The 5th Marianas History Conference, held in February 2021, was themed “Navigating 500 Years of Cross Cultural Contact” to reflect the commemoration of the 500 year anniversary of the first contact between the CHamoru/Chamorro people and European explorers in March 1521.

This conference was unlike that of any of the earlier Marianas History Conferences. To ensure overall safety and comply with the restrictions on travel and social gatherings as a result of the COVID19 pandemic, presenters and attendees experienced the entire conference in front of their screens. Conference attendees heard the latest research not only from Guam and the Northern Marianas, but also from Hawai`i, Yap, the US mainland, Germany, Spain, Japan, Korea, and Australia.

Some 644 conference participants logged on from Afghanistan, Aland Islands, Australia, Austria, Canada, Greenland, Guam, Italy, Japan, Micronesia (FSM), New Zealand, Northern Mariana Islands, Spain, Taiwan, and the United States.

The sponsors were Guampedia, Guam Preservation Trust, Humanities Guåhan, Micronesian Area Research Center, Northern Marianas Humanities Council, Northern Marianas College and University of Guam

Amidst this change, the conference organizers made the most of the online platform. Whereas the conference would normally be held over the course of a single weekend, the 5th Marianas History Conference unfolded over the course of nine days, from Friday, February 19 through Sunday, February 28 with two panels presented each day.

The conference began with welcoming remarks from Dr. Carlos Madrid, Director of Research at the Micronesia Area Research Center (MARC) at the University of Guam and LaVonne Guerrero-Meno, Administrative Officer of MARC as conference co-chairs; Dr. Thomas Krise, President of the University of Guam; and Lourdes Leon Guerrero, Governor of Guam.

The opening keynote was given by Anthony “Malia” Ramirez, Guam’s Territorial Historian, titled “History, Memory, and Lineage.” In the following nine days, 66 presentations were given within the 22 panels. Due to the extended time frame, each presentation was given consecutively which allowed attendees to hear from each presenter, followed by discussion.

The conference concluded with a short film: “Revitalization of Traditional Sailing and Maritime Culture in the CNMI” funded by the Northern Marianas Humanities Council and closing keynote by Dr. Theresa Arriola, the Board Chair of the Northern Marianas Humanities Council at the time, titled “The World(s) We Navigate: Re-imagining Magellan through the Lens of the Marianas.”

Guampedia produced the Marianas History Conference e-publication, set forth in four booklets which contain a total of 56 presentations – with papers, videos, and/or audiovisual exhibits from this conference’s presenters and guest speakers. Not all of the presenters at the conference, however, submitted for this e-publication.

Paper titles and abstracts

Keynote address

History, Memory and Lineage

By Malia A. Ramirez

Zoom Recording

View in Issuu.

Audiovisual presentation

Navigating Cultures; Seafaring Returns to the CNMI

By the Northern Marianas Humanities Council

After centuries of absence, traditional seafaring is finding its way back to the CNMI. This movement is fueled by a cultural collaboration between Chamorro and Refaluwasch sailors and boat builders. While distinct, the seafarers of these groups have shared sea lanes since ancient times, and today maintain a passion for perpetuating the knowledge of their ancestors with the next generation of Pacific peoples.

View in Issuu.

End note address

Navigating Our World(s): Re-Imagining Magellan through the Lens of the Marianas

By Dr. Therese “Isa” Arriola

Zoom Recording

View in Issuu.


Day 1 – 3

Friday, February 19 – Sunday, February 21, 2021

Day 1: Friday, 19 February 2021

Solidarity Foods: Cross Cultural Visions for a Decolonized and Food Sovereign Guahan

By Kristin Oberiano

Historically, Indigenous CHamoru political self-determination on Guåhan has been challenged by the United States, Filipino, and other non-CHamoru ethnic groups, especially in regard to the political status plebiscite. Yet, there is an increasing number of Filipino and non-CHamoru people who acknowledge that the plebiscite is solely the right of the CHamoru people. In addition to standing in solidarity with the CHamoru plebiscite, I ask how can Filipinos and non-CHamorus actively participate and contribute to the decolonization of Guåhan in ways that do not detract from CHamoru voices, perspectives, and self-determination. What would it mean to envision Filipino and non-CHamoru solidarity beyond the question of political status? What can Filipinos offer to decrease the island’s reliance on imperial structures? Through an intersection of Filipino migration stories and CHamoru decolonization movements, I demonstrate how Filipinos and other non-CHamorus can contribute to CHamoru decolonization by participating in the food sovereignty movement to decolonize our islands’ food, diets, and food systems.The food sovereignty movement decolonizes Guåhan by fostering cross-cultural relationalities, supporting local farms and agriculture, increasing food security, and contributing to the greater independence of Guåhan. View presentation here.

Fatto Famalao’an: Reimagining Chamoru Womanhood In The Decolonization Of Guahan

By Ha’åni San Nicolas

In 2018, the slogan “The Future is Famalao’an” became popularized as Guåhan welcomed its first elected maga’håga and celebrated the first legislative woman majority in the history of the United States. Though famalao’an are an undoubtedly primary pillar of kostumbren Chamoru, their lived experiences remain largely hidden in history and scholarly works. The decolonization movement has been organized and continues to be spearheaded by many powerful women leaders, yet discussions of a famalao’an future, particularly what it necessitates and entails, are too often neglected. This paper looks at how the contemporary conception of Chamoru womanhood, though empowering to many, has coalesced with colonialism in a manner that denies womanhood outside a heteronormative and catholic performance of motherhood. It explores alternative famalao’an futures through analyses of Kåntan Chamorrita and contemporary Chamoru poetry as a way to reimagine womanhood. Most significantly, this paper invites all famalao’an to join in cultivating possibilities for our liberation. What happens when famalao’an refuse to uphold the strict heteronormative and colonial introductions of women as mothers, something so deeply embedded within our culture? What space will we claim in a decolonized Guåhan, and what will that look like, act like, and mean? View presentation here.

