difensot para i mañe'lu-ña yan familian-ñiha yan asta kontodu hami as nanå-ña yan tatå-ña.

Geftao, yo'ase', sentida yan gaihinasso kualidåt-ña este na patgon-hu ni' gof tåddong siñente-ku gi i kirason-hu. Kulan guaha minagåhet nu i pa'a na i ittemo mås maolek ya siña ti mangomfotme i mañe'lu-ña nu este na sinangan lao hu pega este na hinasso sa' kulan hu siente na hu disatendi gui' gi i kinahulo'-ña.

Måtto chi-hu eskuså-hu put este sa' put i mampos tinane' yu' bai hu pribiniyi i familiå-ku ni' guinahan i tano' ya hu gåsta nomåsdi tiempo para bai hu kalamtini este enlugåt di bai hu nå'i tiempo este na påtgon taiguihi i bidå-hu para i mañe'lu-ña.

Gaige gi marinu lao ha planeha para u na'fonhåyan kulehu-ña yan para u biåhi para otro tåno' siha, tunas hinanånao-ña si AngelineThaddea. Para bai hu danña' yan guiya gi gimå'-ña gi iya Chula Vista, California gi mamaila' tiempo ya hu entensiona na bai hu fa'nå'gue i neni-ña as Uchan Sherrod i fino' CHamoru. Apurao yu' put este ya siempre u kumple guinifi-hu na bai hu mås hihot yan este na patgon-hu.

Ya estaguiya i kuåtro na famagu'on-hu. Ma su'on yu' ni' kada unu i siñente na guaha hinangai yan sostånsia put i lina'lå'-hu. Achokha' taimanu minappot-hu yan chinatsaga-ku ni' hu fakcha'i gi manmaloffan tiempo, hu atan tåtte gi noskuåntos åños ya hu senli'e' na siha gi magåhet numa'guaha rason para bai hu silebra i Ha'ånen Manåta.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Guma' Baila Siha

Estague i inetnon baila "Taotao Lagu." Siha manggana' i uttimo na Dinanna' Minagof na Silebrasion gi i ma'pos na simana. Gi este na litratu mambabaila siha giya Saipan para i 2014 na Flame Tree Festival. Ma kombida yu' gi i otro simana para bai hu hues para i este na sakkan na Dinanna' Minagof. Hu aksepta i kinembida, ya sen excited yu'! Meggai na dinanna' taiguihi hu hanaogue, lao taya' taiguini komo hues.

Hu gof sapopote i gima' baila siha giya Guahan, maseha Fanlalai'an, Pa'a pat Inetnon Gefpago. Hu tungo' na manmaolek na lugat siha para i ineduka i manhoben. Guaha dos na patgon-hu, ya guaha na biahi manhasso yu' buente maolek para bai hu na'saonao i patgon-hu siha gi unu pat dos na gurupu. Maolek i sinaonao para i tahtaotao, maolek lokkue' para i hinasso.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Looking at the Tip of the Spear

Looking at the ‘tip of the spear’

How U.S. Military policy in Guam, a proposed “mega build-up” and population displacement are destroying the island and its people. 

by Craig Santos Perez
June 6, 2014
The Hawaii Independent

Guåhan (Guam), an unincorporated territory of the United States, is the largest and most populated island in Micronesia. For a local comparison, Guåhan is larger than Lanaʻi yet smaller than Molokaʻi. Similar to Oʻahu, U.S.military bases occupy a third of Guåhan’s landmass.

Kanaka Maoli activist and scholar Kaleikoa Kaʻeo once described the U.S. military as a monstrous heʻe (octopus). Imagine Pacific Command headquarters as its head, the mountaintop telescopes as its eyes, and the supercomputers and fiber optic networks as its brain and nerve system.

Now imagine one of its weaponized tentacles strangling Guåhan: “The Tip of the Spear.”

In 2009, details of a military “mega-buildup” on Guåhan were released in a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), a document that requires the military to outline how the military buildup will pollute and degrade natural and cultural resources. The EIS was 11,000 pages long.

One of the toxic proposals was to build a live firing range complex around the sacred village of Pågat. Many Chamorros (the native islanders of Guåhan) visit Pågat to fish, hike and collect medicinal herbs in the pristine jungle; to learn about Chamorro culture and history from the ancestral artifacts in the area; and to seek guidance from the ancestral spirits that dwell there. Pågat is also home to the Marianas eight-spot butterfly, an endangered, native species.

Pågat is listed on the Guam Register of Historic Places, the National Register of Historic Places, and the National Trust for historic Preservation as one of “America’s Most Endangered Historic Places.” Pågat means to council or to advise.

Another proposal for the buildup was the transfer of more than 8,000 marines from U.S. military bases in Okinawa to Guåhan. For decades, Okinawans have protested military presence for many reasons, including the tens of thousands of rapes and sexual assaults perpetuated by soldiers against civilians. The most well known case occurred in 1995, when three soldiers kidnapped and gang-raped a 12-year old Okinawan girl.

This is just the tip of the invasive spear. Sexual violence perpetuated by U.S. soldiers also rampantly occurs in the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, Iraq and Afghanistan.

They say to be careful when you walk through the jungles of Guåhan alone. Camouflaged fishermen carrying throw nets stalk the island. If they catch you, they will take you away and you may never return.

Many Chamorros are caught in the net of predatory military recruitment. Chamorros enlist in the U.S. armed forces at some of the highest rates in the nation. Guam is “a recruiter’s paradise.” The military goes where the fish are biting.

Before 1950, nearly all Chamorros in the world lived in our ancestral home islands. Today, more Chamorros live off-island than on-island. Our largest diasporic populations reside near military bases in California, Washington and Texas. Here in Hawai’i, Chamorros comprise the second largest Micronesian group (estimated between six to eight thousand). According to the 2010 U.S. census, Chamorros are the “most geographically dispersed” of all Pacific populations. 

The main reason why Chamorros leave home: military service. Only a small percentage of Chamorros who leave ever return.

Military enlistment acts as a “benevolent removal” of native peoples from their lands. The fewer Chamorros that live on-island, the easier it will be to militarize the island. The more Chamorros you can assimilate and make dependent, the lesser chance we will bite back. Discipline the Chamorro to save the soldier. 

In 2012, more than 26,000 service members reported being sexually assaulted or raped by fellow soldiers.

The U.S. military has a long history of destroying sacred places, especially islands, for military training and weapons testing. Vieques stop Jeju stop Kahoʻolawe stop San Clemente stop Diego Garcia stop Kaʻula stop Farallon de Medinilla stop Kwajelein stop Enewetak stop Bikini please stop.

