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March 31, 2016 @ 4:48 pm

Ep. 238 “Lukao Fuha: Chamorro Ancient Ritual, Spirituality and Self-Determination”

Ep. 238 “Lukao Fuha:  Chamorro Ancient Ritual, Spirituality and Self-Determination” (hosted by Moñeka De Oro and produced by Tom Maxedon with assistance from Alan Grossman) airs 3/18/16. 

For the past three years, the grassroots group Our Islands are Sacred has organized an annual pilgrimage and ceremony in the village of Umatac to celebrate the ancient culture,  traditions, and resilience of the Chamorro people despite waves of colonization since the 16th century. 

In celebration of Guam History and Chamorro Heritage Day (March 7), this episode features interviews with three Chamorro educators who are co-organizers of this year’s Lukao Fuha (or Fuha pilgrimage) on February 13 to the large rock pillar in Fouha Bay, believed to be the cradle of creation for the people of the Mariana Islands and, in some accounts, for all of humankind.   

Joseph ‘Joey’ Certeza, Eva Aguon Cruz,  and Shannon Siguenza discuss the significance of the Chamorro creation story of Puntan yan Fu’una and this cultural re-enactment ceremony in relation to Chamorro spirituality, ‘reclaiming the sacred’, and self-determination.  This episode begins with the chant Fanlalai'an's "I Tinituthon" and concludes with Jocelyn Toves' call to action with her song “Kottura-ta.”

  

Guest host Moñeka De Oro is a co-organizer with Our Islands are Sacred and a M.A. candidate in the Micronesian Studies Program at the University of Guam.  Her academic and community work focuses on the traditional healing arts, cultural preservation and environmental protection of the Marianas Islands. 

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March 24, 2016 @ 9:00 am

Ep. 235 “Record of Decision - Not Guam’s Decision”

Ep. 235 “Record of Decision - Not Guam’s Decision” (hosted by Dr. Vivian Dames and produced by Dance Aoki with assistance from Alan Grossman) aired 2/19/16.     

This episode provides partial coverage of the October 20, 2015 meeting with the Governor of Guam sought by several local groups concerned with the impacts of the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Guam military buildup signed by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy in late August 2015.  This meeting was formally requested in a September 11 letter submitted by Our Islands are Sacred. Supporting letters were later submitted by I Nasion Chamoru and Fuetsan Famalao’an.  The Taotaomona Native Rights group, Ritidian Families Association, and the Guam Fishermen’s Co-op were also represented at this meeting.  

The signing of the ROD is the final part of the required NEPA process that the Department of Defense (DOD) had to complete to begin construction on things like the main cantonment, housing and live fire training range areas for the U.S. marines to be relocated to Guam from Okinawa. The ROD for the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) officially selects the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station, Finegayan (in the densely populated village of Dededo) as the site for the main cantonment, Andersen Air Force Base (AAFB) as the site for family housing, and AAFB Northwest Field as the site for the live fire training range complex. Andersen South is selected as the site for a stand-alone hand grenade range. Considered ‘excess’ by the Air Force, Congress approved the transfer of most of this abandoned housing complex to the Marine Corps in 2002.  Located in the central village of Mangilao, it now serves as the Marines Corps' largest urban combat training facility.

In their September 11 letter to Governor Eddie Calvo, Our Islands Are Sacred highlighted an array of concerns, many of which are cited in the FSEIS and the ROD.  They emphasized that the ROD is a Department of Defense decision —-not Guam’s decision — and appealed to the Governor to become more critical of the buildup.  They requested that local experts and responsible Government of Guam agencies provide accessible information to the public about their assessment of anticipated impacts, alternatives and mitigation measures.  They also proposed specific actions the Governor could take to demonstrate that he is a maga’lahi, a chosen leader who will truly “protect and defend our island and our way of life.”  This, they urge, must include working in solidarity with regional leaders, especially the new Governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands and the Governor of Okinawa, Japan. 

