+1(978)310-4246 credencewriters@gmail.com

create a research project poster

Research a topic of your choice, related to the history of US militarism and antimilitarism, and

demonstrate your findings in a public-engaging form. Some ideas include but are not limited to an

Instagram post; infographics; zine; op-ed; TikTok. Ideas for research topic include but are not

limited to: a specific historical event involving US military expansion and the resistance it spawned a specific law that may be little known to the public that impacted people living in proximity to US bases; current US military escalation,etc.


reply to this thread and share your project ideas, anytime between now and August 18. A short paragraph will be sufficient (no strict word count).

Be sure to share:

1) your topic of investigation

2) the question you want to pose, and attempt to answer, through your project

3) your target/intended audience and the format of your project

4) include 1-2 secondary sources you will consult, and at least one primary source you will engage with. Secondary sources can be a scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal, or a book/book chapter. For a helpful resource that often covers topics related to militarism and anti-militarism in Asia and the Pacific, see The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus:

https://apjjf.org/ (Links to an external site.)

Finally, keep these in mind:

you should discuss militarism


anti-militarism in your project

consider framing your project around the broad theme, “things you didn’t learn in your history classes.” I will look for examples and share those with you all in the next week or so.

Please comment on your


‘ ideas, and share suggestions, ideas, encouragements, etc.

For this project, I am going to investigate the case of Okinawa, Japan. I think I will frame my topic for the project as “In-State and Foreign Betrayal: The Reality of Okinawans.” The question I want to pose and answer centers on why Japan has for so long allowed the US to frustrate Okinawans through military presence, invasive helipad and military base construction, and the general life-threatening experiences the locals must face every day. My target audience will be scholars, freedom activists, and the government, and I will format the project from the perspective of providing an informative narrative on the topic.

One of the primary sources I will consult is “Tastes Like War” authored by Grace Cho and published in 2022. Secondary sources will include “Gendered insecurity under long-term military presence: The case of Okinawa” by Akibayashi and Takazato (2019), “Militarism Outguns Democracy in Okinawa Politics” by McCormack (2022), and “Understanding the Issue of U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa” by Pajon (2010) among others.

this is a great topic. Be sure to highlight antimilitarism struggles in Okinawa in your analysis. Grace Cho’s book is excellent but may not be entirely useful for understanding the Okinawa context. -SM

Abigail LawMondayAug 29 at 1:32pmManage Discussion EntryThis week’s readings were particularly interesting because of the connection between reclaiming culture and antimilitarism. Similar effects of militarism on the environment and people (physically and socially) are seen in Guahan and the places we previously studied, but more apparent in Guahan is how militarism is detrimental to culture. It is cool to see how the anti-militarism movement has led to the revival of CHamoru culture as people hold tightly to the remaining ties to their ancestors. The example of the craft of carving being passed to the younger generations and the activists wearing those carvings as a symbol of the hope of protecting/passing on CHamoru culture itself was particularly powerful to me. Overall, this course has taught me to be more critical of the narratives pushed by the U.S. and popular opinions in general. Especially with militarism or international relations matters, I will be more careful when I process media and try to always look beyond the national level to the human level. I remember being shocked at how massive the U.S. military presence was and how I wasn’t aware of it before this class, so another lesson is how little I knew and how much I still don’t know; being well-informed takes effort but it’s necessary to have a proper grasp of reality. Could u pls after final project reply this? thx

HIUS 103/ETHN 103A (S222)
Class Discussion Notes
Tuesday/Thursday 2:00pm | Zoom link: https://ucsd.zoom.us/j/95070712771
Week 4 – August 25 Discussion
Opening question (share in chat): what was one important take-away for you from Mizuki
Nakamura’s presentation?
US colonialism in the Philippines (recap) (20 minutes)
Keywords: showcase of democracy; US exceptionalism; Philippine-American War; neocolonialism [and
examples of]; export-led economy; Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship; People Power Revolution; Visiting
Forces Agreement
Important years: 1898, 1946, 1986, 1991
The #Redhill fuel leak on O‘ahu:
Watch “Native Hawaiians Fight US Navy for Polluting Island’s Water” (11:36):

Hawaii becomes a state in 1959
Guam: Organic Act of 1950
Philippine independence in 1946
Discussion (15 min):
1) Your general reactions to the video clip
2) How do you think of Hawai‘i? What is Hawai‘i’s relationship to the United States? What
term(s) areused to describe the relationship?
3) According to Native Hawaiians, what is the crux of the issue?
4) To them, what is the solution?
It describes the processes and practices of resource extraction, settlement, and occupation, and the system of laws that regulate and enable
them. The people subjected under colonialism are deprived of autonomy and the rights of self-determination. They are under the rule of
the colonial power. This subjugation is accomplished through law and discourses of race, gender, and sexuality. These discourses
represent colonized peoples as queer, non-normative, inferior, childlike, and serve to justify colonial domination over them.
Moreover, colonialism works by making the colonized believe that their domination is justified and tangibly benefits their lives. We can
call it colonialism of the mind (or colonial mentality). The imperial project unravels as soon as the colonized starts challenging that belief.
What are some of the discourses and laws that have shaped US colonialism in Hawai‘i?
Militarism definition (from IWNM):
We define militarism as a system of beliefs, political priorities and economic investments. Militarism includes the activities of
corporations that produce and sell weapons, the role of state militaries–including state-sanctioned violence, martial law, repression,
extra-judicial killings, military coups, and military dominance within governments–as well as non-state militias. Militarism is shored up
by patriarchy and reinforces violent masculinity.
Discussion questions:
How has militarism and colonialism worked together in Hawai‘i, or the Philippines, or Okinawa?
(Another way to ask: how have these been interlocking systems of domination?) Name examples.
This next question asks us to be self-reflective: what are ways that colonial discourses (or colonial
mentality) shape your understanding of, and your responses to, militarism in the Pacific? How do we
acknowledge and counteract these tendencies?
What does the work of demilitarization require? What does the work look like?
Week 3 – August 16 Discussion
Opening question (pick one and share in chat):
● What was one thing you learned from this week that you found interesting or surprising, or
that you want to pursue with further research?
● What is one question you want to make sure we discuss today?
Article 9 of Japan Constitution (1947):
“Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever
renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling
international disputes.
“In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war
potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”
Article 6 of US-Japan Security Treaty (1952):
“For the purpose of contributing to the security of Japan and the maintenance of international peace and
security in the Far East, the United States of America is granted the use by its land, air and naval forces of
facilities and areas in Japan.”
Article 3 of San Francisco Peace Treaty (1952):
“the United States will have the right to exercise all and any power of administration, legislation and
jurisdiction over the territory and inhabitants of these islands [Ryukyu Islands], including their
territorial waters.”
1879: Ryukyu Kingdom annexed by Japan, became Okinawa Prefecture
1945: Japan surrender. Battle of Okinawa
1945-1952: US occupation of Japan (Okinawa)
1952: San Francisco Peace Treaty and Mutual Security Treaty
1952-1972: US Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands (USCAR)
1972: Reversion Treaty
1996: SACO Agreement reduce the burden
1996-Present: military buildup in Henoko (Futenma Replacement Facility); Takae (6 helipads);
Guahan (Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz); Miyako Island (Japan Self-Defense Force army base).
Discussion (based on the timeline above and from lecture notes):
1) What were the US objectives in Japan after the war? What was Japan’s role in the postwar US
2) What explains Okinawa’s “liminality”? What was its utility for the Japanese empire (before
1945) and the US empire (after 1945)? Does our definition of colonialism (below) apply to
Okinawa? A question from this week’s discussion post: is colonialism, or quasi-colonialism,
fundamentally wrong?
Colonialism: It describes the processes and practices of resource extraction, settlement, and occupation, and the
system of laws that regulate and enable them. The people subjected under colonialism are deprived of autonomy and
the rights of self-determination. They are under the rule of the colonial power. This subjugation is accomplished
through law and discourses of race, gender, and sexuality. These discourses represent colonized peoples as queer,
non-normative, inferior, childlike, and serve to justify colonial domination over them.
Social movements coalesce when people get together to address an immediate crisis impacting their
ability to go about their lives. They pool their resources (knowledge, skills, goods) to address the crisis.
That is always, first and foremost, the impetus for organizing. In the process of that coming together,
people ask questions – why is this happening to us? Why is the military building here? Why are we
disproportionately impacted by contaminated water? And in asking those questions, people build their
shared analysis, and that is the basis of solidarity.
Discussion (from the readings and film):
1) What is the significance of Takae as a place?
2) Does the US military base presence help the local economy? (Voice of Takae, p. 3; Gender
Insecurity, p. 51)
3) What were the tactics of protest in Takae? What do you think about its effectiveness?
4) What were the tactics of repression from the government?
5) Women have been at the forefront of antimilitarism struggles in Okinawa (and indeed in many
other places – Guahan, South Korea, Hawai‘i, and elsewhere). Look at Okinawa Women Act
Against Military Violence (OWAAMV) as an example. What is unique about their approach,
their questions, their goals? What do they mean when they say they want genuine security,
instead of national security? Pick one passage from the reading “Gender Insecurity” to discuss.
Current situation in Takae: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7wXddykbVc&t=195s
Questions for Mizuki Nakamura, guest speaker for Thursday:

How do you think complete removal of us military from Okinawa will affect all aspects of life

How do you educate and inspire those who are not as knowledgeable about the injustices that
are happening in Okinawa?

Will removal effect national security for japan?

Is social media a useful tool in educating about the injustices, and how is social media used to
do this?

Will decreased militarization in Okinawa result in overall decreased militarization in the Pacific
world, or will the US keep on turning to other countries and islands to “restructure” and
remilitarize the Pacific world?

If demilitarizing does not pan out (given the US military and its inability to take no for an
answer), what alternative steps could be taken to somehow reduce their impact of occupation
without their removal?

“Demilitarization does seem like a daunting task, but I wish to believe it is possible.” What does the
work of demilitarization entail?

Class Thursday 3:30-5:00. Come prepared to ask questions and engage, and turn on your
cameras if possible.

Submit mid-term self-assessment Thursday 6pm

Submit your final project idea to discussion thread Thursday 6pm
Week 2 – August 9 Discussion
Opening question (pick one and share in chat):
● What was one thing you learned from this week that you found interesting?
● What do you want to discuss today?
● Before this class, what was your knowledge of the Korean War?
Recap from lecture 2: characteristics and objective of US military empire/post-1945 US empire
Discuss the cold war: the conventional view versus the view from Korea
Listen and discuss clip of Truman Doctrine (1947): (5 min)
● How is the enemy characterized?
● What were Truman’s justifications for providing US aid? What’s at stake?
The US Occupation: (15 min)
● The US occupation of Korea (1945-1948), Jessie Kindig calls this the first “peace regime.”
What did Americans mean by “peace” here? What was the US goal in Korea and how did it
differ from the goals of Koreans?
● What made the occupation “colonial” in character?
● What happened on Jeju Island that came to be known as 4.3 incident?
Camptowns: (15 min)
● Understanding camptowns as an infrastructure, and as a place where militarism is felt and lived
● What were the historical forces, ideological structures, and law and policies that enabled
camptowns? List and discuss.
â—‹ Decimated economy
â—‹ Government encouraging women to work for the nation
â—‹ Japanese imperialism
â—‹ Masculinity/morale for American soldiers
â—‹ Patriarachy, racism, anti-Asian racism, militarism
â—‹ Status of Forces Agreement
● Revisiting the definition of colonialism, can camptowns be considered a colonized space?
It describes the processes and practices of resource extraction, settlement, and occupation, and the system of laws that regulate and enable them.
The people subjected under colonialism are deprived of autonomy and the rights of self-determination. They are under the rule of the colonial
power. This subjugation is accomplished through law and discourses of race, gender, and sexuality. These discourses represent colonized peoples
as queer, non-normative, inferior, childlike, and serve to justify colonial domination over them
Breakout discussion/staging a debate: (20-30 min)
The view of the US and the military:
● What were the justifications for the military presence?
● What were their views of Korean protesters?
● How did the US (and South Korea) respond? What were the (counterinsurgent) tactics?
Understanding antimilitarism in Korea (think about Pyongtaek, Daechuri, Maehyangri, Gangjeong)
● Why did Koreans object to the US military presence?
● What were their tactics of protest?
● What were their reasons for not caving in to the South Korean government’s concessions?
One of you wrote this week: “Demilitarization does seem like a daunting task, but I wish to believe it is
possible.” What does the work of demilitarization entail?
Final project: encourage you to work around a common theme: “things you don’t learn in your history
Group 1:
What were the justifications for the military presence?
The Truman doctrine was employed as a justification for the US’s military presence, that is the
containment of communism and the championing of supposedly uniquely American ideals, ie. liberty,
freedom, wealth etc. The US was framed as a sort of world savior that was given the role naturally and
did not necessarily choose to exert its influence throughout the globe. Current justifications: Protector
role, nuclear threats from NK, solving the problem they themselves created. A fabricated dependency
on foreign aid. Protecting them from China is the new justification as well.
What were their views of Korean protestors?
Seen as communist “agitators” who were attempting to disrupt the order imposed through American
occupation. Seen as impeding the process of American liberation and democracy. Current depictions:
ungrateful for the protection provided by US.
US and South Korea’s response:
Dissidents were rounded up through mass arrests, preemptive strikes against the people, indiscriminate
killings such as those on Jeju Island. Usage of organizations trained by the US to commit atrocities,
potentially to obfuscate their own direct involvement.
Group 2:
● What were the justifications for the military presence?
â—‹ protecting the people there, stopping communism from prevailing
○ Hillary Clinton: admonishes South Koreans for “forgetting what we have done over so
many decades to provide them the freedom that they enjoyed.”
● What were their views of Korean protesters?
â—‹ communists trying to disrupt the peace,
â—‹ In Daechuri,
â—‹ people needing protection, ungrateful
● How did the US (and South Korea) respond? What were the (counterinsurgent) tactics?
â—‹ As a result of the Yongsan Relocation Plan and Land Partnership plan, the US
consolidated tens of military bases in Korea to one larger “super base” at Camp
Humphreys, creating the largest military base in the world. In the village of Daechuri,
the US military and South Korean government violently removed villagers and farmers
from their homes in order to expand Camp Humphreys and make it into the largest
US military base in the world.
â–  The Army officials said that the Camp Humphreys expansion was built on
“just farm fields”, but they really were using eminent domain to force 70
villagers and farmers from their lands and into a newly built village nearby.
â–  The US and South Korea responded to protestors in Darchuri by destroying
their farmland by stopping water flow and constructing fences around the soil.
â—‹ highly systemized surveillance, prohibition of political meetings, mass preemptive
arrests, used the same Japanese tactics/colonial institutions
○ The United States’ policy of containment and counterinsurgency resulted in the Jeju
Island massacre in which 80,000 Koreans were killed by a US-trained right-wing
terrorist group because they were labeled as communists
â—‹ Land Partnership Plan – 10 year plan meant to consolidate US installations in Korea
in 2000, closing military bases and giving back land but not taking away all the troops
â–  Some examples of the US closing down military bases in response to anti
military protests are Maeyhangri and Vieques and the Kooni range.
■ enlargement of military budget, created an “enduring structure”
Group 3:
● What were the justifications for the military presence?
â—‹ Preserving freedom and democracy
â—‹ Protecting people from communism
● What were their views of Korean protesters?
â—‹ They were disregarding the importance of the U.S. in keeping the peace in Korea
â—‹ They were labeled as communist because they did not submit to the authority of the
● How did the US (and South Korea) respond? What were the (counterinsurgent) tactics?
â—‹ The countries responded with varying tactics, one being offering money to buy off
their lands.
â—‹ Korean government shut down the media
â—‹ Deployed troops to violently fight the protestors
Group 4
Understanding antimilitarism in Korea (think about Pyongtaek, Daechuri, Maehyangri, Gangjeong)
● Why did Koreans object to the US military presence?
â—‹ The people of Korea already had poor associations with the U.S. military due to the
relations they had previously had with them, and how they had treated the people of
â—‹ They felt oppressed by the laws and policies the American government implemented
when they occupied Korea. Examples: the unfair curfews, a strict set of ideologies, the
dehumanization of Korean people.
â—‹ For farming villages, the loss of their land is the loss of their livelihood
â—‹ incidents of violence against civilians
● What were their tactics of protest?
â—‹ petitions, sit-ins, legal suits
● What were their reasons for not caving in to the South Korean government’s concessions?
○ Pre-existing discontent with previous military expansion and the so-called ‘protection’
the U.S. offered.
â—‹ history of U.S. military noncommunication with and violence against villagers
â—‹ Communal solidarity
â—‹ land had sentimental value and/or was sacred to the people
Week 1 – August 4 Discussion
Discuss key terms: imperialism, colonialism, settler and extractive colonialisms (10 minutes)
Examples of settler colonialism:
Examples of extractive colonialism:
Examples of settler & extractive colonialism:
Discuss: Look at the three maps of the US empire in lecture 2. In conventional narratives of US
history, only one of those maps is considered a valid representation of the US empire. Which is it? And
why do you think this is the case?
Breakout discussion 1: First take 5 minutes on your own to review lecture 2 and jot down your own
notes, then discuss these questions:
1) Why did the US seize colonial territories in the Pacific in 1898?
2) How did the US justify colonialism?
Group 1:
Why did the US seize colonial territories in the Pacific in 1898?
● The idea of “Manifest Destiny” and “American Progress”
● To use as “stepping stones” in their pursuit of trade with Asia and China specifically
● wanted land and natural resources
● source of human labor
● As a way to showcase their power and superiority to the world
● wanted to be stronger in the global imperial competition
How did the US justify colonialism?
● racialized & infantialized the people (in the beginning)
● uplifting/civilizing the “savage”
● denounced racism and said it was the “white man’s burden”
● done through law and discourses of race, gender, and sexuality
â—‹ represented them as queer, nonnormative, childlike, inferior, and uncivilized
Group 2:
Why did the US seize colonial territories in the Pacific in 1898?
● obtain resources
● human labor
● trade with China
● Competing with EU countries for trade and economic advancement
How did the US justify colonialism?
● To reach a point of enlightenment and showcase progress ion.
● To bring education and religion to under developed countries (indigenous peoples)
● The ideology behind the white man’s burdens
Group 3:
Why did the US seize colonial territories in the Pacific in 1898?
The US wanted more lands that could be cultivated and they also wanted more human labor from the
Phillipines to work on sugar plantations in Hawaii. They also wanted to have more territory to
compete with other European imperial powers, as the United States at the time had very little overseas
territories. The US victory in the Spanish-American war helped the US catch up to other imperial
powers at the time, so they annexed the territories controlled by the Spanish in the late 1800s.
How did the US justify colonialism?