This year, a new “Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement” (SEIS) for the military buildup was released. Four thousand acres of Litekyan (Ritidian), an area in northern Guåhan, is now being considered as an alternative to Pågat for the live firing range complex.

In 1963, the U.S. military removed the original landowners of Litekyan under eminent domain. The navy used the area as a communications station during the Cold War. Thirty years later, 1,000 acres of the land was deemed “excess.” Instead of that land being returned to the families, it was given to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who established the Guam National Wildlife Refuge. The only dedicated critical habitat in Guam, this refuge protects the last remaining native species of fanihi (Mariana fruit bat), sihek (Micronesian Kingfisher) and aga (Mariana Crow). It is also the nesting area for the threatened haggan betde (green sea turtle) and haggan karai (hawksbill sea turtle).

Like Pågat, Litekyan houses many Chamorro remains, artifacts and cave art. According to the SEIS, Litekyan will become a “Surface Danger Zone,” and nearly seven million bullets will be fired in the area each year. Litekyan meansto stir, or a stirring place.

If you want to train soldiers to kill, it makes sense to choose beautiful, sacred spaces to destroy. If you are looking for a weapons training paradise, then indigenous lands, waters, bodies, sea and land creatures make lovely, inviting targets.

In a 2011 issue of Foreign Policy, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed the 21st century as “America’s Pacific Century,” a time when the U.S. military will “pursue a more geographically distributed, operationally resilient and politically sustainable force posture” in the Asia-Pacific region.

The word force comes from the 13th century Old French forcier, “conquer by violence.” Its earliest sense in English, from the 14th century, was “to rape.”

As part of the Environmental Impact Statement review process, the public is invited to submit our comments about the military proposals. If you do not support the further militarization of Guåhan, please show your solidarity and share your thoughts via online submission form or by mail, to Joint Guam Program Office (Forward), P.O. Box 15324, Santa Ri

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Chamorro Journey Stories in the US Military

Guam Humanities Council to host Smithsonian Institution Exhibit Journey Stories, Opening June 26, 2014

The Guam Humanities Council is partnering with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program to bring to Guam the national exhibit, Journey Stories.

Many of us have powerful journey stories in our personal heritage. It may be a story of a family uprooting itself in order to stay together, or of sons and daughters moving to another land, or of a distant ancestor. As part of the Guam tour, the Council has developed a local companion exhibit with complimentary programs entitled, Sindålu – Chamorro Journeys in the U.S. Military, to explore the many significant and oftentimes unrecognized journeys of Chamorro men and women who currently serve or have served in the U.S. Military. Chamorro servicemen and women, along with their families, have moved all over the world, some returning home, others resettling permanently in communities across the country. Their rich and complex history of service, sacrifice, travel, and a sense of place and identity beginning with World War I into the present will be told in the Sindålu exhibit. Unique exhibit programming will engage diverse Guam audiences, both civilian and military, with these compelling journey stories.

The Council worked with Chamorro scholar and historian Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua to develop the Guam - focused exhibit. Tiffany Ruhl, Curatorial Assistant for the Smithsonian Institution MoMS program, will be on island for the exhibit installation and public opening. The Council is also partnering with the Agana Shopping Center to launch the tour and present the opening venue and programs.

The exhibits will open on Thursday, June 26 at 6:00 p.m., at the second floor gallery space in the Agana Shopping Center. This new exhibition project is modeled on three successful exhibition tours the Council hosted in Guam in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, including in 2007 with New Harmonies! Celebrating American Roots Music, in 2009 with Key Ingredients – America By Food, and in 2012 with Between Fences. Executive Director for the Guam Humanities Council, Dr. Kimberlee Kihleng attributes the successful tours with local support and the partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, “Our participation in the Smithsonian Institution MoMS program has allowed the Council to provide our underserved community access to Smithsonian-quality exhibits, educational resources, grant support and technical assistance.” The tour of Journey Stories and Sindålu is made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Sponsors for the tour include Triple B Forwarders, the Guam Council on the Arts and Humanities Agency, the Agana (Shopping Center and the Guam Naval OfficersSpousesConnection GNOSC). The Guam Museum, the University of Guam Micronesia Area Research Center (MARC), Guam National Guard, and Isla Center for the Arts have provided additional support. The Guam Humanities Council is a non-profit organization that provides foundational support and educational programs for the people of Guam. The mission of the Guam Humanities Council is to foster community engagement and dialogue, inspire critical thinking, celebrate diversity and enrich the quality of life of island residents through the power of the humanities.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Colonizing Stigmas

The commentary below is from the Overseas Territories Review.

A very good source of information about those of us and our islands who remain formally and per the United Nation's definition, colonized. Most of us are very small and the majority of the world's people could care little about. The Overseas Territories Review is a very good, centralized location for finding out information about all these scattered still colonized lands. Some of our situations today are very similar, some are very unique and distinct. But part of moving towards decolonizing is getting over the fear of being a "colony" still. Since this is something that is no longer supposed to exist, many wish to simply refuse to acknowledge the possibility since it means you are the one who carries the stain and stigma of the inhumanity of the past everyone else seems to have gotten past. Even if it is clearly the moral stain of the colonizer, you still feel like this is your mess, your problem that needs to be tucked and hidden away. By seeing others out there that are still colonies in need of help and support, hopefully the potential discursive blow can be softened and see that colonization is not something that signifies problems with those who were colonized, they are not the tainted ones, it is instead those who continue the colonized who should be ashamed.

