Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chamoru Summit stresses indigenous leadership

Guam’s News Network

By Ronna Sweeny
(Ken Quintanilla contributed to this report)

With the hope of uniting and educating generations of Guam's indigenous people in our island community towards the movement of Chamoru Self-Determination, several Chamoru professors and students gathered this morning for the Second Chamoru Summit. Entitled "Protecting Our Way of Life and Ensuring Our Survival," the forum brought out over 50 participants today to learn about effective Chamoru leadership and self-determination.

Committee chairperson for the planning of the Summit Lisa Natividad says the intent of the event was twofold: being an educational track to teach younger generations of Chamorus the meaning of self-determination and to create a planning committee.

"The different committees that we've established are specific to educational strategies on Chamoru self-determination, there's a second one on rethinking education for Chamorus, one on a legal committee looking at developing legal strategies for achieving self-determination, there's another one on revitalizing the Chamoru Registry, to get more Chamorus on the Registry, which is absolutely necessary as we move towards the vote," Natividad explained.

One of the organizers of the summit, former senator Hope Cristobal, says committees were broken into task forces to cover decolonization including statehood, free association, and independence. The Summit provided those committees to share new findings and report about their task force. She said, "We decided to do this because there has been no conversation in the public and we also noticed to have seemed to disappear in the discourse and conversation at the local political level and we felt we need to continue the conversation so we can study it a little more and see where we can go where we left off."

Natividad feels this issue has been dead in terms of community involvement and government leadership for many years and hopes the summit helps others understand its importance. "I think in order for Chamorus to be able to accomplish self-determination it's going to require the support of all community members and not just those who self-identify as a Chamoru or those who are legally defined as Chamoru."

With the impending military presence to increase in the near future, it may make it difficult for Chamorus to exercise self-determination. The summit provided planning of concepts and identifying what the next steps are toward the movement. The Committee hopes to hold a summit every six months to present new findings and information to the community.

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