Pakaka i Pachot-mu! CHamoru Yu’! A Mestisa Rhetoric Analysis of Guam’s Chamaole Narratives

By Arielle Lowe

In this project, I investigate identity formations of a specific Mestisa/Mestisu group from Guam, known as Chamaole. Chamaoles are defined locally as descendants of both native Chamorros and White Americans. This research analyzes Chamaole individuals’ encounters with identity ambiguity in Guam and the United States. This research deconstructs the published poetry of Chamaole authors: Jessica Perez-Jackson, Lehua M. Taitano, and Corey Santos. These poets primarily discuss racial, cultural, ancestral, linguistic, and political ambiguities. Interviews conducted with these poets provide additional data. Interpreting data from layered accounts, this study analyzes strategies Chamaoles use to navigate and overcome race-based conflicts and nurture a sense of belonging. In the context of Marianas history, I problematize race-based prejudice and institutional racism as an imported cultural worldview, which can be healed through observing our indigenous Chamoru values of family, kinship, and community. View presentation here.

Day 2: Saturday, 20 February 2021

Pacific Ocean: A 500 Year-old Word

By Dr. Rafael Rodriguez-Ponga

The word Pacific (“Pacific Sea”) was used for the first time in the 16th century. We can read it in the chronicle written by the Italian Antonio Pigafetta, member of the Magellan & Elcano expedition, and in the last will of Elcano himself. The geographical names Pacific sea and Pacific Ocean have been used together with South Sea and South Seas.

The word Pacific was adapted by languages all over the world, even in the Pacific Ocean, such as Chamorro, Hawaiian, Samoan or Tagalog. It became not only the name of the sea or the ocean, but also the general name for the region: Pacific islands, Pacific languages, Asia-Pacific…

Pacific means ‘peaceful’, and comes from Latin pacificus, from pax, pacis ‘peace’.

In the Magellan & Elcano expedition, some other geographical names were created, such as Strait of Magellan and Ladrone Islands. This last name was referred to the Mariana Islands, but their inhabitants were called Chamorros with the meaning of ‘friends’, in the 16th century. Read paper here.

Places without Names and Names without Places? On the Blank Maps of the Gani-islands

By Dr. Thomas Stolz, Nataliya Levkovych, and Ingo H. Warnke

This talk raises the issue of the unexpectedly absent place names on the extant maps of the Gani Islands in the Northern Marianas. It is known that at different times during the last 360 years of documentation these islands have been inhabited on and off and that their present desertion is of recent origin. This gives rise to the question why there are hardly any toponomastic pieces of evidence for the previous human presence on the islands. It is argued that a number of place names – colonial or other – have not made it onto the official maps although they are mentioned unsystematically in documents referring to the Mariana Islands. Therefore, the conclusions sketch a future project dedicated to recovering the supposedly forgotten place names and make them visible in a revised atlas of the islands under review. View presentation here.

Exploring Latte in the Marianas: Pågan Island 2020

By Leila Staffler

This presentation will consist of a short 15 minute documentary about Latte in the Marianas, with a focus on Pågan latte. I made this documentary to share the beauty and wonder of our Marianas chain, in particular, the cultural significance of Latte throughout the chain. I know in our history books and records, it is said that there are Latte on every island, but often what people don’t see, they don’t know exists. The purpose of this documentary is to show that there are multiple, culturally significant sites that have yet to be studied in our Marianas chain. There are untold stories of our ancestors, buried in the detritus of the land, waiting for someone to unearth them and share their wonder. With the ongoing threat of military expansion in the Marianas, losing these stories and our history forever, is a very real possibility. This documentary is intended to spark interest to help protect us from and possibly stave off military occupation in Pågan and all of Gåni. View documentary here.

Valuing our Ancestral Knowledge in the Seafaring System

By Larry Raigetal

In light of the present physical challenges brought upon our own desire and by natural process, we are faced by constant choices to make. Such choices will ultimately bear consequences on our lives. While for the most part, and perhaps by our cultural susceptibility, these changes are more often accepted as they come, it can be said that the “old ways” our ancestral knowledge, cultural values and practices of the past have come to a threshold. From the simplest socially acceptable behaviors within our societies to the more sophisticated cultural technologies handed down from generation to generation i.e. tradition navigation system, we must ask some fundamental questions. Are they still relevant or should they take their destiny and fade away over the horizon belonging only to ancestral past? This panel will consist of elders and knowledge holders in seafaring who will speak to current efforts to promote indigenous knowledge and cultural values by ensuring the future generation is not left to wonder who they are. View presentation here.

Interpreting an Authentic Chamorro Sakman from the Historic Record

By Pete Perez

This paper looks at the development of replicas of the Chamorro Flying Proa over two hundred and fifty years after its suppression by Spanish colonials in the Mariana Islands. It provides an in-depth analysis of the historic record that informed three organizations’ efforts to build authentic Chamorro sailing canoes using both wood and fiberglass – Sakman Chamorro, Inc. and 500 Sails, both based in Saipan, and Chelu, Inc. in San Diego, California. While the historic record included drawings and first- person descriptions of the canoes and how they were sailed, the record was incomplete and the construction of an accurate replica required analysis and interpretation of a wide range of factors in order to fill in the blanks. The author, who was intimately involved in all three organization’s efforts to build an authentic Chamorro sailing canoe, describes that process and explains what was behind specific decisions that affected the outcome in both the design and operation of the resulting canoes. View presentation here.

Sea-lanes of Antiquity: Canoe Voyaging in the Mariana Islands

By Dr. Eric Metzgar

This paper examines the ethnohistorical evidence of canoe voyaging in the Marianas archipelago by Chamorros and Carolinians. Information regarding pre-contact as well as Spanish era voyaging events between the islands are drawn from both historical records and ethnographic data. The evidence supports the view that Chamorros were capable of voyaging throughout the Marianas chain and that Carolinians were voyaging in the Mariana Islands before the Spanish colonization of Guam. View presentation here.

Of Songs of Birds and Whales, How Much Must We Lose?

By Dr. Kelly Marsh-Taitano and Hon. Sheila Babauta

Whales have long been a part of the ecosystems in the Mariana Islands and part of the lifeways of the ancestors of these lands. Yet in modern times we know so little about their very existence in our waters while globally, so much about them remains unknown. Which of us know that there are over 20 species of whales in our waters, or of our area’s significance to their very survival? This presentation explores the relationship between i mambayena siha yan taotao tano’ (whales and the people of the land) and the impact of whales in our lives over time. We are now at a crossroads. Once Navy active sonar was introduced to our region, for the first time in recorded history, beaked whales began washing up dead on our shores, with an unknown number perishing in the ocean. What steps are island leaders taking to protect these precious parts of our community resources? Will our whales suffer the same fate as our birds? Will we lose them before we even fully understand their significance to us? View presentation here.