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Cautious U.N. procedures are impeding the decolonization process 

Commentary

 Overseas Territories Review

            Last week, the United Nations (U.N.) Decolonization Committee began its 2014 hearings on the seventeen non self-governing on the U.N. General Assembly list. They began with Western Sahara and Gibraltar, two of the three territories subject to sovereignty disputes. Hearings will continue over the next several weeks on the British and American administered dependencies in the Caribbean and Pacific, the French administered Pacific dependencies, and the Falkland Islands/Malvinas claimed both by neighboring Argentina and far distant United Kingdom. Thanks to the U.N. webcast, the full committee sessions are available for viewing across the globe. Last Monday's committee meeting provided a glimpse into some of the longstanding challenges faced by the U.N. in completing the decolonization process.
During its resumed session last Monday, the committee heard a presentation by the Frente POLISARIO, the representative of the people of Western Sahara which remains under  the control of the North African state of Morocco. Self-determination for the Sahrawi people has been stymied for decades with Morocco stalling the referendum process in favor of a proposed dependency status under the guise of 'autonomy'.  Meanwhile, the natural resources of Western Sahara, whose ownership is supposedly protected by U.N. doctrine and International Court of Justice rulings, are instead being usurped with the help of willing interlocutors like the Europe Union (E.U.) through agreements with Morocco to exploit the territory's fisheries resources.
The case of Gibraltar, however,  differs significantly from its counterpart in Northern Africa. Unlike Western Sahara, Gibraltar represents a dispute between two E.U. states, Spain and the United Kingdom (U.K.), over the interpretation of centuries old treaties of ownership of that tiny sliver of land between the two nations. But unlike Western Sahara where the issues of self-determination and independence are the focus, the elected Gibraltar authorities have historically sought international legitimization of its dependency status with the U.K. The Gibraltar authorities told the committee last Monday that the 1970  U.N. Resolution 2625 gives credence to any political option as long as it has been chosen by the people - regardless of whether it is self-governing or not. They use this as the basis for their argument to be removed from the U.N. list, and have repeatedly asked the U.N. to clarify this issue.
Their interpretation of Resolution 2625, however, is misguided, and had been earlier clarified in a 2006 expert analysis on the criteria for de-listing a territory disseminated to U.N. member states at that time. The analysis explained that the intention of the General Assembly in the 1970 resolution was not to legitimize a dependency status which fell short of "a full measure of self-government with political equality." In other words, the U.N. does not authenticate such arrangements as fully self-governing if they are not.
But the committee discussion on Gibraltar raised a number of issues reflective of present U.N. procedures. In order to determine the self-governance sufficiency of a given political arrangement, the U.N. is mandated to examine new or existing dependency governance frameworks on a case-by-case basis according to annual U.N. resolutions.  The problem is that such case-by-case reviews are not being performed - not for the 'autonomy' proposal promoted for Western Sahara, nor for the prevailing constitutional order of Gibraltar, nor for the political arrangements in place or envisaged for any of the other remaining dependencies. Understandably, this has resulted in a lack of clarity on the part of the territories and member States alike on where the democratic deficiencies exist in these non self-governing arrangements. In the absence of such analysis, however, the U.N. committee hearings are limited to repetitive re-statement of position. There appears to be no scope for committee examination as to whether such dependency arrangements as Gibraltar pass the self-governance test.
Such studies as the 2006 expert analysis, the 2006 Program of Implementation (POI) endorsed by the General Assembly and others would shed considerable light on some of the fundamental questions continually raised in the U.N. decolonization proceedings by the territorial leaders who continue to seek clarity on the rules of the decolonization process. These questions are mostly met with silence, and sometimes defensiveness on the part of the committee. This makes the committee vulnerable to increasing criticism by the representatives of the territories who are genuinely seeking answers on the relevance of the U.N. and international law in their decolonization process, and how this role is to be carried out in view of  myriad U.N. resolutions on decolonization and self-determination. The territories simply wish to know the reasons for the insufficient implementation of these resolutions designed to assist - and even guide - their political development. They have a right to such clarity.
The Chief Minister of Gibraltar sought as much in his statement to the committee last Monday, and  his queries could have been easily addressed. But the response was merely to point out the committee's limitation of action. This does not address the substance of the matter. An even cursory review of the Gibraltar Constitutional Order reveals substantial democratic deficiencies if U.N. principles of self-government are applied, and there is a responsibility to inform them of that fact. The Chief Minister of the territory recalled that its constitutional documents had been submitted to the committee years ago for analysis. But no review was ever published on Gibraltar or any of the other territories on the U.N. list. Yet it is the clarity brought by examination of the elements of the various dependency models which is critical. Otherwise, awkward exchanges as the one seen across the globe on the webcast between the Gibraltar leader and the committee last week will continue to be repeated. This only serves the interests of those who seek to further marginalize the U.N.'s role in decolonization.
A similar scenario to that of Gibraltar played out in the U.N.'s decolonization seminar in Fiji last May. In this case, the representative of the Government of Guam made a series of recommendations designed to assist that territory's ongoing political education program leading to a political status referendum in the territory.  The representative asked for a more proactive U.N. approach to provide information to the territories on the decolonization options,  the development of  individual work programs for each territory - as the decolonization resolutions have mandated for years, and expert political analysis on the nature of the dependency arrangements as mandated in the plan of action of the first, second and presently the third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism.
These are not new issues, but are measures repeatedly reaffirmed for action by the General Assembly for years. It should not, therefore, be seen as unreasonable that a territorial representative might question why these actions have not been carried out for decades. This is the information they need to move their own political status processes forward. But it is this very lack of clarity brought on by the absence of information and analysis which has impeded the decolonization process in these territories. It is the insufficiency of substantive response from the committee on these issues which has led to a creeping disillusionment in many territories with the committee's cautiously arcane methods.
The requests by these territories for the U.N. to carry out the actions called for in the U.N. resolutions should not be seen by U.N. member states as demeaning to the committee, but is certainly reflective of a growing frustration with a lack of accountability of the U.N. as the guardian of the  decolonization mandate. It may speak to a lack of political will on the part of the U.N. to implement its own decolonization decisions. It may also speak to the posture of a U.N. bureaucracy unwilling or unable to carry out this mandate, and which is allowed to pick and choose which actions it will undertake, and which it will not. But whatever the reason, the system seems content to define its role so narrowly as to avoid responsibility for anything more than preparing annual information documents on each territory while bypassing the far more elaborate actions contained in decolonization resolutions. The decolonization process has slowed, not merely because the administering powers have been allowed to formally absent themselves from the process, but equally because the U.N. system has not implemented its own actions. 
Just how the U.N. defines its role sheds considerable light in this respect. The U.N.'s own Biennial Program Plan and Priorities for servicing the decolonization agenda for  2014-2015 lists as the sole two "indicators of achievement" the "timely submission of parliamentary documents" and the "sustained level of support to the work of the Special Committee in facilitating communication with the administering Powers." These are the identical indicators of achievement included in the U.N. budget for years, and are the same proposed for the 2016-2017 period. Such limited measures by which to assess achievement speaks for themselves.
Through all of this, there is no reason for the member states of the Decolonization Committee to continue to defend moribund procedures which appear to have evolved over time. The Decolonization Committee was not created in 1961 to be mired in such timidity. What is required is for those same member states to ensure that the U.N. procedures used to service the decolonization agenda are modernized to ensure accountability. This could start with a fundamental re-write of the "indicators of achievement".  Without substantive change to these U.N. procedures, and without a serious effort at accountability for implementing the mandate, true decolonization may not be able to withstand the pressures of inertia.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Obama at Standing Bear

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama recently visited the Standing Bear Sioux Reservation of the Lakota and the Dakota. Here are some pictures:








Thursday, June 19, 2014

Game of Thrones

I have never watched Game of Thrones, but simply because it is discussed so much and a favorite of so many people I know, I by default absorb so much information about it. I know most of the major characters and most of the major plot points. From all that I know however, it still seems baffling to me that so many people find the show so engrossing. There are those who say it is the violence. The writing. The realism. The creativity. The intrigue and drama. The relationship to real history. I've heard so many different types of arguments. 