The US justified colonialism by claiming that they were “civilizing the savage” and helping
these people by colonizing their lands. They justified colonialism legally by claiming that
colonial territories were “unincorporated territory” meaning that these territories had no
chance at becoming states and their peoples were not US citizens.
Group 4:
The US justified colonialism because they were looking at it as in that they were aiding the people who
they thought could not make it on their own.
Group 5:
Why did the US seize colonial territories in the Pacific in 1898?
The US wanted more lands and wanted to extract their goods and also wanted their people for the
labor work without making indiginious people US citizens. They did all this because they wanted to
expand their land and create more profits.
At the time the US was not the only country who was seizing Colonial territories. In fact, the US was a
latecomer in the colonial market. Britain was ahead of the US and the US wanted to compete with
How did the US justify colonialism?
They justified it by saying that we are developing these countries. We are civilizing the uncivilized
Breakout discussion 2:
1) When was the age of decolonization, and what happened? What do you notice about which
countries were decolonized and which were not?
2) What are the key differences between pre- and post-1945 US empire?
3) What are the rationales for maintaining US military bases overseas?
Counter-questions are those that can disrupt or challenge the dominant knowledge/common sense.
They are, in many ways, unaskable questions, because the dominant knowledge/common sense leaves
no room for them.
Breakout discussion 3:
1) Come up with 3 counter-questions to challenge the rationales for the US empire of bases.
Wrap-up: next week’s class meet on 8/9, no class meeting 8/11
Costs of War: Watson Institute International & Public Affairs @ Brown Univ
House passes $839B defense bill. Politico, July 14, 2022.
Week 1 – August 2 Discussion
● Syllabus (15 min)
â—‹ Class time change for August 18 3:30-5:00
● Introductions: what do you want to learn from this class? (breakout) (10 min)
● Recap/discuss lecture 1 (20 min)
● Discuss Kariann Yokota (breakout) (20 min)
● Discuss imperialism, colonialism, and lecture 1 takeaways (15 min)
Discussion questions:
1. ​In what ways has the idea of “American progress” been central to US history? Who benefited
from this “progress,” and at whose expense?
2. How has the Pacific figured in this narrative of American progress?
3. What is the significance of 1898?
Kariann Yokota discussion questions (breakout):
Groups 1-3 – answer questions 1-3
Groups 4-6 – answer questions 4-5
1. Yokota refers to China as not only a place but also an “idea” (207). What did China signify to
Americans in the early republic?
2. Why did Americans pursue trade with China? (Consider the discussion of the American
Philosophical Society.)
3. What goods did Americans trade with China?
4. The early American economy, premised on the China trade, fundamentally altered the land
and natural environment, as well as Indigenous peoples’ relationship to them. What are some
examples of this? (Yokota, 208-209)
5. Why did the United States seek to establish its presence in the Pacific after the American
Revolution? (Yokota, 215-216)
Discuss imperialism, colonialism, and takeaways
Group 1: learning about anti military struggles in the philippines & how we are using the islands of the
pacific today, increasing the number of military members in Guam for example. How the effects of past
military occupations affect people’s lives today in these areas.
1. Yokota refers to China as not only a place but also an “idea” (207). What did China signify to
Americans in the early republic?
a. signified a world outside the british empire & newly won freedom, luxury goods that
wealthy americans could use to show their status.
2. Why did Americans pursue trade with China? (Consider the discussion of the American
Philosophical Society.)
a. China’s, “intellectual and sometimes esoteric interests contributed broadly to
American interests and potential for development.” (208), originally wanted to
strengthen the British Empire and looked to China for inspiration and opportunities,
3. What goods did Americans trade with China?
a. ginseng, tea
b. “Raw” materials for “cooked” products (208).
Group 2:
Learning about imperialist narrative of US history as opposed to the Frontier thesis narrative that is
traditionally taught in US history. Other classes have brushed over the Pacific world, so being able to
learn and understand a different side is interesting.
1. Before the American revolution, Great Britain did not allow American colonies to trade with
countries other than Great Britain, and Chinese objects were coveted in the American colonies,
so direct trade with China became a symbol of independence and freedom in the early
2. The American Philosophical Society’s main goal was to “contribute to the might and strength
of the British Empire” and the APS “looked to China for inspiration and opportunities” to
achieve this goal. (208) Being able to trade with China was a way to demonstrate the colonies
usefulness to the Empire and the progress they had already made. The American colonists also
wanted to import Chinese natural commodities such as silk, muslins, calicoes, hemp, maple,
cocoa, cotton, and sassafras, and figure out how to grow these products in North America.
Because the North American colonies had the same latitude as Peking, they wanted to grow
these in North America and sell them to Great Britain for cheaper prices.
3. The Americans traded “natural products” provided by Native American and Pacific Islanders,
including “ginseng from the backwoods of North America, pelts from the Pacific Northwest,
sandalwood from Hawai’i, sea slugs from Fiji, and birds’ nests from Borneo.” These were the
only goods that the Chinese in Canton would accept in exchange for Chinese tea, porcelain,
silk, etc.
Group 3:
Learning about geographical aspects of the areas where different events took place, including different
parts of the Philippines and where U.S. relations occurred.
1. Initially, China represented high culture and sophistication, the Americans also noted its
importance for the British. Post-revolution, they began to see their unfettered trade with China
as an expression of their freedom.
2. They pursued trade with China due to their inability to create the products China offered on
the homeland. America also wanted to assert their independence as their own nation, rather
than having to obtain their goods from Great Britain. This is also why they tried to discover
their own original routes to and fro.
3.1898 represents the year in which the US annexed many pacific lands and is also referred to as
a “unique” imperialist moment when viewing US history from an exceptionalist standpoint.
Group 4:
Learning about new things in general and how perspectives have changed over time and through
interaction of nations/exchange of ideas
Question 4: The early American economy, premised on the China trade, fundamentally altered the
land and natural environment, as well as Indigenous peoples’ relationship to them. What are some
examples of this? (Yokota, 208-209)
● Sandalwood was extracted and exploited to the point where natives of Hawaii focused more on
collecting Sandalwood than growing their own food.
● We also mentioned how slavery was also a component of extractive colonialism and alienation
was prominent in recieving natural resources.
● America tried to manufacture goods on their own and provide for Britain while trying to push
out China Trades with Britain but failed to do so. China kept their manufacturing methods
close to themselves and did not share their methods with other countries to keep their market.
● America relied on African slaves to do their manual labor work for any kind of faming or any
● Many social and political systems of indigenous communities were disrupted by famine,
displacement, disease, etc. as a result of America’s ambitions
Question 5: Why did the United States seek to establish its presence in the Pacific after the American
Revolution? (Yokota, 215-216)
● To establish independence, particularly because trading with China was previously restricted
by colonial mercantile laws.
● economic reasons, many believed the Chinese market would help the economy of the new
● To display geographic dominance over the general trade and establish itself as a world power
since it had an upper hand on convenience.
Group 5:
Learn a different perspective of US history than previously taught in other classes.
The early American economy, premised on the China trade, fundamentally altered the land and
natural environment, as well as Indigenous peoples’ relationship to them. What are some examples of
this? (Yokota, 208-209)
The early American economy depended on the exploitation of the land and the use of their natural
products to exchange products with Europe and China. Native people participated in the process of
global commerce in the form of providing labor and productivity, and allowing Americans to trade
