Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Pixelated Invisibility

Guam Mentions are always interesting. The random places that Guam will appear in the speech of military planners, world leaders, comedians and filmmakers is always so intriguing to me. Taking serious these mentions are sort of traces of the structure of American imperialism and colonialism was the main theoretical intervention of my dissertation. Moving away from seeing the random way that Guam gets mentioned sometimes whether it be by Bob Hope or David Letterman as actually possessing serious meaning and truth and not just being an accidental or random mention. For most the flexibility and labiality of meaning attached to Guam, the occasional invisibility that it is shouldered with or assumed is just a misrecognition, is something people say just because they don't know better or something you can just attribute to ignorance. But for me there is far more that just that. The colonial status of Guam and the ability to shift and produce meaning for it, the ability to move troops there and not have anyone notice, the ability to keep colonies and not have anyone challenge it (from within or without) means that there is a power to having places that seem to matter to no one, where your control goes uncontested. 

Militaries, empires, any entity that has interests in projecting force and dominating space always craves a dual approach to power. They are invested in pure force, moments and spaces where the rawness of power can be rooted in explosive and massive demonstrations. Bombings, war games, anything to make clear the power that one grapples with and how easily and casually it might be unleashed. But at the same time there is always a desire for sanctuary, for security, for safety, that there be places where no antagonism exists, but where one can store power safely without anyone contesting its presence or the directions it flows. While a military, an empire always professes to adore that hypervisibility and aggressive representations, we also see movements to hide, to obscure, to create nodes through which force travels and no one notices. That is in a way more valuable. To find the sites where one can militarize and no one notices or better yet, no one cares. It is one thing to hide things where no one sees them, but it is a whole different level of sovereignty to place that power before all and have no one even question it. 

Such is the value of Guam, and part of this dynamic can be seen in the article below. 

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'Pixels' director: Better to attack Guam than Pearl Harbor
Apr. 17, 2015
Written by
Kyle Daly
Pacific Daily News

Hollywood director Chris Columbus thought using Guam in an upcoming alien invasion film would be a “good solid visual alternative” to Pearl Harbor, because featuring the Hawaii location could offend veterans.

The film, “Pixels,” starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James, is set to hit theaters in July. A trailer for the movie shows alien invaders flying down Guam’s Route 1 and destroying a road sign that reads: “Andersen Air Force Base 2 Miles.”

In an email sent to Sony Pictures Entertainment executives in November 2013, Columbus stated that in the latest draft of the movie's script, Pearl Harbor had been replaced by Guam as a way not to offend veterans. The email is among a massive trove of hacked documents from the movie company recently published online by WikiLeaks, an organization known for publishing secret documents.

“Guam is obviously is not as iconic as Pearl Harbor,” Columbus wrote. “But we had offended many veterans with the choice of Pearl Harbor and I can’t make a movie that could potentially cause pain to our soldiers.”

Another email sent between Sony employees also mentions changes to a draft of the script, including scenes featuring Guam.

The email states: “The small scene in Guam no longer features the OLD MAN character being blown off of his chair as the alien ships pass by.”

The email goes on to state: “The Guam scene of the Gallaga ships attacking was adjusted in the last draft to focus more on HANDSOME SAILOR getting abducted.”

According to IMDB and the film’s trailer, the alien invaders in “Pixels” mistake 1980s video game feeds as a declaration of war.  They attack the Earth by taking on the form of video-game characters such as Donkey Kong and Pac-Man.

A longtime Hollywood filmmaker, Columbus is best known for directing movies such as “Home Alone,” “Home Alone 2,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” and the first two “Harry Potter” films.

Mensahi ginen i Gehilo' #9: Imagine Independence

It has been a while since my last message of this type. To be honest the Commission on Decolonization of which the Independence Task Force is a part hasn't been very active for the past few years. Inertia and lack of motivation seeped into the Commission from a variety of angles making it incapable of doing anything.

That period is hopefully at an end however as the Commission has shown some signs of life since the start of this year. Although the Commission has received money since 2011 for salaries, no money has been set aside for public education, which is what the Commission on Decolonization is meant to oversee. This year there is at last a $100,000 budget set specifically for conducting public education. The Independence Task Force will be meeting this month and start to make plans for the coming year. If you are interested in joining the Task Force, please email me at mlbasquiat@hotmail.com or leave a comment below.

This past week I saw an interesting piece of news out of Australia. I've pasted the release below. It is an important reminder that the road to Independence first requires being able to imagine it. It means that you have to be able to envision what it is like and would be like, even if it has yet to happen. This means finding a way to see past so many layers of injustice, so many fictions that have been placed down over your lands to give the impression that they belong to someone else, who purchased them through treaties or stole them via flags placed in sands.

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18/04/2015 - APG Chairperson held up at Brisbane international airport by customs officials for presenting Aboriginal passport

Nyaywana man and Chairperson of the APGCallum Clayton-Dixon was held up by customs officials at Brisbane international airport for at least 40 minutes yesterday evening when he insisted on presenting only his Aboriginal passport on return from a trip to Aotearoa.  They eventually allowed him to re-enter Aboriginal land without producing any other documentation.

After being told to stand aside from the queue, Clayton-Dixon was approached by an official who proceeded to ask, "Do you have an Australian passport," to which Clayton-Dixon replied, "I am an Aboriginal person returning to my country using my Aboriginal passport."  A number of customs and immigration officials attempted on multiple occasions to get him to produce other forms of identification (Australian passport, drivers licence etc).

