decolonization / Ineyak / kuttura / militat / politiku

Liveblogging the Francis Hezel Panel, 3-3-16, UOG

Apologies to start with, as I was typing on my iPad screen, so I couldn’t take down as much as I usually do . . .

Francis Hezel: San Vitores was a “peacenik,” two months after they came conflict had already begun, Father Luis de Morales, severe injury in leg, lance when administering baptism, Father Luis de Medina, face wound in Guam, Mexican man and another killed

Missionaries at the time only baptized sick children and so were accused of killing children through baptism (?), broke ancestral skulls (not simply ancestral respect, but a shrine, helping ancestral spirit) — Father Hezel admits “there was and should have been a reaction to that,” 1668-1671, eight Islanders and six Spaniards killed, April 1672, escalation of violence,

One thousand people summoned in response to the crackdown after the killing of a Mexican young man. Guma’ ulitao, “clubhouses” for young men like in Yap, probably those young men called in all those people to surround the palisade. Why didn’t they finish the job? Why did they leave the people there? Maybe the young men of Hagåtña were simply making a statement to slow down? A question only, not answers.

If Chamorros wanted, they could have destroyed the mission in the beginning. [But wouldn’t Spain know that?] Let’s not exaggerate the accuracy. People are frightened by muskets the first time. But after that, realize they are not so accurate, and Chamorros had superior numbers.

Violence escalated a little bit, after San Vitores’s death, Spanish came into villages to capture people and burn villages. Then authority went from hands of missionaries to that of the military governor.

1676, Agualin rallies his people. 18 Spanish, 25-30 islanders die. 1679, open up villages, burning of houses for sure, killing of people not so much, 1677-80, 25 islanders killed. More local people losing their lives. 1679, infamous, Jose Quiroga, Dirk Ballendorf once called him the General Patton of the Marianas, Quiroga always gets a bad rap, he couldn’t make up his mind whether he wanted to be a monk or a soldier. Concentrate people in the villages was one of the worst things a the Spanish did regarding the epidemics, allowed them to spread terribly. Tallies of people who died of contagious diseases.

Attractions. In Hagåtña — farm animals, karabao, horses and cows and ducks and geese. Cultivation of corn and tobacco, trade, weaving cloth — not because missionaries told them they had to wear clothes but because it was stylish. Anyone in the Pacific, people wanted to wear clothes, not for modesty but style. [Oh dear me. Sorry, Mother Hubbards weren’t about the latest Parisian fashion.]

Quiroga, Saipan, six Jesuits killed, forty-five troops, about 30-35 islanders, worst year for violent death.

There were people like Ignacio Hineti in Hagåtña who wanted to help the missionaries, allies. When surrounded and food supply cut off, he smuggled in food. Like everybody else he had divided loyalties, you always have divided loyalties in island societies, or usually. Relatives and people you are obligated to.

Divided loyalties is a good point. Children from the mission, dragging a dead body, Saying die dog die, die like the dog you are. “I hope the missionaries didn’t teach them that.” [dear me who else would have? He isn’t giving the full story of the man killed]

[Jose Quiroga is buried in Agat?]

Spanish missionaries criticized the troops. Chamorros were on both sides. Troops were of course raping women as well. They were marrying women, getting food they couldn’t get in the Presidium. Complexities of history. Motives. Be very careful in taking a simple point of view.

Not by any means is this the final word on this thing.

[I just really strongly disagree that violence is some kind of necessary or accepted component of cultures encountering each other for the first time. Especially hearing that from a Christian is so bizarre.]

Carlos Madrid, [unfortunately, I couldn’t make out much of what he was saying due to technical fuzz as he was Skyped in]. Accessibility of records, persons in the history, reconsider sequence of events, time of violence, reconsider idea that there were massacres or killings of indigenous people, how Agana as a city evolves, the Spanish conquerors, how did they overcome that relationship, (?), forced labor, to cultivate the fields, forced to work, send their Chamorro brothers to the governor, process of change . . .

Miget Lujan Bevacqua: was WW2, Japanese occupation, simply a clash of cultures, Japanese forced labor and beheading solely a cultural perspective, (?), [humor, laughter from audience], one issue, cultural differences played a huge role, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a war or a larger conflict, culture is always a central part, imperialist projects, etc., justification for what you’re doing, cultural component is important but doesn’t detract from the war. Likes that Hezel does emphasize a more complicated presentation of the Chamorro at the time. Vince Diaz, taught MLB Guam history, different historiographies, The Phoenix Rises, Charles Beardsley, pro and anti Catholic slants. Good to show the Chamorro people with complexities at the time. Not everyone was a Mata’pang, not everyone a Hineti either. Not everyone was a hero. Don’t take a fantasy as your history. Some of the worst atrocities were committed by Chamorros against other Chamorros, but that is always the case in a war or major conflict. Not everyone was frothing at the mouth for war against the Japanese after Pearl Harbor. Jeannette Rankin. Not all the Chamorros came out of WW2 hating the Japanese, one old guy said he preferred them to the Americans, the Japanese were racist to your face, honest. The presence of division among Chamorros doesn’t mean war didn’t happen, just because some supported the Spanish doesn’t take away the right of those who did. The number of deaths of Chamorros seems small for a thirty year war? Consider a few points: Chamorro war philosophy, if a few wounded or hurt, you stop fighting; well, if a handful were killed each year it would have been traumatic to them! Think about it from the Chamorro perspective, ten killed a year would have shocked their consciousness. Also, if many Chamorros didn’t die by outright violence, that is not the sole definition of a war. Armies for millennia have tried to claim that. Wars are larger destructive organisms, food scarce, diseases, destructive trauma, which affected many, a terribly traumatic time in which people felt unsafe, no security, being shoved randomly out of village, puts you on a war footing, overall sense of trauma, even if people aren’t coming and fighting you every day. Even if we accept the lowest possible estimate of actual killings. Why Chamorros today are still so invested in that moment hundreds of years ago… The start of Guam’s colonization. Important that we study and understand it, and people must be careful in taking about it, so as not to confuse or offend, not de-emphasize it, Chamorros today still struggle for decolonization.

