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May 26, 2016 @ 5:45 pm

Ep. 244 “Our Pasts Before Us: Militarization in the Marianas”

Ep. 244  “Our Pasts Before Us: Militarization in the Marianas” hosted by Dr. Lisa Linda Natividad and produced by Tom Maxedon with assistance from Alan Grossman) was recorded 5/20/16 and airs 5/27/16. 

 

This episode features three Chamorro scholars who discuss “Militarization in the Marianas”, a panel presentation at the 22nd Pacific History Conference held May 19-21 at the Hyatt Hotel in Tumon, Guam. This year’s conference theme “Mo’na:  Our Pasts Before Us” calls for an examination of the past to learn how this has shaped the present and may etch the future. This biennial conference brought together about 275 participants representing 21 countries and Guam [for more conference details, go to: www.uog.edu/phaconference/sessions-and-abstracts]

In the first presentation, “Sindålu Stories;  The Role of US Military Service in Shaping Contemporary Chamorro Identity” Michael Lujan Bevacqua (Ph.D. University of California, San Diego) discusses how the US military presence on Guam has provided a means through which Chamorros have developed a closer, patriotic attachment to their colonizer, but also through various policies helped foment Chamorro desire for  decolonization and greater political autonomy. Dr. Bevacqua is the coordinator of the Chamorro Studies Program at the University of Guam where he teaches the Chamorro language and the History of Guam [for coverage of Dr. Bevacqua’s ‘walking tour’ of the Guam Humanities Council Sindålu exhibit, download Ep. 194 (7/18/14), “Sindålu: Chamorro Journeys in the U.S . Military”]. 

 

When the U.S. Department of Navy announced in 2009 that the ancient village of Pågat was its preferred alternative in Guam for a Live Fire Training Range Complex, diverse groups came together in unprecedented ways to protect this sacred site.  In the second presentation, “Pågat: How a Community United to Save an Ancient Village”, Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero (MFA, Mills College) discusses the community efforts that went into saving Pågat and what this critical moment in Guam’s history reveals about resistance to  the military buildup.  At the time of this Save Pågat Protest in 2010 (video available on Youtube) referenced in her talk,  Ms. Leon Guerrero was a co-organizer with We Are Guahan.  She is currently the Managing Editor for the University of Guam Press [for related episodes, download Ep. 20 (6/4/10) “Pågat Under Fire:  Resistance through Historic Preservation”, Ep. 48 (12/31/10) ,"The Lawsuit to Save Pågat Village --- And More”, Ep. 160 (8/23/13) “The Marianas Under Siege: Farallon de Medinilla, Pågat, Tinian and Pagan”, Ep. 181 (4/18/14) “Theatre on Sacred Ground”, Ep. 184 (5/9/14), “From Pågat to Ritidian:  The Live-Fire Training Range Complex (LFTRC) Controversy Continues”].   

Tiara R. Naputi (Ph.D. University of Texas-Austin) is a member of the Chamoru   diaspora whose interdisciplinary work focuses on indigenous studies, rhetoric and cultural studies. In her presentation, “Forward from the Marianas: Navigating with Our Ancestors through Waves of Militarization”, she “launches from the Marianas to navigate ancestral and decolonial strategies that challenge colonization and militarization throughout Oceania … to destabilize historical and contemporary U.S. national narratives and colonial forms of representation about the Pacific.”  Formerly a member of the faculty in Diversity and Community Studies at Western Kentucky University,  Dr. Naputi is assuming a new position as an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado-Boulder [for related discussions, download Ep. 95 (12/2/11)   “We Are the Many - Across the Pacific Blue Continent, Part I” and Ep. 97 (12/17/11) “We Are the Many - Across the Pacific Blue Continent, Part II”].

Music selection:  Oceanic Realm by Brandon Fletcher .  

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May 24, 2016 @ 10:02 pm

Ep. 243 “Guahan, Vieques (Puerto Rico), and Hawai’i: Island Relationalities and Feminist Demilitarization Movements”

Ep. 243  “Guahan, Vieques (Puerto Rico), and Hawai’i: Island Relationalities and Feminist Demilitarization Movements”(hosted by Dr. Lisa Linda Natividad and produced by Tom Maxedon with assistance from Alan Grossman and Robert Wang) was recorded 5/16/16 and airs 5/20/16. 

 

Program guest is Ms. Rebekah Garrison, a PhD candidate in American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California (USC). Her dissertation research in progress is  a comparative examination of how female Indigenous activists on Guahan, Vieques (Puerto Rico) and Hawaiʻi, link the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea through demilitarization, as the core of their social movements.  