Clayton-Dixon says it is crucial that as many of our people travelling overseas, for whatever reason, attain and use their Aboriginal passport when re-entering Aboriginal land via an Australian international airport:

"They may hassle and harass us, but they have to let us through eventually.  It's our country, and we have the right to use our own passport instead of having to use a foreign and colonial travel document.  We have the right to put 'Aboriginal' on the nationality section of the incoming passenger card instead of 'Australian'.  The United Nations states clearly that indigenous peoples have the right to determine our own political status, to be self-determining.  This is the issue we're trying to raise with the Aboriginal passport.  It's an act of Aboriginal sovereignty."

The APG has been talking with an international passport company since January this year about revamping the Aboriginal passport so that it fulfils international security requirements set down by the United Nations.  The rollout of the revamped Aboriginal passport will take place in early 2016, and the APG will then work to get official recognition from countries sympathetic to our struggle for self-determination.

Callum Clayton-Dixon (Nyaywana)CHAIRPERSON
Aboriginal Provisional Government
chair@apg.org.au



Friday, April 17, 2015

Identities Lost

It is intriguing when we see epochs of time shift and change and replace each other. These are like grand markers in time, like huge arches that delineate when everything was one way and when it all changed and became something else. On Guam we have antes di gera and despues di gera which draws a clear line of memory between what existed prior to World War II and after. World War II survivors will tell you the smells in the air, the sounds of the island were different in 1940 as they were in 1945. Most people in the United States and elsewhere in the world mark recent memory with "9/11" as if to say that things were fundamentally different before September 11th, 2001 than they were afterwards. All of this is a fiction of course, but there is still a way that communities tend to lay out the stretches of time behind them in certain blocks, to make them easier to manage, but propping up these important moments as providing the keys to understand all those temporal tectonic shifts. 

But those markers don't reflect human life, experience or time. There is nothing so neat as that in the world. Our lives overlap different times and as much as we might want to privilege one over the other, even the sense pastness is always evolving itself. Whether something is past all depends upon memory really. The realness, the presentness of something has less to do with time and more to do with how we organize that sense of time and that valuation of memory. For some on Guam the war is long over and ancient history. For others the impacts are still here. For a veteran their service in way may stay with them always, but for others it is a line in a history book.

To this day I remain sad that I didn't get to talk to more of those who straddled different epochs of Guam history. I never got to interview someone directly who lived during the Spanish period of our history, although I have collected many stories from archives and from descendants. I have interviewed hundreds of people whose lived were started before the war and lived afterwards. Seeing their discourse and following the structure, mapping the changes and the traces of times past, counterfactuals filling a haze behind their speech, the way their own divergent temporalities manifest in the sometimes contradictory voices of their own identity. But these are all people forged and broken and molded atop that the anvil of one primary watershed moment, that Japanese occupation, which changed close to everything about Guam's landscape and Chamorro consciousness. They are a group that were born from generations that lived very different lives and imagined the world in a radically different way politically. But through the course of history they became chained to a particular nation, a particular relationship to that nation, and that became the way they conceived the very flow and breath of life and possibility. That moment, what I have called the scene of liberation, is where the Chamorro as we know it today is born, wallowing in the muddy trails of Manenggon, screaming for American aid. Chamorros, with their consciousness dictated by the centrality of that moment, as an anchor for all possibilities and tendencies of meaning, see close to everything through their fidelity to that attachment.

The reason I wished I could have interviewed those older, those who say the Spanish flag being brought down and the American flag being raised, is to test whether their consciousness was different. They lived perhaps over the course of four flag changes in recent Guam History, whereas their children lived under just two, American to Japanese and back to American. How would their consciousness be different because their reality, their sense of time wasn't bookended by American flags and texts and limits. Was their sense of the Chamorro different because it didn't have that feverish desperate attachment born of war?

I am reminded of this after watching the video below of a man who was on television in 1956, talking about how when he was just a young boy, he witnessed the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Pagan and Tinian

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After months of waiting and speculating, the military has finally released their plans for Pagan and Tinian. Read the articles below to learn more. Five years ago the mood in the CNMI was one very supportive of militarization. The leadership there seemed willing to offer Pagan and Tinian and anything else on a plate to the DOD, especially in the context of resistance to military increases on Guam. It is good to see that this has changed.

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Government should focus on homestead program: Aldan
By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa 
Marianas Variety
4/15/15

Northern Islands Mayor Jerome Aldan’s message to the military is to "pack up and leave Pagan alone." Aldan was among the public officials who were in the House chamber yesterday to hear what the representatives of the Marine Corps Forces Pacific had to say during a meeting that lasted for more than three hours.

Aldan in an interview said he has not changed his position and is still opposed to the proposed use of Pagan for any military activities in the Northern Islands.

"Pagan is an island that people of Northern Marians descent should use to the full extent. There are a lot of resources there that we can tap. When you’re talking about bombs and live ammunition, that’s destruction to me. No matter how you call it…I still find it hard to believe because when you’re dropping bombs of course they will have a a significant impact once they hit the ground."

Instead of considering the military proposal, the CNMI government should help implement the homestead program for the Northern Islands.

He did not say how the financially strapped CNMI government can finance the resettlement of Pagan, which has an active volcano.

"We need the government to help us expedite the homestead program so we can go back to the Northern Islands. It’s not true that the place is uninhabited. There are still families living there and the numbers have tripled. So instead of prolonging the issue, let’s implement the homestead program. We can start it in Pagan. There’s a lot of flat land in Pagan and it’s a lot easier to maneuver there — there’s a road and there’s an existing landing area there already and all we have to do is renovate and upgrade them."

The mayor said the airport master plan was done by Efrain Camacho & Associates and it cost $500,000.

"All we need is to get the money," he added.

