Smithsonian Institution MoMS

Journey Stories and Sindålu ~ Chamorro Journeys in the U.S. Military

Journey Stories and Sindålu ~ Chamorro Journeys in the U.S. Military

Many of us have powerful journey stories in our personal heritage. It may be a story of a family uprooting itself in order to stay together, or of sons and daughters moving to another land, or of a distant ancestor. The Guam Humanities Council has partnered with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program to bring to Guam the national exhibit, Journey Stories. This exhibit examines the mobility of Americans throughout history and how transportation and migration has reshaped the nation.

As part of the Guam tour, the Council has developed a local companion exhibit with complementary programs entitled, Sindålu – Chamorro Journeys in the U.S. Military, to explore the many significant and oftentimes unrecognized journeys of Chamorro men and women who currently served or have served in the U.S. Military. Chamorro servicemen and women, along with their families, have moved all over the world, some returning home, others resettling permanently in communities across the county. Their rich and complex history of service, sacrifice, travel and a sense of place and identity beginning with World War I into the present will be told in the Sindålu exhibit. Unique exhibit programming will engage diverse Guam audiences, both civilian and military, with these compelling journey stories.

The Council worked with Chamorro scholar and historian Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua to develop the Guam-focused exhibit. Tiffany Ruhl, Curatorial Assistant for the Smithsonian Institution MoMS program, was on island for the installation of the national exhibit and the public opening.

The tour of Journey Stories and Sindålu is made possible though grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Guam Council on the Arts and Humanities Agency and the Guam Naval Officers’ Spouses’ Connection (GNOSC). Sponsors for the tour include Triple B Forwarders and the Agana Shopping Center. The Guam Museum, the University of Guam Micronesia Area Research Center (MARC), the Guam National Guard, and Isla Center for the Arts have provided additional support.





Since 2006, the Guam Humanities Council has participated in the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street (MoMS) exhibition program. MoMS provides rural or underserved communities access to Smithsonian-quality exhibits and educational resources, and helps local organizations highlight their unique contributions within their communities.  The exhibits are developed by MoMS and focus on broad topics of national history. The Council works with MoMS to bring the exhibits to Guam, finds local organizations to host the tour, and provides funding, technical assistance and training.  Participant organizations develop a companion exhibit and associated programs highlighting the experiences and cultural traditions found in Guam. Core humanities content for hosting MoMS includes history, anthropology, politics, language, literature, performing arts and religion of Guam and Micronesia.

The primary audience includes local nonprofit organizations and their staffs that participate as hosts.  Local residents of all educational, economic and ethnic backgrounds, especially students and educators, are also primary visiting audiences for MoMS exhibits and programming. Tourists and non-resident visitors to the island are targeted as well.

The program goals are to provide access to quality exhibit and educational resources; give local groups an opportunity to fulfill their organizational mission and vision, and gain experience in marketing, fundraising, exhibition programming and development.




Smithsonian Institution Between Fences Exhibition, Guam Tour

Fences are a dominant feature in our lives and in our history. Thousands of
types have been invented, millions of miles have been produced, and countless rivals have seized post, rail, panel, and wire to stake their claims. Built of hedge, concrete, wood and metal, the fence skirts our properties and is central to the American landscape. Fences are more than functional objects, they are powerful symbols of security, industry, agriculture, and land ownership. The way we define ourselves as individuals and as a nation becomes tangible in how we build fences.

In March 2012, the Guam Humanities Council brought to Guam Between
, a Smithsonian Institution exhibition that is part of the Museum on Main Street program. GHC worked with historian Christine Taitano DeLisle, PhD to develop a Guam focused companion exhibition and associated programs entitled
I Kelat The Fence: Historical Perspectives on Guam’s Changing Landscape. Guam’s political history, economy and culture will all be examined through the fences present in our local landscape.

