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April 28, 2014 @ 4:34 pm

Ep. 182, “Decolonizing the Marianas”

(hosted by Dr. Vivian Dames with production assistance of Marlon Molinos) was recorded 4/3/14 and airs 4/25/14.  


On April 3-4, 2014 the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) in coordination with Payu-ta, Inc. (a regional umbrella organization of non-governmental organizations) co-hosted a Community Discussion and Island Tour and Regional Conference. Participants included officials from across a dozen federal agencies, leaders from national organizations and foundations, and local leaders.  This is the first time that WHIAAPI has convened a regional conference outside the continental United States affording an unprecedented opportunity for dialogue on island regarding U.S. federal-territorial issues. The regional summit built off momentum from the Micronesian Non Profit Congress, which convened from March 31 to April 2 with representatives focused on addressing environmental and social injustices.

The island tour for federal officials included meetings in various locations to discuss issues such as social services, homelessness and veterans, health disparities, workforce development and economic development, and self-determination and migration.  This episode provides coverage of the April 3 session on “Decolonizing the Marianas” held at the University of Guam featuring presentations by the Honorable Robert A. Underwood and the Honorable Felicidad T. Ogumoro. 

Dr.  Underwood, a Democrat, served five terms as Guam’s Congressional Delegate and is now President of the University of Guam. He discusses decolonization through the lens of his experience as an advocate of Chamorro self-determination (with reference to his role as co-organizer of the OPIR (Organization of People for Indigenous Rights), as an educator and historian, and as a member of Congress.   

Representative Ogumoro, a Republican, is a sitting member of the Northern Marianas Commonwealth Legislature. She provides an overview of CNMI political history and the intent of Bill 18-112, which she authored, creating a Second Marianas Political Status Commission that would examine whether the CNMI people still desire “continuing in a political union” with the United States under the Covenant.  This bill was sent to Governor Eloy S. Inos for action April 1 just days after the CNMI marked the 38th year since it became part of America.  Action on this bill is still pending.    

A brief question and answer segment, moderated by Dr. Lisa Linda Natividad, follows these two presentations.  This includes comment from Mr. Edward Alvarez, executive director of the Guam Commission on Decolonization.  These presentations and discussion were edited to fit the format of this program.  The podcast for this episode will include an introduction of the topic by Dr. Lisa Linda Natividad which is not included in today’s broadcast. 

Our poetry selection is an original piece written and performed by Arielle Taitano Lowe, a Chamaole writer, born and raised on Guam.  She is currently a student at the University of Guam majoring in Chamoru Studies and English Literature, with a minor in Sociology.  Her spoken word poem “Trongkon Nunu” was written for the annual competition of the Sinangan-ta Youth Movement (Guam’s Official Spoken Word Arts Organization), and placed Arielle as the 3rd top youth poet on the island.  The poem speaks to her love of the Chamorro language and desire to use her voice in the movement for decolonization

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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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