The History of Understanding Whales in Our Waters

By Dr. Brent Tibbatts

While whales have existed in the ocean surrounding the Mariana Islands for centuries if not millennia, scientists are just now collecting enough data to start determining that our waters hold significance for over twenty species of dolphins and whales, five of which are endangered. These marine mammals range from the commonly known and sighted spinner dolphins to false killer whales and humpback whales. For them, our waters are important resting, feeding, breeding, and birthing grounds. The history and breadth of their presence and our knowledge about them are an important part of understanding our islands, our ecosystems, and why they are worth protecting. View presentation here.

If Magellan had Balutan… An Exploration on History Single use Plastics in the Marianas

By Moñeka De Oro

If Magellan had used any Styrofoam or polymer blend products that are common in our modern day fiesta culture, remnants of that trash may still be degrading in our shores, five centuries later. This presentation explores our island’s consumption habits and our heavy reliance on imported goods. The introduction of single use plastics is fairly recent for our islands (PostWW2 era), yet it has transformed our lives in innumerable ways. So much of our food and goods are packaged in ways that are wasteful and take a lot of space in our landfills. The island of Guam alone on average creates over 30 tons of trash a day, with our lands so small and finite, its is imperative that we curb our wasteful habits and this history presentation raises community consciousness around this issue. It also will be capturing the behavior changes that are needed, so that more people will adopt more sustainable lifestyles. Read paper here.

Day 3: Sunday, 21 February 2021

The Chamorro Village of Guam after Resettlement: The New and the Old

By Fr. Francis Hezel and Dr. David Atienza

In pre-contact times, the Chamoru population lived in modest sized settlements scattered throughout the island. Spanish resettlement began in 1680 as an attempt to gather people into a few larger villages so that they could live within easy reach of the church. The presentation, after reviewing the main villages on each island, offers a contrast between the new village and the old. It also suggests that there were certain zones that were free from foreign influence even at that time. It will also focus on ways in which the village layout might have changed, how the life of the people was altered, and the manner in which the new church may have unconsciously adopted cultural practices, thus helping preserve them. Read paper here.

Reporting on the Marianas and Their Inhabitants in Early 18th-century Germany: The Jesuit ‘Neue Welt-bott’ (New World Messenger) As a Source of Knowledge and Colonial Fantasy

By Dr. Ulrike Strasser

Although very few Germans in the early 18th century knew much if anything at all about the Marianas, reports from the Pacific islands on the other side of the world came to fill the front pages of Germany’s most important serial missionary publication. Launched by the Jesuit Joseph Stoecklein in 1726, “Der Neue Welt-Bott” (New World Messenger) appeared in forty issues and targeted a broad educated audience. The massive collection featured information from all around the world, from missionary letters and travel reports to maps and various types of cultural commentary. Given the careful assemblage of the materials presented in “Der Neue Welt-Bott”, the editor obviously made a conscious choice to open the first (and subsequent issues) with reports about the Marianas and their inhabitants. What prompted Joseph Stoecklein to give the Marianas such centrality in his publication? What knowledge about and what image of the islands and their inhabitants did the chosen texts convey to German readers? And what, if any, information can we glean from these European reports about island society under Spanish and Jesuit rule? This paper discusses the prominence, function, and content of the Marianas reports in “Der Neue Welt-Bott”, including a 1684 map of the islands. Read paper here.

A History of 17th Century Manila Galleon Shipwrecks Santa Margarita and Nuestra Señora De La Concepción

By Aleck Tan

In the late 16th century, Spain established the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade network connecting Asia to the Americas and Europe, which opened global trade and expanded Spain’s empire. Manila galleons stopped for provisions in the Mariana Islands as part of this trade route and helped to facilitate the Spanish colonization process. In the early 17th century, two Manila galleons, Santa Margarita and Nuestra Señora de la Concepción, wrecked in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Using literature and archival documents, this paper explores the history of Santa Margarita and Concepción and examines the post-wrecking events related to the two sites. The research reveals themes about the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade network and Indigenous interactions with the Spanish in the early 17th century. View presentation here.

Fortifications as Geometric Machines: Marianas During the Early Modern Period

By Dr. Pedro Luengo

Previous studies has addressed the building process of fortifications in Guam during the early modern period, from the first attempts in 1671, reaching a significative number of structures before the early 19th century, located in Umatac (Nuestra Señora del Carmen, Fort Santo Angel, Fort San Jose, Nuestra Señora de la Soledad), Hagåtña (Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe and San Fernando/San Rafael), Orote (Fort Santiago, Fort San Luis, Fort Santa Cruz) and a battery in Merizo. While much archival work has been done, including plans from Spanish archives in Madrid and Seville, a formal comparison with contemporary cases in Southeast Asia and America is still required. From the recent publications on the topic, this paper aims to provide a new interpretation of these projects entangled with other territories. At the same time, other aspects will be included in the discussion such as gunnery availability, their probable shot range and the general design considering the geographical context, especially reefs and water depths. As a result, the historical interpretation will explain the relationship of these islands with the global flows of the time. Read paper here.

Jesuit Presence in the Mariana Islands: A Historiographic Overview (1668-1769)

By Alexandre Coello de la Rosa

Dedicated to Marjorie G. Driver (†2019)

My contribution is a historiographic overview of the scholarly research about the conquest and evangelization of the Mariana Islands (XVII-XVIII centuries) in the 21st century. Since the pioneering work of renowned scholars of Micronesian history, such as Marjorie G. Driver and Francis X. Hezel, historians, archaeologists and anthropologists have analyzed Jesuit missions not only as a complement to colonial power dynamics in the Asia-Pacific, but also as a privileged field for analyzing cross-cultural encounters. Faced with essentialist approaches that question the “aboriginal” character of the current CHamoru of the Marianas, other studies reject their supposed disappearance, and appeal to their cultural continuity in historical time. Read paper here.