From the innocent flores rosa hedges bordering Guam’s manicured village lawns and fragrant lemon China along boundaries of the lancho (“ranch”) to the ominous wire fences enclosing US military property, fences have been a part of the Guam landscape (and mindscape) for centuries.  Fences (and gates, walls and borders) are meant to keep out or keep in, to exclude and include.  Fences are meant to fortify and protect.  Fences mark political, social, and cultural differences and racial, gendered, and classed boundaries.  From a history of fences in Guam we can glean the changing physical environment of the Chamorros – of tano’ (“land”), halom tano’ (jungle), and tasi (“ocean”) – as well as the changing emotional landscape around tano’ and maisa (“self”).  As such, walls, fences, and other boundary markers index, point to, a long and ongoing history of power relations between Chamorros and Americans, Chamorros and the Military, Chamorros and tourists, Chamorros and Asians, Chamorros and other Pacific Islanders.  In Guam, Chamorros and other Guamanians live outside fences, inside fences, and between and betwixt fences.

From August 26-September 1, the Council presented a literary tour with internationally acclaimed writer Jimmy Santiago Baca as part of the programming for the final venue of the exhibition tour. Mr. Baca’s themes include the American Southwest, addiction, injustice, education, community, incarceration, love and beyond.

Born in New Mexico of Chicano and Apache descent, Jimmy Santiago Baca was raised first by his grandmother and later sent to an orphanage. A runaway at age thirteen, he was later sentenced to five years in a maximum security prison at the age of twenty-one, where he began to turn his life around. In prison, he learned to read and write and found his passion for poetry. Mr. Baca is the winner of the Pushcart Prize, the American Book Award, the National Poetry Award, two Southwest Book Awards, and the International Hispanic Heritage Award. His memoir, A Place To Stand, won the prestigious International Award and tells of his life in prison, where he discovered the power of language. The memoir is being made into a documentary feature film.

Baca has devoted his post-prison life to writing and teaching others who are overcoming hardship, particularly at risk adolescents. He has conducted hundreds of writing workshops in prisons, community centers, libraries, and universities throughout the country.

The Council hosted a weeklong series of readings and discussions with Mr. Baca and high school and college students, the Department of Youth Affairs, the Department of Corrections, and presentations with the larger public, including a public lecture at the University of Guam and An Evening with the Author event at Hyatt Regency Guam.

For photos of the Between Fences and I Kelat Program Events




Key Ingredients – America By Food

In 2009-10, the Council coordinated and presented a special Guam tour of Key Ingredients: America by Food, an exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution. From hotdogs to pizza, fiestas to Thanksgiving dinner, Key Ingredients presents a provocative and thoughtful look at the historical, regional and social traditions that merge in everyday meals and celebrations.  Developed as part of the Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program, Key Ingredients explores the connections between American citizens and the foods they produce, prepare, preserve and present at the table. Through a selection of artifacts, photographs and illustrations, Key Ingredients examines the evolution of the American kitchen and how food industries have responded to the technological innovations that have enabled Americans to choose an ever-wider variety of frozen, prepared and fresh foods.

Key Ingredients also offers a multitude of opportunities for hosting organizations to link their own collections and local food specialties to the panoramic story told in the exhibition. Designed for institutions that lack regular access to traveling exhibitions due to space and cost limitations, MoMS exhibits such as Key Ingredients are particularly aimed at small institutions in rural areas and underserved communities. The exhibit traveled to four venues on island, and complimentary local components were developed for each venue. 

Museum on Main Street is a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), the Federation of State Humanities Councils (FSHC), and the different humanities councils in the 56 states and territories, which are eligible to host a MoMS exhibition tour.  With support and programmatic assistance from the Guam Humanities Council, supplemental exhibitions are created at each venue with their own objects, stories and programs that celebrate Guam’s unique cultural heritage and inspire community pride.

Local exhibit components were developed as a celebration of Guam’s culture and history, and were presented in four different venues to offer our residents an opportunity to examine local food traditions, consider their own heritage, and reflect on the dishes and associated memories that are important to their communities.