with China. One example in the article that changed the relationship between land and nature is that
Native Hawaiians spent more time gathering timber for the trade needs of the United States and
China, which left them with insufficient time for farming tasks such as planting to meet their
subsistence needs.
Why did the United States seek to establish its presence in the Pacific after the American Revolution?
(Yokota, 215-216)
Group 6:
“American settlers depended upon African slaves and Native Americans to produce and procure crops
and natural products that were valued on the global market. Imported slaves provided the labor needed
to produce New World crops such as cotton, sugarcane, rice, and tobacco”(Yokota 208)
“When indigenous communities joined global networks of commodity exchange, their established
social systems were disrupted and in some cases destroyed. The demands of capitalism brought famine,
displacement, and disease to communities that never recovered”(Yokota 209)
Learning about US interaction in the Pacific world and the lesser known history in the region.
4. The exploitation of the natural resources. Use indigenous people as a source of labor.
5. The United States sought to establish a presence in the Pacific in an effort to boost its economy
following its independence from British trade restrictions (216). The economic allure of the Chinese
market was very strong for Amercans at the time.
Prutehi Litekyan
A social movement to protect
biocultural diversity and restore
indigenous land sovereignty
on Guåhan
Else Demeulenaere
A colonial landscape of Guåhan
“Despite our political status, we as a people deserve the right to have
consent in our future” (V. Leon Guerrero, co-chair Independent Guåhan,
Managing Editor of the University of Guam Press, personal communication, June 5, 2018).
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
(UNDRIP) stresses that the administering powers of non-self-governing
territories have the obligation to protect their natural resources against
exploitation. Indigenous peoples hold the legitimate rights over their natural and cultural heritage. Despite this global recognition, the US has
denied this human right in the context of Guåhan (Guam), as Samantha
Barnett testified in 2017 at the UN in opposition to the plans to destroy
ancestral sites on Guåhan for a military firing range. She noted, “As I
speak, the administering power is planning to move forward with a massive live firing training range complex at Northwest Field that overlooks
the sacred village of Litekyan, where the CHamoru people have been
thriving for over 3,500 years” (Fourth Committee, 4th meeting – General
Assembly, 72nd session 2017). This chapter explains how the grassroots
organization Prutehi Litekyan/Save Ritidian (PLSR) formed, stemming
from efforts to protect the last critically endangered adult Håyun lågu
tree (Serianthes nelsonii) and its pristine limestone habitat against the
construction of the firing range. Prutehi Litekyan has grown into a significant social movement on Guåhan that deeply intertwines land sovereignty, youth mobilization, cultural preservation, traditional values,
scientific understandings of biodiversity, and language rights in a distinct
Pacific island approach.
Guåhan is the largest and southernmost island of the 15 islands within
the Mariana Islands in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. Early Austronesian
speakers, known today as the CHamoru people, voyaged over 1,200 miles from
the Philippines to the Mariana Islands around 1500 BC (Hung et al. 2011).
Over the two millennia following settlement, the CHamoru society became
Prutehi Litekyan
stratified with a clan-based matrilineal society of hereditary chiefs controlling the marine and land tenure system (Cunningham 1992). The latte
houses, raised on capped stone pillars, represented shared village identities
and reduced conflicts by protecting property rights (Peterson 2012). For over
700 years, a sustainable culture developed across the Mariana Islands and
lasted until the first period of European colonialization of the Pacific Islands
in the 17th century. The research presented here addresses the contemporary context of an ongoing struggle between indigenous residents of Guåhan
and the different colonial powers that have sought to use the island and its
neighboring islands for their own purposes. I use indigenous epistemology, a
way of knowing connected to the land and the spiritual world, and scientific
knowledge of the region’s environment to answer the central question: given
that the US is not bound in domestic law by UNDRIP and its corollaries, is
it possible for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to address the
concerns of the CHamoru people holistically, advancing both environmental
protection and Indigenous rights?
This is a timely subject. Human rights lawyer Julian Aguon recently announced that his law firm, Blue Ocean Law, in partnership with the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, filed a submission on behalf of
Prutehi Litekyan with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, stressing that:
The domestic legal frameworks (NEPA and otherwise) within which we
are expected to plead our case are woefully inadequate. When it comes
to destructive development activities of this scale, for instance, we are
not asking for mere consultation, we are demanding free, prior, and informed consent. What is happening here are human rights violations
and they should be called by their true name.
(J. Aguon 2011, August 16, 2020).
His perspective is illustrative of how the ongoing narrative, stemming from
centuries of colonialism, continues in our current context of international
relations. This contemporary social movement is rooted in the people of
the Marianas’ quest for self-determination, self-governance, and control of
their land.
The history of colonization in the Pacific region began with Spain establishing the colony “Las Marianas” in 1668. The Spanish Crown and
Catholic Church instituted a policy of reducción, the forced relocation of
the CHamoru people throughout the archipelago into missionized villages
(Rogers 1995). This displacement erased the CHamoru people’s ancestral
ties to the land and disrupted traditional resource governance and trade
with neighboring islands (Marsh-Taitano 2013). However, during Spanish
colonization there was preservation of the CHamoru language, traditional
practices and values, largely through the roles of women (Souder 1991).
56 Else Demeulenaere
After the Spanish-American War of 1898, the US acquired Guåhan. During US naval rule, the English language was mandated in schools and the
local government. Despite resistance of the CHamoru people, this resulted
in a significant decline in the use of the CHamoru language (Santos-Bamba
2013). During the Pacific War from 1941 until 1944, the Japanese invaded
and held the island.
After World War II, the US recaptured the Mariana Islands from Japan
and expanded its military interests over Micronesia (Kuper 2014). Guåhan
became part of America’s global defense strategy (Na’puti and Bevacqua
2015). CHamoru families lost their land when the military seized a third of
Guåhan’s territory to construct military bases (Bevacqua 2010). During this
time, a political movement for self-rule in Guåhan coalesced. In 1945, the
UN acknowledged Guåhan’s right to self-determination, listing Guåhan as
one of 17 non-self-governing territories. The Organic Act of 1950 declared
Guåhan as an unincorporated territory that granted the CHamoru people
US citizenship but only limited self-governance, assuring colonial authority
(Bevacqua 2010). Indigenous activists continued pushing for decolonization.
As the military claimed more land in Guåhan, some of the first local protest
movements (in 1969 and 1975), advocated for the environmental protection
and mobilization against the Navy’s proposed Sella Bay ammunition wharf
project. Facing strong opposition from the public and the Guam Legislature, the military abandoned those plans (Clement 2002).
New political struggles over land sovereignty
The current social movement to protect Litekyan results from both ongoing
social processes and historical patterns of oppression that still shape the
nature of the island’s governance. In 2005, the US Department of Defense
(DoD) announced its plans for the relocation of US Marine Corps personnel
from Okinawa (Japan) to Guåhan. Besides the construction of base facilities and training infrastructure, the DoD established the Mariana Islands
Range Complex (MIRC) in 2010 and the Mariana Islands Training and
Testing (MITT) in 2015 to accommodate military training requirements on
land and at sea (Figure 4.1). These are the largest live-fire training ranges in
the world. Stemming from centuries of colonialism, the recent trajectory of
developing threats to the environment and culture from an intensifying US
military presence in the region has sparked a new social movement.
The military build-up in the Marianas must comply with the US Council
on Environmental Quality (CEQ) NEPA regulations (40 C.F.R. §1507.2) and
