“(The Birth of Guam)” (Poem)

“(the birth of Guam)”

Guam was born on March 6, 1521, when Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the womb of Humåtak Bay and delivered [us] into the calloused hands of modernity. “Guam is Where Western Imperialism in the Pacifc Begins!” St. Helena Augusta, tayuyute [ham] : pray for [us]. The annual reenactment of “Discovery Day” is a must see for all tourists: Chamorros-dressed-as-our- ancestors welcome Chamorros-dressed-as-the-galleon-crew. After the bloody performance, enjoy local food, walking tours, live reggae bands, and fireworks! Guam was adopted on December 10, 1898, when the Treaty of Paris was signed, and Spain ceded [us] to the United States. “Guam is Where America’s Western Frontier Begins!” Guam was declared an “unincorporated territory” on May 27, 1901, when the Supreme Court Insular Cases decided that the U.S. constitution does not follow its flag. “Guam is Where America’s Logic of Territorial Incorporation Ends!” Guam was kidnapped on December 8, 1941, when Japan bombed, invaded, and occupied [us]. “Guam is Where the Greater East Asia Co- Prosperity Sphere Begins!” On July 21, 1944, the U.S. armed forces returned and defeated the Japanese military. Guam was naturalized on August 1, 1950, when the Organic Act bestowed U.S. citizenship upon [us]. “Guam is Where America’s Passports Begin!” Guam was pimped out on May 1, 1967, when Pan American World Airways arrived with the first 109 Japanese tourists. The Guam Visitors Bureau birthed a new marketing slogan: “Guam is Where America’s Day Begins!” Since Guam is located 2,000 miles west of the international dateline, [we] instagram the sunrise before anyone in the fifty states. For the past 30 years, a straw poll on Guam has accurately predicted U.S. presidential elections, even though our votes don’t actually count in the electoral college. “Guam is Where America’s Voting Rights End!” This ironic streak ended in 2016, when Hillary Clinton received 70% of the ballots cast on Guam, yet Donald Trump still won #notmycolonizerinchief. St. Thomas More, tayuyute [ham]. After the election, [we] begin the countdown to Super Bowl Monday, a sacred day when all Chamorros leave work and school in procession to the altar of the television. St. Sebastian, tayuyute [ham]. I attended George Washington High School on Guam, but I often skipped “English” class because the haole teacher made [us] memorize boring, canonical verse. “Guam is Where America’s Poetry Begins!” Sorry not sorry if I threw everyone’s rhyme and meter off.

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“Family Trees” (Poem)

Family Trees

for the 2016 Guam Soil and Water Conservation Districts’ Educator Symposium

1

Before we enter the jungle, my dad

asks permission of the spirits who dwell

within. He walks slowly, with care,

to teach me, like his father taught him,

how to show respect. Then he stops

and closes his eyes to teach me

how to listen. Ekungok, as the winds

exhale and billow the canopy, tremble

the understory, and conduct the wild

orchestra of all breathing things.

2

“Niyok, Lemmai, Ifit, Yoga’, Nunu,” he chants

in a tone of reverence, calling forth the names

of each tree, each elder, who has provided us

with food and medicine, clothes and tools,

canoes and shelter. Like us, they grew in dark

wombs, sprouted from seeds, were nourished

by the light. Like us, they survived the storms

of conquest. Like us, roots anchor them to this

island, giving breath, giving strength to reach

towards the Pacific sky and blossom.

3

“When you take,” my dad says, “Take with

gratitude, and never more than what you need.”

He teaches me the phrase, “eminent domain,”

which means “theft,” means “to turn a place

of abundance into a base of destruction.”

The military uprooted trees with bulldozers,

paved the fertile earth with concrete, and planted

toxic chemicals and ordnances in the ground.

Barbed wire fences spread like invasive vines,

whose only fruit are the cancerous tumors

that bloom on every branch of our family tree.

4

Today, the military invites us to collect

plants and trees within areas of Litekyan

slated to be cleared for impending

construction. Fill out the appropriate forms

and wait 14 business days for a background

and security check. If we receive their

permission, they’ll escort us to the site

so we can mark and claim what we want

delivered to us after removal. They say

this is a benevolent gesture, but why

does it feel like a cruel reaping?

