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September 25, 2013 @ 12:58 pm

Ep. 163 “Political Futures for the Marianas”

(hosted by Dr. Vivian Dames with production assistance of Joy White) was recorded in Guam 8/31/13 and airs 9/13/13.  

This episode features two lectures which examine the past and envision political futures for the Marianas presented at the 2nd Annual Marianas History Conference held August 30-31 at the University of Guam. This conference was hosted by the University of Guam, Guam Preservation Trust, Guampedia and the Northern Marianas Humanities Council and featured 51 papers and poster organized on the theme,  “One Archipelago, Many  Stories;  Integrating Our Narratives”.  


In the first half, we present the lecture by Senator Vicente "Ben” Cabrera Pangelinan (senben@guam.net) entitled“Galvanizing Past and Present Threats to Chamorro Homelands”.  


Enacted in 1975, the Chamorro Land Trust Act was a law envisioning homelands for Chamorros. Yet this concept lay dormant nearly twenty years before the government of Guam was forced to implement it, over objections by the Governor and Attorney General at the time. Why was opposition to the law drawn out, and how was this eventually overcome? This lecture outlines the work and sacrifice of those few who educated the entire community on the notion of native land rights, fought the government’s obstinate refusal to implement the law, and who ultimately achieved homelands for Chamorros in perpetuity. Today, we witness the first generation of Chamorros, previously disenfranchised from land ownership in Guam, to have homes and sustain their families through use of the land granted by leases under the Chamorro Land Trust. We witness, as well, the threats and strategies to protect this hard fought program for future generations.

“Senator ben” was born in Saipan and grew up in Guam. He pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Government at Georgetown University, Washington, DC. Senator Ben has always been dedicated to government service, as Staff Assistant to Congressman Antonio B. Won Pat in Washington, DC, and to the late Governor Ricardo J. Bordallo.  Senator Ben’s tenure with the Guam Legislature began in the 22nd term, continued through the 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th (Speaker), 29th, 30th, 31st, and now 32nd Guam Legislature. Senator Ben oversees the Committee on Appropriations, Public Debt, Legal Affairs, Retirement, Public Parks, Recreation, Historic Preservation and Land.

In the second half, we present the lecture of Don Farrell (donfarrelltinian@gmail.com) entitled “Marianas Reunification Efforts”. 

In 1947, President Truman placed the former Japanese Mandated Islands of Micronesia into the United Nations trusteeship system. This guaranteed the people of those islands the right to self-determination.  Differently, Guam’s political status was defined in 1950 when the U.S. Congress adopted the Organic Act of Guam, making it an unincorporated territory of the United States. These two developments began a series of dialogues on reunification between elected officials from Guam and the Marianas District of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. These dialogues culminated in 1969 in a joint plebiscite on reunification.  The negative vote cast on Guam ended dialogues on reunification and drove the Northern Marianas toward an independent act of self-determination while Guam has not completed an act of self-determination.  Farrell discusses efforts that were made toward the political reunification of the Mariana Islands, the reasons they failed, and the possibility of future reunification efforts.

Don A. Farrell came to Guam from California in 1977 and taught at Inarajan Jr. High and John F. Kennedy High School before switching careers in 1980 to become a public relations officer for the Guam Legislature. He was chief of staff to the Speaker of the Guam Legislature, Carl Gutierrez, from 1982 to 1986.  He moved to Tinian in 1987 where he continues to do historical research, write, and teach. Among his numerous publications are,Liberation 1944: The Pictorial History of Guam (1984); The Americanization of Guam: 1898-1919 (1986); and The History of the Northern Mariana Islands (1991).

These two lectures have been edited to fit the time format of this program. 

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