"We are losing a lot of lands already. There are over 4,000 pending applications for homestead lots so my take is let’s do it. Let’s start improving Pagan. We don’t need the military’s money. In fact I even asked the Marianas Visitors Authority to include Pagan to the list of the CNMI’s tourist attractions. It’s beautiful and there are a lot of attractions there."

[PIR editor’s note: Marianas Variety also reported that ‘There is a gradual loss of access to the islands. ... This was a perspective that Sen. Arnold I. Palacios, chairman of the Senate Committee on Federal Relations and Independent Agencies conveyed to the visiting Marine Corps Forces Pacific representatives yesterday in a meeting on Capital Hill. ... "We are starting to lose our islands," said Senator Palacios noting that it was not just to the U.S. military, but to other federal agencies as well. ... The islands are being federalized. ... "I am just looking at it from a different perspective. Out of the 14 islands, we have lost eight of our islands — eight to the federal government; one to nature—Anatahan."’]

Aldan said he is not against the military.

"Our CNMI leaders are also leaning toward no to bombs, no to live fire exercises at all. Even on Tinian, there are a lot of concerns…. I’m just surprised that nobody has asked yet about the possible contamination."

He is urging members of the public to get involved in the upcoming meetings.

"It’s important to participate. We want the people to come out and voice their concerns and be active and be involved because these are their islands.

"Again, I am not against the military. It’s their proposal that I’m against with. It’s not the plan that we see for our kids and the future. I just hope the Legislature and the governor will do the right thing and decide what is best for the people."

For his part, Lt. Gov. Ralph Torres is also requesting community members to participate in the hearings and public meetings regarding the draft of the Environmental Impact Statement.

Torres in a statement yesterday said: "We are in a crucial stage of the long-discussed military activities on Tinian and Pagan. In the hearings and public meetings of the coming weeks, we are provided an opportunity to participate in this important process.

"I strongly encourage the members of the public and community organizations to take the time to contribute your thoughts and comments both in writing and during the scheduled public meetings."

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CNMI Mayor: Strong Opposition To Pagan Militarization


Militarization and resettlement incompatible


A Northern Marianas mayor says most of the people in his region opposes the United States military's plans for a live fire range on Pagan island.

The military wants to lease the uninhabited island in its entirety so the Navy, Air Force, Army and Marines can practice live fire training as part of plans for a greater presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

But the mayor of the CNMI's northern Islands, which include Pagan, Jerome Aldan, says the island's original inhabitants were hoping to re-settle, but those plans will be scuttled if it is turned into a firing range.

"What do you think about live-fire and live-bombing? For me, it's destruction, contamination and basically after they're done the island is going to turn into a wasteland. I can say about 100 percent are against this, more particularly the folks from the northern islands who are waiting to make good use of the island, go back home."

Jerome Aldan says there are also plans to site a fishing community on Pagan in coming months, but this could now be halted.

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08 Dec 2014
By Richelle Agpoon-Cabang - richelle@mvariety.com - 
Marianas VarietyV

ALTHOUGH she resides on Guam, local artist Analee Camacho Villagomez is speaking up for Pagan by opposing the military’s plan to use portions of the remote, volcanic island as a training site.
In a recent interview, Villagomez said she loves being a Pacific islander and is deeply concerned about military training sites in the region.
“America has a lot of land, why would they want to take ours?” she asked.
She is concerned about the health of the community, noting that chemicals used in military training will impact the islands’ environment, its air and water.
As a nature lover and artist, Villagomez said she has visited the different islands of the Marianas.


Through the social networking site Facebook, Villagomez is asking her friends on Guam and the CNMI to support “saving” Pagan from the military.
“They want to bomb your island! Pagan…your Marianas…what about your health?” she asked.
“Bikini Island, Runit Island and Kwajalein Island in the Marshall Islands are all messed up because of U.S. military training. Kohoholawe Island in Hawaii as well…. No means No! We must keep our eyes open not just for the Marianas but for the whole world,” she said.
Villagomez said she is speaking as a concerned citizen and as an ordinary citizen.
“I am just me. I love our islands. Let us take care of what we have,” she said.

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|
Posted on Mar 31 2015
The Saipan Tribune
The 2nd Women’s Summit kicked off yesterday with Guam Legislature Speaker Judith Won Pat citing the military buildup during one of the panel discussions on what the CNMI could do to protect its culture and future.
Speaking as a panelist under the topic of “Empowering Women as Leaders,” Won Pat focused on the construction of live-fire training facilities being proposed for Tinian and Pagan, compared them to two other areas that were proposed for Guam, and how the community voiced their concerns.
“I am aware that the draft Environmental Impact Statement on the military’s plan for training on Tinian and Pagan will be released this Friday—April 3— and Guam has gone through two very major military impact statements since 2010 concerning the military buildup and learned many lessons about leadership in the process,” she said.
“Our community has been divided about the buildup. The popular perception has been that the buildup would result in economic growth and jobs, both of which our island needs. However, it will also result in unnatural population growth [that] will strain our infrastructure and increase the demand on public services,” she added.
Concerns raised about the buildup focused on its potential for negative impact on the environment and the culture of Guam. The most contentious issue, she said, is the need to find a place where the U.S Marines can conduct live-fire training among Guam’s cultural and historical sites.
Won Pat said she studied the situation from all angles and perspectives, read all necessary documents, did additional research, looked at similar situations in other places, and studied the CNMI’s history for answers.
“I wanted to understand as much as what was being planned and how it would impact us. I knew that the plan to move the Marines to Guam was intended to lessen the presence of Marines in Okinawa, so I went to Okinawa to see it,” she said.
According to Won Pat, Okinawa’s community had been protesting the Marine’s presence on their island since 1995, when three Marines kidnapped a 12-year-old girl and raped her.
“I had to ask myself if that is what I wanted for my community. I had to listen…I met with the women and they had valid concerns about the impact on children and the amount of money it would cost our government…I formed a group and became vocal about the need to put Guam first…I was heavily criticized and deemed anti-military, but as a women I would not back down,” she said.
She said the youth empowered her, enabling her to spread the word into Guam’s community and its leaders. Some 10,000 comments were made when the draft EIS came out, which she says the Navy said was unheard of.
“We share the same culture. I invite you to the path we’ve taken and ask yourself: Is this what you want for Tinian and Pagan? We have to learn from each other because no matter what political lines divide us, we are all one family. …My final point is, everything I do as a leader I do from a place of love for my family, island, ancestors, and future generations. …CNMI, you have more political power than we do in Guam because you are a Commonwealth. If you don’t want Pagan to be bombed, you can say no…make it happen,” she said.
In related news, Rep. Angel Demapan (R-Saipan), who chairs the House Committee on Federal and Foreign Affairs, said that military officials will be sitting with the committee this Thursday to discuss the military’s plans.
Demapan said the military has been holding many stakeholder meetings but never with the Legislature.
“Like what Won Pat said, if they want to be a part of the community, they have to be a partner of the community and that opens that dialogue so that they can become a good and responsible partner and benefit our community,” he said.

