NEH We The People Initiative
Since 2004, the Guam Humanities Council has participated in NEH’s We the People (WTP) Initiative, acquiring grants for several important projects that reflect WTP’s goal to encourage the teaching and learning about American history, institutions and culture, and the Council’s mission to integrate Guam’s story into the history of our nation. From Families Under Siege (2005), which explored Chamorro-Japanese-American relations during the years of Japanese wartime occupation of Guam from 1941-1943, to Remembering Camp Roxas (2008), which recounted the story of Filipino immigration to rebuild the island after World War II, to articles for Guampedia, and to several current projects, the Council strives to produce humanities-focused projects that point to significant moments in Guam’s history and which continue to have relevance for our community today.
I Tano Yan I Tasi
Land and Sea: Ecological Literacy on a US Pacific Island
Throughout its long history as a US territory, Guam has experienced great environmental change that has altered much of its historical, cultural and natural landscape. Many of the cultural beliefs and practices of the island’s indigenous Chamorro people that were based on the use of natural resources and principles of conservation were abandoned. Importantly, much of the cultural knowledge and skills associated with local food production have also been lost. Given how this change has adversely affected the overall health of island residents, the Guam Humanities Council through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities implemented a multifaceted project titled, Land and Sea: Ecological Literacy on the US Pacific Island of Guam, to promote literacy around the principles of ecology and sustainability in order to better "grow democracy."
Exploring the important connections between food, health, culture and the environment is the central focus of the project. The Council has brought together national, regional and local scholars, writers, educators, activists, artists and policymakers working on various facets of sustainability to participate in several public programs throughout the length of the project.
Seeds of Health lecture by Lois Ellen Frank
School presentation with Lois Ellen Frank & Walter Whitewater
Paul Kerner, Peter Duenas, Lois Ellen Frank, Walter Whitewater and Geoffrey Perez at interpretive dinner event
Tom Blas demonstrates how to harvest culantro at his farm.
Panelists for the film The Garden: John Borja, Bill McDonald, Bernice Nelson.
Public talk with Amanda Corby.
Chef Mark Noguchi with GCC Culinary Arts students.
I Tano yan I Tasi Programs
Eat Your Heritage I Tour
The I Tano Yan I Tasi project launched in 2011 with the first Eat Your Heritage Tour which featured a series of cooking presentations at select schools, a lecture, and an interpretive dinner presentation. The Council brought to Guam Native American chefs Lois Ellen Frank, PhD and Walter Whitewater. The two chefs own and operate Red Mesa, combining Native American culture and cuisine to provide patrons an educational and culinary experience. Dr. Frank is a Santa Fe, New Mexico-based chef, culinary anthropologist, author, Native foods historian and photographer who has spent over 18 years documenting foods and ways of life of Native American tribes from the Southwest. Her book, Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations, features traditional and contemporary recipes, and was the first Native American book to win the James Beard Award.
The Council hosted 8 school presentations and cooking demonstrations with Dr. Frank and Chef Whitewater and presented a community lecture by Dr. Frank titled Seeds of Health: the Return to the Ancestral Diet with a diverse audience of Chamorro language teachers, college students, humanities scholars and farmers.
The two chefs concluded the tour by teaming up with award-winning local chefs: Peter Duenas, Geoffrey Perez, and Paul Kerner, for the Island Meets Desert interpretive cooking event held at the Hyatt Regency Guam. Other partners included the Farmers Cooperative Association of Guam and the Guam Community College Culinary Arts Program. The interpretive dinner incorporated a menu featuring Native American and local foods and highlighted Guam’s natural resources and unique cultural heritage.