Governor Jose Ganga Herrero: Triumphs and Tribulations

By Roque Eustaquio

During the Spanish colonial period more than 40 governors administered the Marianas ranging from a few months to over 10 years. At best, the current literature of Spanish governors is limited and at worst non-existent. However, numerous translations of archival documents have offered new research opportunities. This paper has profited by utilizing Rodrique Levesque’s History of Micronesia volumes twenty-one and twenty-two. The presentation will examine the triumphs and tribulations of Governor Jose Ganga Herrero. View presentation here.

Marianas on Display: A Glimpse of the Marianas in Exhibitions in Madrid in the Late 19th Century

By Clark Limtiaco

This presentation examines the representation of The Marianas through the numerous contributed objects which made the long voyage to be put on display at cultural and scientific exhibitions held in the Spanish capital city of Madrid. These exhibitions include the “Exposición General de Filipinas (General Exhibition of The Philippines)” in 1887, and the “Exposición Histórico-Americana (Historical American Exhibition)” in 1892. The exhibitions featured objects and artifacts relating to commerce, gastronomy, agriculture, architecture, geology, botany, anthropology, dress, manual arts, and language. And their written descriptions offer us a partial look into the lives of the Chamorro people during the period prior to the Spanish-American War of 1898. Over a century after Spain’s defeat and subsequent loss of the archipelago, The Marianas seems to have been erased from consciousness of the Spanish people. Creating a new dialogue between The Marianas and Spain may facilitate new academic and cultural exchanges, as well as collaborations for future exhibitions. View presentation here.

The Dawn of America’s Pacific Empire: The Capture of Guam on June 21, 1898

By Anthony Camacho, Esq.

America’s capture of Guam on June 21, 1898 during the Spanish-American War was a cross-cultural contact that profoundly influenced four important political developments in the Western Pacific region during and after the war. First, America’s need for a coaling station to project its military forces across the Pacific resulted in the capture of Guam and Spain’s most humiliating territorial loss during the war. Second, Guam was one of the American victories that encouraged the McKinley Administration to alter its foreign policy from non-annexation to the annexation of Spanish Pacific territories occupied by American forces during the war. Third, Juan Marina, the last Spanish Governor of the Marianas Islands, made a token resistance to American military forces by limiting his surrender to Guam and by not surrendering the entire Marianas Archipelago, he began their political division which exists to this day. Fourth, Guam’s capture represents the dawn of America’s Pacific Empire because it was closely followed by the US annexation of Hawaii after the passage of the Newlands Resolution on July 4, 1898, and by the US acquisition of the Philippines after the Spanish surrender of Manila to American military forces on August 13, 1898. Read paper here.

Day 4 – 6

Monday, February 22 – Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Day 4: Monday, 22 February 2021

Expanding Micronesia’s Literary Canon through Community-based Publishing

By Victoria-Lola M. Leon Guerrero

Since its revival in 2015, the University of Guam Press has greatly expanded the number and types of books in the literary canon about the Mariana Islands. The Press has an open call for manuscripts and all submissions are reviewed by a panel of subject and genre specific experts. The Press also partners with academic programs, other institutions and community organizations on book projects and seeks out grant funding for publications that directly meet expressed community needs. At the heart of these efforts is a mission to advance regional scholarship, develop cultural literacy, and increase accessibility to knowledge about the region by providing high-quality publishing services. As a result, the Press continues to publish successful books while also supporting a growing writing community through writing workshops and other services aimed at helping local authors achieve their publishing goals. This presentation will examine the value of these types of community-driven publishing efforts and the critical need to make books written about the Mariana Islands available to the peoples of the Mariana Islands. Read paper here.

From Coaling Station to the Tip of the Spear: The United States Militarization of the Mariana Islands

By Dave Lotz

The increasing military presence in the Mariana Islands by the United States continues to dominate the people of the Mariana Islands. This presentation provides a chronology of the events and resulting United States military use and development of the islands from 1898 to today with pre-World War II on Guam, World War II base developments, Cold War, Post-Cold War downsizing, and continuing to today’s military buildup including proposal that never occurred, were abandoned, and might occur in the future. This presentation provides a cumulative framework for continuing discussion on the consequences on our island’s environment, economy, sustainability, dependency, and especially the people of the Mariana Islands and the broader trend of militarization of the islands into the future. Read paper here.

Day 5: Tuesday, 23 February 2021

The History of Fino’ Haya and the Evolution of Guam’s Chamoru Orthography

By Dr. Robert Underwood

The story of Fino’ Haya (the language of the island) is a rich story encompassing not only the origins of the people who speak it, but the story of their experiences throughout the centuries. The CHamoru language is the clearest evidence that the people of the Marianas are Pacific Islanders, but it is so much more. In its vocabulary, in its rich constructions, in its adaptation to changing times, we bear witness to the strength and resiliency of a great people. I am sure that I can have a conversation with Hurao in spite of 340 years of time. But I am also sure that we could teach each other a lot. The use of CHamoru and its maintenance is the single greatest contribution to the continuity of the people of the Marianas. Dancing, navigating, eating and history books pale in significance to the single revolutionary act of producing a meaningful sentence in CHamoru. This presentation reviews the historical changes to CHamoru and the urgency of supporting a CHamoru-speaking community. View presentation here.

I Minatayan and Other Signature Projects

By Hope Cristobal

Within four short years, the Kumision i Fino’ CHamoru has pressed forward the fulfillment of its mandate guided by its Strategic Plan and updated functions with assistance from oversight chairwoman, Senator Kelly Marsh-Taitano and partnerships with NGOs. We proudly share our accomplishments: the publication of “Ineyak Fino’ CHamoru para Famagu’on” and its 2020 Updated 2nd Edition; “Guahan – Utugrafihan CHamoru”; the I Minatåyan (virtual lessons of CHamoru Orthography) with PBS-Guam; the daily CHamoru language lessons posted in Guam Post; the installation of the “I Gima’ Finamta’ CHamoru”, the Language Revitalization Center; the Archival Research Lab and the emplacement of the Guam Place Name Commission. We’ve conducted a language revitalization study; and are currently producing a cultural resource book entitled, Ginen i Matan i Mañaina-ta: Rinikohen Tiningo’ yan Sinangan Siha and a Listan Palåbra booklet to aid in spelling. Others include: Cultural vignettes and the printing of “CHamoru” stickers and Signs. View presentation here.

