Manma’gas by Baltazar Bell

Male leader

A maga’låhi was the first born, high ranking (matua) male head of a CHamoru clan, a role inherited through his maternal lineage. Manmaga’låhi and manmaga’håga (female leaders of the clan) societal status and consideration varied, depending on the productivity of their clan’s land, ocean resources and manpower.

They represented the highest level of power and authority in ancient CHamoru society. Together they ruled their clan and with other clan leaders, ruled their village. Maga’låhi had many familial obligations and responsibilities, such as ensuring the clan’s basic needs were met and managing clan affairs.

Clan members likewise had many duties toward him, treating him with deference and providing him many benefits. Incapable maga’låhi could be replaced by a maternal brother or nephew. Contemporarily, the male governors of Guam, have been referred to as maga’låhi.

By Kelly G. Marsh, MA

For further reading

I Ma Gobetna-na Guam: Governing Guam Before and After the Wars. The Hale’-ta Series. Hagåtña: Political Status Education Coordinating Commission, 1994.

Kasperbauer, Carmen A. “The Chamorro Culture.” In Kinalamten Pulitikåt: Siñenten I Chamorro (Issues in Guam’s Political Development: The Chamorro Perspective). The Hale’-ta Series. Hagåtña: Political Status Education Coordinating Commission, 1996.