Eat Your Heritage II Tour
In April 2013, the Council presented the second food democracy tour and brought to Guam leaders in the Pacific food sovereignty movement in Hawaii, Chef, educator and activist Mark Noguchi, community organizer Amanda Corby, and Native Hawaiian chef intern Kelley Pittman. The tour included workshops with culinary arts students from Guam Community College, Simon Sanchez High School, and Southern High School, two free public events: Sense of Place – Setting the Table for your Community, a lecture by Amanda Corby and Kelley Pittman, and a film and discussion event featuring the documentary Ingredients Hawai'i. Eat Your Heritage II concluded with the Chamorro Hawaiian Fusion interpretive dinner event held at the Hyatt Regency Guam, which featured Chef Noguchi and local award-winning chefs Peter Duenas, Paul Kerner, Mirko Agostini, Chef Suharto and Christopher Aguon.
Cultural Hikes, Farm and Garden Tours
The hike series combines information presented by humanities experts and tours led by specialists in natural history, science, and conservation. The first in a series of ongoing educational hikes and tours launched in May 2012 with a hike to Masso Watershed, which featured a lecture with fisheries biologist Brent Tibbatts, and a discussion on the importance of the watershed for Ancient Chamorros and Pre-Spanish Rice Cultivation with archaeologist Darlene Moore.
Additional tours and presentations were held at the Blas flower and herb farm in Yigo; at a Palauan women-operated taro garden in Hagatna; at the Guam National Wildlife Refuge at Ritidian, which featured a special talk by a traditional female healer or suruhana, Abeline Guerrero, and a nature walk highlighting important useful plants with plant specialist Jenny Coffman. The Council also held presentations and tours at a family owned backyard garden in Inarajan, a medicinal plant and worm farm in Dededo owned by Bernice Nelson, and a hike to freshwater streams of the southern village of Umatac.
Film Forum Series
The Council has hosted a series of film and facilitated discussions with diverse panelists, connecting various film topics to Guam’s “Buy Local” movement and sustainability issues in our own community. The film documentary titles include: Food Fight (2011 Positively 25th Street Productions); Bag It (2010 Docurama); The Garden (2008 Black Valley Films); and Time & Tide (2007 Wavecrest Films).
Upcoming events for the I Tano yan I Tasi project – click here.
View photos of the I Tano yan I Tasi project – click here.
“The Micronesian Question”: Issues of Migration, Identity and Belonging on Guam
The migration of Micronesians to Guam over the past twenty years has presented a number of perceived challenges to the larger Guam community that have focused on such complex, and oftentimes contested issues as adaptation, discrimination and identity.
Through the multifaceted project, “The Micronesian Question”: Issues of Migration, Identity and Belonging on Guam, the Council examines the many issues surrounding the migration of islanders from other parts of Micronesia to Guam. The lives and experiences of Micronesians in their new island “home” are also explored. The project includes the Council’s Motheread family literacy program, a series of film and discussion and reading and discussion events, a youth-centered photography and creative writing project and community conversations. Given the anticipated migration to Guam of several thousand people largely from
the US mainland, Hawaii and Asia as part of the planned military
expansion that is set to begin in 2014, the project is especially timely.
The youth-centered component of the project, which was partially funded through a grant from the Guam Council on Arts and Humanities Agency, has the objective of giving voice to youth of Micronesian communities through the visual medium of photography and the writing of personal and/or community narratives. Fifty-seven youth participated in the workshops conducted by professional photographers Victor Consaga and DL Lasrithammavan and humanities scholars Dr. Sharleen Santos Bamba and Carol Simpson-Warner to learn to tell their stories visually and in writing about making Guam “home.” The culmination of their work was presented at an interpretive exhibition that opened May 13, 2011 at the Agana Shopping Center. The exhibit then traveled to five Guam public high schools as well as the Micronesia Mall.
As part of the reading and discussion series, in August 2011 the Council brought to Guam Micronesian scholar and poet Dr. Teresia Teaiwa. Dr. Teaiwa is a Senior Lecturer of Pacific Studies at Victoria University of Wellington in Wellington, New Zealand. She is a native of Banaba Island in Kiribati and was raised in Suva, Fiji. Dr. Teaiwa’s research interests include gender and militarism, globalization, native Pacific cultural studies, women’s history and native feminisms, Pacific history and identity and diaspora. She is also a poet whose poetry and short prose have been published in a range of international literary journals. Her first collection of poetry, Searching for Nei Nim’anoa (1995) has been taught in courses at the University of Hawai’i, and the University of the South Pacific. She has two CDs of poetry, Terenesia: Amplified Poetry and Songs by Teresia Teaiwa and Sia Figiel (2000), and I can see Fiji: poetry and sound (2008).