take all environmental laws into account, while assessing the proposed actions and involving the public prior to decision-making (Figure 4.2). While
different NEPA processes were carried out for the MIRC and the MITT,
this research focuses on the NEPA process for “the Guam Department and
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Military Relocation”. The
development associated with the military relocation will have significant environmental impacts. The DoD proposed different alternatives in the 2009
Figure 4.1 Map depicting the military’s plans for the Live Fire Training Range
at Litekyan and Tailålo’. The islands Guåhan, Tinian, Farallon de
Medinilla (FDM), and Tinian are part of the military training plans.
Figure 4.2 Flow-chart illustrating the NEPA process for the “Guam Department and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Military
58 Else Demeulenaere
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for public review and comments.
Two of the most important laws relating to the social movement in Guåhan
are the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). To comply with the ESA, the DoD coordinates with
the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to ensure that proposed actions
are not likely to adversely affect any threatened or endangered species. The
DoD also coordinates with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO)
to comply with the NHPA, which considers the effects of the proposed actions on historic properties. After the environmental analysis and input from
the community, the alternative with the least regulatory requirements and
opposition from the public should be proposed as the preferred alternative,
although this is not a NEPA requirement. Finally, the Record of Decision
(ROD) documents the preferred alternative and details mitigation measures.
The environmental review for the contemporary military buildup in the
Marianas began on March 7, 2007, when the DoD published its Notice of
Intent (NI) to start the EIS process. In 2008, Fuetsan Famalao’an, a women’s group organized around the issues of demilitarization in the region, met
with political leaders to voice their concerns. After the Draft EIS (DEIS)
was released in 2009, the grassroots organization “We are Guåhan” mobilized people to submit comments. In 2010, despite the public outcry, the
DoD issued its Final EIS (FEIS) with no significant changes. The ROD detailed the construction of a Live Fire Training Range Complex (LFTRC)
near the ancient village of Pågat in northeastern Guåhan (Camacho 2013;
Figure 4.1). People protested against the military’s claim and access to the
sacred lands of Pågat (Na‘puti and Bevacqua 2015). Emphasizing the biocultural value of Pågat proved to be an effective strategy: the DoD abandoned its plans for Pågat. The NEPA process requires a federal agency to
prepare a Supplemental EIS (SEIS) when significant relevant environmental
concerns of a proposed action arise. The preparation of SEIS is similar to
that of an EIS. DoD submitted a Draft SEIS in 2014 and FEIS in 2015. One
of the proposed alternatives for the LFTRC was Litekyan. In 2015, the ROD
detailed the new preferred LFTRC site at Tailålo’, the indigenous name of
Northwest Field at Andersen Air Force Base, north of Litekyan (Department of Defense 2015; Figure 4.1). The proposed Surface Danger Zone of
the LFTRC stretches ten miles out into the ocean from Litekyan, preventing
access to 68% of Litekyan. This 2015 ROD, together with additional plans to
use the islands of Tinian, Farallon de Medinilla, and Pagan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) for military training, put
a renewed and even greater pressure onto the Mariana Islands’ natural and
cultural resources (Na‘puti and Bevacqua 2015; Figure 4.1).
Knowledge co-production for activism
To probe whether NEPA can advance environmental protection and Indigenous rights, social movement theory (della Porta 2014) is used to explain
Prutehi Litekyan
why people mobilize around certain issues, how they relate to historical
concerns, and how indigenous cultures may be affected (Clark 2002). This
approach requires studying the social injustices surrounding the Litekyan
issue in both a historical and current context and fits into a larger study
that is focusing on the protection of biocultural diversity, indigenous rights,
and empowerment on Guåhan. Using an ethnographic approach to elucidate cultural identity and lived experiences as an intrinsic part of a people’s
movement, I ground my research in learning from those who have mobilized, in particular the indigenous peoples, and I stress the inclusion of indigenous epistemology (Smith 2012).
The ethnographic approach comprised a qualitative mixed-method strategy using a triangulation of methods (della Porta 2014). The three major
categories of data collection were (1) participation-observation, (2) in-depth
interviews, and (3) archival document analysis. My approach was drawn
from Participatory Action Research and aimed to bridge disciplines and
provide the people participating in this research the ability to understand
policies and their capacity for change. Specifically, I used Ethnographic
Content Analysis in Atlas.ti for data analysis (Friese 2012). Of the 56 interviewees, 33 activists were interviewed to document the social movement
from the activists’ perspective. In addition, interviews with 24 stakeholders
involved with this issue inquired about solutions to advance policy change
benefiting the community (Kemmis and Mctaggart 2007). The stakeholders
are members of federal and local agencies, DoD, and policy makers. My
research shows that: (1) The CHamoru people continue to experience political disempowerment; (2) The NEPA process did not take the CHamoru
knowledge and value system into account when analyzing the impact of the
military buildup; (3) Decision-making tools like NEPA, ESA, and NHPA
need reevaluation and should include a process that acknowledges and legitimizes the CHamoru knowledge and value system; and (4) Bottom-up
approaches built upon local knowledge can advance local decision-making.
Prutehi Litekyan: a diverse direct-action group
Prutehi Litekyan is a direct-action group dedicated to the protection of natural and cultural resources in all sites identified for DOD live-fire training
in Guam. As part of an ongoing social movement, the group opposes the establishment of any military firing range; stands in solidarity with Guardians
of Gani’, PaganWatch, Tinian Women’s Association, and Alternative Zero
Coalition by preventing environmental degradation and destruction on sacred and native lands; and promotes the continued push for return of ancestral lands (Prutehi Litekyan Mission Statement). Through their actions,
they raise awareness within the community and demand action from politicians because the NEPA process failed to protect the biocultural heritage
at Litekyan and Tailålo’. Prutehi Litekyan engages on both spiritual and intellectual grounds, bringing together cultural advocates, healers, fishermen,
Else Demeulenaere
students, teachers, cultural practitioners, environmentalists, and scientists.
This action results in a co-production of knowledge, rooted in indigenous
epistemology. The participants and leaders of this social movement are diverse and encompass different viewpoints, making this successful movement
“leaderfull”: many people step up to offer leadership to the movement and
support each other (Knuth 2019). This movement emphasizes the CHamoru
value of respect and the connection to the land, driving a sustainable social
and political transformation. I collected stories and reflections from leaders
engaged in this social movement, revealing why they want to protect the
landscapes of Litekyan and Tailålo’.
Many of those interviewed spoke about land sovereignty and the historic
act of injustice by the DoD in condemning the lands of Litekyan in 1957.
The military deemed the Litekyan lands “excess” in 2000 and transferred
the CHamoru homelands to the USFWS instead of returning them to the
rightful landowners (Carson 2018). Litekyan became the first Guam National Wildlife Refuge (GNWR) and was renamed Ritidian. “This current
movement reclaimed the indigenous name, Litekyan—‘stirring place,’ referring to strong ocean currents at the northwestern tip of Guåhan—restoring
its cultural and emotional imprint” (R. Underwood, personal communication, June 25, 2018). Still today, elders tell stories about fishing and gathering
wood to build huts at Litekyan, while young female descendants recount
vivid and pleasant memories of their youth at Litekyan, but also remember
the camp-out protests (M. Hernandez, personal communication, December
4, 2017). Today, these women join their mothers demanding the return of
their ancestral lands.
“Litekyan is the only place on Guåhan which evidences every period of
human life on the island, and thus embodies stories about the living history of the landscape” (V. Leon Guerrero, personal communication, June
5, 2018). The ROD states that the range training schedule will allow access
