As a Chamorro historian, I’ve read much and written much about Chamorro history, but nearly everything I’ve read or written is in the English language. After losing both my grandparents in the past two years, I’ve become much more sensitive to the fact that our most fluent generation, i manåmko’, are disappearing and the language along with it. Many of their stories have been recorded and documented, but nearly always in English and not in their native language.
Earlier this year I assisted i nobia-hu Dr. Isa Kelley Bowman with her oral history project Hongga Mo’na, in which we interviewed nine Chamorros with interesting stories, in the Chamorro language. Another, a tenth interview was also conducted, but as the subject couldn’t speak Chamorro, it was conducted in English. She is working furiously right now to finish up her website. Gefpågo’ i fina’tinas-ña, ya achokka’ ti este i lenguahi-ña pat i estoria-ña, ha gof sapopotte i nina’honggå-ña.
I’ve tried to do more and more in the past year to write small fragments or pieces in Chamorro, contributing them to different projects. Below is one such example, a short piece, included amongst several others, that I contributed to the I Ma’adahen i Fino’ Chamorro gi Koleho project. It provides some short details on the historical importance of Banzai Cliff in Saipan.
It is imperative that, right now, while we still have so many fluent speakers (20,000 +) in the world, we document and write as much as we can, as once they are gone, mumas mappot siempre.
Gof makkat i tiempon gera gi todu i Islas Marianas, koʹloʹloʹña giya Saipan, Tinian yan Guahan. Anai gumegera i Chapones yan Amerikånu siha gi 1944, ma destrosa meggai na sengsong siha. Anai i Chapones esta ma tungoʹ na para u falingu i islan Saipan para i Amerikånu, ma konne’ i familian-ñiha ya manhånao para San Roque gi sanhilo’ na bånda. Manohgue gi kanton ladera ya ma disidi na gaʹoʹ-ñiha manmåtai kinu u ma entrega siha gi Ameriku. Mamila yan i familian-ñiha pues uno put uno ma yute’ siha påpa’ gi ladera. Desde ki måkpo’ i guera esta på’go, kåda sakkan manmåtto meggai na Chapones para este na lugåt. Manmåtto para u fanmanaitai yan para u ma onra i manmåtai siha guihi na lugåt.