Thursday, November 15, 2012

Guam Holds On - History I

This post isn't about history in as much as it is an opportunity to share something profound. In seeking information about Chamorro pottery and genrally learning more about the culture of the Marianas I came across the book Destiny's Landfall by Robert F. Rogers. I haven't read through the whole book so this post is not a book review either.
What struck me as so profound and has given me a deeper appreciation for the Chamorro people are these two paragraphs quoted below.

"Although Guam has served commercial maritime interests as a valuable communications and supply point, the post contact history of the island has been – and continues to be – determined primarily by strategic political and military factors beyond the control or even the significant influence of the local people. Guam, in short, was destined after Magellan to be a pawn in the realpolitik of foreign powers. As a consequence, outside military forces have occupied the island uninterruptedly for the incredible span of over 320 years.
Moreover, Guam’s post contact history has not been one of successive and merging phases like waves falling on coral-ringed shores, as have the histories of many other Pacific islands. Rather, the island’s development was shaped by sporadic and violent invasions by alien forces. These intrusions were largely indifferent to the complex adaptations evolved by humans and other living beings for survival in the Pacific island environments in the centuries prior to European contact. The indigenous Chamorro people of Guam, small in numbers and vulnerable geographically, adapted to the harsh new conditions imposed by each wave of conquerors and, in a remarkable feat of cultural endurance, managed to maintain their language, their identity, and their pride under the colonial domination of three of history’s most powerful nation-states: Spain, Japan and the United States of America."   Destiny’s Landfall by Robert F. Rogers
I had a lump in my throat the first time I read this and as I transcribed it here through my keyboard, the words had a deeper meaning still. Throughout all the histories of all the places in the world it is remarkable that after hundreds of years of foreign occupation that the people of Guam have been able to hold on to so much of their identity where so many others have not.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.