for 13 weeks out of the year, but archeologists and biologists at the GNWR
counter that this is not sufficient to maintain these historical sites for the
public. While the SEIS asserts that the LFTRC does not require additional
land, indigenous people view denial of access as land seizure. For the CHamoru people, landscapes like Litekyan embody the close ties between people and their environment. Near one of the cave areas, a lusong (mortar) is
carved into the limestone bedrock, the lommok (pestle) still in place. These
meaningful details in the landscape engage people in sharing stories about
the biocultural wisdom of Litekyan. The lusong was traditionally used for
food and medicine preparation. These cultural artifacts in the landscape
also connect visitors to present times. Yo’åmte (healers) still collect åmot
(medicine) and bring their apprentices to Litekyan. The land remains sacred
and is used for ritual practices, in that, “practitioners of traditionally-styled
chant perform ceremonies at spiritually charged places in Litekyan such
as the shoreline, caves, and latte villages” (L. Iriarte, Master of CHamoru
chant, personal communication, February 10, 2020), while also “preventing
Prutehi Litekyan
access disrupts traditional healing practices and prevents people connecting
to their ancestors” (A. Benavente, personal communication, July 25, 2019).
Scientists highlight the biological and historical value of Tailålo’. Guåhan’s
last flowering Håyun lågu tree is growing in a pristine limestone habitat at
Tailålo’. Although the DoD will not cut the tree for the firing range, only
a 100 feet buffer area around the tree will remain (Department of Defense
2015). Both scientists and traditional knowledge holders argue that this is
inadequate to protect the tree. The Håyun lågu has become a symbol of
resistance for Prutehi Litekyan. Another flagship species is the endangered
eight-spot butterfly (Hypolimnas octocula marianensis), whose host plants
thrive in the pinnacle limestone karst substrate of Tailålo’. “These geological features took millions of years to form. Once destroyed, the landscape
will never recover” (J. Kerr, personal communication, April 5, 2017). The
construction of the ranges will also cause harm to the CHamoru heritage
as the military removes cultural artifacts from the forest. Activists express
their desire to preserve cultural artifacts in place, like a living landscape,
rather than stored in a museum. “Preventing access and putting up fences
around our forests changes the ecosystem, our view, and feelings of these
places and why they are sacred to us” (T. Terlaje, personal communication,
October 22, 2018). Potential contamination of the aquifer is another valid
concern, although beyond the scope of this study.
Manhoben take a stand to protect their future
“When my teacher explained the history of the injustices to the CHamoru
people, it felt like I shared that pain. That is how I woke up and joined the
movement” (S. Cruz, personal communication, August 9, 2018). Inspired by
their teachers and peers, high school students started their own youth movement supporting Prutehi Litekyan. They organized protests and produced
videos to protect their culture. This youth involvement became the heart and
pride of this “leaderfull” movement. The movement sparked interest in young
people to learn more about endangered plants growing on restricted military
lands. Young people testified during public hearings with passion and tears
in their eyes. Starlet Cruz testified in favor of Resolution No. 228–34 (COR)
(2017): “We are not ready to hear that our native species unique and important
to our island, which I and most of our youth did not get the chance to see,
have become no more and are gone forever”. The youth blocked the entrance
to Andersen Air Force Base chanting “Save Litekyan”, holding each other’s
hands while silently crying. This powerful direct-action strategy caught people’s attention. “It was a call to the military institution, demanding action,
after nobody was listening after public hearings, protests, and other endless
campaigns” (M. Hernandez, personal communication, December 4, 2017).
Many manamko’ (elders) talked about the manhoben (youth), their energy, and
the hope they instilled, while their i Manaotao Mo’na (CHamoru ancestors)
awakened and called them to gather and lead the way.
Else Demeulenaere
The synergy between artists and activists in support of
indigenous knowledge
The social movement is not confined to marches or protests; rather, it has
become a cultural artistic phenomenon. “Telling stories through art, conveying a message, is part of CHamoru culture” (K. Ngeremokt, personal
communication, July 25, 2018). Local artists are routinely present at the
places of protest, and their banners and posters depict scenes of the destruction of native forests, animals, and people—animals fleeing bullets and
leaving their natural habitats, a Mother Earth figure saddened but hopeful
as a CHamoru boy tries to stop the bulldozers (Figure 4.3). Cultural symbols like latte, endemic species, and indigenous people are artistically depicted. With the renaissance of CHamoru culture, master carvers have been
passing their craft to the youth. The pieces by young carvers are prominent
symbols worn by many activists. Music is also paramount in portraying important messages. PJ San Nicolas, a CHamoru singer told his story through
musical testimonies, inspiring people to strengthen their voices and not to
sit back in silence.
Figure 4.3 Large banner carried at a protest to protect Litekyan. Art created by
Kaitlin Ngeremokt.
Prutehi Litekyan
Traditional chants and blowing the kulu’ (conch shell) opened gatherings at Litekyan while Eva Aguon Cruz burned flowers in a coconut shell, a
ritual to honor the ancestors. Musicians sing at spiritual gatherings and use
metaphors to illustrate the sacred connection to the land. Singer/songwriter
Candice “Primitiva” Muña’s verse “We are rooted to the ground, rooted
to everything around us, big and strong like the Nunu tree, roots exposed
but our veins dig deep”, references shared roots, seemingly vulnerable but
drawing strength through remembering spiritual connection to the land and
Guåhan, a location of change: addressing political
disempowerment through legal changes
It is a well-known fact in the literature that the US NEPA, ESA, and NHPA
processes do not function very well with indigenous groups like Standing
Rock Sioux and other native American tribes (Dongoske et al. 2015; Harper
and Harris 2011; Johnson 2019). These studies indicate that the NEPA process fails to incorporate indigenous worldviews, uses culturally inappropriate ways of gathering input, and thus cannot assess the true environmental
and socio-cultural impacts. Although the US CEQ’s guidance related to
environmental justice suggests tribal representation and involvement, these
aspects have yet to be incorporated in the NEPA process (Harper and Harris 2011). Indeed, the US regulatory framework exacerbates the military
presence in the region (Vince 2015), while the NEPA process justifies their
actions. It is important to note that the NEPA process only requires the
federal agency to “consider” public input, affirming the community’s political disempowerment. This study gathered perceptions from activists and
stakeholders concerning community involvement during the various phases
of the NEPA process (Figure 4.2).
The DoD did not provide clear guidelines on how they would involve the
public at various stages of the NEPA process. The public involvement process does not allow for traditional ways of gathering community input in
the Mariana Islands, where “oral tradition continues to be an important
part of CHamoru society” (T. R. Na’puti, personal communication, July
22, 2019). In the Mariana Islands, a respectful way of acquiring community
input is to request advice from elders or community leaders who represent
their family, clan, or community (Cabrera et al. 2015). The wisdom of these
decision-making protocols connects to an indigenous worldview, respecting
the integrity of the landscape (Prutehi Litekyan 2017). “The NEPA process
needs to be prepared to look at peoples’ practices, customs, and traditions
to reflect the wholeness of our existence and how we treat these spaces spiritually” (H. Cristobal, personal communication, April 4, 2018). Their failure
to understand the indigenous worldview is exemplified by the fact that after the DoD abandoned its plans for PÃ¥gat, it chose another sacred place,
Else Demeulenaere
During the first scoping phase, activists stated that their concerns were
not heard, despite their involvement and the political pressure. “I was part
of a task force convened by the Governor at the time. The military plans
were pre-decisional. DoD did not solicit input from us. There was no transparency about the details of the military buildup. It was very disempowering” (L. Natividad, personal communication, May 16, 2018). The DoD
also negotiated with agencies separately, which prevented public and political discussion about the total impact of the military build-up. Typically,