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Military proposes new training areas, ranges on Tinian, Pagan
Written by
Pacific Daily News
4/6/15

The military today released its proposed plans for the buildup in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, which involves the construction of a live-fire unit and combined level range and training areas on two islands in the CNMI.
According to the plan, existing live-fair and training range facilities in the Western Pacific are insufficient to support the military’s training requirements, specifically in the Mariana Islands.
A unit-level range and training area is proposed on Tinian and a combined-level range and training area is proposed on Pagan. When complete, they would be manned by 95 full-time personnel.
A combined level training area allows various units and unit types to train simultaneously, the plan states.
Each year, there would be 20 weeks of live-fire training on Tinian and 16 weeks of live-fire training on Pagan, the plan states.
The military anticipates that live-fire training on those islands could increase to as much as 45 weeks a year, but it would first require another impact statement.
On Tinian, additional property would be acquired through long-term leases, the plan states.
The military would lease all of Pagan, which is uninhabited, from the CNMI government, the plan states.
Public meetings
The military has scheduled informational open houses and public hearings later this month and early next month:
• April 29: from 5 to 8 p.m. at Saipan Southern High School, Saipan;
• April 30: from 5 to 8 p.m. at Tinian Junior Senior High School, Tinian
• May 1: from 5 to 8 p.m. at Garapan Elementary School, Saipan
A separate draft environmental impact statement for the Guam portion of the military buildup is expected to be released by the end of May.



Saturday, April 11, 2015

Red Nation Interview on Mauna Kea

Building an indigenous coalition for radical resistance to colonialism

We talk with Kanaka Maoli David Maile about indigenous coalition The Red Nation's efforts to unite different native people in radical resistance to colonialism, and how Native Hawaiians can stand in solidarity with other native peoples. 

From Will Caron in Indigenous issues in Hawaiian Sovereignty

Yesterday, indigenous rights and decolonization coalition The Red Nation issued a statement of solidarity with the Native Hawaiians currently protesting the development of the massive Thirty-Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea. This statement of solidarity is in line with The Red Nation’s goal of building unity between indigenous peoples around the world and teaching these people effective methods of radical resistance to colonial-capitalist systems of oppression.

The Red Nation was envisioned by two Ph.D. students at the University of New Mexico, Nick Estes and Melanie Yazzie, and is comprised of both indigenous and non-indigenous activists, scholars, educators and community organizers—all working toward the liberation of indigenous peoples from colonialism. The coalition seeks to center native peoples’ agendas and struggles through advocacy, mobilization and education about ways of working outside the these subversive systems (hence, radical).

To learn more about The Red Nation, native coalition building, and these radical methods of native resistance to colonialism, we talked with David Maile, a Kanaka Maoli and 2006 graduate of Kamehameha Schools , and a member of The Red Nation who is currently a Ph.D. student in American Studies at the University of New Mexico.

Hawaii Independent (HI): What sort of connections do you see between the Hawaiian sovereignty movement and the efforts by native peoples on the continent? What sorts of things can they teach one another?

David Maile (DM): The Red Nation, alongside the Hawaiian sovereignty movement and other movements for life and land, have similarities as well as differences. One of the most constructive and formidable things about what we’re doing here in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is developing alliances and radical coalitions, which are highly political, to think about how these systems of power—colonialism, empire—and to map them, not just here in the continental United States, but also in Australia and Canada, for example. All of that is very relevant to what is happening in Hawaii.
Our movement is trying to provide the necessary space for indigenous peoples from different geographic contexts to be political, to organize and to have access to the agents necessary to produce different kinds of direct action; whether that be in law, or in education, or in state government—all these kinds of direct action are really important to sovereignty movements.

What I’m noticing here in New Mexico is that sovereignty movements are not necessarily an isolated kind of movement. From the Oka Crisis in 1990 in Canada back to Wounded Knee here in the United States, these are very instructive historical examples of how we can take the problematic histories that have been produced in Hawaii and to challenge them. Because we’re really all struggling together, just in different kinds of ways. These are not fractured movements; I think sovereignty movements all over the world have the potential to ally together to forge really thick and dense communities and collectives to work at these very complicated problems—displacement from land, institutional racism, violence—that we experience daily.

