Mungga Yu' ni Konstitution



I came across this protest sign in the archives of the Nieves Flores Guam Public Library in Hagåtña, while doing research on Guam's two previous Constitutional Conventions (1969-70 and 1977). Written in Chamoru, it translates to "I don't want the constitution." 

A few months ago for Fanchu! I spoke to former Senator Hope Cristobal who was part of the campaign to defeat the draft constitution in 1979. The notable figures who organized against the constitution include Robert Underwood, Marilyn Manibusan, the late Tony Leon Guerrero, the late Tan Clotilde Gould, Rosa Palomo, and the late Dr. Benit Dungca.


As Underwood writes in his wonderful article "Dies Mitt: The Origin and End of Chamrro Self-Determination," the constitutional opponents "coalesced around the billboard “Munga ma’apreba i konstetusion ya ta mantieni i derecho-ta komo taotao Guam. Bota NO!” In English, this read “do no approve the constitution and maintain our rights as the people of Guam. Vote NO!”

 

What is fascinating to me is how many of these figures, entered into the realm of community activism or public advocacy, not necessarily because of the constitution itself, but as tied to Chamoru language preservation and promotion efforts in the 1970s. Many of the names that I listed were part of the first formalized efforts at teaching Chamoru language in schools, both as parents and teachers. In 1977, many of them helped organize a protest of the Pacific Daily News, attended by hundreds, due to the paper's perceived anti-Chamoru policies.

 

As someone who teaches Chamoru language, studies Guam/Chamoru history and frequently engages in conversation about decolonization and local issues of justice, it has always fascinated me how language revitalization efforts can quickly become connected to decolonization and larger political movements.

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