5

One tree my dad never showed me is

the endangered hayun lågu, the last

of which is struggling to survive in Litekyan

its only home. Today, the military plans to clear

the surrounding area for a live firing range,

making the tree even more vulnerable

to violent winds, invasive pests, and stray

bullets. Don’t worry, they say. We’ll build

a fence around the tree. They say this is an act

of mitigation, but why does it feel like

the disturbed edge of extinction?

6

Ekungok, ancient whispers rouse the jungle!

Listen, oceanic waves stir against the rocks!

Ekungok, i taotaoʻmona call us to rise!

Listen, i tronkon Yoga’ calls us to stand tall!

Ekungok, i tronkon Lemmai calls us to spread our arms wide!

Listen, i tronkon Nunu calls us to link our hands!

Ekungok, i tronkon Ifit calls us to be firm!

Listen, i tronkon Niyok calls us to never break!

Ekungok, i halom tano’ calls us to surround

i hayun  lågu and chant: “We are the seeds

of the last fire tree! We are the seeds of the last

fire tree! We are the seeds of the last fire tree!

Ahe’! No! We do not give you permission!”

“Family Trees” (Poem)

Family Trees

for the 2016 Guam Soil and Water Conservation Districts’ Educator Symposium

1

Before we enter the jungle, my dad

asks permission of the spirits who dwell

within. He walks slowly, with care,

to teach me, like his father taught him,

how to show respect. Then he stops

and closes his eyes to teach me

how to listen. Ekungok, as the winds

exhale and billow the canopy, tremble

the understory, and conduct the wild

orchestra of all breathing things.

2

“Niyok, Lemmai, Ifit, Yoga’, Nunu,” he chants

in a tone of reverence, calling forth the names

of each tree, each elder, who has provided us

with food and medicine, clothes and tools,

canoes and shelter. Like us, they grew in dark

wombs, sprouted from seeds, were nourished

by the light. Like us, they survived the storms

of conquest. Like us, roots anchor them to this

island, giving breath, giving strength to reach

towards the Pacific sky and blossom.

3

“When you take,” my dad says, “Take with

gratitude, and never more than what you need.”

He teaches me the phrase, “eminent domain,”

which means “theft,” means “to turn a place

of abundance into a base of destruction.”

The military uprooted trees with bulldozers,

paved the fertile earth with concrete, and planted

toxic chemicals and ordnances in the ground.

Barbed wire fences spread like invasive vines,

whose only fruit are the cancerous tumors

that bloom on every branch of our family tree.

4

Today, the military invites us to collect

plants and trees within areas of Litekyan

slated to be cleared for impending

construction. Fill out the appropriate forms

and wait 14 business days for a background

and security check. If we receive their

permission, they’ll escort us to the site

so we can mark and claim what we want

delivered to us after removal. They say

this is a benevolent gesture, but why

does it feel like a cruel reaping?

5

One tree my dad never showed me is

the endangered hayun lågu, the last

of which is struggling to survive in Litekyan

its only home. Today, the military plans to clear

the surrounding area for a live firing range,

making the tree even more vulnerable

to violent winds, invasive pests, and stray

bullets. Don’t worry, they say. We’ll build

a fence around the tree. They say this is an act

of mitigation, but why does it feel like

the disturbed edge of extinction?

6

Ekungok, ancient whispers rouse the jungle!

Listen, oceanic waves stir against the rocks!

Ekungok, i taotaoʻmona call us to rise!

Listen, i tronkon Yoga’ calls us to stand tall!

Ekungok, i tronkon Lemmai calls us to spread our arms wide!

Listen, i tronkon Nunu calls us to link our hands!

Ekungok, i tronkon Ifit calls us to be firm!

Listen, i tronkon Niyok calls us to never break!

Ekungok, i halom tano’ calls us to surround

i hayun  lågu and chant: “We are the seeds

of the last fire tree! We are the seeds of the last

fire tree! We are the seeds of the last fire tree!

Ahe’! No! We do not give you permission!”

“Family Trees” (Poem)

Family Trees

for the 2016 Guam Soil and Water Conservation Districts’ Educator Symposium

1

Before we enter the jungle, my dad

asks permission of the spirits who dwell

within. He walks slowly, with care,

to teach me, like his father taught him,

how to show respect. Then he stops

and closes his eyes to teach me

how to listen. Ekungok, as the winds

exhale and billow the canopy, tremble

the understory, and conduct the wild

orchestra of all breathing things.