The Kumision’s Nation-building Mission and Vision

By Dr. Laura Souder

One of the pillars of any indigenous nation-building effort is the continuity of peoplehood through the preservation of cultural sovereignty. Language as the umbilical cord to culture, connects First Peoples to the knowledge, traditions, beliefs, and skills of their ancestors. It is singularly, the most successful, time-tested vehicle for assuring the transfer of their unique way of knowing, communicating and being to future generations. The Kumisión, is at the forefront of this commitment to cultivate, ensure, and promote Guam’s Fino’ Håya and på’an taotao tano’ through the CHamoru Revitalization Center and its other programs and services. Our nation-building mission is decolonizing and inspires a vision which moves us closer to our inalienable right to self-determination as a People. The Kumision’s Vision will be the focus of this segment of the panel. View presentation here.

I Hineggen Chamorro: Peoples of the Marianas and their Colonial Records

By Carlos Madrid and Melissa Taitano

The perceived absence of native Chamorro voices in historical records created during the Spanish colonial administration (1668-1899) erroneously implies the absence of direct or indirect native agency in records’ creation resulting in a singular, dominant narrative. The documentary heritage of the Mariana Islands began in the context of hegemonic power relations that privileged written accounts over oral traditions, pursuing religious and nation-building aspirations to the obstruction of native lifeways and ways of knowing. A critical use of the colonial records may yield historical narratives in which native voices and perspectives are not absent, but instead retain a quality of functional silence to be treated as subjects worthy of scholarly inquiry. This article explores the direct and indirect role of native Chamorros in records’ creation during the Spanish colonial period in the Mariana Islands. The archival silence(s), or perceived absence of native voices is addressed to advocate more robust, culturally competent, pluralistic narratives about the historical experience of native Chamorro peoples of the Mariana Islands. Read paper here.

Day 6: Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Community Preservation – Preserving CHamoru Culture with Historic Sites: Ekungok i Estoria-ta

By Andrew Tenorioa

Ekungok i Estoria-ta (Listen to our stories) is a Guam Preservation Trust project in partnership with GDOE CHamoru Studies & Special Projects Division and funded by a grant from the Richard and Julia Moe Family Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a first for Guam and for the National Trust. Many historic sites have treasured stories about them. In Guam, there is a need to use the CHamoru language as a means to perpetuate and preserve the telling of these stories using innovative ways. To do this, CHamoru language teachers received training in history methods allowing them to conduct research on a historic site in Guam and discern the most effective way to teach the lesson in their classrooms and also aligning it with CHamoru language curriculum standards. Next, local musicians used the teachers’ researched narratives to create original songs and melodies. Finally, the songs were returned to the CHamoru teachers to implement in their classrooms. This community driven project now can be used as a public resource and increase the capacity for CHamoru language teachers and learners to teach, speak, and enjoy learning about Guam history in the CHamoru language. The completed outcomes are available at pacificpreservation.org/eie. View presentation here.

Mo’na: Finding Our Way: Indigenous Women’s Resistance and Organization

By Terilyn Francisco and Monaeka Flores

I Hagan Famalao’an Guåhan (IHFG), Incorporated is the indigenous CHamoru Women’s Association of Guåhan and is founded on the collective mission to enhance, promote, protect and foster the social, economic, cultural, spiritual and political well-being of CHamoru women, girls and gender- diverse people within the overall Guåhan community. IHFG honors the CHamoru women of Guåhan as the link of their mangåffa and the predecessors of todu i nanan-måmi (our mothers). IHFG is sustained by the kåhna (spirit force) of our ancestors and our sacred connection to our lands and waters. IHFG pushes back against the conventional notion that CHamoru women’s voices do not need amplification and that carving out a sovereign space is problematic. Rather, IHFG centers, honors, and uplifts CHamoru women’s voices while also examining, analyzing and interpreting historical roles of CHamoru women in the Marianas in the webinar series, “Mo’na: Finding Our Way.” This presentation will discuss the history of CHamoru women’s resistance and fight for self- determination, and the many ways CHamoru women have dedicated their lives and resources to this fight. View presentation here.

Elementary Teacher in Guam: A Pandemic Reflection

By Marian Grace Huavas

This presentation is a reflection of a first year teacher, teaching in Guam during Covid-19 pandemic school year 2020-2021. This presentation focuses on the daily hardships, strife, issues and problems that are magnified and intensified during the beginning and the ongoing school year. The presentation tackles the gravity of teaching responsibilities during the pandemic and the creative solutions that teacher’s employed to reach out and provide the students of Guam the education they need. This is a story of emotional hardship, educational perseverance, and dedication to learning. View presentation here.

Statehood for Guam

By John Dewey Huffer

Statehood should be considered one of the best options for our social, political and economic future. As a state, the people of Guam would enjoy all the liberties and benefits that they have become accustomed to over the last century. Being a state, allows the people more control over their island and resources. The future is uncertain. With statehood, comes more certainty, fluidity and peace of mind. A stronger relationship with the United States grants more stability, protection and opportunities to grow alongside our American brethren. We can not allow fear of the unknown to cripple our ability to advance society into the future. A French author wrote, “One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” – Andre Gide. Let us continue in the spirit of our ancestors and work to create a better home for our children. View presentation here.

Free Association Guam

By Adrian Cruz

Free Association for Guam is a status option in the upcoming Plebiscite to be voted on by the Native Inhabitants Guam, those persons made US Citizens by virtue of the Organic Act of August 1,1950 and their descendants. This vote would like to give voice to us, the Native Inhabitants and express our fundamental Human Right to determine our Political Destiny. As our Political Destiny is being shaped, the Native Inhabitants will be alive, the many voices of our experience in what is it be a Native Inhabitant in the 21st century. Truly a hallmark of our times and a bold statement that we are here and vibrant, and that we can shape our own destiny with all the tools that the modern world can offer in order to bring about consciousness within our own community, so long held and drugged with the notions that what is ours needs supplementation or is just not plain ‘good enough’. View presentation here.

