"CHamoru must stand up, ga'chong" -Island leaders challenge local lawmakersWritten by Timothy Mchenry
Guam - It's an issue that has captured the hearts and minds of CHamorus across the island. The recent Davis decision has sparked daily protests everywhere, from the District Court of Guam to the Guam Congress Building. Friday, dozens of Guam residents testified in front of lawmakers to bring to light what they call years of oppression and unfair treatment of the CHamoru people.
It's an issue that has been thrust back into spotlight after Chief District Court Judge Francis Tydincgo-Gatewood ruled that the guidelines for which the plebiscite was created are discriminatory in nature. Friday, dozens of community members testified on a pair of resolutions, both debating whether or not legislature should support an appeal in the Davis case and for approval from the Guam Legislature and the governor of Guam before possibly entering into a consent decree with the Federal Government over the Chamorro Land Trust Act.
Young men's league of Guam President Bob Pelkey, was first to take the stand. Pelkey affirmed the YMLG's position supporting an appeal to the highest court.
"My brothers are here to remind anyone and everyone listening that the indigenous CHamoru people have suffered from historical injustices spanning centuries and that the ruling by the U.S. District Court of Guam is another straw upon the back of our colonized people. Further, the threat by the United States Department of Justice is but a splinter in the eyes of our people who toil day in and day out to sustain a living and live in peace to marry, love and raise a family free of political interference and imperial oppression," says Pelkey.
Gatewood ruled earlier this month that Dave Davis, a non-native, non-indigenous CHamoru was discriminated against by not being allowed to participate in the plebiscite vote, a political demonstration given to native inhabitants of people who were living on Guam at the time congress created the organic act. The plebiscite is intended to allow native inhabitants of Guam to choose Guam's political status with the us--free association, independence, or statehood. As Pelkey stated earlier and Vicente Garrido reinforced, the Davis decision is an example of the unfair and often uneducated treatment of the CHamoru people at the hands of the united states government. Garrido's statements along with many others captures the angst felt by members of the community regarding recent actions by Guam's local court and the us government.
"I'm a member of the Nasion CHamoru,, a former magalahi of the Nasion CHamoru...but I’m also a veteran, infantry, combat veteran. I've been around. I've been through hell and I know what it’s like and this another hell for me here on this island. CHamoru must stand up gachong," says Garrido.
The word colonized was a familiar theme throughout the hearing. Each member testified, in some form, about how recent decisions made by Gatewood and the department of justice only highlight the growing anger within the CHamoru community. Rumbo Benavente, a former magalahi of the Nasion CHamoru pleaded with lawmakers to protect the CHamoru land trust act. Benavente, whose brother Ed was instrumental in creating the CHamoru Land Trust in the late 70's, expresses to members of the panel, his frustration and anger.
"By goodness gochong. Wake up and smell the coffee. Yeah I’m a veteran. By goodness gochong, I don't need this gochong. I’m a veteran and I served my time in the military. It’s insulting for me to hear it again and again gochong. I’m too old for this crap. And I don't care what race and color you're from. You should understand where we are coming from as CHamoru," says Benavente.
On the heels of the Davis decision, the Department of Justice sent a letter to Adelup stating that they need to discuss the potential constitutional violations within the CHamoru Land Trust Act. Today's public hearing was to hear testimony on resolution 51-34 and 52-34. Resolution 51 would offer the legislatures support in appealing the Davis decision and resolution 52 offers support to not enter into a consent decree with the us government over the CLTC without the approval of the Guam Legislature and the governor of Guam.