2

“Niyok, Lemmai, Ifit, Yoga’, Nunu,” he chants

in a tone of reverence, calling forth the names

of each tree, each elder, who has provided us

with food and medicine, clothes and tools,

canoes and shelter. Like us, they grew in dark

wombs, sprouted from seeds, were nourished

by the light. Like us, they survived the storms

of conquest. Like us, roots anchor them to this

island, giving breath, giving strength to reach

towards the Pacific sky and blossom.

3

“When you take,” my dad says, “Take with

gratitude, and never more than what you need.”

He teaches me the phrase, “eminent domain,”

which means “theft,” means “to turn a place

of abundance into a base of destruction.”

The military uprooted trees with bulldozers,

paved the fertile earth with concrete, and planted

toxic chemicals and ordnances in the ground.

Barbed wire fences spread like invasive vines,

whose only fruit are the cancerous tumors

that bloom on every branch of our family tree.

4

Today, the military invites us to collect

plants and trees within areas of Litekyan

slated to be cleared for impending

construction. Fill out the appropriate forms

and wait 14 business days for a background

and security check. If we receive their

permission, they’ll escort us to the site

so we can mark and claim what we want

delivered to us after removal. They say

this is a benevolent gesture, but why

does it feel like a cruel reaping?

5

One tree my dad never showed me is

the endangered hayun lågu, the last

of which is struggling to survive in Litekyan

its only home. Today, the military plans to clear

the surrounding area for a live firing range,

making the tree even more vulnerable

to violent winds, invasive pests, and stray

bullets. Don’t worry, they say. We’ll build

a fence around the tree. They say this is an act

of mitigation, but why does it feel like

the disturbed edge of extinction?

6

Ekungok, ancient whispers rouse the jungle!

Listen, oceanic waves stir against the rocks!

Ekungok, i taotaoʻmona call us to rise!

Listen, i tronkon Yoga’ calls us to stand tall!

Ekungok, i tronkon Lemmai calls us to spread our arms wide!

Listen, i tronkon Nunu calls us to link our hands!

Ekungok, i tronkon Ifit calls us to be firm!

Listen, i tronkon Niyok calls us to never break!

Ekungok, i halom tano’ calls us to surround

i hayun  lågu and chant: “We are the seeds

of the last fire tree! We are the seeds of the last

fire tree! We are the seeds of the last fire tree!

Ahe’! No! We do not give you permission!”

“Family Trees” (poem)

Family Trees

for the 2016 Guam Soil and Water Conservation Districts’ Educator Symposium

1

Before we enter the jungle, my dad

asks permission of the spirits who dwell

within. He walks slowly, with care,

to teach me, like his father taught him,

how to show respect. Then he stops

and closes his eyes to teach me

how to listen. Ekungok, as the winds

exhale and billow the canopy, tremble

the understory, and conduct the wild

orchestra of all breathing things.

2

“Niyok, Lemmai, Ifit, Yoga’, Nunu,” he chants

in a tone of reverence, calling forth the names

of each tree, each elder, who has provided us

with food and medicine, clothes and tools,

canoes and shelter. Like us, they grew in dark

wombs, sprouted from seeds, were nourished

by the light. Like us, they survived the storms

of conquest. Like us, roots anchor them to this

island, giving breath, giving strength to reach

towards the Pacific sky and blossom.

3

“When you take,” my dad says, “Take with

gratitude, and never more than what you need.”

He teaches me the phrase, “eminent domain,”

which means “theft,” means “to turn a place

of abundance into a base of destruction.”

The military uprooted trees with bulldozers,

paved the fertile earth with concrete, and planted

toxic chemicals and ordnances in the ground.

Barbed wire fences spread like invasive vines,

whose only fruit are the cancerous tumors

that bloom on every branch of our family tree.

4

Today, the military invites us to collect

plants and trees within areas of Litekyan

slated to be cleared for impending

construction. Fill out the appropriate forms

and wait 14 business days for a background

and security check. If we receive their

permission, they’ll escort us to the site

so we can mark and claim what we want

delivered to us after removal. They say

this is a benevolent gesture, but why

does it feel like a cruel reaping?