Vieques is an island in Puerto Rico that the U.S. Department of Defense used as a site for bomb testing and training between 1941 and 2003.  Kaho’olawe in the Hawaiian Island chain was also used for similar purposes from 1941 thru 1990, which ended as a result of actions and litigation brought by the Protect Kaho’olawe‘ Ohana (PKO). Through a decolonial framework, Rebekah examines community mobilizations that resulted in the expulsion of the US military and its allies from Kahoʻolawe, Hawaii in 1990 and Vieques, Puerto Rico in 2003.  She is on Guahan for extended fieldwork to explore demilitarization tactics within the contemporary Mariana Islands.

Using a combination of archival research, interviews, and participant observation, she attempts to write a history of “island relationality”, wherein she uses an alternative approach to the singular study of islands and instead, demilitarizes colonial cartographies for comparative analysis.  Rebekah focuses on the International Women’s Network Against Militarism (IWNAM), and examines how members of this organization construct their own decolonial theorizations of geography.  By creating a network of relations, participants redefine the parameters of thinking through islands as comparative units.  In her research, she articulates how the histories of Kahoʻolawe and Vieques circulate within Guahan and cognitively map decolonial forms of island relational experiences between Pacific and Caribbean islands.  The IWNAM provides a new discourse regarding the ways in which female indigenous activists across multiple islands mobilize solidarity, disrupting histories of colonialism while also imagining a future free of US military imposition.

Music selection: Canción para Vieques (Song for Vieques) performed by various artists.  

Dr. Lisa Linda Natividad is an associate professor of social work at the University of Guam. She is also the organizer and chair of the Guahan Coalition of Peace and Justice, a member organization of  IWNAM.  She is serving as interim coordinator for Beyond the Fence.     

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May 24, 2016 @ 9:49 pm

Ep. 242 “Motherhood and Activism through Publication”

Ep. 242 “Motherhood and Activism through Publication” (hosted by Desiree Taimanglo Ventura and produced by Tom Maxedon with assistance from Alan Grossman) was recorded 4/29/16 and airs 5/6/16. 

In celebration of Mother’s Day (May 8) , this episode features conversations with three creative Chamoru mothers who seek to preserve their indigenous language and culture through education, community action, and publication. They discuss the challenges of balancing motherhood and activism, their efforts in the classroom to promote awareness of local issues, and the inspiration behind their creative and published works.  

Our first guest is Moñeka De Oro, mother of 7 year old Ma’ase and a Master’s student in the Micronesian Studies Program at the University of Guam (UOG). Her academic and community work focuses on the traditional healing arts, cultural preservation and environmental protection of the Marianas Islands.  She is an educator who has been involved with Our Islands Are Sacred, the Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice,  and We are Guahan. She is also an occasional guest host for Beyond the Fence.  

She authored Amot Famalao’an: Traditional Healing and Holistic Living for Women of the Marianas in March 2014, a publication made possible with a grant from the Guam Preservation Trust. She talks about the creation of this unique work, as well as the 2011 publication of  her poem Para I Lahi-hu (For My Son) in UOG’s Storyboard 11: Navigating Our Future

This is followed by a conversation with sisters-in-law, Dana Bollinger and Simone Eugenia Perez Bollinger, both language teachers who co-authored a new Chamoru children’s book, Ma Guaiya Yu’ si Nåna yan si Tåta (Grandma and Grandpa Love Me) published by Taiguini Books, a division of the University of Guam Press.  This book is  beautifully illustrated by Cielo de los Reyes, artist, educator and mother of three. 

  

Dana has been teaching Spanish at John F. Kennedy High School for over ten years and has two children, Amaya and Andrew.  Simone is an English instructor at the Guam Community College who has published numerous creative works dealing with local issues, cultural identity and teaching. She is a member of the Festival of Pacific Arts Literary Arts Committee and will be representing Guam as a delegate. She received the 2015 MagPro Award for Excellence in Higher Education and was listed in the AGA Who’s Who in the Government of Guam, 40 and Under. She has also been working to develop post-secondary Chamoru language curriculum for institutions of higher education in Hawaii, Guam, and the CNMI through an ANA grant. She has a two year old daughter, Ena Ramone. 

Music selection:  “Nanan Mami” by J.D. Crutch 

Guest host, Desiree Taimanglo Ventura, recorded the conversation with Dana and Simone in her Yigo home, where she and her guests could comfortably include their young children. Desiree is currently on leave from the Guam Community College. where she teaches English, to care for her son, Vincent, and new born daughter, Lilia Grace.

