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Guam celebrates survival of Chamorro culture, language

March 2, 2015

HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — Guam residents highlighted Chamorro culture Monday while re-enacting Portuguese explorer Magellan’s 16th-century arrival in the Mariana Islands.

Sen. Tommy Morrison of the Guam Legislature spearheaded a change from Discovery Day to Guam History and Chamorro Heritage Day last year, The Pacific Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/1F1FAK1 ).

The shift is part of a trend toward greater awareness of Chamorro culture and language.

“Our people are more knowledgeable about our history and culture now. Magellan discovered the islands for Europeans, but we discovered Magellan landing on our shores,” said Brandon Cruz, a member of the cultural group Hinasso.

The re-enactment told stories of Chamorros who settled in the Marianas more than 4,000 years ago and the landing of Magellan’s ships in 1521. The re-enactment ended with the burning of a thatch-roofed hut to symbolize of the destruction of ancient Chamorro life.

“I think this day is a celebration of the survival of our people. Although we’ve been colonized by different powers, our culture and language are still here,” said Michelle Kikku, cultural dance teacher at Inarajan Middle School.

Resources for Chamorro culture and language learners have dramatically increased with the presence of the Hurao Academy, a Chamorro immersion school, and cultural groups like Our Islands are Sacred and Hinasso.

In the future, Cruz said, he hopes celebrations of Chamorro will be inclusive of the other islands in the Marianas archipelago.

“Using Guam in Guam History and Chamorro Heritage Day continues to divide Chamorro people. It’s too Guam-centric,” said Cruz.

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Information from: Pacific Daily News: http://www.guampdn.com

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