5

One tree my dad never showed me is

the endangered hayun lågu, the last

of which is struggling to survive in Litekyan

its only home. Today, the military plans to clear

the surrounding area for a live firing range,

making the tree even more vulnerable

to violent winds, invasive pests, and stray

bullets. Don’t worry, they say. We’ll build

a fence around the tree. They say this is an act

of mitigation, but why does it feel like

the disturbed edge of extinction?

6

Ekungok, ancient whispers rouse the jungle!

Listen, oceanic waves stir against the rocks!

Ekungok, i taotaoʻmona call us to rise!

Listen, i tronkon Yoga’ calls us to stand tall!

Ekungok, i tronkon Lemmai calls us to spread our arms wide!

Listen, i tronkon Nunu calls us to link our hands!

Ekungok, i tronkon Ifit calls us to be firm!

Listen, i tronkon Niyok calls us to never break!

Ekungok, i halom tano’ calls us to surround

i hayun  lågu and chant: “We are the seeds

of the last fire tree! We are the seeds of the last

fire tree! We are the seeds of the last fire tree!

Ahe’! No! We do not give you permission!”

Guam, Where America’s Voting Rights End

Guam, Where America’s Voting Rights End

1.

My 7th grade social studies teacher made us,

the children of Guam, memorize the names of

all 41 American presidents, whose portraits stared

down at us in the furthest American territory

from the White House. As I recited their names

at home, my parents watched Bill Clinton play

saxophone on television. “Are you voting for him?”

I asked. My dad, wearing his Army t-shirt, said:

“Didn’t your teacher tell you that our votes don’t

count. It don’t matter that we’re citizens or veterans.”    

2.

A few years later, my family migrated to California,

where I became a resident, graduated high school,

and registered to vote. But after Al Gore lost,

I learned that living in the states doesn’t guarantee

your ballot will actually count. I learned how easy

it is to memorize the name of a president who wages

two wars and sharpens your island into a weapon. 

And isn’t that what an American president is: a name

to which our lands and bodies are ultimately sacrificed.

3

When Barack Obama campaigned in 2007, his name

gave me hope because it descended from slavery,

from the civil rights movement, from a mixed raced family,

from the Pacific. Yet Obama only visited Guam once.

In 2011, his plane landed at night on the air force base,

refueled, then departed. That’s when I learned the arc

of history doesn’t bend justice towards Guam. I learned

no matter what the president’s name is, he remains our

commander, and our island remains a forgotten name.

4.

For thirty years, a straw poll on Guam has accurately

predicted the result of U.S. presidential elections. In 2016,

Hillary Clinton won the poll, yet still lost to Donald Trump,

thus breaking our historic (and ironic) streak. I voted for

neither candidate, which felt like a betrayal to my kin

back home, who don’t have a voice in the election.

Some activists now petition to extend voting rights

to the territories; instead, I want our decolonial

voices to be counted, I want Guam’s liberation

from American presidents to be inaugurated.

Environmental Impacts of US Militarism on Guam (United Nations Testimony, 2008)

In 2008, I testified to the United Nations Committee on Decolonization about the environmental impacts of United States militarization on Guam. Below is my testimony.

*

Hafa Adai distinguished members of the United Nations Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) and Chairman, H.E. Mr. Jorge Arguello,

My name is Craig Santos Perez and I’m a poet and native son of Guam. I represent the

Guahan Indigenous Collective, a grassroots organization committed to keeping Chamoru culture alive through public education and artistic expression. I’m here to testify about the fangs of militarization and colonialism destroying the Chamoru people of Guam.

These fangs dig deep. During and immediately after World War Two, brown tree snakes invaded Guam as stowaways on U.S. naval cargo ships. By 1968, the snakes colonized the entire island, their population reaching a density of 13,000 per square mile. As a result, Guam’s seabirds, 10 of 13 endemic species of forest birds, 2 of 3 native mammals, and 6 of 10 native species of lizards have all gone extinct.

The U.S. plans to introduce—this time intentionally—a more familiar breed of predators to Guam: an estimated 19,000 military personnel and 20,000 of their dependants, along with numerous overseas businesses and 20,000 contract workers to support the military build-up. Add this to the 14,000 military personnel already on Guam, and that’s a combined total of 73,000—outnumbering the entire Chamoru population on Guam, which is roughly 62,900.