 So much of this reminds me of the first time I read Shakespeare's plays. I had heard for so much of my life that the works and words of William Shakespeare were the pinnacle of human creativity and expressive achievement. That these were great plays that were timeless in their quality and boundaryless in terms of their importance. When I read them I was intrigued but not that impressed. To this day when I read or hear Shakespeare I still don't quite get it. There are certain parts which do sound glorious and stitched together so beautifully, but for the most part, I don't see how this deserved to be elevated to the holiest of literary heights? For me Shakespeare wrote of things that so many people have spoken of, thought of and written of, and while he occasionally finds a unique way of expressing himself, for the most part, it doesn't seem that inventive or interesting. 

One day I would love to try out an experiment in which I would have students submit as their writing for a class, segments of Shakespeare, with slight changes to not give away the voice entirely. I would bet good money that most of the time the professor would find their stuff predictable, overdone, pompous, pretentious and sometimes just silly. For example, the famous St. Crispin's Day speech from Henry V is one I enjoy very much. I even like to watch versions of it on Youtube with my son Akli'e'. But even if I enjoy it, that doesn't mean that it isn't almost ridiculous to listen to. The language is meant to be overblown and it surely does achieve that, but if you can imagine this being written by most any other writer, people would snicker when reading it or hearing it. This sort of speech is common in movies and plays and books, but the line between whether it is inspirational or silly is enormously grey and wide. These types of speeches whether they come from Independence Day or 300 or Pacific Rim can be inspiring to those who want to believe or have given themselves over to the moment, but for others they are almost like jokes.

A critic from Shakespeare's time called him something along the lines of an upstart crow beautified in the feathers of others, I definitely feel this both about him and about Game of Thrones. I started reading the book Game of Thrones several years ago but didn't finish it. The book was interesting that is very true, so was the world and the characters that George RR Martin created, but it felt like so many other things that I've read, both in fantasy and in history, that I found it irritating after a while. The writing style seemed so full of itself, so self-assured, but it wasn't coming close to meriting that style, meriting its own investment. This is not something that I've only felt for Game of Thrones, I often have critiques of this from so-called "epic" stories. There are parts of Beawolf for example that I really love and are truly powerful in my opinion, and then there are huge sections that are almost painful to read or listen to. There are those sections that write in an epic fashion of life and death struggles and battles and then there are those sections which are trying to sound epic, trying to sound so grand, but just get monotonous and tiresome. 

I wonder if I will ever return to the Song of Fire and Ice books or ever watch Game of Thrones. Hekkua', ti hu tungo'. But I do find it interesting all of the discourse that is created around the hype of Game of Thrones, for instance these two articles below about the issue of rape and sexism in the show.

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 'Game Of Thrones' Finale Thoughts: Will This Good Show Ever Be Great?

Maureen Ryan
Huffington Post
Posted:

I'll tell you why I'm hard on "Game of Thrones" at times: Because of Arya's eyes. 

A lot happened in the mournful, exciting and majestically melancholy season finale, but for my money, none of the special effects could match Maisie Williams' gaze as Arya watched the Hound's agony on that rocky hillside. 

As she observed him, her eyes were unreadable yet endlessly compelling. Was she thinking about killing him? Was she pondering how satisfying it would be to check one more name off her list? Was she marveling at the fact that, despite everything he'd done to her and others, she had a weird affection for the scarred, profane, unsentimental warrior? Was she considering that the Hound -- the man who killed her friend and worked for her family's enemies -- had done more to teach her about surviving a brutal world than her own father had done? 

All those things were in Arya's eyes -- and yet, perhaps, none of them were. She's so rich and complicated, and their relationship is so knotty, that those questions have no real answer.
Williams hasn't merely grown in height during the last four years, she's grown tremendously as an actress. One of the marks of a truly gifted actor is an ability to draw in and involve an audience without saying a word. The finale offered far more visually spectacular scenes -- and far more surprising ones -- than the hillside moment. But, despite everything else that happened and despite Rory McCann's impassioned performance opposite Williams, I have a feeling that, months from now, all I'll remember are Arya's eyes. 

That watchful, intelligent face reflects what is best about "Game of Thrones," a show that, at its considerable heights, can pack a multitude of meanings into a single scene or moment. The Arya-Hound scene was special in part because it was the culmination of a complex relationship years in the making. The duo reminds me of Don Draper and Peggy Olson from "Mad Men" -- they've had a mentor-mentee relationship, a weird sort of friendship, they've hated each other at times and they've kept each other company in all sorts of odd and trying situations. But like Don and Peggy, they understand each other. They speak the same language, ultimately, and no matter what, they survive. Game recognizes game. 

It's not as though Arya gloried in the death of the murderer of the butcher's boy. She's only human, after all. The finale -- and much of the show as a whole -- was all about characters coming up against the limits of their humanity and the limits of their forbearance. Sometimes external limits were imposed on them, sometimes they met an obstacle in their own character. But again and again in "The Children," we saw people surrender, give up, accept a hard truth or a painful reality. They embraced what had to be done and all the fallout that might follow. 

Arya, in keeping with her status as Westeros' most challenged teen, ran into a double whammy of limitations. She was torn between her affection for the Hound -- a grudging and fluctuating affection, but an affection nonetheless -- and her unsentimental and clinical view of the Hound's lifetime of violence. She wanted to kill him and she didn't; she thought he deserved to suffer and she wanted to give him a quick end. The solution she came up with was strangely elegant, if awful for the Hound: She couldn't bring herself to kill him and she also didn't completely mind if he painfully bled out, so she just walked off. Of course, before she left, she took his gold, which just shows she really had learned everything important he had to teach ("That's what the money's for!"). 

