Three out of the seventeen remaining entities (20%) recognized by the United Nations as non-self-governing are unincorporated territories within the US political system (UN 2014). Two of these are in the Pacific: American Sāmoa and Guåhan (Guam). Even mainstream media recognized Guam’s colonial condition in 2014 in a tourist-focused cnn story dubbing the island a “colonial holdout” (Ćrossan 2014), despite 115 years under the rule of a nation often called “the Greatest Democracy on Earth.”
Guam decolonization efforts can be viewed as occurring in three overlapping sets of activities to decolonize both the mindset and the political status of its peoples. Each had a sizable presence this last year—local empowerment through cultural strengthening and reconnecting the community to traditional practices and worldviews, advocacy, and local government actions.
Numerous efforts across virtually all sectors of Guam’s community continued to strengthen indigenous Chamorro culture and local identity, including e-books documenting Chamorro family clan names; the revival of the ancestral procession to the Chamorro “creation point”; the development of a television show called Nihi! for Guam’s nenes (children); the first-ever offering of Chamorro dance classes at the University of Guam (uog); numerous locally produced films about island issues; and digital interactive applications bringing Guam’s traditional oral narratives to life. The horizons of cultural programs were also broadened by strengthening [End Page 223] ties to Chamorros living in other US areas and showcasing Chamorro culture internationally, the latter evidenced by Inetnon Gefpåa’go’s cultural arts program tour of Europe in 2014. The new uog Chamorro Studies program was highlighted in October 2013 when the governor of Guam signed a proclamation declaring it “I Sakkan I Inestudian Chamorro” (The Year of Chamorro Studies) (pnc, 15 Oct 2013). The program’s first year was extremely active with its coordinator, Dr Michael Bevacqua, traveling off-island in early 2014 to visit Chamorros located elsewhere. One of the trip’s successes was to sign up hundreds of people in support of an online Chamorro Studies certificate program. Also ongoing was construction of the new Guam Museum, with a projected completion date of December 2014.
Other cultural endeavors reached noteworthy milestones, demonstrating community interest and viability. Examples of this were the 6th Annual Gupot Fanha’aniyan Pulan CHamoru: Chamorro Lunar Calendar Festival; the 10th annual Chamorro dance competition, Dinanna Pa’a Taotao Tano’; the 2nd Marianas History Conference; and the conferring of another Honorary Master of Micronesian Traditional Knowledge degree on indigenous musician Candido Babauta Taman.
Guampedia, Guam’s online resource since 2008, completed its website restructuring with a new comprehensive section, “Chamorro Quest for Self-Determination,” that details the self-determination efforts of the people of Guam. Guampedia also embarked on new initiatives to capture and share voices of island elders as well as involve island youth in documenting Guam’s history and issues, the latter to be launched in August 2014 with a student film on self-determination (Rita Nauta, Managing Director, Guampedia, pers comm, 11 July 2014).
On the research front, Guam benefitted from the efforts of cultural groups and academics working together, such as I Fanlalai’an (Chamorro chant group) and Dr Carlos Madrid. They examined an item from 1798, believed to be the first official government document written in Chamorro and featuring archaic Chamorro words (pnc, 27 March 2014). New understandings about Chamorro settlement and subsequent migrations came to light from a National Geographic Genographic Project and an effort by local researcher Jillette Leon-Guerrero. The former validated and fine-tuned earlier theories about Chamorro origins, while the latter traced the ancestry of a family from Hawai‘i to Guam (pdn, 14 Oct 2013; Across the Water in Time 2013).
Preparations for hosting the Festival of Pacific Arts in 2016 continued during the year under review. During workshops and meetings, Guam community members noted the growth in island cultural revitalization since Guam’s first participation in the Festival in 1972 (Guampedia 2014).
While the Commission on Decolonization was relaunched in 2011 after several years of inactivity, it continued to lack an operating budget for fiscal years 2013 and 2014. However...