This hyper-militarization poses grave implications for our human right to self-determination because the U.S. currently asserts that its citizens—this transient population—have a “constitutional” right to vote in our plebiscite.

Furthermore, this hyper-militarization (continuing a long history of militarization on Guam), will severely devastate our environmental, social, physical and cultural health. Since World War II, military dumping and nuclear testing has contaminated the Pacific with PCBs and radiation. In addition, PCBs and other military toxic waste have choked the breath out of the largest barrier reef system of Guam, poisoning fish and fishing grounds. As recently as July of this year, the USS Houston, a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine home-ported on Guam, leaked trace amounts of radioactivity into our waters.

The violation doesn’t end on our shores; the military also occupies and infects our ancestral lands. Currently, the U.S. military occupies a third of the island, and the impending build-up has interrupted the return of federal excess lands tooriginal land owners and threatens to claim more lands for live fire training. Not only has the U.S. continued to deprive us of our right to land, but they also pollute these lands.

Eighty contaminated military dumpsites still exist on Guam. The now civilian Ordot landfill (a former World War Two military dumpsite) contains 17 toxic chemicals, including arsenic, lead, chromium, PCBs, and cyanide. The same 17 pollutants are also found in the landfills located over the island’s aquifer at Andersen Air Force Base in northern Guam.

While the U.S. military erodes the integrity of our land, expectations from the military build-up have more than doubled real estate prices and tripled home costs. Coupled with a struggling economy and rising living costs, many landless Chamorus have been economically coerced to leave the island and others have become homeless. Even our ancestors are being affected: a $30 million expansion of the Guam Hotel Okura has excavated an ancient Chamoru cemetery. More than 300 ancestral remains have already been unearthed.

While new condominiums, hotels, and high-end homes are beginning to rise, the sky is falling. In July 2007, an F/A-18C Hornet crashed in the waters around Guam during a training mission. This year, at least 3 other military aircrafts have crashed in or near Andersen Air Force Base.

U.S. colonial presence has not only damaged our bodies of land and water, but it’s deteriorated our physical bodies as well. The military used Guam as a decontamination site during its nuclear testing in the 1970s, which resulted in massive radiation and agent orange and purple exposure. High incidences of various kinds of cancer and neuro-degenerative diseases, such amyothrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinsonism-dementia, and Lytico-Botig plague the Chamoru people. Toxic chemicals have snaked into our bloodstream, causing multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, renal dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, liver dysfunction, deafness, blindness, epilepsy, seizures, arthritis, anemia, stillbirths, and infertility—all of which Chamorus disproportionately suffer. And because our mental health is woven to our physical health, Chamorus suffer dramatically high rates of incarceration, family violence, substance abuse, teenage suicides, and school drop-outs. The presence of the U.S. military has choked the breath out of our daughters and sons, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers.

Like the last totot (Marianas Fruit-dove) on Guam being slowly swallowed by the brown tree snake, Chamorus are being disappeared. Diseases have killed most of our elders: only five percent of the island is over the age of 65. Young Chamorus are joining the U.S. military and dying in America’s wars at alarming rates. In 2005, four of the U.S. Army’s top twelve recruitment producers were based on Guam. In 2007, Guam ranked No. 1 for recruiting success in the Army National Guard’s assessment of 54 states and territories. In the current war on terror, our killed-in-action rate is now five times the US national average. Since the war on terror began in 2001, 29 sons of Micronesia have died–17 of them from Guam.

In terms of population, Chamorus constituted 45 percent of Guam’s population in 1980; in 1990, 43 percent; in 2000, 37 percent. In devastating contrast, the planned influx of non-Chamorus will increase Guam’s overall population by about 30 percent, causing a 20-year population growth over the next five years. History repeats itself: more foreign snakes, fewer native birds.

The U.S. Pentagon is currently conducting an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (OEIS) for the build-up. However, the study is problematic in a number of ways, including the rushed speed of the study (a mere 2 years, with a 2009 completion date); the framing of the “impact” (which excludes many social, health, and environmental issues and focuses on economic “positives”); and the research methods (which relies on outdated data sets and “experts” composed mainly of the political and business elite). These Impact Statements are only invested in legitimizing the military buildup.