HI: How would you begin to form those alliances with advocates from Hawaii and the Pacific?

DM: Right now we’re grounded here in Albuquerque, but the scope of the Red Nation is much larger than this particular place. Our coalition project is trans-national, which is one of the really amazing things about being a part of it. As someone who is not from New Mexico, who identifies as a Kanaka Maoli, an indigenous of Hawaii, but who is also attending school and is a settler of this place, my involvement speaks to the trans-national nature of the movement.

On February 5, we had a screening of the documentary Nuclear Savage, which talks about the different kinds of colonization that take place in the Pacific, in particular the Marshall Islands. Some of the fragments of the bombs that were tested there ended up in a lab here in New Mexico so, just in that film screening, we were trying to convey that kind of trans-national connectivity that relates disparate indigenous peoples together in our struggle against social injustices.

A good example would be police brutality, which has recently shaken communities both on the continent as well as in Hawaii. In early January the Red Nation was already starting to protest the police brutality happening in Albuquerque, as well as in Gallup, New Mexico, which has a horrendous history of violence against native people at the hands of white settlers and, later, the police force. The city of Gallup has institutionalized a lot of really bad legal policies that have allowed the murders and deaths of native peoples, and really has done nothing to change policies that might prevent police brutality. Our campaign against police brutality is not limited to those two cities though, or even in the continental United States, because there are instances of police brutality against native peoples happening in Hawaii, in Australia, in Canada and all over the world.

So these issues that we’re talking about here in Albuquerque are issues that effect other native communities as well. I think sovereignty activists in Hawaii and different Kanaka Maoli community organizers are doing very similar things. There is a lot of overlap, and so making the connection that we are all doing this similar work—to stop violence against native peoples, to resist colonization, to do something like abolishing Columbus Day, which we’re working on here—those are all things that provide the kind of collective solidarity that we need to combat those forces that inhibit us.

HI: Your long-term goal would be decolonization and self-determination, but that can be hard to visualize. What would be a short term goal for the Red Nation; something you’d like to see done in the next year or two with the help of other native peoples?

DM: Well one short term goal, as I just mentioned, would be to abolish Columbus Day. In Hawaii, it’s not a state holiday, and there are number of other states that have also done away with it, but Columbus Day still happens here—in New Mexico, in Albuquerque and at the University of New Mexico—and those are the three levels in which we are targeting Columbus Day for abolishment. So we’re behind on this one form of solidarity against somebody who is a mantle for the colonization of native peoples and the violence against them that ensued.

We’ve provided a lot of support and advocacy with different undergraduate groups at the University of New Mexico to pass a resolution to support the change from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Resistance and Resilience Day. That resolution actually passed through the student senate, which was a big victory for us. We’ll be expanding that to abolish Columbus Day in the city of Albuquerque—we have a city councilor who is working with us—and then to abolish Columbus Day in the state of New Mexico.

Another example of the coalition work we’re doing is through our new website, which we launched on Monday, March 30. We’re interested in opening up new chapters in other geographic locations and we’ll be using the website to further that goal. We’re also going to be having calls for submissions of different kinds of political writing.

HI: What do you think about federal recognition in the context of the recent proposals for rule making by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI)?

DM: Part of what got me really interested in The Red Nation was simple activism. As a doctoral student, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed by academic texts and scholarly books, course work and teaching. But, over the summer when the DOI was holding its hearings, it became imperative to me that I needed to do something. And I say I needed to do something in the spirit that my great, great grandfather, C.B. Maile, was one of the petitioners for the Kūʻē protests, which Noenoe K. Silva talks about in her book Aloha Betrayed. These protests are now pretty readily and popularly discussed when thinking about Native Hawaiian resistance to annexation.

When I found out about the advanced notice for proposed rule making, I had already flown back to New Mexico, so I was unable to go to the meetings on Oahu. But I went on the DOI website and found out that they were also coming to “Indian country” to talk about this initiative. So I actually went to Scottsdale, Arizona, that summer to testify against the DOI. There was a representative from the Department of Justice there who spoke on behalf of the DOI, and there were many different reps from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) that were there. My testimony was similar to the majority of overwhelming opposition to federal recognition policy, and I thought it was very interesting and very supportive to be in Scottsdale with many different native peoples from the area coming to the meeting to talk about federal recognition.

Both sides of the federal recognition debate were represented: some native people said recognition was good and that Native Hawaiians should get on board because, in the short term, it helps with particular kinds of revitalization efforts in tradition, education, health, and so on and so forth. On the other end, there were native peoples that were talking about how federal recognition is a perpetually problematic kind of concept.

Many scholars have argued that recognition involves subordination of power to an alternative group or institution and, where I stand in all this, is that recognition would be problematic for Hawaiian sovereignty and independence, for deoccupation, and for any movement that is about Ea. I am in staunch opposition to recognition, particularly given the way the United States government has structured it, as a dependent nation within a nation, which is really just a way to marginalize and subvert indigenous power. I think that’s already happened in a plethora of ways for the Hawaiian sovereignty movement.

HI: Accepting federal recognition would be tantamount to giving up your right to self-determination?

DM: Yes, and it’s very contradictory too if you’re thinking about constitutional law, in the way that Bill Chang talks about it, or international law, the way that Keanu Sai talks about it. In those kinds of legal arenas, that contradiction of federal recognition of Native Hawaiians is highlighted.