Independence is the Natural Way to Be: A History of Guam’s Resistance to Colonization and Desire for Sovereignty

By Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero and Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua

Independence is the natural way to be. In Guam’s history, every period of colonization has been met with resistance from CHamorus with a desire for independence and sovereignty. In this presentation, the co-chairpersons for the Independence for Guam Task Force will provide a brief history of this resistance to colonization and the desire and need for decolonization that persists. They will also illustrate how independence is the next logical step in Guam’s political evolution. Independence is the most equitable way to engage with other nations without being made subservient to them or prioritizing their needs over our own. This presentation will share how achieving sovereignty will allow the people of Guam to join our mañe’lu across the Pacific, and the world, as an independent nation. View presentation here.

Day 7 – 10

Thursday, February 25 – Sunday, February 28, 2021

Day 7: Thursday, 25 February 2021

Burego’ Joyful Christmas Celebration

By Mrs. Cheryl and Dr. Lawrence Cunningham

Burego’ was a joyful custom of masquerading during the Christmas season. This custom was introduced during Spanish colonial times and was practiced until the early 1960s in southern Guahan. Like Christmas customs the world over it incorporated indigenous practices. A description of this Joyful Burego’ Celebration is based on the personal experiences of Dr. Judy S. Flores and the interviews of Pale’ Eric Forbes and Dr. Lawrence J. Cunningham. In addition a photograph from Luta and an illustration from Inalahan will be presented. Colonial cultural appropriation and abandonment will also be discussed. Read paper here.

Celebrating 340 Years: The History of Saint Joseph Parish of Inalahan

By Dr. Judith S. Flores

This narrative is inspired by oral histories that have been passed from generation to generation since 1680, held by the people of Inalahan and recorded by William (Bill) Meno Paulino. Among the youngest of 19 children, Bill lived with his aging parents well into adulthood, absorbing the stories they told – and writing them in his journal. His writing reflects idioms and philosophies as expressed by elders of the early 1900s. By the 1970s this combination of deep CHamoru linguistic knowledge together with oral histories was rare; and the stories were quickly slipping away with the passing of Inalahan elders. The presentation will show the collaborative efforts of the Researcher and the Oral Historian to place events into historical context, examining particular oral histories including that of the people of Fu’una who were relocated to Inalahan; and of the arrival of the statue of Saint Joseph by Spanish military boat. Their collaboration will provide the historical content of a commemorative book that celebrates 2020 as the 340th Jubilee Year of Saint Joseph’s Church in Inalahan. Read paper here.

Slinging Stones and Fanoghe Chamoru: Past Present and Future

By Roman Dela Cruz

This will be a segmented discussion on the stone slinging among ancestral Chamorros and its evolution today. We will discuss the 1521 centennial commemoration from the perspective of our slinging community and how this has motivated a re-ignition with slinging and a prosperous connection with sport slinging of the Balearic Islands. We will conclude with some long discussed ideas on how the Mariana Islands and Chamorros around the world can optimize and capitalize from a cultural embrace and the strategic development of our slinging persona. View presentation here.

Long Term Effects of Colonization on Music: Transformation and Adaptation

By Lynne Jessup Michael

As with other aspects of culture, music of the Chamorro people has been transformed by colonial influences. Vestiges of influences can still be found in the vocal music of Chamorros, although even the traditional vocal music is disappearing. Using old written documents and recordings, evidence of specific musical elements is still apparent. Scale structure, vocal ornamentation, song forms and even lyrics all provide evidence of connections to the main colonial occupations. Children’s games dating back to the Spanish era, the pentatonic scale structure used in Japanese music, the American pop melodies and lyrics of the 1950’s, all have left their imprint on the vocal music of the Chamorro culture. Read paper here.

The Matua’s Song: A Musico-linguistic Approach To Decolonizing Chamorro Music History

By Michael Clement, Sr.

Having been the first Pacific Island that Magellan set foot on in 1521, and being the only island stopover for the Manila Galleons, Guam has benefited from early documented impressions of its ancient music. Spanish colonization/missionization began in 1668. One pre-contact ceremonial song was observed and was notated by the Jesuits. It’s pre-Chamorro origins have remained unknown until now. When played on indigenous instruments, the melody gives a general Indonesian feeling. The lyrics are in the Chamorro language. Ethnomusicology articles on Java and Sumatran music customs give some relevant word meanings. Further research into Indonesian verb formations revealed one word that connects Chamorro and Indonesian betel nut traditions; it confirms the ceremonial nature of the Chamorro song and connects the Chamorro song to Indonesian origins, c. 700-1000 CE. This conclusion is supported by current Chamorro DNA results and migration, the archeology of the Chamorro latte stone, Indonesian rice, Chamorro linguistics, herbal medicine and ancient social custom. It provides a factual basis for ancient Chamorro music history and for further research in authentic music and dance. View presentation here.

Refaluwasch and Chamorro Children’s Songs: Music of Resilience, Adaptation, and Identity

By Melanie Hangca

The importance of an indigenous musical oeuvre in shaping cultural identity is undisputed. However, an informed understanding of our musical history is hampered by both a dearth of surviving pre-war music and by the devastating effects of colonial influence. Researchers have tried to address this problem by preserving what history endures. Much work has been devoted to documenting local music. We lack representation in formal education, both at home and abroad. We also lack public awareness of indigenous stylistic markers. I conducted interviews, obtaining chants, songs, their lyrics, translations to analyze and transcribe, limiting scope to WWII-era children’s songs. I created a multicultural music unit. I found that much music employs adapted melodies, 18th century western European choral tradition, and instruments. I also found that our unique indigenous musical contributions include, lyric improvisation, witty humor, syncopation over duple and triple meter. I presented my findings and shared the unit with various school districts across the country and locally. A second, general public online presentation was received positively, with over a thousand views in 2 days. Overall, I conclude that there is still much work to be done to bridge the knowledge gap about our cultural identity through our musical heritage. View presentation here.

