decolonization / Ineyak

Nick Goetzfridt on Marianas Historiography

A good non-action example would be the Spanish non-response to massive Chamorro depopulation. The first census of 1710 revealed that—although published interpretative variations eventually find middle ground in the 3,500 range—3,539 Chamorros (the most commonly cited number) remained out of early or pre-San Vitores ‘contact’ estimates ranging from as high as 100,000 to as low as 35,000 Chamorros living in the Mariana Islands.  Regardless of the unrecoverable correct number, this figure represents a massive decline in the Chamorro population that went even further after the forced centralization of Chamorros onto Guam (with the exception of a few hundred “refugees” on Rota—Underwood 1973) and into the established, church-centered enclaves of Pago, Inapsan, Inarahan (Inarajan/Inalåhan), Merizo (Malesso’), Umatac (Humåtac), and Agat (Hågat) enforced by Joseph de Quiroga y Losada following his administrative destruction of many Chamorro villages after his 1680 arrival on Guam. By the 1758 full census, only 1,711 “native Indians” remained, along with 170 soldiers and 830 “Spanish & Filipinos.” This Spanish non-action is evident in the paucity of details concerning any Spanish effort to, if not stem the tide of this decline (often linked to an impending or even realized “extinction” of Chamorros), then render some form of medical response, particularly to the several epidemics and disease outbreaks that pepper the Spanish record.

To find any reference to a Spanish effort on this front is to hold a wilting moment of history that cannot be extended into the context of Spain’s centuries-long colonization of the Mariana Islands. And yet as scholarship has concerned itself with the chronological and interpretative “facts” of Guam’s history, such a blatant gap in the telling of the Spanish colonial era—extending, of course, to the northern Mariana Islands—has gone unaccounted for and has yet to materialize simply because it is not part of this regurgitated record.



One thought on “Nick Goetzfridt on Marianas Historiography

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

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