Withdrawing that opposition by which we say that there is, in fact, a contradiction in U.S. law and international law, withdrawing the fact that sovereignty was never ceded to the U.S. federal government and asserting, instead, that federal recognition is beneficial, can overwrite those contradictions and disable self-determination, Hawaiian nationalism or sovereignty. And that’s what recognition would do. There are a plethora of arguments that can be made for why federal recognition is problematic—it just shores up the legitimation of the Hawaii’s settler state and U.S. settler power.

HI: It would perpetuate that problematic history you mentioned earlier.

DM: Right. In some ways, it comes back to me thinking about my great, great grandfather who was, not only a signer of the Kūʻē Petitions, but also a signer of a memorial that was sent to William McKinley in 1897. The authors of the memorial were asking McKinley, who was still president, to respect the kinds of treaties that had been set up that provide Hawaii’s independence. So it would have been abhorrent of me to go back on those kinds of moves that Hawaiians made historically to try and preserve Hawaii’s freedom and, later, to protest against Hawaii’s statehood. Federal recognition is counter-opposed and antithetical to Hawaiian sovereignty and Hawaiian nationalism.

HI: When you talk with the other members of The Red Nation who are Native American, does the discussion ever turn to how federal recognition—becoming a federally recognized “tribe”—has impacted their peoples’ self-determination and futures?

DM: Definitely. Recognition politics—that paradigm of recognition—is something that’s very pervasive here on the continent. It’s also very pervasive in settler states like Canada and Australia, and I’ve had many conversations here surrounding the same kinds of problems that we’re talking about right now with federal recognition of Native Hawaiians, and how that comes along with these ideas of who is “deserving” of rights and who is “deserving” of citizenship and, therefore, who is not “deserving” of those same rights.

This leads us to the notion of cultural authenticity: things like blood quantum policy, or—here on the continent—enrollment and termination policy, have been terrible examples of how federal recognition is violent and incredibly harmful to indigenous peoples here on the continent. It’s something that is sutured and stitched into histories of settler colonization.

These problems are present in other places like Australia as well; historically, the Australian government was very damaging to Aboriginals. The government saw declining health and education and used that as justification to take Aboriginal kids from their families where, unfortunately, many were abused, raped and even murdered. Recognition of Aboriginal people and their subordination under those kinds of laws allows these things to happen. And very similar things happened here on the continent.

HI: Yeah, I was just thinking about the boarding school system and what it did to Native American children.

DM: Exactly. I think those kinds of histories of federal recognition by the United States are things that we, as Kanaka Maoli, look to—problematically so, sometimes. When we protest and resist the DOI proposals for rule making, it’s imperative that Hawaiians don’t say things that critique federal recognition by further marginalizing Native American tribes. Looking at the different records from the meetings, and from showing up in person, I’ve learned that there have been Kanaka Maoli activists that have actually said very damaging remarks in their opposition to federal recognition. What happens is that their opposition develops through abjection of Native American people. So the common kind of phrase is, “we’re Hawaiians, we don’t want to become a tribe.” That justification against federal recognition can be very degrading to the solidarity efforts that groups like The Red Nation are trying to foster.

Opposition to federal recognition is a very tenuous kind of expression in practice, and we need to be examining that more whole-heartedly to think about what, exactly, we’re opposing. If we’re opposing federal recognition, because of the way that it subverts Native Hawaiian self-determination and sovereignty, through the further marginalization of Native American tribes, because of the way that they’ve been federally recognized, then we’re not working to ally ourselves on a large scale against the United States’ settler colonization. It’s something we need to have more genuine conversations about, and not move to isolate ourselves as Kanaka Maoli in the larger picture of indigenous struggles for liberation and for sovereignty and self-determination and overall decolonization.

HI: Sometimes, in Hawaii, Native Hawaiian gathering rights are pitted against conservation; and the environment itself can become a tool of colonization—when native peoples are always placed near the toxic waste dump, for example, we talk about environmental racism. So bringing those two groups—indigenous activists as well as environmental activists—together seems like it should be important. In terms of coalition building, do you see a place for non-indigenous conservation groups as well?

DM: We’re heavily invested in the kinds of radical potentials that alliances and coalitions with non-indigenous peoples might hold. That being said, sometimes non-indigenous groups end up helping less than they think they are because their politics are not radicalized and they are still operating within a system that subverts the efforts of native peoples to find self-determination. So you have to make sure that an alliance with non-indigenous groups is a genuine one that does not feed back into the cycle of control over native peoples.

The reason our coalition centers on indigeneity, resistance and decolonization is because we are working toward radical kinds of indigenous politics for these movements. As a part of that, we’re really concerned with the ways in which capitalist corporations, state institutions, academic institutions, and even entities like liberal environmental groups, evoke certain discourses to say things like, “we want to mālama ʻāina,” when, in fact, some of their actions within that discourse can actually reproduce the same kinds of problems.

The Red Nation is really interested in criticizing the ways in which liberal, multi-cultural, environmental organizations are coalescing around land rights and land repatriation movements, while also being co-opted by the capitalist, colonialist system in place. I think the tension comes through the fact that the work and the discourse environmental groups produce is very liberal in subversively servicing things like capitalism or the settler-state, rather than being truly radical.
We’re much more interested in the radical kinds of organizing that admits that land was stolen from native people and that works with organizations like The Red Nation, rather than working over them. It comes back to the politics of radical coalitions and finding out what’s helpful and what’s not. Sometimes a group will think it’s helping native people in things like land repatriation while, at the same time, they are very vested in a system that perpetuates colonization and social injustice against native people.

I think its a tenuous relationship between sovereignty activists, organizations like The Red Nation with very radical politics, and liberal organizations—whether environmental or not. The centering of indigenous life and land and sovereignty should be the most important value for those liberal groups to embrace when trying to think about how to radicalize their efforts.