Some scenes in "Game of Thrones" revel, sadly, in layers of ambiguity: Witness Tyrion's abject-yet-determined demeanor as he killed the only woman he'd ever loved and his own father, as well. Tyrion's awful realization consisted of this fact: He was really no different from Tywin. He would and could kill for any number of reasons, even if he had a deep personal bond with his target. He bumped up against the truth that he is, in fact, more a Lannister than he or his dad ever realized. The profligate, witty, acerbic survivor of Season 1 has come into his own as the brutal, self-serving son that Tywin always wanted but never recognized. Cersei was right: Tywin really never saw any of his children -- only his plans and stratagems for them. They were always objects to him, but people aren't objects and sometimes they fight back. 

Tywin's problems -- and his death -- are a direct result of his towering privilege. He never struggled with limitations or constrictions: He thought he would always be able to arrange the affairs of his kingdom and his family to his liking. Only his will mattered -- or so he thought. As we've seen again and again on this show: Being a ruler doesn't make you smart, cunning or adaptable, and having power doesn't disguise your limitations, it often exposes them. 

"Game of Thrones" shows us that characters who can't adapt and who are rarely or never forced out of their comfort zones will inevitably come to grief. OK, it's true that most characters come to grief regardless of their personal growth, but those who hold fast to old ways or outmoded beliefs are often the least fortunate. Ned Stark did not adapt to the slithery politics of King's Landing. Robert Baratheon could not evolve from a warrior into a king. Joffrey always was and remained a sociopathic little s***, and we all know how that turned out. Lysa Arryn, stuck in her airless Eyrie, didn't interact with the world and kept a hysterical death grip on her little empire and her maladjusted son. What did getting her own way get her? A one-way flight out of her comfort zone.

Ayra has had to adapt. Jon Snow never truly stopped being a man of the Night's Watch, but his loyalties were malleable -- malleable enough for him to get the girl (temporarily) and get the Wildling intel he was after. When we last saw her, Sansa had clearly upped her game, and Bran has delved deeply into the mysterious powers that brought him to the strange man under the tree. The Stark children's father may not have figured out how to play the game, but his children have tried hard not to make their dad's mistakes. (That said, Robb certainly evolved and adapted, but he still died. The Hound wasn't wrong: There is no safety anywhere. Yet what keeps me rooting for the Stark kids -- and Tyrion -- is that they aren't bloodlessly rational like Tywin or heartlessly selfish like Littlefinger. We see flashes of the Starks' and Tyrion's kindness and thoughtfulness once in a while, and we know that being brutal and unforgiving comes at a cost for them. Sometimes.) 

"You win or you die" -- that's how the saying goes, but maybe it should be "you change or you die." As I've said before, power itself is often the lead character of this show, and no one in pursuit of power -- or merely trying to survive -- has the luxury of remaining static and rigid. When it's working, "Game of Thrones" shows the costs and consequences of the most adaptable characters' evolutions, which are sometimes quite painful, sometimes fortunate and tend to keep us all off balance, characters and viewers alike. 

Killing his father and lover brought Tyrion no joy -- only the dawning knowledge that he was capable of anything. Daenerys had to respond to the growth of her dragons, a powerful symbol of her independence, by chaining them up. That clearly felt like walling off part of her soul, but that is what rulers have to do. It's not pleasant to come up against the limits of your power or even your humanity, but ignoring what's in front of you is a sure way to engineer your own doom. 

Even Mance Rayder had to admit that his Wildling army was no match for Stannis' cavalry. Jon, still loyal to the Night's Watch -- or what's left of it -- had to come to grips with the deep mark Ygritte left on his heart. The Hound had to acknowledge, with his dying breaths, that he didn't even have the strength to end his own agonized existence. The ability to change and adapt is a good thing to have in Westeros, but that ability is not infinite. 

Can "Game of Thrones" change? Can it evolve into a show that will truly challenge "The Sopranos" as the most successful HBO show of all time? I'm not referring to "GoT's" commercial and ratings success, which HBO has been crowing about lately. Regardless of what the numbers say (and they're very good numbers), both shows will be making buckets of gold for HBO long after the curtain drops on events in Westeros. 

The real question is this: Will "Game of Thrones," like "The Sopranos," continue to rigorously challenge itself and its viewers with an honest and complex view of men and women and their foibles? Or will "Game of Thrones" keep falling into ditches of its own digging? Every season, I find myself extremely frustrated with certain scenes and story lines, and I end up muttering to myself, "Come on, 'Game of Thrones,' you're smarter than this." 

I might as well get to the eyeroll-inducing Jaime-Cersei scene. It's not possible for me to convey how jaw-dropping and dispiriting it is that one of the most perceptive and humane shows on TV is clearly not aware that it depicted Jaime raping his sister back in Episode 3. It was even more depressing that the scene in the sept was followed in the next episode by the overkill of the sexual violence at Craster's Keep, which is, as many smart critics have written, part of a pattern of problematic depictions of sexuality, sexual violence and rape. (Lord knows, we never would have figured out that the occupants of Craster's Keep were bad guys if multiple naked, unnamed women had not been attacked in those scenes.) 

In any event, the massive mistake of the Jaime-Cersei sept scene can never be undone, and that will forever hang over that pair, thus I have zero interest in their future as a couple. But it's the bigger picture that troubles me. 

In a brilliant recent essay, Bethany Jones put the history of sex, sexuality and assault on "Game of Thrones" in the context of a disappointing decline in how HBO has treated these subjects of late. To be clear, I have zero problems with stories that feature a lot of nudity, sex and difficult characters. But like Jones, I do have a problem with depictions of sexuality and exploitation that feel like they're stuck on repetitive and tiresome loops. Jones is right about where HBO has gone wrong in these arenas (and not to beat a dead mammoth, but I think the disappointments in those areas are directly related to this problem). 

"Game of Thrones" has improved a lot since its first season, but it can do so much better.
"There was a lot that ['Game of Thrones'] faithful audience was willing to overlook at the start," Jones wrote. "They took it on trust. The endless sexposition. The tittering frathouse atmosphere of so many bared boobies. The casual misogyny. In a world of casual misogyny it seemed, initially, like a knowing nod ... But we're in the fourth season now, and it's getting tiring. As this season has progressed, it has gotten darker and rapier, and there's no sign that the darkness and rapiness has any point other than as splaff-bait and as a sort of spurious 'edge'-credential. It's become impossible not to ask: what's with all the sadistic machismo, HBO?"