David Atienza, complexities, rescuing the complexity of Chamorro and Marianas history, challenge historiographical conception of a total break before and after this period, a negation in the historical sources, negation of indigenous agency, adaptive resistance is preferred term, people who chose to embrace or refuse Virgin Mary and so on, many historians have presented the history as total annihilation of the Chamorro people, far from what really happened, Spanish, Castilian, Basque, pequenos, Chamorros were from different villages, and clans, Matua or Matachang, SV came with soldiers, Freycinet etc., no soldiers, 1664 first time? 32 soldiers, rich complex history, people have and have had agency, dialogue is open . . .

[Overemphasis on guma’ ulitao, male roles. Hezel. What about guma’ lao? Women who led villages?]
[Agency is mischaracterized here. How much agency do you have in an imperial colonial context? Need more awareness of post colonial theory.]

Michael Clement, a time very different from our own, reports and observations by Europeans who had little understanding of the indigenous people, only oral narratives were saint histories, current book is an update and correction, of an older article, emphasizing the mission party only partly Spanish, etc., very significant for how Guam history has been taught in the past thirty-five years, today we have become more sophisticated in how we look at these events and the critiques of established perspectives, replication of missionary biases, Fr. Hezel hasn’t completely left behind his earlier biases in the previous article, this version does include the names of various indigenous leaders on both sides, a narrative that shows that Chamorros were not passive victims nor did they forfeit their cultural legacy at the end, “some people died” [wow], makes it all real, able to imagine yourself there at the time, the kinds of decisions that people were making at the time, lots of sources well documented in the book, etc.

Questions from the audience:

Luke Duenas, did most of the people die from diseases, two of the priests came with active tuberculosis, a boat of people lost to a typhoon resulting from being forced out of Pågan, lower birth rates, compare to Kosrae in nineteenth century, Fr. Hezel, 90% of population lost, so far as we know entirely diseases, no violence. Aboriginal population of 40,000, declined to below 4000 in 1710, according to Fr. Hezel’s numbers.

[A few notes . . .

Clement and Bevacqua offered some necessary critiques. I admire the scholarship of Atienza and Madrid a lot.

NOT addressed here:

Liberation theology
Moral imperative, political responsibility of the Spanish
Rapes downplayed or unrecorded by our panelists
Women killing themselves and their children makes the Spanish culture “a culture of death” for the Chamorro people. I should have thought the Catholic Church of all of us would care about that.

Commenters and Dr. Bevacqua addressed that it can be disrespectful to seek to minimize the damage and trauma to the Chamorro people. Deaths by disease or “arquebus” are still traumatic and demoralizing. Women killing their children is so shocking.

Nick Goetzfridt has an article on Spanish “non-action” in response to Chamorro mass death from disease as a policy in the Marianas. This is a form of genocide, to control a place and allow its people to die from rampant diseases brought in by the Spanish groups. San Vitores brought two people with active tuberculosis with him. Native Americans were similarly massacred by disease. I think we can call that massacres.

There’s also this issue of moral relativism. I’m very uncomfortable with excusing historical crimes on the basis of “that’s just how it was at the time.” Hezel says specifically in his book that the Spanish at the time just saw the cross and the sword as going together. That’s a very, very unfortunate phrasing. People are capable of moral agency in any age. I’m going to be clear. There’s no excuse for crimes against humanity here. Allowing a population to be devastated by disease does not have some kind of excuse. Casually dismissing rapes, infanticide, and deaths is bizarre!

Don Rubinstein has an article on abortion where he discusses records of women killing themselves and/or their unborn children as a response to colonialism.

Colonialism is devastating, imperial militarization is devastating. It destroys souls, it demoralizes people, it is cultural genocide, it is genocide — full stop.

We look at Japanese and U.S. military imperialism and colonialism also as parallel to this. A lot of people would love to find excuses for the U.S. colonial projects in the Marianas and broader Pacific. Oh, they didn’t know the people of Rongelap were downwind of their nuclear tests? Give me a break. The most sophisticated military in the world knew about wind patterns.

Another contemporary parallel is this whole discussion on sexual crimes. People want to focus on official reports only. Reports are actually far less common than occurrences. It is unlikely the Spanish reported everything. But those documents too often go unquestioned.

There are other sources than written biased Spanish texts for our historical projects.

I just went over Cecilia Perez’s “Kafe Mulinu” with my students. Sensational experience of the past, sensory awareness, through practicing ancient Chamorro crafts, through speaking the ancient Chamorro language.

I also appreciate scholars like Evelyn Flores and Lisa Natividad here, who mine the legends and traditions of the Chamorro people to understand their context and practical applications for today.

I also wonder what estimates of the population we could make after a thorough archaeological survey of the Marianas. Early Spanish estimates, frankly, sound like a lot of guesswork.]

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One thought on “Liveblogging the Francis Hezel Panel, 3-3-16, UOG

  1. Pingback: SO/WG 230-01 (Spring 2016) | doctorkb

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