for-profit consulting firms prepare EIS documents (Dongoske et al. 2015),
which are voluminous, and comment periods are short and inadequate. Despite the community’s effort to provide comments during this next phase
of community input, no fundamental changes occurred and the least preferred alternative for the firing range was chosen. “DoD often disregarded
the comments as if they are not substantive and can be easily waived for
example, by stating that best practices will be used, which is very disenfranchising after contributing to the process” (K. Marsh-Taitano, personal
communication, November 30, 2018).
Participants highlighted concerns about the consultations with federal
agencies like USFWS and SHPO. The preparation of the Environmental
Assessment (EA) for the ESA does not require public input. In the case of
Guåhan, the Litekyan movement brought together diverse voices, scientists,
and traditional knowledge holders, who articulated their concerns regarding the endangered species and their habitats, thus warranting public input:
Prutehi Litekyan advocated for a jeopardy decision for the Håyun lågu
tree prior to Biological Opinion by sharing a hundred scientific articles
with USFWS. Additionally, a re-initiation request was sent based on
new information about the species. The ESA enabled the delisting of
Serianthes nelsonii, a U.S. national symbol but increased harm to what
has become a CHamoru cultural symbol.
(S. Perez, personal communication, August 22, 2020)
In contrast to the ESA, the NHPA process allows for public input. In
Guåhan, distinct problems arose. First, cultural groups do not have base
access, and therefore rely on archeological surveys. Second, after DoD and
other partners signed the Programmatic Agreement (PA), DoD discovered
more cultural artifacts and human remains. This should have re-initiated
the PA. Third, DoD treated historical findings often separately. Therefore,
they were not considered for the national register. Fourth, the way US law
handles historic places does not align with indigenous values. “Once ancestral heritage is dismantled and removed, it can never be in place as ancestral
hands placed them” (K. Marsh-Taitano, personal communication, November 30, 2018). The participants felt that the ESA and NHPA laws and regulations were lax and failed to protect their biocultural heritage.
Prutehi Litekyan
Last, the CHamoru value system holds that culture and spirituality are
interwoven with the landscape and therefore does not recognize mitigation (Prutehi Litekyan 2017). Too often, the DoD has re-classified land for
convenience and national security, not taking the biocultural diversity into
account, and without communicating the change to the community, as happened in the case of Tailålo’. The mitigation actions on military lands should
undergo a thorough review. First, a long-term sustainable vision must protect biocultural diversity. Second, a monitoring plan needs to ensure that the
DoD complies with mitigation obligations. Third, a communication process
needs to update the public about the status of the mitigation actions.
Exploring cultural identity through activism
The effects of colonialism like language loss and the adoption of US mainland school curricula have caused many indigenous people to struggle with
finding their identity (Underwood 1987). Sacred places provide a spiritual
connection, yet the military closed off more sacred places for the public
(Na’puti 2019). “We are losing one of the last remaining places where indigenous CHamoru people can reconnect with their ancestors. Litekyan
provides healing because we are a colonized people” (M. Flores, personal
communication, March 21, 2018). This social movement brought many
CHamoru people closer to embracing their cultural identity. “The gatherings were uplifting in the sense that they imbue the youth with feelings of
worthiness, belonging, and contribution” (H. Cristobal, personal communication, April 4, 2018). The CHamoru people I interviewed held indigeneity
to be the most important aspect of their emotional well-being. Although
schools now include CHamoru language and culture instruction, the cultural landscape of Litekyan offers a place-based learning experience that
communicates knowledge and wisdom:
The handprints in the caves reconnected me to who I am as a CHamoru
person. Going to the latte sites, that has changed me. I felt this presence
of peacefulness, gratitude, and abundance. Once you have a strong cultural identity, no one can take that away from you.
(K. Perez, personal communication, February 27, 2018)
The CHamoru people, the taotao tano’ (people of the land), have a holistic
connection to the land. “The sacredness of the land, the need to protect it,
its cultural significance is all connected to who we are” (J. Nangauta, personal communication, July 24, 2018). A deeper truth of the land enjoins the
tradition not to sell the land but pass it on to the next generation. “Heaven is
the earth. The taoataomo’na are our ancestors from the past, who came before us, but also from the future, who we meet in front of us” (H. Cristobal,
personal communication, April 4, 2018). “The Prutehi Litekyan movement
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inspired people to learn their language, which expresses key values and cultural identity, and connects the indigenous name of a tree with the need to
protect it” (L. Natividad, personal communication, May 16, 2018). While
multiple interviews and other sources present evidence of people recounting
their re-awakening or development of cultural identity on Guåhan, a wider
Marianas-based movement has been developing over the decades.
One Marianas in the Pacific
The Guåhan movement opposing the military build-up rippled throughout
the Mariana Islands, with other locations advocating for decolonization,
demilitarization, and political freedom. Most of the interviewees connected
the Litekyan issue to the whole build-up. “We need to nourish our lands,
our islands, for our next generations in ways that are not toxic or destructive” (M. De Oro, personal communication, July 7, 2018). Solidarity and
collective action in Guåhan, Pagan, and Tinian showed that the historic
political disruption did not divide the indigenous people of the Mariana
Islands. “The organizing to resist the military buildup brought the people
of the Marianas together in ways that politicians could not and galvanized
resistance from various sources including, but not limited to, those concerned with indigenous rights and issues” (V. Dames, personal communication, August 27, 2019). The process did not consider the history of the
Mariana Islands nor the biogeographical connections among the islands.
All stakeholders agreed the NEPA process decontextualized the totality of
the build-up in the region, as different NEPA processes for the build-up and
training occurred separately.
Activism shapes policy: the need to legitimize
the voice of the people
While Guåhan awaits decolonizing and self-determination, local legislation can guide the nature of communication federal agencies have to comply with when seeking input from the community concerning development
guided by NEPA. Meaningful involvement and true participation in the
decision-making process is needed in the initial phases to reform the NEPA
process and include indigenous perspectives to prevent environmental and
socio-cultural impacts (Dongoske et al. 2015; Harper and Harris 2011).
Although the struggle against militarization and colonization has been
ongoing, since the recent onset of the build-up there has been increased pressure and fear for many communities in the Mariana Islands, since sacred
places and whole island communities were threatened. “The solidarity forged
in the Mariana Islands and the direct political pressure from Prutehi Litekyan, shifted the conversation, ensuring civil society had a legitimate voice”
(V. Dames, personal communication, August 27, 2019). Prutehi Litekyan
Prutehi Litekyan
members met with senators of the Guam Legislature and the governor to
explain the issues at hand:
The social movement to protect Litekyan changed the minds of the local leaders. On two occasions between 2017 and 2019, members of the
community packed the Legislature to support resolutions drafted by
their lawmakers to prevent the construction of the LFTRC at Litekyan.
(M. Bevacqua, personal communication, May 17, 2019)
People provided testimonies for many hours. “The public hearing process
helps us to learn and fill in the gaps; hear each other, stand by each other,
support each other, help each other while facing this threat to our culture
and environment” (T. Terlaje, Vice Speaker, 34th Guam Legislature, personal communication, August 27, 2019). Senators of the Guam Legislature
also considered their votes carefully, while they themselves re-connected
with their cultural identity and felt the need to represent their community.
People provided oral testimonies in English and CHamoru, stated facts, invoked spirituality, and gave heartfelt expression to their emotions and position on the issue. “These testimonies are a historical record of the feelings of