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May 24, 2016 @ 9:37 pm

Ep. 241 “Environmental Leadership and Island Sustainability in Micronesia”

Ep. 241 “Environmental Leadership and Island Sustainability in Micronesia” (hosted by Dr.  Vivian Dames and produced by Tom Maxedon  with assistance from Alan Grossman) airs 4/22/16. 

In recognition of Earth Day (April 22), this episode features three leaders in Micronesia who are widely recognized for their commitment to protection of the environment which is essential to the sustainability of our islands and of the cultural identities of our diverse indigenous peoples.   

Program guest in the first half of this episode is Tommy Remengesau Jr., President of the Republic of Palau, who was interviewed March 4 while in Guam to present the keynote address at the 6th Micronesian Non-Profit Congress hosted by Payu’ta, Inc. (“Our Umbrella”, in Chamorro).  

Remengesau is the eighth president of the Republic of Palau and the first Palauan to be elected president three times. He is running for re-election in November 2016.  In 2007, Time magazine named him one of the heroes of the environment for initiatives such as the Micronesian Challenge. In 2014, the United Nations Environmental Programme, awarded him with its top accolade -- The Champion of the Earth award for his leadership in strengthening Palau’s economic resilience through national initiatives to protect its biodiversity.  Also in 2014, the environmental organization, Rare, presented Remengesau with its first Inspiring Conservation Award. President Remengesau is now spearheading an historic effort to establish a marine sanctuary covering 80% of Palau’s territorial waters, providing even greater protection for Palau’s environment while further enhancing Palau’s tourism revenues. 

This first segment concludes with the audio track of a video entitled “Modern Day Uab” (GEF /Pacific IWRM Project/Roll’em Productions, Palau/Secretariat of the Pacific Community) which is about a Palauan legend that mirrors what is happening today globally and in the Pacific Island region and the steps that Palau is taking to conserve natural resources for future generations. 

In the second half we feature the welcome address of Dr. Robert Underwood followed by the keynote speech of Tony deBrum at the seventh regional conference on island sustainability co-hosted by the University of Guam (UOG) and the University of Alaska- Fairbanks that was held April 11-15 on Guam.  

Dr. Underwood, UOG President and former Guam Delegate, established the Center for Island Sustainability (CIS) in 2009 which is becoming a focal institute for adapting and modeling sustainable technologies that meet the needs of island communities.  Dr. Underwood also seeks to promote change by “leading change” through an array of Go Green initiatives on the UOG campus.  

Tony de Brum  has dedicated a lifetime of public service in pursuit of an independent, secure and sustainable Marshall Islands and has courageously advanced his people’s vision of a world free of nuclear weapons.  As the former Foreign Minister, he and his legal team took the unprecedented step of filing lawsuits against all nine nuclear weapons states in the International Court of Justice in 2014, seeking to hold them to account for their failure to abide by the provisions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and customary international law.  For this work, they have been nominated for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. Also, as architect of the Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership, adopted in September 2013, de Brum has also been instrumental in securing the commitment of Pacific Island States to adopt concrete measures to combat climate change.

This episode concludes with the poem “Tell Them” composed and performed by Marshall Islander Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner at the opening ceremony of the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City in 2014 and at the Paris Climate Change Summit in 2015. 

[For related episodes, see Ep. 203 (10/10/14) “Marshallese Poet Speaks To World Leaders at U.N. Climate Summit” and Ep. 233 (1/5/16)  “From the Front Line on Climate Change - Micronesia”.]  

Special thanks to Jonas Macapinlac and Michelle Conerly, UOG Office of Integrated Marketing and Communication, for providing these selected audio recordings from the 2016 Island Sustainability Conference .    

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April 17, 2016 @ 9:42 am

Ep. 179 “I Taotao Sumay (People of Sumay): Forced Exiles and Resistance Identities” Rebroadcast

Ep. 179 “I Taotao Sumay (People of Sumay): Forced Exiles and Resistance Identities” (hosted by Dr.  Vivian Dames and produced Joy White) first aired 4/6/14 and re-broadcast 4/15/16 (with assistance of Alan Grossman and Robert Wang). 

Program guest is James Perez Viernes, historian and educator from the village of Santa Rita and i Taotao Sumay (people of Sumay) descendant. His 2008 master’s thesis “Fanhasso i Taotao Summery: Displacement, Dispossession, and Survival in Guam” examines the displacement of the people of Sumay village by the U.S. Navy and the pervasive “Taotao Sumay” identity as manifested in the post-World War II development of Santa Rita village.  

James earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature at the University of Guam and worked for several years in the island’s government and private sectors before going to the University of Hawai’i- Manoa to complete a Master of Arts degree in Pacific Islands Studies. This thesis garnered the Norman Meller Research Award for best MA research paper in the social sciences and humanities that focused on the Pacific Islands. This research has been published in partnership with the Guam Preservation Trust as “Sumay: Rikuetdo para i Famagu’on-ta (A Legacy for Our Children). 

At the time of this 2014 interview,  James was a doctoral candidate in the University of Hawaii’s Department of History and an adjunct faculty of the University of Guam. Dr. Viernes is now an assistant professor of Chamorro Studies and History at the University of Guam and a member of the Board of Directors of the Guam Preservation Trust. His doctoral research examines the intersections of Chamorro masculinities and American military colonialism during the first Naval era on Guam (1898-1941).

The village of Sumay in southern Guam, once known as the “Pearl of the Pacific”, was occupied by Japanese forces during World War II and destroyed by U.S. Forces  bombardment in the retaking of the island in 1944.  The people of this village were relocated to a temporary refugee camp adjacent to Sumay which they went on to develop into the present-day village of Santa Rita.  According to Perez, the people of Sumay became “forced exiles” and the only group of Chamorros explicitly and permanently forbidden to return to their home village after the war. This area, once a picturesque and thriving coastal village, is now enclosed by U.S. Naval Base Guam, a Navy-controlled installation that was combined in 2009 with Anderson Air Force Base, in northern Guam,  to form Joint Region Marianas.   

In the past,  i Taotao Sumay and their descendants were allowed to visit the Sumay cemetery on All Souls Day.  However, such access depends on the base commander and became more restricted after 9-11.  In 2009, U.S. Naval Base Guam, in cooperation with the Santa Rita mayor’s office, began to sponsor an annual Back to Sumay Day when those outside the fence are allowed to visit and to celebrate Mass at the barren site of the former Catholic Church and what remains of the Sumay cemetery.  The seventh annual Back to Sumay event was held April 9th. 

Music selection is the song “Kantan Sumay (Song for Sumay)”, lyrics by Dolores Lizama and performed by Helen Claveria de Guzman from the album Ai Haga-hu, Haga-hu (Korason Productions, 1993) which tells the story of the eviction of the Sumay people and their resettlement in Santa Rita. 

This episode concludes with a reading by James Viernes of his 2001 poem “Beloved Sumay” which has since been published.  It is now a reading component  in the History of Guam and English composition courses at the University of Guam. 

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April 6, 2016 @ 11:49 am

Ep. 240 “WWAD (What Would Anghet Do?): Lessons from the Writings and Activism of Angel Santos”

Ep. 240 “WWAD (What Would Anghet Do?): Lessons from the Writings and Activism of Angel Santos” (hosted by Dr. Vivian Dames and produced by Tom Maxedon with assistance from Alan Grossman) airs 4/1/16.  

On March 30, 2015, the Latte Stone Park in Hagåtña was officially renamed the Angel Leon Guerrero Santos Memorial Park to honor of the U.S. Air Force veteran, three-term senator, Democrat gubernatorial candidate in the 1998 election, and first Maga’lahi of Nasion Chamoru, who became an icon of Chamorro activism in the 1990s.  ‘Anghet' fought for the implementation of the Chamorro Land Trust Act and the return of excess federal land, uncovered toxic wastes on private properties kept quiet by military authorities, wrote and lectured on the social injustices of the Chamoru people, and championed human rights, especially for indigenous peoples. He passed away on July 3, 2003 at the age of  44, amidst rumors that he was poisoned while in federal detention for a misdemeanor charge of violating a court order to vacate land that once belonged to his grandfather. His death left, what some describe, as a void in the Chamorro rights movement. Who was this remarkable Chamorro man? What is his legacy? And what would he be doing now, at age 57,  if still alive ?  

 

This episode features a March 24 interview with Royce Kiniki Palomo Camacho, a 2015 graduate of the Master of Arts in English program at the University of Guam (UOG).  His thesis, entitled “The Writing on the Wall: 21st Century Imaginings of a Chamoru Rights Activist” received the UOG Presidential Thesis Award.  Camacho discusses the impetus for this research on the “language of resistance” of Angel Santos,  the method of rhetorical analysis, the texts and framework for this analysis, and his “discoveries” and “imaginings” as a researcher.  Royce is now an adjunct English instructor at UOG and also in training for a black belt in the martial art of jiujitsu.  This interview includes the song "Ko' Gaige Hamyu (Are You There?)” by Ron Eclavea and Tony Sanchez featuring a spoken word performance by Angel Santos. This song, which Camacho references in his thesis, is a call to Chamorros to remember their past and fight for their future.  A copy of this thesis is available at the RFK Library, University of Guam.

