Showing posts from 2018

Random Political Status Thoughts on the Edge of a New Year

In less than a week, a new Governor will take power in Guam, as will a new non-voting Guam delegate and a number of new senators will be sworn in for the island's legislature. I have certain hopes for the new crop of leaders. There is great potential for them to learn lessons from the past, especially on the topic of decolonization. In recent years, the small, but significant maturation of the community on the topic, is part of the fact that for decades it has been circulating in conversations and political agendas. For a long time, rhetoric around decolonization wasn't worth much to voters, and wasn't really worth it. That is why for decades it was rare for politicians to share what their personal preference would be for Guam in terms of political status. It wasn't that they didn't have opinions or thoughts on it, but it was either something politically risky or simply taibåli. 

For the past few years, I've been interviewing Guam politicians from the previous…

Latte Stone Significance

The latte has become a key symbol in expressions of contemporary Chamoru identity and a key means by which they have come to establish a meaningful connection to their ancient ancestors. 
Following centuries of colonization, Chamorus had their connection to their ancestors was severely disrupted and felt little intimacy with regards to their ancestors prior to Spanish colonization. They had come to accept that they and much of their culture and beliefs were primitive or savage. 
The study of the latte and its promotion as a historical artifact in the 20thcentury helped create the everyday possibilities for Chamorus to form new positive connections to their ancestors. The latte is no longer a discarded remnant from a primitive past, but an icon of ethnic identity, empowerment and sacredness. 
As the Chamoru people have undergone significant cultural shifts over the past four centuries, primarily due to colonization, the latte has become a quiet but important symbol of the fortitude and re…

Adios Governor Ota

Last June, Masahide Ota, former Governor of Okinawa passed away. He had been governor of the islands in 1995, when long-time resentment and culture of protest against the US military bases achieved a much greater and more widespread character after the rape of a 12 year old girl by three US servicemen. His was a powerful voice for peace and demilitarization in Okinawa. During a trip in October of 2015 Edward A. Alvarez and I (with the help of the intrepid interpreter Shinako Oyakawa) got to visit him at his Naha office one afternoon. When he learned that we were from Guam, he mentioned several Chamorros that he had met over the years and inquired about them. He told us a number of stories from his life, including as experience after being drafted into the Japanese army during the war. He shared others about the struggles to survive for average Okinawans, after the destruction of their island and displacement in order to build new US military bases. I have long written that Okinawa and…

Storyboard 18

ISSUE 18: Sustainable Islands While sustainability is often associated in the mainstream with the practice of “going green,” for island communities, it means much more. Sustainability includes a multi-tiered system of people, resources, legends, heirlooms, land, traditions, and practices. In this 18th issue of Storyboard, writers and artists are invited to draw inspiration from all elements of what sustainability means to islands and island peoples. Possible topics to explore include, but are not limited to: •Traditions • Land Ownership • Land Development • Ocean Practices • Fishing • Planting •Money/Currency • Health • Religion • Resources • Recycling • Reusing • Materialism  •Legends • Stories • Degradation • Consumption • Balance • Inheritance • Ancestral Connections  •Traditional Healing Storyboard: A Journal of Pacific Imagery is accepting submissions of previously unpublished work from the original writer or artist for Issue 18 until Monday, December 10, 2018. The journal’s missio…

Lessons in Tinatse and Typhoon Etiquette

When talking about legends many people become focused on what is true and what isn't true? What is authentic and what really happened? What can be determine from the story that is real and what isn't? These types of discussions may have some importance within a historical context, when trying to understand it from the perspective of aligning stories with a particular history or historical context. For example there are ways that you can look at the story of the Iliad from a historical perspective. There are ways you could try to draw out historical truths from it, and even if some of the details may not be real, you can nonetheless see larger societal dynamics at work in the poem.

This is something to keep in mind when we look at Guam or Chamoru legends. Is that there are some ways to examine, analyze or understand them from a historical perspective, but this misses the larger point of their purpose. Legends serve a social or a culture purpose. They aren't meant to be pic…

Gaige yu' giya Okinawa ta'lo

Gaige yu' giya Okinawa på'go na simana.

Para bei fama'nu'i gi kolehio yan konfirensia guini. I fina'nu'i siha put decolonization yan nina'la'la' lengguåhen natihu siha.

Para bei faninterview taotao Chamoru ni' manmastastation guini giya Okinawa put i sinienten-ñiha nu i taotao guini. Put hemplo, kao hinasson-ñiha na mamparehu i estao i taotao Okinawa yan i Chamoru? Guaha meggai parehu put i halacha na hestoria-ta siha, lao kao ma ripåpara este? Pat osino gi lini'e'-ñiha kao manentrangheru?

Bai hu bisita lokkue' i kampon protest taiguihi gi este na litråtu. Este giya Henoko, nai i militåt Amerikånu ma keke ekstende i sagan-ñiha guihi, lao i taotao ti yan-ñiha este, ko'lo'lo'ña put taimanu na u ma destrosa i ginefpågon lugåt.