Day 8: Friday, 26 February 2021

Camp Chulu: From Tragedy to Triumph

By Don Farrell

Tinian was captured from Japan by US forces in July 1944. Of the 17,000 Japanese and Koreans who had been living in Tinian in 1943, 11,500 were put in “protective custody.” A Civil Patrol established by the 18th Naval Construction Battalion was responsible for their immediate care during the invasion. The refugees were in shock, half-naked, thirsty, starving and infected with a variety of diseases after surviving six weeks of air and naval bombardment. Camp Chulu was officially established on July 30, 1944, in the pre-war farming village of Chulu. The Seabees continued to improve the camp with many of the refugees helping, while Military Government Civil Affairs personnel oversaw all phases of camp development and operations. The civilians were repatriatriated by July 1946 in healthy condition, including the many infants born in the camp. Supported by original documents from Seabee, US Marine Corps, and US Military Government Civil Affairs files, this essay tells the story of the Camp’s evolution from a barbed-wire stockade with Marine Corps guards to a self-sustaining civilian community with an internal economy and an elected government. It is a story of a tragedy of war transformed into a triumph of human resilience, through good will and common sense. Read paper here.

Colonial Narratives: Military Secrets During the Occupation of Guam

By Seyoung Choung

It’s oft-repeated that the military remains neutral from politics, but in Marianas history, transparency was never a priority. The armed forces were unaccountable to the Chamoru people whose land they occupied. The author intends to submit a paper covering the secrecy of the military throughout 20th- century Guam history to address such issues. The topic of the paper is a challenge to prevailing pro-military historiography surrounding Guam’s history. Despite a strong consensus among Marianas scholars that the political machinations of the military were conducted forcefully and without the approval of the Chamoru people, this understanding has not been fully translated into primary school curriculums due to flaws in the American educational system. Indigenous voices remain esoteric compared to an over-glorified portrayal of the United States military in simplified narratives. The paper aims to shed light on the unreliability of many military sources in the retelling of the history of the Marianas. To do so, the author compares military sources (primarily naval) with indigenous testimonies, civilian recordings, statistical findings, and scientific papers. The contradictions that arise from examining Guam’s history from different angles will be examined at length to reveal the truth about military arrogance during the decades long occupation of Guam. Read paper here.

Operation New Life: Vietnamese Refugees and US Settler Militarism in Guam

By Dr. Evyn Lê Espiritu Gandhi

Drawing from archival research conducted at the Micronesian Area Research Center (MARC) and the Nieves M. Flores Memorial Library, as well as oral histories conducted between 2016-18, this presentation will detail the processing of Vietnamese refugees in Guam during Operation New Life. From April to November 1975, the US military in Guam processed over 112,000 refugees from Vietnam. I argue that the humanitarian rhetoric that newspapers and politicians used to describe Operation New Life in 1975 retroactively justified the US military’s presence in Guam, and by extension, positioned Vietnamese refugees in a structurally antagonistic relationship to Chamorro decolonization struggles that challenge what Juliet Nebolon calls “settler militarism.” In this presentation I will emphasize moments of cross-racial encounter and refugee refusal, highlighting the stories of Chamorros who played key roles during Operation New Life as well as Vietnamese refugees who expressed agency in the camps. Read paper here.

From Tourists to Asylees: Russian Citizens in Guam

By Dr. Christopher Rasmussen

When the US Department of Homeland Security decided to admit Russian visitors to Guam without a visa in 2012, it seemed to be a happy convergence of US foreign policy and the desires of local political and tourist industry leaders. The policy added to the Obama administration’s “Russia reset” and paroled relatively free-spending Russian tourists for 45-day visits. Two years later, however, events in Russia led to a sharp decline of overseas travel and a rise in political repression. As one of the few places Russian citizens could travel without a visa, Guam became a lifeline to hundreds of Russian asylum seekers. The plight of these migrants reveals the cruelty of federal immigration policies, the extent to which Guam is subject to the vagaries of US foreign policy, and how Guam has welcomed these new arrivals and how they have adapted. Read paper here.

Day 9: Saturday, 27 February 2021

Matter of Time: Outlining the Order of Time Periods in Marianas Archaeology and Ancient History

By Dr. Mike Carson

Any study of archaeology and ancient history needs to begin with a basic chronological order of time periods, and a suitable outline for the Mariana Islands involves several such time periods over the last few millennia. In terms of the archaeological evidence, these periods cover the entire sequence of cultural history, from the first instance of people living in the islands and continuing all the way through the timing of written history. With the use of written historical documents, the later time periods have been much more refined, for example in windows of a few decades or even single years. The more ancient periods of archaeological evidence, however, can be defined only within the limits of radiocarbon dating and other surviving material evidence, often in blocks of some centuries. How are those time periods identified? How are the dates measured? What was different from one time period to the next? These questions are addressed in the current presentation. Read paper here.

Gendered Households and Ceramic Assemblage Formation in the Mariana Islands, Western Pacific

By Jacy Miller, Darlene R. Moore, and James M. Bayman

The archaeological investigation of gendered labor is vital for interpreting households in the Mariana Islands because Spanish documentary accounts are largely silent regarding their spatial organization. Preliminary analyses of excavated materials from a household on the island of Guam revealed that it consisted of two adjacent buildings (latte) that were economically integrated and within which craft activities by women and men were spatially segregated. More detailed analyses of ceramic assemblages confirm that household labor was gendered in other respects. Women prepared and stored food in large ceramic vessels at the building where they also conducted craftwork, whereas men consumed food from smaller serving vessels at the adjacent building where they crafted. This household arrangement illustrates gender complementarity in a matrilineal society that also exhibited aspects of a gender hierarchy wherein women had significant power during the Late Latte and early Spanish Contact periods (ca. A.D. 1500-1700). Read paper here.

Origins of the People of the Mariana Islands: Ancient DNA Research and Archaeological Context

By Dr. Rosalind Hunter-Anderson and Joanne Eakin

Our team of archaeologists and geneticists is collaborating on three studies about the origins of the people of the Mariana Islands and their social and biological relationships with other groups across the western Pacific and Island Southeast Asia (ISEA). To date, we have recovered ancient DNA (aDNA) samples from Late Unai and Latte period individuals on Guam and from Latte period individuals on Saipan. The Late Unai samples are from ~2500-year-old burials, the oldest discovered in Micronesia. In this paper we present preliminary results of our research and show how Marianas archaeological context and aDNA results interrelate, challenging a failing narrative of CHamoru population origins in the Philippines c. 3500 before present. Read paper here.