The reading and discussion series launched with the In-Sights youth exhibit and reading presentations by Dr. Teaiwa at the Cars Plus Showroom on August 22 followed by a week of events that included a presentation entitled Pacific Islander Migration and Identity – readings by Dr. Teaiwa and Emelihter Kihleng. The event was held at the Outrigger Resort Guam on August 24 and included a community conversation. Additionally, readings and discussions were presented through out the week at several Guam high schools, the Guam Community College and the University of Guam.
In December 2011, the Council hosted a Youth Empowerment Workshop at the Outrigger Guam Resort. Twenty-two high school students participated in the workshop that focused on themes of leadership, citizenship, empowerment and self expression.
In early 2012, the Council hosted the final component of the project with a series of film and discussion events. Seven films were screened which focused on issues of cultural representation, racism and education, as well as stories that reflected the experiences of Micronesians and other Pacific Islander immigrants. Each film presentation was followed by a facilitated discussion with panelists from local Micronesian communities. A total of 407 participants attended the series.
Picturing America, Picturing Guam
Picturing America, Picturing Guam explores our richly diverse national and local history and culture through signature works of art—painting, photography, decorative and cultural art, sculpture and architecture. By viewing great art, we as citizens—students, teachers and the public—gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the character, ideals, aspirations and larger story of our nation and island. The Council presented the exhibition component of the project at Isla Center for the Arts at UOG in January 2011 for a three-week venue.
Picturing America, which was developed by the National Endowment for the Humanities, consists of forty museum-quality reproductions of America’s most noted masterpieces. The purpose of the project is to make the reproductions, along with a Teachers Resource Book and companion website, available to schools and public libraries in every state and territory across the country.
For Picturing Guam, the Council highlights the work of sixteen local masters, including Jose Babauta, Monica Baza, Tan Elena Cruz Benevente, Jill Benevente, Sal Bidare, Segundo Blas, Ric Castro, Ron Castro, Manny Crisostomo, Mark Dell’Isola, Judy Flores, Al Lizama, Tun Joaquin “Jack” Lujan, Adriano Pangelinan, Lewis Rifkowitz and Kie Susuico. Also presented are images of ancient Chamorro pottery and historical reproductions from the Spanish Documents Collection at the Micronesian Area Research Center (MARC), University of Guam and the Guam Museum.
The local pieces that were reproduced for Picturing Guam, and which appear in the Teachers Resource Book, were selected based on their quality, range of media and resonance with the overall themes of Picturing America and the ways in which these themes are relevant to Guam. Through Picturing Guam, residents are able to examine our own artistic heritage in relation to America’s art traditions, and to link Guam’s past with our national history through visual art.
As part of the project, the Council worked with local scholars Ron Castro, Velma Yamashita and Ric Castro to facilitate educator workshops for public school teachers to learn how Picturing America, Picturing Guam can be used in the classroom as an effective educational tool.
Picturing Guam was made possible through a grant award to GHC from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Download Teachers Resources Below:
Instructors interested in borrowing the Picturing America, Picturing Guam resources can contact Monaeka Flores or at 472-4462/1.
“8,000, How Will It Change Our Lives?” Community Conversations on the
US Military Buildup in Guam
“8,000 How Will It Change Our Lives?” Community Conversations on the Military Buildup in Guam is the Council’s effort to encourage island residents to examine the impact of the relocation of military personnel and their families to Guam in 2014, through humanities-based conversations on related themes of service, leadership, community, identity and power.
The Council selected the “civic reflection” model to convene community conversations with diverse groups of residents in a variety of settings around the island. Civic reflection is an innovative approach that has been successfully implemented by humanities councils across the country to engage citizens in discussions of important issues that affect civic life.
