17 November 2010

Chamoru Students to Discuss Decolonisation of Guam

United Nations Guam Forum
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)




This forum will discuss the testimonies of the Guam Delegation who testified at the United Nations Special Political and Decolonization Committee in October 2010


 Josette Quinata
Michael Tuncap
Alfred Flores
Edward Browne
UCLA Graduate Coalition of the Native Pacific
UCLA Pacific Islands' Student Association
Pacific Islander Studies Initiative
UCLA Post Colonial Theory & Literature Colloquium

Testimony to the United Nations Special Political and Decolonization Committee

Chamoru Self-Determination in Guåhan (Guam)

October 5-6, 2010

Hafa Adai distinguished members of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) and Chairman, H.E. Mr. Chitsaka Chipaziwa. Dankolo na si yu’us ma’ase (thank you very much) for your time in allowing me the opportunity to address this esteemed international body.

Guahu si Josette Marie Lujan Quinata and I am a proud Chamoru daughter of Guåhan. I am a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Southern California and a member of Famoksaiyan. "Famoksaiyan" translates to either "the place or time of nurturing" or "the time to paddle forward and move ahead." We are a grassroots network of activists, scholars, students, community leaders and artists who seek to push for a political, economic, and social agenda for Chamorus on local, national and international levels.

I am here today to express to you the crucial concerns that are in dire need of your attention, advocacy, and support especially during this extremely critical time in Guåhan’s history. Currently, Guåhan is under grave attack as it has been designated by the United States, its administering power, as the stage for the largest U.S. military buildup since World War II. The overwhelmingly colossal transference from Okinawa, Japan to Guåhan includes military personnel, their families, and foreign construction workers and is scheduled to take effect by 2014. This massive influx is expected to increase Guåhan’s population by 34 percent. Resources to land, community facilities, and infrastructure capacity will undeniably be impacted by the drastic number of people utilizing these amenities and will devastatingly reinforce the economic, social, and financial dependency the U.S. has over Guåhan. Therefore, the political and decision-making process for Chamorus continues to be one of an insider-outsider perspective as Chamorus remain on the outside fences barred from making decisions that ultimately impinges on their indigenous rights and native claim to the land. This inability to include Chamorus in the very decisions that affect their land, their culture, and their lives permeates the power struggle, political dominance, colonialism, and militarization that the U.S. gravely has over the native people of Guåhan.

Furthermore, what makes this potential atrocity even more horrific is that despite the multitude of people who have advocated for their voices, their concerns, worries, fears, and questions surrounding the military buildup to be addressed, the “green light” to move forward with the continued militarization of Guåhan was recently announced in the U.S. Department of Defense’s Record of Decision. This heartrending decision to move forward with the military buildup will not only alter the lives of the Chamoru people, but it will also significantly impact the environment of Guåhan. For instance, according to the Environmental Impact Statement, the aspirations of the military buildup include excavating ancestral, native and sacred lands in exchange for live firing ranges and the expansion of hotels, resorts, and housing markets. Such a disregard for the cultural ties to our land and historical sites of our ancestors will be detrimental in preserving our Chamoru culture and learning about our history.

In addition, the U.S. government has allocated funding for the development of naval infrastructures while civilian infrastructures continue to deteriorate, posing health and environmental risks on the people of Guåhan. Both the administering power and the Government of Guåhan have stated that the island’s infrastructure is inadequate to meet the needs of the military buildup and the increased number of people it will serve. However, costs needed for the upgrades to Guåhan’s infrastructures are different from the funds that are applied to the military bases. Therefore, Guåhan will not only have to support the local community, but also the demands of the military buildup without having any control of the financial expenses or responsibility over the expansion.

Thus, vital aspects of Chamoru society are impounded by the underlying theme of militarization that affects land resources, health, financial stability, and political sovereignty. The colonization of Guåhan continues to deny Chamorus decision-making power on issues that truly affect their lives. This is evidenced in the lack of inclusion that Chamorus are faced with as our voices and ethical issues are second to militarization and colonialism. And while we have provided our input in the planning process of the buildup, ultimately, we have no real control over what happens to our island and the impacts it would have on future generations.

Therefore, as we question the effects and consequences of this proposed plan, it is overwhelmingly apparent that the security interests and national policies of the U.S. are not inclusive of the Chamoru people’s plight and concerns. Guåhan to this day remains colonized even though it was placed under the United Nations list of Non-Self Governing Territories, and after the UN passed General Assembly Resolutions 1514 (the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples) and 1541(which establishes the three options for self-determination). However, we have the chance to prevent history from repeating itself and from suffering at the hands of colonialism which will lead to ongoing detrimental effects on our land, culture, and humanity. More importantly, we have the opportunity to further the process for self-determination, sovereignty, cultural preservation, and land security by collaborating with the Fourth Committee to help facilitate the political process that enforces the United States’ obligation under the UN Charter to help the Chamoru people attain their basic right to self-determination.

At a time when our homeland is threatened by militarization and heavy dependency on the United States, I recommend that the Fourth Committee immediately enact the process of decolonization for Guåhan in lieu of the severe, irreversible impacts of U.S. militarization with a fully funded and far-reaching education campaign informing all Chamorus from Guåhan of their right to self-determination and decolonization options. I also hope you will join me in understanding the social and political impacts of Guåhan, and acknowledging the Chamoru people’s desire to inspire change and evoke action that will allow us to have a real voice in our political future.

Saina Ma’ase.
Josette Marie Lujan Quinata
MSW Graduate Student
University of Southern California


  I dedicate this testimony to all those who have inspired and motivated me in this journey, and for those who have left a legacy on our island.  I am especially grateful for my Nana, Veronica Lujan and Grandmother, Rosita Quinata who have been extremely profound throughout my journey.  I am moved by your compassion, encouragement, and belief in me and in the Chamoru people’s right to self-determination.  I especially want to say si yu’us ma’ase to Sid Gardner, President of Children and Family Futures, a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of children and families, particularly those affected by substance use disorders.  Your organization’s profound enthusiasm and outpouring support have undoubtedly been the backbone behind my 2010 United Nations testimony.  I am forever grateful for your commitment and influence in this journey.  Dankolo na si yu’us ma’ase. 

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