Independent Guåhan to discuss Chamoru language preservation in April General Assembly

by Independent Guåhan
Stripes Guam

Independent Guåhan (IG) invites the public to its next General Assembly (GA), Thursday, April 26, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the Main Pavilion of the Chamorro Village in Hagåtña. The educational discussion for the evening will focus on how an independent Guåhan can preserve the CHamoru language.

As another Mes CHamoru has ended, it is important to continue to keep focus on the perpetuation of the heritage of the indigenous people of Guåhan and the Marianas. In this spirit, IG will examine the connections between CHamoru language revitalization and political status change, especially independence. Language has been used as a tool of both oppression and empowerment throughout history. For the past century English has been promoted as the language of success, and, for decades, CHamorus were punished for speaking their native tongue.

According to the 2010 Census, only 16% of the population in Guåhan speaks Fino’ CHamoru. This is an alarming statistic and a reminder that the language that we speak or don’t speak today is not solely about personal choices, but part of larger political forces. In this presentation, IG will explore the ways that becoming independent can help the cause of CHamoru language revitalization, as well as how CHamoru language revitalization can be used as a tool of nation-building and decolonization.

At each GA, Independent Guåhan honors a maga’taotao (a notable figure) who has helped push the island towards a greater degree of self-determination, whether in cultural or political fields. For April, Independent Guåhan will honor the legacy of the late Olympia Quintanilla Camacho, a lifelong educator. Tan Olympia was part of the first postwar graduating class and continued to teach for the next thirty years of her life in Guåhan’s elementary and middle schools. In 1973, she started work as a curriculum writer for DOE’s Chamorro Language and Culture Program. There, she researched and wrote versions of many island legends that are still being used in classrooms today. IG is proud to honor the legacy of Tan Olympia Camacho, who has helped to keep the stories of the CHamoru people alive.

For more information, please contact Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua at (671) 988-7106, email independentguahan@gmail.com, or visit www.independentguahan.com.

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