HI: What’s the best way to achieve change? Are there ever times when you see a need to work within that system, or can true change only take place outside, or maybe above, it?

DM: The kind of work that The Red Nation is doing does exist outside these particular structures of oppression, whether its the University of New Mexico, the city of Albuquerque or the state of New Mexico; we’re trying to take up this notion of the politics of resurgence.

A First Nation scholar by the name of Glen Coulthard, in his book Red Skin, White Masks, says that one of the ways in which native peoples can productively attain decolonization and resist things like recognition politics is to work exterior to the settler state. What that means is challenging things like environmental racism, or institutionalized racism in university systems or the Department of Education—which Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua talks about in her book The Seeds We Planted—by working outside the structure of the university or the structures that liberal environmental groups rely on.

On the other hand, I’m studying at the University of New Mexico and, even in that process of getting my degree, I’m also perpetuating that colonial academy system. We’re also working with the City Council of Albuquerque—part of the settler state—to abolish Columbus Day. I also recognize that I am not native to these lands and that, just by being here, I am an indigenous settler. So I believe that it’s important to have the same kind of radical politics The Red Nation practices outside of these structures within my own academic pursuit.

In the past three months, The Red Nation has hosted several events that have received attention from other native people in New Mexico, as well as in Seattle, Texas and Oklahoma. The Red Nation is interested in founding new chapters across the country to help build coalitions between native peoples. The Red Nation also just launched a new website, and you can find them on Twitter (@the_red_nation) or contact them via email at contact@therednation.org.

Friday, April 10, 2015

2015 Inachaigen Fino' CHamoru Winners

Inachά’igen Fino’ CHamoru 2015 Winners
Division of Humanities, CLASS
University of Guam, CHamoru Language Program
March 9 and 10, 2015

LIST OF WINNERS
Elementary Schools
K-2 Dinilitreha/Spelling
1st   Place:        Name of Student: _Michael Villeza_________
Name of School: __Wettengel____________
2nd Place:         Name of Student: _Maria Paule__________
Name of School: __Mt. Carmel__________
3rd Place:         Name of Student: _Jaydah Cruz_________
Name of School: _  Merizo Martyrs______
K – 2 Yiningnga’/Drawing
1st Place:         Name of Student: _Darien Siaotong______
Name of School: __Astumbo Elementary____
2nd Place:         Name of Student: _Jaydah Rome_____
Name of School: __Merizo Martyrs_____
3rd Place:         Name of Student: _Jaron Mansapit_______
Name of School: __Astumbo Elementary________
K – 2 Koron Famagu’on/Children’s Choir
1st Place:         Name of School: __Mt. Carmel_______
2nd Place:         Name of School: ___J. Q. San Miguel______
3rd Place:         Name of School: ___LBJ/Tamuning______
3-5 Dinilitreha/Spelling
1st Place:         Name of Student: _Brenna Sakate______
Name of School: __J. M. Guerrero________
2nd Place:         Name of Student: _Natruelle Flores______
Name of School: __Wettengel_________
3rd Place:         Name of Student: _Jacelyn Joshua______
Name of School: __J. Q. San Miguel______
3 - 5 Yiningnga’/Drawing
1st Place:         Name of Student: _Madelene Guzman______
Name of School: __Merizo Martyrs_______
2nd Place:         Name of Student: _Bas Schils__________
Name of School: __Mt. Carmel______
3rd Place:         Name of Student: _Kayla Aquiningoc_____
Name of School: __B. P. Carbullido______
3-5 Umestoriha/Story Telling
1st Place:         Name of Student: _Donte Techur______
Name of School: __Mt. Carmel_______
2nd Place:         Name of Student: _Marsha Paul_____
Name of School: __Astumbo __________
3rd Place:         Name of Student: _Georgiann Salas___
Name of School: __C. L. Taitano_________
3 - 5 Koron Famagu’on/Children’s Choir
1st Place:         Name of School: _Mt. Carmel__________
2nd Place:         Name of School: __Truman_______________
3rd Place:         Name of School: __B. P. Carbullido_______
Middle Schools
Middle School Sinangan/Oratorical
1st Place:         Name of Student: _Breanna Camacho________
Name of School: __CHacha Oceanview, Saipan____
2nd Place:         Name of Student: _Pulani Peredo_____________
Name of School: __Mt. Carmel_______
3rd Place:         Name of Student: _Terry Anne Terry_______
Name of School: __Hopwood Junior High, Saipan____
Middle School Rinisådan Po’ema/Poetry Recitation
1st Place:         Name of Student: _Genzo Gonzales________
Name of School: __CHacha Oceanview, Saipan____
2nd Place:         Name of Student: _Nathan Naputi_________
Name of School: __Mt. Carmel____________
3rd Place:         Name of Student: _Joshalyn Flores_________
Name of School: __Hopwood Junior High, Saipan___
Tinige’/Essay
1st Place:         Name of Student: _Pulani Peredo______
Name of School: __Mt. Carmel____________
2nd Place:         Name of Student: _Courtney Buendicho_______
Name of School: __Mt. Carmel___________
3rd Place:         Name of Student: _Nathan Naputi_______
Name of School: __Mt. Carmel_________
Tinaitai Koru/Choral Reading
1st Place:         Name of School: __Mt. Carmel_________
2nd Place:         Name of School: ___V. S. A. Benavente________
3rd Place:         Name of School: ___Tinian Elementary______
Lålai/CHant
1st Place:         Name of School: ___A.J. M. S._________
2nd Place:         Name of School: ___Hopwood Junior High, Saipan______
3rd Place:         Name of School: ___Oceanview ______