Sites and Local Exhibits for Key Ingredients

  • The tour opened with Rice Festival, a local interactive component presented by the Guam Council of Women’s Clubs in collaboration with U’zeum Children’s Discovery Museum. Rice Festival highlighted the diverse cultural traditions of rice and featured contributions from the various women’s organizations of GuamThe exhibit ran from August 1 through September 12, 2009 at the Agana Shopping Center.  Programming for the six-week venue included storytelling, cooking demonstrations, cultural performances, and arts and crafts workshops.  Sponsors included Castro Art Studios, U’zeum Children’s Discovery Museum, Agana Shopping Center, Pay Less Supermarket, and IP Coffee.

  • The Council hosted the second leg of the tour and partnered with the War in the Pacific National Historical Park and the Arizona Memorial Museum Association to present Transitional Table, a look at Guam’s shifting food traditions during and after World War II.  The exhibit ran from October 13 through November 21, 2010 at the T. Stell Newman Visitor Center. Programming for the six-week venue included storytelling, cooking demonstrations with World War II Naval Stewards and contemporaries, cultural performances, and film and discussion presentations. Sponsors and partners included Arizona Memorial Museum Association, the Guam Museum, Guam Council on the Arts and Humanities (CAHA), Isla Center for the Arts, MARC UOG, Belt Collins Guam, Ltd, Meskla Restaurant, and Pacific War Museum. 

  • The host for the third venue was the Guam Community College Culinary Arts Program, which presented Secret Ingredients to Our Cultural Cuisine, focused on the evolution of Chamorro food traditions through the introduction of numerous ingredients. The exhibit ran December 3 – 31, 2009 at the GCC Multipurpose Room. Programming for the four week venue included cooking demonstrations and cultural presentations.  GCC’s Culinary Arts and Tourism program sponsored the third venue of the exhibit. 

  • The Guam Humanities Council also hosted the fourth and final leg of the tour with the presentation of Food is Life, exploring Micronesia’s diverse food traditions specifically those of Yap, Kosrae, Chuuk, Pohnpei, Palau and the Marshall Islands.  Exhibit themes included feasting customs and celebrations, food and folklore, the transport and transition of food traditions from basket to basin, and everyday food exchanges and practices.   The six-week exhibition venue included a series of programming events, such as cultural performances and demonstrations, lectures by scholars, film and discussion presentations, storytelling about the techniques used to gather, prepare and store food, and a visit to a taro garden.  The exhibit ran from February 27 through April 10, 2010 at Palm Village, Harmon Loop Road, in Dededo. A planning committee of Micronesian community members on Guam worked with GHC, including Irma Abwe, Betwin Alokoa, Billy Billy, Emelihter Kihleng, Elfrieda Koshiba, Nedine Songeni, and Rose Yanfag.  Sponsors and partners included E.C. Development, Isla Center for the Arts, Belau National Museum, Dr. Donald Rubinstein of MARC, UOG, Dr. Philip Ritter of Stanford University, Dededo Mayor’s Office, Barrigada Mayor’s Office, Hagatna Mayor’s Office, Guam Museum, Guam CAHA, Salvation Army, Nana’s Garden, and Phat Pixel Design Studio.


The main sponsor of the Guam tour of Key Ingredients was Triple B Forwarders.

To learn more about Museum on Main Street and Key Ingredients, check out An interactive website for Key Ingredients features family recipes, food stories, and classroom activities, visit  For more information about the local tour of Key Ingredients on Guam, contact the Council at 472-4461/0 or email




New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music

The Council coordinated and presented its first Guam tour of a Smithsonian Institution Exhibition, New Harmonies – Celebrating American Roots Music in 2007, as part of their Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program.

The MoMs program is the collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), the Federation of State Humanities Councils (FSHC), and the different humanities councils in the 56 states and territories, which are eligible to host a MoMS exhibition tour. With support and programmatic assistance from the Guam Humanities Council, supplemental exhibitions are created at each venue with their own objects, stories and programs that celebrate Guam’s unique cultural heritage and
inspire community pride

New Harmonies provides a fascinating, inspiring, and toe-tapping approach to the American story of multi-cultural exchange and how song carries unique cultural identities and histories of many peoples.  Their music is the roots of American music.  The story is full of surprises about familiar songs, histories of instruments, the roles of religion and technology, and the continuity of musical roots from "Yankee Doodle Dandy" to the contemporary hip-hop.  The music that emerges is known by names like blues, country western, folk ballads, and gospel. The instruments vary from fiddle to banjo to accordion to guitar to drum. Nothing expresses the tensions -- or the triumphs – in American history and democracy quite like the music. 