Håle' Para Agupa'

Back in September, I spent an afternoon with Håle’ Para Agupa’, a Chamoru cultural group based in the Washington D.C. area. It was an enriching and energizing afternoon. The fafa’na’gue of the group Teresita Guevara Smith organized a gathering of young and old, and I gave a presentation about Chamoru language and culture, and even a short language lesson. 
Wherever I go, in Guam, the CNMi or even the diaspora, I am always encouraged to see Chamorus wanting to learn more about who they are as a people and want to do more to keep culture and language alive. After all, for a group that numbers perhaps only 200,000 in the world, we always have to ask ourselves, “anggen ti hita, pues håyi?” When it comes to preservation and revitalization of our heritage, if we won’t do it, who else will?
This is an issue that Chamorus have to confront sooner rather than later, especially in light of the fact that more Chamorus now live outside of the Marianas. The realities of cultural maintenance change…

Peaceful Demonstration over Magua'

Groups Organize Demonstration Against Disturbance of Cultural Site
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (October 31, 2018 – Hagåtña)Amid a complex election season and Typhoon Yutu relief efforts, our residents have also been challenged with news of the recent disturbance of the ancient village of Magua at the site for the new Marine Base in South Finegayan. Local news sources, both radio and print, have reported that the U.S. Navy may have breached negotiations to mitigate the site. As the buildup progresses, it is clear that cultural preservation is not a priority for the Department of Defense.  
Prutehi Litekyan: Save Ritidian (PLSR) and Independent Guåhan call on the leaders of our island to rise up and take immediate action against this disturbance and to ensure that further harm will not take place. 
PLSR and Independent Guåhan invite our community to gather for a peaceful public demonstration this Saturday, November 3 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in front of the gate to the Naval Communications Station …

I Mismo Na'ån-mu

One passage that has long stayed with me in terms of understanding ethics is from one of Slavoj Zizek's books, where he mentions the Egyptians being swallowed up by the Red Sea as they trail the escaping Israelites. According to Jewish tradition he writes, when the Israelites celebrate the death of their long-time enemies, God chastises them. He tells them, how dare they celebrate that which he created. Who are they to celebrate the destruction of something that comes from God. Even if they were opposed in the drama of life on earth, they come from the same source and they have right to celebrate something which is equal to them in its origin. This type of repositioning is the basis for many types of ethical engagement. The idea that there is always some deeper level, some deeper intersection of humanity that we can and should appeal to in order to create something that is more just and more moral. But we can become so comfortable in our identities, so stuck in them, that it can …

In the Land of Lobbyists

Guam will elect a new non-voting delegate this year and there will also be a change in Adelup, where a new Governor will take over. This means there could be a significant shift in terms of federal-territorial relations for Guam. I don't mean much will change from the federal side, but from Guam, this moment could mean the development of a new approach or utilizing new tools for engaging the federal government on Guam issues. Depending on how you look at the past decade or so there has been some accommodation and some antagonism. From Congresswoman Bordallo, there was quite a meeting of minds over military buildup issues and the US Department of Defense, but that came at the cost of her representing the interests of the people of Guam. Bordallo was well-liked by many of her colleagues and well liked by the US military, but in my opinion, had long become detached from changing attitudes on Guam. When the protests and organizing around Prutehi Litekyan emerged last year, Bordallo w…

IG GA October 2018

Independent Guåhan will honor the late Ron Teehan and Discuss Managing Natural Resources in their October General Assembly
For Immediate Release, October 15, 2018  Independent Guåhan (IG) invites the public to attend its October General Assembly (GA) on Thursday, October 25th from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the Main Pavilion of the Chamorro Village in Hagåtña. These assemblies are part of IG’s efforts to educate the community on the need for Guåhan’s decolonization and the potential benefits through achieving independence. This month’s GA will focus on how Guam might better manage its natural resources as an independent country.   
At eachGA, Independent Guåhan honors amaga’taotao: a notable figure that has helped guide the island and the Chamoru people on their quest for self-determination. For October, IG will be honoring the late Ron Franquez Teehan, a long-time advocate for the rights of the Chamoru people who passed away earlier this year.   
1982 Ron joined Robert Underwood and the late R…

Veterans for Decolonization

I have been traveling for the past few weeks and struggling while conducting research and giving a variety of presentations, to also finish up a couple of articles. One of them is based on the research I did for the Guam Humanities Council a few years ago for their exhibit Sindålu: Chamorro Journey Stories in the US Military. It was an exciting and interesting project on a variety of levels. I got to share some interesting stories that I've come across in my archival and oral history research, some of which haven't really ever been publicized before. I also got to tackle some issues in terms of understanding or unpacking contemporary Chamoru identity. The veteran subjectivity is so pervasive and somewhat hegemonic in Chamoru culture today, that it ends up taking a great deal of space, even for those who aren't veterans themselves. How many people when talking about issues of decolonization and demilitarization feel a inner need to curb their potential voice, their potenti…