- The project uses “civic reflection” to conduct community conversations throughout the island.
- A series of six 90-minute conversations will be held among a small group.
- Conversations begin with a focused discussion of a selected reading, poem, film or other text.
- Trained facilitators guide the participants through a reflection process that encourages critical analysis, asking questions, and self-expression.
- Through civic reflection, individuals are invited to step into a hospitable space where they may critically think and talk about the values and choices we make while living together as a community.
The Council brought to Guam master trainer, Dr. Deva Woodly, who conducted a facilitators training workshop utilizing the “civic reflection” model. Eighteen facilitators are now trained to convene community conversations throughout the island.
To learn more about Civic Reflection visit: http://www.civicreflection.org/
Here is a look at who has participated in the conversations to date:
- Sociology and other students at the University of Guam
- Municipal Planning Council members and village leaders in the village of Dededo
- Civilians employed by military contractors and members of the local media
- Retired military personnel
- Activists, artists, and writers
- GED students at the Guam Community College
- Larger conversation events with poet Craig Santos Perez, and chanter and artist Jay Baza Pascua
Conversations will continue throughout the island to include members of the business community, volunteer and community based organizations, educators, and more!
Praise for Community Conversations
“This project has empowered us to look deeply at various social and historical processes and I know that these students will continue to delve deeper into their own communities and be part of the change they want to see in the world.” – Kirk Johnson, Professor of Sociology
“I am not for the buildup, I am not against the buildup. I just want what is good for Guam. It is hard to get to talking about that when we get stuck on the “for or against.” I have been looking for a way to talk about it and I am so glad I found this!” – Retired Marine, Dededo Conversations
“Can’t wait for the next series!” – Participant Evaluation, First Conversations series in Mangilao
Some of the larger questions to raise and address with the project include:
- How do we as a community and as citizens of Guam best understand the impending military buildup?
- What are the important questions we should be asking our neighbors, leaders, the larger community, and ourselves about the buildup?
- How do we become civically engaged in this important issue for the betterment of our island?
- How do we talk about the military buildup in a meaningful/rational/critical way without all the labels, such as for/against, opposition/support, and inside/ outside?
- How do we examine the cultural narrative of the military expansion? What is the best "language" to use?
- How can we best address and talk about issues of dominance in America's relationship with Guam, and specifically in the context of the military buildup? Of power? Of force?
- What of the notion of "service" in the Guam and Chamorro-American context?
- How do we establish or create meaningful dialogue across "the fence"?
A Pacific Collection – Readings for Civic Reflection
The Council launched the publication of A Pacific Collection – Readings for Civic Reflection on August 22, 2011 at the Piazza Cafe. The book features 20 literary pieces from the project by contributing writers including Brandy Nalani McDougall (Hawaii), Barry Lopez (Hawaii), Craig Santos Perez (Guam), Jay Baza Pascua (Guam), Christine Taitano DeLisle (Guam), Emelihter Kihleng (Pohnpei), Ruperake Petaia (Samoa), Robert Sullivan (New Zealand), Charissa Aguon (Guam), Dr. Teresia Teaiwa (Kiribati), and Lee Perez Cruz (Guam). The book launch event included readings presented by Christine Taitano DeLisle, Dr. Teaiwa, Lee Perez Cruz, Charissa Aguon and other local writers.
Complimentary books will be donated to the islands public and school libraries.
Additional support for the project was provided by the Bank of Guam, Cars Plus Guam, Outrigger Guam Resort, DeLisleʼs Beauty Supply, Mariacy Beauty Academy, Family Finance Company, Pay-Less Supermarkets, AM Insurance, GFS Group, Budget Car Rental, Meskla Restaurant, Carmenʼs Mexican Restaurant, Pacific Daily News, Gabrielʼs Italian Cuisine, Subway Guam Restaurants, I.P. Coffee Co., and Lorea Industries, Inc.
For a copy of the book, please contact the Council office at (671) 472-4460/1 or send an email to email@example.com