Four local exhibit components were developed to observe Guam’s unique and diverse musical history.  Isla Center for the Arts at the University of Guam, the Guam Territorial Band Society (GTBS), Historic Inalahan Foundation (HIF) and the Peleliu Club of Guam (PCOG) were each awarded funds from Guam Humanities Council’s community grant program to participate in the exhibition tour of New Harmonies.




Sites and Local Exhibits for New Harmonies 

  • New Harmonies opened on April 19, 2007 at the Isla Center with an evening reception and live music performed by local jazz artists Louie Gombar and Forrest Harris. The first leg of the exhibit ran until May 26.  Isla Center for the Arts developed The History of Jazz on Guam, an exhibit to celebrate Guam’s local jazz story.  Isla provided programming, which included a walking tour with jazz musician Patrick Palomo, a benefit concert in partnership with KPRG radio, and a “Meet & Greet” event with Steven Bednarzyk, a music professor at UOG, and local musicians Mike Di Amore, Carlos Laguana and Telo Taitague.

  • The Guam Territorial Band Society (GTBS) presented the second leg of the tour at the Royal Orchid Hotel in Tumon. GTBS presented History of Band Music on Guam, and incorporated beautiful colored panels and displays of musical instruments and band memorabilia.  The exhibit ran until July 22, 2007.  The exhibit kicked off with a formal ceremony with Maximo Ronquillo, project director for GTBS, leading the Territorial Band through a programme that included musical performances of local favorites and classical pieces. Programming included weekly performances by GTBS, which highlighted pieces popular during Guam’s Pre and Post World War II Naval eras, as well as contemporary hits.  Sponsors and partners for this leg of the tour include the Guam USO and Royal Orchid Hotel. 

  • The Peleliu Club of Guam (PCOG) hosted the third leg of the tour from August 7 to September 15, 2007 also at the Royal Orchid Hotel.  PCOG presented Palauan Music: A Life of Song and Dance, to highlight historical chants, songs, sacred ceremonies and ritual dances, as well as contemporary Palauan forms of musical performance art.   Artifacts and historical images augmented the interpretive exhibit.  Programming included performances by local Palauan bands and dance groups, chanting and storytelling, and a demonstration of a birthing ceremony, which included ceremonial dance.  Food staples from important celebrations were also included in the presentations.  Sponsors and partners for this leg of the tour include the Belau National Museum, Belau Bureau of Arts and Culture, Guam USO and Royal Orchid Hotel.

  • The Historic Inalahan Foundation presented the final leg of the tour in the historic district of Inarajan, from October 7 through November 10, 2007 with Chamorro Music – Contributions to America’s Diversity.  The exhibit included local artifacts of handmade instruments, profiles of important Chamorro musical figures and traditional teachers, as well as a look at the evolution of Chamorro music through the eras.  Programming included storytelling and chanting, presentations of traditional musical forms, including the kantan chamorrita or musical duel, cultural dance performances by Inetnon Gef Pago youth, performances of religious songs in Chamorro, demonstrations of belambautuyan instrument construction, and walking tours of the exhibit set up at historical homes and the church in the district.  Sponsors and partners for the final leg of the tour include the Nissan Guam, Guam Council on the Arts and Humanities (CAHA), and Isla 63 radio. 

The main sponsor of the Guam tour of New Harmonies was Triple B Forwarders.  Support for marketing was provided by Guam Preservation Trust. 

To learn more about Museum on Main Street and New Harmonies, check out

For more information about the local tour of New Harmonies on Guam, contact the Council at
472-4461/0 or email