Guam 1668-1769: Cultural Change and Cultural Continuity in the Jesuit Mission

By Dr. Sandra Montón-Subías

In this paper, I will present the theoretical background of the archaeological project Aberigua (Archaeologies of Cultural Contact and Colonialism in Guam). This project investigates processes of cultural change and continuity associated to the incorporation of Guam and the Mariana islands by the colonial network of the Spanish empire. Although focus is on Jesuit missions, the project embraces previous and posterior chronologies to understand colonial impacts in their full magnitude. Stress is placed on gender construction and maintenance activities, a concept born in Spanish feminist archaeology to highlight the foregrounding nature of a set of recurrent daily practices — such as care-giving, food-processing, textile manufacture, hygiene, health and healing, the socialization of children, or the arrangement of living spaces — that are essential to social stability, continuity and wellbeing. Maintenance activities were clearly endeavoured by Jesuit policies to colonize indigenous lifeways and subjectivities, but they also worked as reservoirs of traditional knowledge. I will use textile manufacture and bodily habits as a case example. Read paper here.

Japanese Archival Records and Archaeological Sites from the Pre-WWII Okinawan Diaspora On Tinian, CNMI

By Dr. Boyd Dixon, Alexandra Garrigue, and Robert Jones

This study looks at archival records and photographs from the pre-WWII Okinawan diaspora to Japanese sugarcane plantations in the Northern Mariana Islands to provide cultural context for interpreting recently recorded archaeological sites on the island of Tinian. Read paper here.

Fishing Weirs at the Edge of the Parian: Colonial Impacts on the Native Settlement of Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines

By John A. Peterson

Cebu City was settled in 1565 after a brief and calamitous visit by Magellan 44 years earlier. Within a few decades the Spanish administration invited Chinese traders to settle in the Parian District at the northwestern fringe of the settlement. They filled and drained a marsh and built over what had been a native village at the edge of the marsh. In 1730 the Jesuit order built over the reclaimed land. The Jesuit House is currently being renovated and used as a museum. Archaeological excavations in support of the renovation have exposed the Spanish contact and pre-contact landscape that includes what may have been a pre-colonial fishing weir built in the marsh. We compare these fishing structures with stone weirs from Guam and Yap and fishing practices in the Micronesian region. We examine the ethnohistory and current practice of brush fishing corrals in use in the ancient and contemporary Philippines, as well as Visayan life ways in Cebu in the early modern era at contact with the Spanish colonial empire. Read paper here.

A History and Archaeology of the Pre-war Tuna Fishing Industry in Micronesia

By Dr. William Jeffery

When the Japanese took control of Micronesia, they were aware of the extensive range of marine species that could be exploited, and they quickly set about creating a tuna fishing industry. Historical documents from the pre-World War II period provide evidence on how this was implemented, and how Okinawan migration helped to drive the tuna fishing industry throughout Micronesia, which included Saipan, Palau, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and the Marshall Islands. During World War II, many fishing boats were converted and used by the Japanese military in a variety of activities, and some were sunk during the war. Following World War II, the United States of America attempted to revive the tuna fishing industry in association with local people, and while they had limited success, today, tuna is the Federated States of Micronesia’s top export. This paper provides information on the important steps in this history. It also considers the archaeological remains, primarily the fishing boat wrecks located in Chuuk and the Marshall Islands. An aim of the paper is to raise awareness about this overlooked heritage, a heritage that is arguably as relevant to local people as are the World War II shipwrecks. View presentation here.

Day 10: Sunday, 28 February 2021

I Hinanao-ta, 500 Aňos (Our Journey, 500 Years)

By Manuel Cruz, Artemia Perez, Lazaro Quinata, Juan San Nicolas

The challenge of reading history is most heavily felt by those whose stories were written for them. Magellan’s circumnavigation was the beginning of documented histories of the people of the Mariana Islands. For generations, those words dictated the perception of not only how the world knew the CHamoru people, but how the people of the Marianas learned of their ancestors as well. On the 500th commemoration of Magellan’s circumnavigation, the people of the Marianas are eager to share with the world a holistic picture of our history by engaging the written history with indigenous stories and sources of knowledge. We live in an exciting time where learners aren’t satisfied with simply “reading between the lines.” Now more than ever, the desire to engage with a history that represents us is pushing us to complete the narrative. I Hinanao-ta Our Journey, is a testament to the power of perspective. It is a step towards the world knowing who CHamorus are from CHamorus themselves. Read paper here.

Ginen i Gualo’: Histories of Farming and Agriculture on Guåhan (Fy2019 Community Grant)

By Kristin Oberiano

In Ginen I Gualo’, Guåhan Sustainable Culture conducted archival research, oral history, and interviewed local farmers to highlight traditions of agriculture and farming on Guåhan. The online resource hopes to educate and reconnect the public to those growing our local foods and to envision food sovereignty for our island community. In addition to playing a short video of one of our farmer interviews, this presentation will take a behind-the-scenes look into how our project came into fruition, including content creation for archival research, farmer interviews, and website design. The Ginen I Gualo’ website can be found at gusustainable.org/ginenigualo. View presentation here.

Tådong Marianas: Storytelling Across the Marianas

By Samantha Barnett and Andrew Gumataotao

Tåhdong Marianas (FY2020)—a collective of young CHamoru scholars, artists, activists, and filmmakers—was awarded $10,000 from Humanities Guåhan to produce and screen a media project that gathers the oral histories of musicians and cultural practitioners from across the Marianas archipelago. Tåhdong Marianas aims to foster deeper connections between communities throughout the Marianas, and our project compiles life narratives from musicians and cultural practitioners in the Marianas. Our media project aims to produce a nuanced understanding of contemporary Marianas identity, covering issues of cultural reclamations, land-based connections, and Indigenous storytelling and performance practices. In this session, project directors Andrew Gumataotao and Samantha Marley Barnett will discuss their experiences traveling and storytelling across the Marianas, and share key themes and issues that have been articulated in their interviews with cultural practitioners throughout the archipelago. View presentation here.

Conference ePublications

Overview

Day 1 – 3

Day 4 – 6

Day 7 – 10

More on the Marianas History Conference