the times, safeguarding against canonical historiographical narratives” (K.
Kuper, personal communication, July 25, 2019). To recognize the validity
of these public testimonies, a paradigm shift is necessary. Formal mechanisms need to be constructed, permitting input from the non-governmental
sector into the decision-making processes. NEPA needs to include these diverse and indigenous voices. This is evidenced by participant suggestions
to incorporate all forms of communication. “A process to incorporate and
validate these oral testimonies should be inclusive of all hearings and public
meetings concerning the military build-up, not just on the EIS” (V. Dames,
personal communication, August 27, 2019).
On November 6, 2018, two co-founders of Prutehi Litekyan, Sabina Perez
and Kelly Marsh-Taitano, were elected to office, demonstrating the importance of leaders who speak out on issues important to the community. This
public legitimacy of the movement through the electoral process is extraordinary in Guåhan’s history. In fact, the plurality of votes went to these individuals, representing that at least some of the values expressed by Prutehi
Litekyan are shared across the population and validate the pressure for policy change.
The call for bottom-up approaches: establishment of a council
guided by co-production of knowledge
Environmental laws such as NEPA and ESA are created by the U.S.
Congress and without the informed consent of the CHamoru people,
which reinforces our lack of political power. The agencies that
Else Demeulenaere
implement these laws are federal agencies, controlling our island and
our resources.
(S. Perez, personal communication, November 24, 2017)
This top-down governance is often insensitive to the local culture and indigenous worldviews. In order to incorporate indigenous knowledge and
values into the regulatory system, bottom-up approaches are suggested. In
Guåhan, cohesion and success occur at the community level, but unfortunately the nature of what is happening is not in community hands, but at a
much higher level. Currently, a local knowledge body is lacking in Guåhan.
The establishment of such a body would increase local participation and
improve management and protection success.
Several interviewees suggested a commission or council of elders who
could advise on cultural and natural resources and indigenous rights.
Stakeholders recommended this commission needs to be science-based and
incorporate cultural practices and beliefs to provide informed decisions.
Currently there is a CHamoru language commission, the Kumision i Fino’
Chamorro, a recognized authority on CHamoru language policy (Public
Law 1964). Addressing the fact that military lands are under federal governance only, participants suggested that military lands and other federal
lands should be included to preserve biocultural diversity. A similar commission as the CHamoru language commission or an addition to this commission should be established by public law and should have the authority
to advise on natural and cultural policies and indigenous rights island-wide.
Both stakeholders and activists emphasized the need for an island-wide, robust master plan with a long-term vision to protect natural and cultural
resources. The commission could guide the biocultural assessments, permitting processes and requirements for development.
Listening to indigenous knowledge and formulating
policy changes
Considering the initial question, whether NEPA can address environmental
protections and indigenous rights holistically, there appears to be flexibility
within the process to allow for it, especially since the NEPA process recognizes environmental justice and participation by indigenous groups. Hence,
stronger language and rules are necessary since DoD did not engage in including environmental justice in their assessments.
For decades under US rule, the CHamoru people have been pushing a political agenda that recognizes their land sovereignty rights and identity as a
people. Despite the successive colonial waves that Guåhan has experienced,
interviews revealed the enduring values of the indigenous CHamoru worldview: the sacred connection to the landscape, the preservation of cultural
practices, and respect for the ancestral spirits. Many people joined the social
movement to protect Litekyan, supporting this shared indigenous knowledge
Prutehi Litekyan
and value system. During the interviews, the differences between the indigenous and western paradigms emerged. Traditional practices and spiritual
connection to the land form the basis of an indigenous epistemology and
value system, which Western governance and decision-making tools disregard. Therefore, these EAs cannot accurately assess the impact the firing
ranges have on the lives of CHamoru people. While the movement challenges
the Western worldview, it recognizes the need for co-production of knowledge since scientists contribute to knowledge production and advocacy.
Guåhan’s political status continues to hinder the protection of natural and cultural resources and the recognition of indigenous rights of the
CHamoru people. A new generation of resistance movements in the region
has taken up the fight against this historical injustice. Furthermore, local alliances and partnerships within society support this anti-colonial discourse.
While the CHamoru people exercise their right to self-determination, their
biocultural diversity and historical landscapes also deserve protection. The
political leaders of Guåhan should reevaluate their federal relationships.
Research must look at the different governance levels and decision-making
tools to guide political decolonization. Decision-making tools like the ESA
and NEPA need a comprehensive review to incorporate and legitimize traditional practices and indigenous knowledge systems. A bottom-up governance approach rather than the historical top-down approach should ensure
inclusion of these indigenous voices.
Si yu’os ma’åse to all participants for sharing your perspectives, insights,
and stories. It is my hope that this chapter can amplify the voices of the
movement to advance indigenous rights and the protection of the CHamoru
Thank you to my interdisciplinary PhD chair Dr. Stefanie Ickert-Bond
and committee members Dr. Amy Lauren Lovecraft and Dr. Don Rubinstein for their guidance during this research.
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Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility
Shut Down in Hawaii
What is Red Hill Fuel Storage Facility?
It is a military fuel storage facility
operated by the United States Navy.
Where does it locate?
It is located under a volcanic
mountain ridge in Honolulu, Hawaii,
What does it do?
The Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage
Facility supports U.S. military
operations in the Pacific. This
facility can store up to 250
million gallons of fuel.
When did it build?
It was constructed from
December 1940 through 1943.
Why was it built?
It was planned and constructed for
providing fuels for United States
forces during the World War II.
How did the fuel release
incidents affect the drinking
water quality in Hawaii?
In late November, 2021, hundreds
of families, living on Joint Base Pearl
Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) and the
Army’s Aliamanu Military
Reservation and Red Hill Housing,
reported petroleum odors coming
from residential tap water supplied
by the U.S. Navy water system.
There were also reports of health
issues arising from the
contaminated drinking water.
Approximately 93,000 U.S. Navy
water system users are impacted.
What actions did the U.S.
Government take ?
The Hawaii State Emergency Order was
issued on December 6, 2021 and then
was reissued on May 6, 2022.
On March 7, 2022, U.S. Secretary of
Defense, Lloyd J. Austin III, directed the
Department of Defense to defuel and
permanently shut down the Red Hill Bulk
Fuel Storage Facility
What happened at Red Hill in
In January 2014, an estimated
fuel release of up to 27,000
gallons of JP-8 jet fuel from
#5 Red Hill storage tank.
In late November 2021, a
petroleum release from the
Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage
Facility contaminated the Red
Hill drinking water well.
How did Native Hawaiians
fight for Red Hills?
More than 70 organizations
joined forces last year with
the aim of closing Red Hill.
Many native Hawaiian
Activists such as Kumu Hina
had leaded the protests
against the Red Hill fuel leaks.
Community members
mobilized by reaching out to
residences and businesses,
pleading with elected officials,
waving signs at protests,
distributing pamphlets
The U.S. Navy is required to submit to
the DOH a Red Hill Facility Closure Plan
no later than November 1, 2022, per the
DOH May 6, 2022 Emergency Order.
Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in Hawaii.
Red Hill fuel in water deepens Native Hawaiians’ distrust of military.
How Hawaii Activists Helped Force The Military’s Hand On Red Hill.

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