Exactly. "Game of Thrones," as it goes forward, can be the show that explores the intelligence, sadness and spirit we see in Arya's eyes. Or it can be the show that keeps tripping itself up with one-sided, limited and repetitive tropes and tiresome cliches. And those problems aren't limited to the realm of sexuality and sexual violence (though that is often the show's Achilles' heel). Why was Ser Alliser Thorne a petty, willful tyrant? Because Jon Snow needed to seem smarter than him. Who is Gilly? A personality-free appendage who proves Sam's worth. When will Stannis display more than grumpy petulance? Uh, someday? 

"Game of Thrones" is a massive undertaking, and I enjoy the mammoths, giants, zombie ice babies, fighting skeletons, epic battles, magic and dragons as much as the next person. And those cool things may be responsible for the show's success, but isn't it interesting that the show's popularity exploded during its darkest season? 

A king died horribly in public, killed allegedly by his own uncle. The Wildlings and other marauders sowed chaos across the land. Daenerys crucified more than a hundred slave owners. Tyrion was betrayed by almost everyone he'd ever known and condemned to death. Sansa's aunt was murdered in front of her. Many terrible things -- not just Mance's army -- stirred behind the Wall. The Wildlings and Stannis' riders appear poised to rain hell on Westeros. All things considered, Season 1 seems like a child's tea party by comparison. 

"Game of Thrones'" excellence, however, is not dependent on its depictions of violence and assault, or epic showdowns and skeleton battles. I like to think that its popularity is due in large part to its attention to how the consequences of large and small events play out for complex, flawed, selfish, frightened and otherwise recognizable human beings. 

The amazing fight between the Hound and Brienne mattered because both of those people matter to me -- I love Brienne's steadfast integrity and quiet determination, and I respect the Hound's bravery and carefully hidden compassion. The Tyrion sequences were incredible because one could see the pain in his eyes as he carried out those terrible acts, and yet nothing about Peter Dinklage's performance asked for forgiveness for the character. We watched Tyrion damn himself, and it was terrible and fascinating. There was sudden violence in those scenes, but those tragedies were years in the making, and their fallout will be reverberate for years to come. 

If you want pointless, meandering misery porn, you can always watch "The Walking Dead." The reason "Game of Thrones" is orders of magnitude better than that show is because a scene of a young woman sitting on a hillside, contemplating her frenemy, is the one of the finest things this show has ever done. 

It's a truism baked right into the show's DNA: Sometimes the price of success is higher than the price of failure. If "Game of Thrones" can give us scenes like the one between the Hound and Arya, I will keep wanting -- no, demanding -- that it do better in every realm. 

I recently guested on the Sound on Sight podcast talking "Game of Thrones." You can get that podcast here.

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For ‘Game of Thrones,’ Rising Unease Over Rape’s Recurring Role



From its very beginnings, “Game of Thrones” has been riddled with sexual brutality. The franchise, which started as a series of fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin about a bleak, feudal world, has at various times included a warrior king who claims his child bride on their wedding night, and the gang rape of a young woman by “half a hundred shouting men behind a tanner’s shop.”
These scenes and others have raised concerns, but this discussion was confined to readers and critics of fantasy fiction.

Now the debate about the series’s sexual violence has spilled into the mainstream and grown vehement, fueled by the explosive growth of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” series. In its fourth season, the show, which airs on Sunday nights, averages more than 14 million viewers and has become its cable network’s most watched series since “The Sopranos.”

In the latest episode, women held captive in a wintry shelter are sexually brutalized. In the deeply controversial episode that preceded it, a scheming noblewoman in an incestuous relationship with her brother is forced to have sex with him, despite her cries of no.
Rape is often presented in television plotlines, where it has far-reaching and lasting consequences for the affected characters. But critics of “Game of Thrones” fear that rape has become so pervasive in the drama that it is almost background noise: a routine and unshocking occurrence.
Many viewers were roiled by the television episode containing the rape of the noblewoman, Cersei Lannister, by her brother Jaime, and protested on blogs, Facebook and Twitter.
The outrage was further fueled by comments from the director of that episode, who told the website Hitfix.com that the characters’ coupling became “consensual by the end.”
That left audiences wondering if the show’s producers truly understood what they had depicted. “That is not what I saw, and that is not what many people saw,” said Maureen Ryan, a television critic for The Huffington Post, who wrote that the scene was unequivocally a rape.
Mr. Martin’s “Game of Thrones” novels, known collectively as “A Song of Ice and Fire,” have more than 31 million copies in print, and have been translated into more than 25 different languages, according to his publisher, the Bantam Books imprint of Random House. The HBO series is broadcast in more than 150 countries and is the most pirated show worldwide.
It’s also perhaps the most popular entertainment property to depict sexual violence frequently and throughout its incarnations on page and on screen. The latest issue of the Game of Thrones comic book, released last week by Dynamite Entertainment, graphically depicts, by the fourth page, a barbarian preparing to rape a nude woman after conquering her village.
In response to email questions, Mr. Martin wrote that as an artist, he had an obligation to tell the truth about history and about human nature.
“Rape and sexual violence have been a part of every war ever fought, from the ancient Sumerians to our present day,” said Mr. Martin, 65, who lives in Santa Fe, N.M.

