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Cultural ritual honors ancestral burials at Sabånan Fadang area of Camp Blaz

Cultural officer Tony Ramirez opens the ceremeny with a cultural chant in honor of CHamoru ancestors. Photo courtesy of MCB.

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

Military and Guam officials on Tuesday gathered at the Sabånan Fadang ancient burial site in Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz for a cultural ritual in honor of CHamoru ancestors, whose remains were discovered at the defense project area.

“Our administration is encouraged that our military partners recognize

the necessity of paying our respects to our ancestors and the land they cared

for and cultivated, and where they were eventually laid to rest,” Gov. Lou Leon

Guerrero said.

The burial site includes seven grave pits with multiple skeletal remains. Marine officials said the total number of skeletal sets is yet to be determined pending analysis.

“Symbolic acts such as this represent a sacred and traditional obligation of the CHamoru people and we stand committed to ensuring that our people have the opportunity to honor our heritage and our ancestors wherever possible,” the governor said.

According to a press release from the US Marine Corps, the ritual is the first of its kind as the ceremonies are typically held later, as required under Guam law, when monuments are erected for reburial ceremonies.

Four grave pits were originally found in 2020, with an additional three grave pits found between Oct. 29 and Nov. 2 during monument construction.

The monument under construction was proposed by the Guam State Historic Preservation Office at the governor’s request and supports MCB Camp Blaz’s commitment to preserving the rich cultural heritage of Guam.


In addition to the monument, MCB Camp Blaz will build a reinternment crypt for the reburial of any potential fragmentary remains discovered during future development, and a marker to be installed at the Mågua’ settlement site about half a mile away from the monument.

Tuesday's ceremony began with a traditional CHamoru chant, followed by a symbolic procession around the burial grounds. The burial grounds were adorned with limestone rock borders and arrangements of medicinal native ferns that would have been used in the late-Latte period.

Each participant honored the ancestral remains by placing a handful of soil originally from the site upon each grave, followed by a MCB Camp Blaz cultural resources staff member.

“This is a truly special event for our CHamoru people since it’s the first

time we will be able to cover up our ancestors with our native hands and our

native soil,” said Patrick Lujan, Guam State Historic Preservation Officer.

“Never before has this ritual been done. We have disturbed their resting

place that has been there for a thousand years and we hope this solemn

ritual will be the final time our ancestors of Sabånan Fadang will be

interrupted from their resting place.”

Participation in the outdoor proceeding was limited to 50 people in

accordance with current government of Guam and Department of Defense

COVID-19 mitigation guidelines.

MCB officials said they are committed to a responsible construction process

through extensive joint efforts and collaboration with the government of

Guam, federal and local agencies.

"The careful and meticulous archaeological work of our cultural resources team allows us to permanently record important details and gather physical evidence of Guam's history for the benefit of the public and future generations," MCB said.

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