Saturday, April 22, 2017

Fanhokkayan #4: Minagahet Mission

The other day Independent Guåhan's held it's April teach-in at UOG, this time with a focus on "democratizing the media." The discussion focused on Guam's media landscape and ways that community members can create alternative means of educating or informing people on island about pertinent issues. For years I ran a number of different forms of alternative media, such as blogs, websites, podcasts and even a zine called Minagahet. From 2003-2010 I, and sometimes others edited a zine which focused on Chamorro issues from a critical and largely progressive perspective. You can still find it online, although the last issue was released during the DEIS comment period in early 2010. The name Minagahet which means "truth" came from a comment that a friend of mine had written on a message board many many years ago. It was an exchange with some Chamorros who felt that decolonization was stupid and impossible. My friend had written a long response seeking to counter their points and ended it with this line, "Ya enao i mañe'lu-hu yan mañainå-hu, enao i minagahet."

Here is the statement of purpose or mission that myself and a few others wrote up all those years ago, to explain why we had started the Minagahet Zine. 

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Minagahet - in Chamorro is truth. And idea behind the creation of this zine, is to find new access to truth. On Guam for so long, the idea of truth as been either dictated to us, or imported into Guam by others. Most of our ideas about ourselves, about life, about the world, and therefore the ideas that control and influence our future have been imposed on us through our affiliation with the Untied States. This is not to say that there have been no benefits, but only that while we praise and hold up for all to see the benefits, we hide, do not discuss or ignore the ill effects and the negative impact it has had on our island and culture. 

The hope of this zine is to discuss our past, present and future in our own terms, and in different terms than we traditionally find ourselves speaking in. If you look at the media make-up of Guam, there is one big newspaper, one big news program, and one news radio channel. With this kind of unilateral approach to truth and truth-telling it would be very easy to see things, and think of things in very specific ways.

What we need to do is go beyond the traditional modes of thought. In a very basic way, Chamorros are beginning to re-take and re-tell their history and so on in small academic circles, however as far as media, and daily media representations,  the presence is limited and shaped by a very small circle of people.

This zine is committed to promoting alternative ideas and ways of thinking about Guam and its status, whether political, social, cultural, economic and so on. It is committed to the decolonization of Guam, and educating Chamorros and others on Guam about decolonization, and the vital need for it. It is also committed to promoting Chamorro ideals and their way of life, which does not necessarily mean ancient latte stones, or working on the lancho, or being Catholic. But rather implies that Chamorros and their way of life, their thoughts, their ideas and forms of expression have value has being Chamorro first, rather then being American first and Chamorro second. 

It is the belief of this writer, that the first step to providing a better future for Chamorros as well as the island of Guam is to decolonize our island politically, as well as socially, economically and culturally. This does not mean, the US vanishes in instant overnight or we completely cut ties with modernity and live in huts. The first step, and the hardest mental step to decolonization is the deconstruction of America. The reduction of our dependency on, not necessarily America in any material sense, but the idea itself, and the ideas we put on it. Democracy is not an American invention, ingenuity and hard work are not American inventions, human rights and liberty, freedom are not American-only commodities. In fact, considering Guam's history for the past century, the opposite could be just as true.

Chamorros existed long before America did, and they believed in ideas of freedom, liberty and hard work long before America came into being. And if Chamorros are still on this planet today, it is not because of America, but because of themselves, their efforts and their strength, and that mane'lu-hu yan manaina-hu siha is the minagahet. 

Si Yu'us Ma'ase

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