29 September 2014

Indigenous peoples conference in Marianas explores socio-economic, political issues

By Richelle Agpoon-Cabang

Chamorro, Carolinian people to talk about indigenous issues

By Richelle Agpoon-Cabang

TO inform the indigenous Chamorro and Carolinian people about their rights and role in the islands’ economic, social and political development, the Northern Marianas Descent Corp. or NMDC, is hosting its first Annual Marianas Indigenous Conference on Sept. 29-30 from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the multi-purpose center.

John DLR. “Bolis” Gonzales, a volunteer member and one of the moderators of the event said NMDC is a two-year-old nonprofit organization whose vision is “a self-sustaining and self-governing commonwealth whose destiny shall continue to remain in the hands of the indigenous Chamorro and Carolinian people of Northern Marianas descent.”

Gonzales said the conference is a way to enrich the awareness of indigenous cultural issues.

He said during the event there will be constructive discussion about issues that indigenous people are facing in the community.

According to Gonzales, the islands have become a melting pot of different cultures in the Pacific and their forum will be a good venue for discussing culture.

“Knowledge is power and information helps people understand the importance of their culture and how other people can harmoniously blend with our culture. Respect is important and other cultures should respect our cultural homeland just as we respect theirs [when we visit their countries],” he said.

Individuals from the public and private sectors were invited to speak during the forum.

The program includes discussions about the Covenant and the decolonization of the NMI, federalization issues, Article XII, opportunities and threats to the economy as well as indigenous language and culture.

Gonzales noted the importance of discussing language and encouraging Chamorro and Carolinian families not to forget their languages.

He said funding for the conference did not come from any government entity, but from “NMDC’s own pockets.”

Interested participants may register at the Garapan Youth Development Center beside the Carolinian Utt or call 233-8978 for more information.