“To omit them from a narrative centered on war and power would have been fundamentally false and dishonest,” he continued, “and would have undermined one of the themes of the books: that the true horrors of human history derive not from orcs and Dark Lords, but from ourselves.”
David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, the show runners of the HBO series and responsible for its day-to-day operation, declined to be interviewed.
Michael Lombardo, the president for programming at HBO, said in an email that “The choices our creative teams make are based on the motivations and sensibilities that they believe define their characters. We fully support the vision and artistry of Dan and David’s exceptional work and we feel this work speaks for itself.”
Other television shows like “Downton Abbey” and “Private Practice” have had story lines about rape, but they were singular events that explored the repercussions.
“The best depictions don’t just leave it at the dramatic device of the rape itself,” said Scott Berkowitz, president of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, an anti-sexual violence group. “They use it to tell a deeper story about recovery and what effect it has on that person.”
But “Game of Thrones” does not seem to be doing that.
“To have sexual violence treated so cavalierly, it’s very difficult to see that,” said Mariah Huehner, a writer and editor of comic books who has contributed repeatedly to the online debate. “It’s too upsetting to see, and I just don’t know that I can keep going with that.”
As for the books, readers say that Mr. Martin’s presentation of rape underscores the harshness of his world, but some question what they say is his overreliance on it and an often lurid tone when writing about sexual matters.
“The ‘no means yes’ thing is there in the books,” said Sady Doyle, an essayist who often writes about “Game of Thrones.” “The sexualized punishments are there. It’s in the text and it’s vital to the text. It’s something that comes up, over and over again.”
But, she added, “At a certain point, you get the feeling that you can’t walk through a chapter without expecting something horrible — almost always to a female character — just to prove that this is indeed a very scary and dark piece of literature.”
Mr. Martin said that his philosophy as a writer is to show and not tell, and doing so requires “vivid sensory detail.”
“When the scene in question is a sex scene, some readers find that intensely uncomfortable,” he said, “and that’s 10 times as true for scenes of sexual violence. But that is as it should be. Certain scenes are meant to be uncomfortable, disturbing, hard to read.”
As the books are adapted for other media, sequences that were described obliquely in the novels have become more explicit, more outrageous and more problematic. Mr. Martin said that the “Game of Thrones” television and comic-book adaptations “are in the hands of others, who make their own artistic choices as to what sort of approach will work best in their respective mediums.”
Ms. Ryan of The Huffington Post said in an interview that “Game of Thrones” possesses “an incredible ability to make you care about people who really have done terrible things — repeatedly, it’s done that, and I think that’s its great strength.”
“Sexual assault happens in the world,” Ms. Ryan said. “It’s something that we process through popular culture. The people making it should really take it upon themselves to bring out all the aspects of that experience — make it at least as much about the person who survives the attack as the person who perpetrated it.”
“That’s how you respect the experience,” she said. “That’s how it’s not exploitative.”

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Finayin Chamorro
















In my weekly Chamorro classes, I try to end each Intermediate lesson with a axiom, a saying, some words of wisdom in the Chamorro language. Each of them can shed some light on the continuum of the Chamorro experience. Some of these sayings are just Chamorro versions of sayings from other cultures. Some contain interesting hybrid elements and possibly ancient, pre-colonial themes. Some are just nonsense and only said because of a harmony with the sounds and words. This image is one such saying, "Nina'i hao gi as Yu'us i chetnot-mu, para un espiha i amot-mu." It translates to, "You are given your illness by God, so that you can search for the cure."

It is a good idea to ask our elders for more of these sayings, these pieces of Chamorro wisdom and incorporate them into our daily lives.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Rhino Beetle Infested Coconut Trees

I trongkon niyok, i trongkon lina'la para i taotao gi i Tasin Pasifiku. Anggen manbetde yan manggaila'la' este na trongko, manggaila'la' yan mabrabu lokkue' i Chamorro siha. Lao anggen un atan este na trongko siha pa'go gi isla-ta, ti manbrabrabu, mismo manmalalangu.

Across Facebook for months I've seen posts lamenting the state of Guam's coconut trees. The rhino beetle has infested the island and is slowly destroying this essential island trees from within. Asan Beach, a site that 70 years ago was obliterated in the American re-invasion of the island during I Tiempon Chapones, has become synonymous with scattered coconut trees as much as military relics. Earlier this year, the Department of Agriculture began cutting down trees there that were infested with the rhino beetle. As I kept reading these updates a particular image kept popping into my head. I wrote about it on my own Facebook:
I want to translate "Fake Plastic Trees" by Radiohead into Chamorro and change all the lyrics to be about rhino beetle infested coconut trees burning in agony on our beaches. Don't know why, but that image keeps popping into my head when I hear the song.

It took me about a week but I eventually was able to write up my own lyrics to "Fake Plastic Trees" which I retitled "Rhino Beetle Infested Coconut Trees." The lyrics in Chamorros are meant to be sung/spoken to the tune of the original Radiohead song, and I even wrote up some lyrics, which when translated to English sound very "Radioheadish." 

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Rhino Beetle Infested Coconut Trees

Tenhos i tano’ på’go’
I asu hulo’ i lago’
Manlamas i trongkon niyok siha

The land is angry today
The smoke above is the tears
The rotten coconut trees

Manlaolaolao i trongko siha
Mambaibaila gi guaifi-ta
Ya katbon Chaife i setbe-ña

The trees are shaking
They are dancing in our fire
And coal for Chaife is all they are good for now

Tumånges gui’
Tumånges yu’
I nina’i
Lastima gui’

She cried
I cried
The gift
Is wasted

Tinifok betde kalulot
Kimåson, påguan yan taikulot
Paladan siha mayililok

Green woven fingers
Charred, smelly and colorless
Crumpled scars

Hafa eståba i lina’la’
På’go mina’la’et gi hila’
Lao ti kannu’on dinagi siha

What was once life
Now is the bitterness on the tongue
Because you can’t eat lies

Tumånges gui’
Tumånges yu’
Esta taibali
Ti ta li’e’

She cried
I cried
It’s already useless
We didn’t see

I gefes i tano’-mu
Ha boyok i isao-mu
Kao un hungok i kasao-ña?

The lungs of your land
They spit out your sins
Can you hear her gasps?

Tumaohan i guafi-ña
Inigong-ña, kao un komprende?
Taiåmot i tinaigue-ña

The fires rises
Her moans, do you understand them?
There is no cure for her absence

Tumånges gui’
Tumånges yu’
Ta sedi gui’
Ti ta adadahi

She cried
I cried
We let it
We didn’t watch out

Anggen manli’e’ hao, hafa un cho’cho’gue?

If you can see, what are you doing?

Anggen mañiente hao, hafa un kekegoggue?

If you can feel, what are you trying to save?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Kanton Agupa'.

Gof ya-hu este na mubi. Na'chalek yan meggai na akshon lokkue'. Achokka' kalang estrana i hinengge-na Si Tom Cruise put rihilon, gof ya-hu gui' komo actor. Gof ya-hu i mubi-na siha.

I famagu'on-hu ma egga' i trailer para este na mubi "I Kanton Agupa'" yan gof yan-niha i "tagline"-na. "Live. Die. Repeat. In pila' este gi Fino' Chamoru taiguini, "La'la. Matai. Ta'lo."

Esta in egga' este, lao kada hu faisen i dos-hu, kao malago' siha na in egga' gui' ta'lo, ma faisen yu' "Ta'lo?" Ya ilek-hu, "Hunggan nai, ta'lo yan ta'lo yan ta'lo, taiguihi gi mubi!"

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Whether Cruel or Kind...

When I teach about colonialism I am always careful to stress that you should never define colonialism primarily by manifestations of "evil" or overt expressions of racism or violence. If you do, you run the risk of blurring your critical lens and making it so that situations which are clearly colonial don't merit analysis because they aren't gory enough.

