Thursday, September 24, 2009

Residents say they should be consulted in military buildup

Residents say they should be consulted in military buildup

Friday, 25 September 2009 00:00
By Richelle Ann P. Agpoon - For Variety

COMMUNITY members have advised visiting U.S. Navy archaeologists to consult with indigenous groups regarding the impact of the military buildup on the CNMI.

Navy archaeologists Valerie Curtis, front, and Eric West, fourth from left, pose with officials of the U.S Navy, the Historic Preservation Office, the Air Force and Saipan community members after the public meeting held at the Coastal Resources Management Office in San Jose on Wednesday.

“The indigenous groups are the ones utilizing the resources and you need to consider their side,” Saipan resident James Arriola said during the public meeting on Wednesday.

Traditional healers, for example, utilize the plants that may be affected by the buildup, he added.

According to archaeologist Valerie Curtis they would take into consideration the need to preserve traditional herbs and plants.

In a separate meeting on Tinian, Tuesday, residents suggested calling the military buildup area its traditional name, “old village.”

A recommendation was also made to document the history of the place where ancient remains can still be found.

Curtis said they want to preserve the area’s “essence of history.”

She said they will write about the history of the area and copies will be given to the Historic Preservation Office and the Public School System.

The Tinian people were also concerned about having access to the area even during the buildup, she added.

The people were particularly concerned about the Tinian pepper which grows in the area.

All the comments of the local people about historical and environmental impacts of the buildup will be considered by the military, Navy archaeologist Eric West said.

“The reason why we are doing the meeting is to hear the public’s opinion so we can make the appropriate mitigation,” West said.

Those who were not able to attend these meetings swill have another opportunity to raise their concerns in January.

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