The door of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism in the 21st Century will not be open for much longer. And even though powerful snakes block our passage, we are willing to struggle for our rights—but we need your help.

The Fourth Committee must give top priority to the fulfillment of our inalienable right to self-determination, as affirmed by General Resolutions 1514 and 1541, and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Fourth Committee must immediately enact the process of decolonization for Guam in lieu of the severe, irreversible impact of U.S. militarization. This process must include a fully funded and far-reaching education campaign informing all Chamorus from Guam of our right to self-determination and decolonization options.

The Fourth Committee must thoroughly investigate the administering power’s non- compliance with its treaty obligations under the Charter of the United Nations to promote economic, social, and cultural well-being on Guam.

The Fourth Committee must send UN representatives to the island within the next six months to asses the implications of US militarization plans on the decolonization of Guam, and the human rights implications of the cumulative impacts of the US military’s presence on our island.

The Fourth Committee must contact Guam leaders and delegates who have presented testimony before this body, and UN funding must be allocated immediately to advance this study. We cannot rely on faulty impact studies conducted by the US, which are used to justify their actions rather than truly assess their impacts on our island.

Finally, the Fourth Committee must comply with the recommendations of other UN agencies, especially the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which recently requested an expert seminar be held to examine the impact of the UN decolonization process on indigenous peoples of the Non Self-Governing Territories. This committee must prioritize collaboration with Chamoru organizations and experts, such as I Nasion Chamoru, Famoksaiyan, Fuetsan Famalao’an and all those who have provided testimony in the past two decades.

Thank you for listening, and I hope we can continue to work towards achieving decolonization and self-determination for the indigenous Chamoru people of Guam.

—Sinangan Si Craig Santos Perez

Guahan Indigenous Collective

Environmental Impacts of US Militarism on Guam (United Nations Testimony, 2008)

In 2008, I testified to the United Nations Committee on Decolonization about the environmental impacts of United States militarization on Guam. Below is my testimony.

*

Hafa Adai distinguished members of the United Nations Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) and Chairman, H.E. Mr. Jorge Arguello,

My name is Craig Santos Perez and I’m a poet and native son of Guam. I represent the

Guahan Indigenous Collective, a grassroots organization committed to keeping Chamoru culture alive through public education and artistic expression. I’m here to testify about the fangs of militarization and colonialism destroying the Chamoru people of Guam.

These fangs dig deep. During and immediately after World War Two, brown tree snakes invaded Guam as stowaways on U.S. naval cargo ships. By 1968, the snakes colonized the entire island, their population reaching a density of 13,000 per square mile. As a result, Guam’s seabirds, 10 of 13 endemic species of forest birds, 2 of 3 native mammals, and 6 of 10 native species of lizards have all gone extinct.

The U.S. plans to introduce—this time intentionally—a more familiar breed of predators to Guam: an estimated 19,000 military personnel and 20,000 of their dependants, along with numerous overseas businesses and 20,000 contract workers to support the military build-up. Add this to the 14,000 military personnel already on Guam, and that’s a combined total of 73,000—outnumbering the entire Chamoru population on Guam, which is roughly 62,900.

This hyper-militarization poses grave implications for our human right to self-determination because the U.S. currently asserts that its citizens—this transient population—have a “constitutional” right to vote in our plebiscite.

Furthermore, this hyper-militarization (continuing a long history of militarization on Guam), will severely devastate our environmental, social, physical and cultural health. Since World War II, military dumping and nuclear testing has contaminated the Pacific with PCBs and radiation. In addition, PCBs and other military toxic waste have choked the breath out of the largest barrier reef system of Guam, poisoning fish and fishing grounds. As recently as July of this year, the USS Houston, a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine home-ported on Guam, leaked trace amounts of radioactivity into our waters.

The violation doesn’t end on our shores; the military also occupies and infects our ancestral lands. Currently, the U.S. military occupies a third of the island, and the impending build-up has interrupted the return of federal excess lands tooriginal land owners and threatens to claim more lands for live fire training. Not only has the U.S. continued to deprive us of our right to land, but they also pollute these lands.

Eighty contaminated military dumpsites still exist on Guam. The now civilian Ordot landfill (a former World War Two military dumpsite) contains 17 toxic chemicals, including arsenic, lead, chromium, PCBs, and cyanide. The same 17 pollutants are also found in the landfills located over the island’s aquifer at Andersen Air Force Base in northern Guam.