The October 20 meeting opened with a chant “Tumotoghe I Lahi” performed by Moñeka de Oro (written and composed by Leonard Z. Iriarte) and a presentation of gifts from the Marianas by Anne Lizama. This was followed by the statement of Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero (representing Our Islands are Sacred) and Catherine Flores McCollum (Maga Ha’ga’ I Nasion Chamoru). 

In the second half, we present Governor Calvo’s response at this meeting.  Although he assured those present that he would assign staff to address their concerns, four months have passed with no response. Attempts by Beyond the Fence to obtain a status report from his office were unsuccessful. Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero, Catherine Flores McCollum and Shannon Siguenza, a University of Guam graduate student, provide recent comment on the October 20 meeting and the Governor’s inaction to date.    

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March 10, 2016 @ 3:31 pm

Ep. 236 “U.S. Nuclear Weapons Testing Legacy Continues to Reverberate in the Marshall Islands”

Ep. 236 “U.S. Nuclear Weapons Testing Legacy Continues to Reverberate in the Marshall Islands” (hosted by Giff Johnson and produced by Tom Maxedon with assistance from Alan Grossman) was recorded by Jack Neidenthal in Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands, on 2/18/16 and aired 3/4/16.       

In recognition of Nuclear Survivors Remembrance Day (March 1) in the Marshall Islands, this episode features Bikini Islander Lani Kramer and Ailuk Islander Rosania Bennettexplaining how the traumatic events sixty-to-seventy years ago continue to impact daily life for many Marshall Islanders today.

Rosania and Lani are founding members, and President and Treasurer, respectively, of a new organization Radiation Exposure Awareness Crusaders of Humanity — Marshall Islands (REACH-MI) [emailinfo@reach-mi.org / ].  The group was formed in late 2015 to both raise awareness locally of the history and legacy of the 67 U.S. nuclear weapons tests conducted at Bikini and Enewetak atolls from 1946 to 1958 and to reach out to the American people to help promote Marshall Islanders’ claims for justice with the U.S. Congress.

A total of 167 Bikini Islanders were relocated 70 years ago in March to make way for the first post-World War II nuclear weapons tests. The March 1 national holiday in the Marshall Islands is the 62nd anniversary of the 1954 Bravo hydrogen bomb test at Bikini, the largest H-bomb at 15 megatons ever tested by the U.S.  It spewed radioactive contamination across many inhabited islands in the Marshall Islands.

Today, Bikinis and Rongelap Islanders still cannot live safely on their home atolls and while Enewetak Islanders moved back to the southern islands in their atoll in 1980, the northern half of Enewetak is still not safe for habitation and use. The U.S. government only acknowledges four atolls as being nuclear test-affected, despite the fact that declassified U.S. government reports show many more inhabited islands in the region were exposed to fallout not only from Bravo but other hydrogen bombs tested at Bikini. Only the four atolls recognized by the U.S. as nuclear test affected — Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap and Utrik — receive medical care and compensation. 

The ongoing exile of islanders from their home atolls remains problematic for many islanders, as does the lack of medical care and compensation for people from outside of the “four atolls.” These issues are covered in detail in this interview with Rosania and Lani.

This U.S. nuclear legacy and claims for reparative justice continue in Guam as well. Since 2005, the Guam Legislature has passed six resolutions for the U.S. Congress to amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990 (RECA) to include Guam as 'downwinders' and to improve and increase compensation for those affected by ionizing radiation caused by nuclear testing in Nevada and the Marshall Islands.  

Guest host Giff Johnson edits the weekly Marshall Islands Journal in Majuro and is a regular contributor to several regional news media. He is a writer, journalist and author of Don’t Ever Whisper - Darlene Keju, Pacific Health Pioneer, Champion for Nuclear Survivors (2013), a biography about his late wife. His other books include Collision on Course at Kwajalein:  Marshall Islanders in the Shadow of the Bomb (1984), Nuclear Past, Unclear Future (2009) and Idyllic No More: Pacific Island Climate, Corruption and Development Dilemmas.

This interview was recorded by Jack Neidenthal, Trust Liaison for the People of Bikini Atoll, filmmaker, and founder of Microwave Films for the Marshall Islands. 

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