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December 2, 2015 @ 12:18 pm

Ep. 94 “Native Narratives: Chamoru Women Reflect on Thanksgiving”

Ep. 94 “Native Narratives: Chamoru Women Reflect on Thanksgiving” (hosted by Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero and produced by Lydia Taleu) first aired 11/25/11 and will be re-broadcast  11/27/15 (with assistance from Dance Aoki and Alan Grossman) 

Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving on Guam, an island that is oceans away from Plymouth Rock? Why do our native Chamorus, who share many of the same struggles that Native Americans face, honor this holiday? As an unincorporated U.S. Territory, the people of Guam have adopted this American holiday and have blended it into the local culture, making for a very interesting Thanksgiving table and narrative.

This episode features an in-depth discussion among three Chamorro women educators/writers about Thanksgiving. The discussion is inspired by the theme of an anthology of contemporary native women’s writings called Reinventing the Enemy’s Language edited by Joy Harjo and Gloria Bird. As described in the book’s introduction, “Reinventing the Enemy’s Language was conceived during a lively discussion of native women meeting around the kitchen table. Many revolutions, ideas, songs, and stories have been born around the table of our talk made from grief, joy, sorrow, and happiness. We learn the world and test it through interaction and dialogue with each other, beginning as we actively listen through the membrane of the womb wall to the drama of our families’ lives.” This episode aims to emulate such a discussion.

Sitting around the Beyond the Fence table are program host Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero, a University of Guam writing instructor who has focused much of her creative and academic work on the struggles and triumphs of the Chamoru people; Desiree Taimanglo Ventura, who also teaches college writing, has studied rhetoric and narratives about women, and is the author of the blog The Drowning Mermaid; and Kisha Borja Quichocho, a writing teacher at both George Washington High School and the University of Guam, poet and Pacific Islands scholar.

In the first half, we discuss how we approach Thanksgiving in our classrooms. We share our students’ reflections on this holiday and discuss the many ways in which the history and struggles of Native Americans mirror the history and struggles of  Chamoru people.  We also address the irony of celebrating a holiday like Thanksgiving on Guam.

In the second half, the discussion shifts to an exploration into the role of native women in preserving culture and keeping native communities alive.  Program guests share their thoughts and poetry about native Chamoru and Micronesian women.

Music selections: This episode features music by native peoples from America and the Philippines.  It opens with a recording of Native youth participating in the Fifth Annual American Indian Market and Powwow in San Francisco’s Mission District. The song “Ome” by Ras K’dee, a Native American hip-hop artist, is featured in the middle of the program. The episode concludes with the song “Champion” by the Filipino hip-hop group Native Guns.

Also found in the middle of the program are three songs selected by University of Guam students who were asked to choose songs that reminded them of Thanksgiving.  These songs are “Heaven” by Brett Dennen, “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Deff Leppard, and “Hand in My Pocket” by Alanis Morissette. 

Please forward this announcement to your respective networks and encourage listeners to submit their comments on line.  Suggestions for future topics and guests or requests to be removed or added to this list may be sent to btf.kprg@gmail.com or call 671-734-8930. 

Thank you for listening to and supporting public radio for the Marianas --- and for promoting Beyond the Fence, locally and abroad. 

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