While the U.S. military erodes the integrity of our land, expectations from the military build-up have more than doubled real estate prices and tripled home costs. Coupled with a struggling economy and rising living costs, many landless Chamorus have been economically coerced to leave the island and others have become homeless. Even our ancestors are being affected: a $30 million expansion of the Guam Hotel Okura has excavated an ancient Chamoru cemetery. More than 300 ancestral remains have already been unearthed.

While new condominiums, hotels, and high-end homes are beginning to rise, the sky is falling. In July 2007, an F/A-18C Hornet crashed in the waters around Guam during a training mission. This year, at least 3 other military aircrafts have crashed in or near Andersen Air Force Base.

U.S. colonial presence has not only damaged our bodies of land and water, but it’s deteriorated our physical bodies as well. The military used Guam as a decontamination site during its nuclear testing in the 1970s, which resulted in massive radiation and agent orange and purple exposure. High incidences of various kinds of cancer and neuro-degenerative diseases, such amyothrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinsonism-dementia, and Lytico-Botig plague the Chamoru people. Toxic chemicals have snaked into our bloodstream, causing multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, renal dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, liver dysfunction, deafness, blindness, epilepsy, seizures, arthritis, anemia, stillbirths, and infertility—all of which Chamorus disproportionately suffer. And because our mental health is woven to our physical health, Chamorus suffer dramatically high rates of incarceration, family violence, substance abuse, teenage suicides, and school drop-outs. The presence of the U.S. military has choked the breath out of our daughters and sons, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers.

Like the last totot (Marianas Fruit-dove) on Guam being slowly swallowed by the brown tree snake, Chamorus are being disappeared. Diseases have killed most of our elders: only five percent of the island is over the age of 65. Young Chamorus are joining the U.S. military and dying in America’s wars at alarming rates. In 2005, four of the U.S. Army’s top twelve recruitment producers were based on Guam. In 2007, Guam ranked No. 1 for recruiting success in the Army National Guard’s assessment of 54 states and territories. In the current war on terror, our killed-in-action rate is now five times the US national average. Since the war on terror began in 2001, 29 sons of Micronesia have died–17 of them from Guam.

In terms of population, Chamorus constituted 45 percent of Guam’s population in 1980; in 1990, 43 percent; in 2000, 37 percent. In devastating contrast, the planned influx of non-Chamorus will increase Guam’s overall population by about 30 percent, causing a 20-year population growth over the next five years. History repeats itself: more foreign snakes, fewer native birds.

The U.S. Pentagon is currently conducting an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (OEIS) for the build-up. However, the study is problematic in a number of ways, including the rushed speed of the study (a mere 2 years, with a 2009 completion date); the framing of the “impact” (which excludes many social, health, and environmental issues and focuses on economic “positives”); and the research methods (which relies on outdated data sets and “experts” composed mainly of the political and business elite). These Impact Statements are only invested in legitimizing the military buildup.

The door of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism in the 21st Century will not be open for much longer. And even though powerful snakes block our passage, we are willing to struggle for our rights—but we need your help.

The Fourth Committee must give top priority to the fulfillment of our inalienable right to self-determination, as affirmed by General Resolutions 1514 and 1541, and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Fourth Committee must immediately enact the process of decolonization for Guam in lieu of the severe, irreversible impact of U.S. militarization. This process must include a fully funded and far-reaching education campaign informing all Chamorus from Guam of our right to self-determination and decolonization options.

The Fourth Committee must thoroughly investigate the administering power’s non- compliance with its treaty obligations under the Charter of the United Nations to promote economic, social, and cultural well-being on Guam.

The Fourth Committee must send UN representatives to the island within the next six months to asses the implications of US militarization plans on the decolonization of Guam, and the human rights implications of the cumulative impacts of the US military’s presence on our island.

The Fourth Committee must contact Guam leaders and delegates who have presented testimony before this body, and UN funding must be allocated immediately to advance this study. We cannot rely on faulty impact studies conducted by the US, which are used to justify their actions rather than truly assess their impacts on our island.