This interview is followed by brief comment from several individuals who knew Angel Santos in various capacities:  Ed Pocaigue was a staff assistant to Senator Santos in the 26th Guam Legislature when the senator co-chaired (with Senator Mark Forbes-R) the Blue Ribbon Panel Committee that commissioned an action report which provided evidence of radioactive contamination on Guam as a result of U.S. nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands.  Speaker Judith Won Pat was a fellow Democrat in the 23rd, 24th and 26th Guam Legislatures (1994-1998, and 2000-2002).  Danny‘Pågat' Jackson is the current Maga' lahi of Nasion Chamoru, and his wife, Josephine Jackson, is the secretary.  Scholar-activist Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua attended church services with Anghet and has written several pieces on his life and activism, including an interpretive essay for Guampedia and “Jumping the Fence: An Evaluation of Nasion Chamoru and Its Impact on Contemporary Guam”, a lecture presented at the 2nd Annual Marianas History Conference. August 30-31, 2013 [broadcast as Ep. 162 (9/6/13)  “Historicizing Chamorro Resistance, Subversion and Activism”]. Although Luke Duenas did not know Anghet personally, he represents a new generation of advocates who carry on his legacy.  A UOG social work senior, Luke organized student participation in a March 16 rally to oppose the Chamorro Land Trust Commission’s leasing of properties for commercial use and presented this as a case study in cause advocacy at the March 2016 Social Work Conference held on Guam.   

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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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February 3, 2016 @ 9:41 am

Ep. 234 “Power, Social Media, Chamorro Identity and Cyberactivism”

Ep. 234 “Power, Social Media, Chamorro Identity and Cyberactivism” (hosted by Dr. Vivian Dames and produced by Dance Aoki with assistance from Alan Grossman) airs 1/22/16.  This day is the sixth anniversary of Beyond the Fence. 

This episode features individual interviews with Manuel L. Cruz III, Cara Flores-Mays and Moñeka de Oro. 

While an undergraduate at the University of Guam, Manuel L. Cruz III, authored a research paper entitled, “I A’adahi: An Analysis of Chamorro Cyberactivism”, which serves as a touchstone for these conversations about power, social media, Chamorro identity and cyberactivism.  I A’adahi is used by Cruz to refer to those who are vigilant or watch out for others. From January-March 2014, Cruz investigated the types of content Chamorro cyberactivists use to reach their audience, recruit new members, organize, and mobilize individuals to action. He looked at the on-line content of eight Chamorro SMOs (social movement organizations) and persons, or groups, with political and cultural interests: We are Guahan (WAG), Hinasso, Our Islands are Sacred (OIAS), Adventures in Chamoru, Pa’a Taotao Tano (Pa’a), Inetnon Gefpågo (IG), the website Arkiology, and the blog Minagahet Chamoru. Cruz and his professor, Dr. Lilnabeth Somera, presented this research paper at the 2014 Pacific & Asia Communication Association Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia. 

Cruz received his B.A. in Communication with a minor in Chamorro Studies from the University of Guam in 2014. He is now a news reporter for Hit Radio 100 and a graduate student in the UOG English Program. One of his current research projects is an analysis of the arguments for an environmental ‘watchdog’ for Guam.  This builds on his earlier work as a communicator with the UOG Sea Grant, and liaison with local and federal environmental agencies.   

Cara Flores-Mays is a core member and organizer for We Are Guahan.  She is a Chamorro mother and small-business owner specializing in media planning and production. She was instrumental in We Are Guahan’s work to sue the Department of Defense over its proposed use of the ancient village site of Pagat for military training activities. She also produced We Are Pågat with Jason Triplett, a short film that documents the efforts to save Pågat. She is co-founder of Duk Duk Goose, Inc., a local nonprofit that produces Nihi, a children’s show that features Chamorro language and song, for which she is director/producer.  

Moñeka de Oro, another daughter of the Marianas, is a mother, educator and core member and organizer of Our Islands are Sacred. She has an undergraduate degree in anthropology from the University of Guam and is currently a graduate student in the Micronesian Studies Program with an interest in indigenous Chamorro health and healing practices. 

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