High Schools
Profisiente/Proficiency
1st Place:         Name of Student: __Tristen Javier________
Name of School: ___J. F. Kennedy________
2nd Place:         Name of Student: __Balbina Concepcion______
Name of School: ___Marianas High, Saipan_____
3rd Place:         Name of Student: __Kenaleen Litulomar__ ______
Name of School: ___Marianas High, Saipan_______
High School Sinangan/Oratorical
1st Place:         Name of Student: _Jordan Barcinas__________
Name of School: __Southern High_________
2nd Place:         Name of Student: _Breana Perez_______
Name of School: __Tiyan High_________
3rd Place:         Name of Student: _Tristan Javier______
Name of School: __J. F. Kennedy_______
High School Rinisådan Po’ema/Poetry Recitation
1st Place:         Name of Student: _Maria Bansil________
Name of School: __George Washington____
2nd Place:         Name of Student: _Winfa Rabago_(?)_______
Name of School: __Marianas High, Saipan____
3rd Place:         Name of Student: _Ronald Sablan_______
Name of School: __J. F. Kennedy_____
Kάkanta na Palao’an/Female Singer
1st Place:         Name of Student: _Brenisha Reyes_______
Name of School: __GWHS____________
2nd Place:         Name of Student: __Riannalyn Manabat________
Name of School: ___Marianas High_______
3rd Place:         Name of Student: __Cyrielle Lee__________
Name of School: ___J. F. Kennedy_________
Kάkanta na Låhi/Male Singer
1st Place:         Name of Student: _Jose Carreon_____________
Name of School: __Marianas High___________
2nd Place:         Name of Student: _Jonah Guerrero_______
Name of School: __J. F. Kennedy___________
3rd Place:         Name of Student: _-----------__
Name of School: __------------______
Inentetpeten Kotturan Egge’/Dramatic Cultural Interpretation
1st Place:         Name of School: __Marianas High, Saipan_______
2nd Place:         Name of School: ___-----------________________
3rd Place:         Name of School: ___-----------_________________
Kånta yan Baila/Song with Dance
1st Place:         Name of School: _Marianas High, Saipan______
2nd Place:         Name of School: __Southern High_________
3rd Place:         Name of School: __J. F. Kennedy________
Kåntan CHamorita/Chamorita Style of Singing
1st Place:         Name of School: _Marianas High, Saipan_______
2nd Place:         Name of School: __J. F. Kennedy______________
3rd Place:         Name of School: __-----------__________________



Thursday, April 09, 2015

The Lost and Not Found Chichirika

My grandmother loved i paluman natibun Guahan pat i paluman Chamorro siha. Recently while going through her numerous papers and documents I came across some stories she had written, on her own, for herself or for my children perhaps in Chamorro about Guam's native birds. She always told me stories about the birds in her youth and how sad it was to no longer hear them.

It is common nowadays to feel like there are no birds left on Guam, because most of the native bird population has died out, killed by brown tree snakes and by loss of habitat. Ti mismo magahet este na sinangan. Hunggan i meggaina na paluma siha manmatai guini giya Guahan. Yes it is true that most of the birds on Guam are gone, but certain birds are still active and audible. The only problem is that most of them are recently introduced. Some of the endemic or indigenous birds that you can still find around Guam are the chunge', the kakkak, the sali, the aga and if you head down to Dano' you can see Ko'ko' and other ocean birds. But around central Guam in flat populated areas you'll see lots of small little birds that sometimes fly into businesses, make their nests in peoples' windows and you hear chirping all over. They are called Paluman pale' or ga'ga' pale', but some people more and more have come to refer to them as "chichirika." Nina'sen bubu yu' anai hu hungok este. This really pisses me off.

The chichirika looks nothing like the paluman pale'. They don't act the same, sound the same, one is a richer cultural history here, the other just flies around. The chichirika for those not familiar with it is a bird heavily associated with taotaomo'na and supernatural jungle beliefs. The chichirika is most prominently the wingman or wingbird of the Duendes, the tricksters spirits known for snatching children who wander into the jungle alone. It is unfortunately no longer found on Guam, but can be fund in the CNMI.

It depressing on its own the demise of most of our native birds. But this is maddening to hear people refer to a recently introduced bird in this way, to basically erase the place of the chichirika. Gof bunito i chichirika, gof bunito lokkue' i hagas na saga'-na gi kuttura-ta yan estoria-ta. Ti ya-hu taimanu mafunas i paluma ni i kuentos taitiningo' pa'go. Please let's not erase the real chichirika from our memory by confusing it with an entirely different bird.

I was inspired to write about this after seeing the post below from the blog Contemporary Chamorro Connections:


^ ^ Chichirika ^ ^
Chichirika (Rufous Fantail): The Rufous Fantail, or "Chichirika" as it is known in Chamorro, used to be found all over Guam.  However, they became extinct in the mid 1980's due to the predation by the introduced brown tree snake and possible Chemical Droppings of Malathion and DDT by the US military. 

This bird got its common name from its red-brown feathers and the habit of spreading its tail like a fan.  < Subspecies Endemic to Guam > EXTINCT

___________________________________________________________________________

v v Not Chichirika v v

Eurasian Tree-Sparrow (Passer Montanus): This bird was introduced to Guam after world War II and is one of the most common birds remaining on our island today.  The Tree-Sparrow is mostly brown with a black chin and ear patches.  Some people have confused the tree-sparrow with the Rufous Fantail (Chichirika) a native forest bird that is now extinct.  The tree-sparrow is even mistakenly called the "Chichirika" which was the Rufous Fatail's Chamorro name.        < Introduced Species >

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