Finally, the Fourth Committee must comply with the recommendations of other UN agencies, especially the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which recently requested an expert seminar be held to examine the impact of the UN decolonization process on indigenous peoples of the Non Self-Governing Territories. This committee must prioritize collaboration with Chamoru organizations and experts, such as I Nasion Chamoru, Famoksaiyan, Fuetsan Famalao’an and all those who have provided testimony in the past two decades.

Thank you for listening, and I hope we can continue to work towards achieving decolonization and self-determination for the indigenous Chamoru people of Guam.

—Sinangan Si Craig Santos Perez

Guahan Indigenous Collective

“Off-Island Chamorros”

“Off-Island Chamorros”

My family migrated to California when I was 15 years old.
During the first day at my new high school, the homeroom
teacher asked me where I was from.“The Mariana Islands,”
I answered. He replied: “I’ve never heard of that place.
Prove it exists.” And when I stepped in front of the world map
on the wall, it transformed into a mirror: the Pacific Ocean,
like my body, was split in two and flayed to the margins. I
found Australia, then the Philippines, then Japan. I pointed
to an empty space between them and said: “I’m from this
invisible archipelago.” Everyone laughed. And even though
I descend from oceanic navigators, I felt so lost, shipwrecked

on the coast of a strange continent. “Are you a citizen?”
he probed. “Yes. My island, Guam, is a U.S. territory.”
We attend American schools, eat American food, listen
to American music, watch American movies and television,
play American sports, learn American history, dream
American dreams, and die in American wars. “You
speak English well,” he proclaimed, “with almost no
accent.” And isn’t that what it means to be a diasporic
Chamorro: to feel foreign in a domestic sense.

Over the last 50 years, Chamorros have migrated to
escape the violent memories of war; to seek jobs, schools,
hospitals, adventure, and love; but most of all, we’ve migrated
for military service, deployed and stationed to bases around
the world. According to the 2010 census, 44,000 Chamorros
live in California, 15,000 in Washington, 10,000 in Texas,
7,000 in Hawaii, and 70,000 more in every other state
and even Puerto Rico. We are the most “geographically
dispersed” Pacific Islander population within the United
States, and off-island Chamorros now outnumber
our on-island kin, with generations having been born
away from our ancestral homelands, including my daughter.

Some of us will be able to return home for holidays, weddings,
and funerals; others won’t be able to afford the expensive
plane ticket to the Western Pacific. Years and even decades                                              might pass between trips, and each visit will feel too short.
We’ll lose contact with family and friends, and the island
will continue to change until it becomes unfamiliar to us.
And isn’t that, too, what it means to be a diasporic
Chamorro: to feel foreign in your own homeland.

And there’ll will be times when we’ll feel adrift, without itinerary
or destination. We’ll wonder: What if we stayed? What if we
return? When the undertow of these questions begins
pulling you out to sea, remember: migration flows through
our blood like the aerial roots of i trongkon nunu. Remember:
our ancestors taught us how to carry our culture in the canoes
of our bodies. Remember: our people, scattered like stars,
form new constellations when we gather. Remember:
home is not simply a house, village, or island; home
is an archipelago of belonging.

New Anthology: Home Islands: New Art & Writing from Guahan & Hawaiʻi

 

Home Islands Final Cover 2017

Home(is)lands: New Art and Writing from Guahan and Hawaii, edited by Brandy Nalani McDougall and Craig Santos Perez.

Purchase from Amazon here.

“Despite the vast distance between Hawaii and Guahan (Guam), these islands and their peoples have experienced similar cultural, historical, ecological, and political struggles. Writers and artists from both places have been engaged in unwriting colonial representations and envisioning decolonial futures. This anthology acts as a cross-current between our home(is)lands, weaving our voices across the New Oceania.”

Writers and artists include April Drexel, Selina Onedera-Salas, D Keali’i MacKenzie, Jay Pascua, Tammy Hailiʻōpua Baker, Kisha Borja-Kicho’cho’, Noʻu Revilla, Cara Flores, Ashlee Lena Affonso, Michael Lujan Bevacqua, Lyz Soto, Alfred Peredo Flores, Michael Puleloa, Desiree Taimanglo-Venture, Lufi A. Matā’afa Luteru, Julian Aguon, Kapulani Landgraf, Donovan Kūhiō Colleps, Jessi DeVera, and Aiko Yamashiro!