The late Joe Murphy for example pioneered a commonsensical way of not seeing Guam as a colony in this manner. When confronted with arguments about Guam's colonial status Murphy would usually make two discursive moves. First, he would argue that colonialism is a thing of the past as associated with the atrocities of Spanish priests long ago. That was colonization, it was violent, brutal and cruel, you certainly can't call what Guam experiences today colonialism if that was colonialism as well. Second, he would say that Guam benefits from the relationship with the United States and in colonial relationships the colonies don't benefit and they certainly don't benefit or get a sweeter deal than the colonizer does. He would point to the amount of money that the US Federal Government pumps into Guam through social programs such as food stamps and welfare, and said that when you look the balance of things, what do they get in return? A rock in the Pacific, where they get some bases, but little more.

Murphy's arguments were not just his own, many people have and continue to make such points. Murphy was just someone who had a large outlet for his arguments as a publisher for the PDN and a longtime columnist there as well. There are fatal flaws in these arguments, very serious flaws.The second point is dependent upon seeing things in a colonial apologetic context and accepting basic colonizing principles for determining value and what is valuable. The money that Guam gets from the US is prioritized and seen as a sort of gracious mana from heaven. When we look at what the US gets, we undervalue it in order to argue they get less and we get more. It is a dynamic designed to disrupt potential critiques, by arguing we should not complain because a great colonizer who already has so much on his hands, gives us so much and takes so very little.

Notice however that if you change this dynamic slightly, everything comes out colored differently. If we move to a patriotic context for example, suddenly those same bases and lands used for bases become our admission to the circle of American belonging. Those things that the US get from us that were so minute before, are now the basis for us claiming to be Americans and for articulating what we contribute to the greatness of the United States. Suddenly those things can be blown up large and exaggerated as massive and significant expressions of loyalty and commitment to the colonizer's ideals of democracy, liberty and security.

To the first point, it is not something only relegated to colonialism, but many concepts for identifying oppressions and injustice in general. Students in my classes tend to see that Guam can't really be a colony since things are not as bad as they used to be when Guam was a colony. This is the same way they tend to understand racism. It was so bad before, that what it is now certainly can't be the same thing, can't involve the same variables? Their whole conceptualization of racism seems predicated on only articulating it as something in the past and nothing that touches the present moment. It is the same for colonization.

Students feel compelled to see colonization and colonialism as things of the long past because of the implications of it existing today. Colonialism is something that everyone must admit to being bad. Even those who apologize for it, do so because deep down there is an unacceptable acceptance that it is wrong and that it cannot be justified. Those who seek to justify it do so because unlike the past when the story Europeans told of themselves covered the earth like veils of lies, so many other stories that counter those narratives of self-aggrandizement and self-absolution have emerged.

This way of perceiving colonization isn't just due to the work of apologists, but also the way in which anti-colonial arguments are formed. In seeking to promote one's cause, one's story, one's fight for justice and for decolonization it is natural to find those elements of your tale that are the most "juicy" or the most disgusting in order to grab people's attention and help them see the need for what you are proposing.

The need to articulate something that will break the deadlock of "debate" or "discussion" but the attempt to offer up something that will shock the conscious and make everyone understand the rightness of your cause in a way beyond words. To pierce the core of their being and dredge up feelings of horror, guilt, shame and so on, that will make them act in ways that rational talk could not.

Ultimately however, this emphasis can lead to people misunderstanding colonialism. Yes it can be brutal, yes it has been brutal at times, but like anything it can evolve and change. It does not always appear in the exact same way, with the exact same qualities. Those who too intimately associate colonialism with a particular quality such as inhuman violence, risk confusing those who are listening. If you change the color of a car is it no longer a car? The color of something, that type of characteristic should not define something, because it may lead to people understanding something based on its surface, rather than its structure. 

What they don't see is that the colonial status does not stem from the character of the treatment, but the ability to treat someone however they would like, as the relationships establishes that one is not only beneath the other, but one belongs to the other. Take for instance this quote from an Air Force Captain in the 1990's.

"...people on Guam seem to forget that they are a possession, and not an equal partner…If California says that they want to do this, it is like my wife saying that she wants to move here or there: I’ll have to respect her wish and at least discuss it with her. If Guam says they want to do this or that, it is as if this cup here [he pointed at his coffee mug] expresses a wish: the answer will be, you belong to me and I can do with you as best I please.”
Most people would read this quote and neutralize its meaning quickly through discourses on bad apples or racists and bad people not as those who perpetuate injustice, those who profit from it, but rather those who speak of it, and those who do not apologize for it.

The need to focus on the structure and not the surface is because you can miss the whole point otherwise. For example, many people who read this quote above which is featured in Roland Stade's informative book Pacific Passages, assume that its meaning or its value as something that reveals truth, deals with the unflattering parts, the disrespect he is showing. In truth, the meaning is the ownership discursive. Something that so many people when thinking about Guam's relationship to the United States do not want to admit to or integrate into how they see their relationship to the United States. The point of this is not that he is a jerk, but rather that there is a jerk who is telling you the truth about your situation. If you fixate on him being a jerk you miss the point.

In Guam, in terms of understanding colonization, it is important that we do not see it as a matter of good colonizers or bad colonizers, or good treatment equating with a lack of colonialism and bad treatment as equating with the presence of colonialism. Good or bad, what is the relationship beneath these manifestations? Is the way you are to be treated something enshrined as rights? Or is it something that exists as mere privileges? Is you being treated with respect and dignity something that is exceptional and exciting or something normal and expected?

During the period of slavery in the Americas, this was always something that needed to be kept in mind amidst a wave of American apologia. Although slaves that lived in the United States lived in better conditions than those that lived in the Spanish and Portuguese American colonies, this didn't mean that they weren't slaves. Americans tried to argue their supremacy and enlightened qualities by the way they treated their slaves better than their European colonial counterparts. They argued that their slaves were parts of their families whereas the Spanish and Portuguese treated their slaves like pack animals. The color of the treatment was different, but the relationship was not. A master in the United States could treat his slave with the worst cruelty, but if he did not, it wasn't because he didn't own slaves, but it was because such "better" treatment was evidence of why he was worthy of having slaves in the first place.

The colonizer always has choices about how they treat their colonies. They can treat them with cruelty, with brutality. They can mince their bodies up to feed their livestock and use their flesh to taste the blades of their swords. They can give us access to welfare and then they can take it away. They can treat them with cruelty, they can treat them with kindness.



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