New sets of fragmented human remains have been discovered at project sites in Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Blaz and the Skaggs Urban Combat Training Complex at Andersen South, military officials announced today.
The Joint Region Marianas and Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Marianas are in consultation with the Guam State Historic Preservation Office to investigate discoveries of human remains between Aug. 23 and 26.
"The respectful treatment of all cultural resources is a priority," said JRM
Commander Rear Adm. Benjamin Nicholson. "We will continue to adhere to state and federal guidelines and maintain clear and open communication with the Guam SHPO, and all of our federal and GovGuam partners to ensure that these remains are handled properly and reverently."
Construction work has stopped in the immediate areas and MCB Camp Blaz has
notified the Guam SHPO of the discoveries. Archaeologists will investigate
all remains in accordance with procedures agreed upon with the SHPO.
"We will work closely with the military to determine whether the site can be
preserved in place, which is our priority," said State Historic Preservation
Officer Patrick Lujan. "We assure the public that we remain vigilant in the
protection of our island's cultural resources, working closely with the
military and all other stakeholders in the proper, respectful handling of
what is found during development."
JRM is also closely reviewing the SHPO's recommendation of preservation in
place of a partially-intact ancient Chamorro burial at the Skaggs Urban
Training Complex in the Mogfog, Dededo area.
The burial was discussed at the annual Programmatic Agreement of 2011 workshop that was attended by Guam's cultural resource management stakeholders including the Guam Preservation Trust and members of the 36th Guam Legislature.
In the legislature, Speaker Therese M. Terlaje tried to pass an amendment Friday to increase the budget of Guam’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) by $110,000.
However, Terlaje's proposal received little support from her colleagues on the session floor.
This year’s proposed allocation for SHPO was approximately $50,000 less than FY 2021, despite the division repeatedly requesting $400,000 more for six additional positions. “All I am trying to do with this amendment to the budget is get SHPO back up to their FY 21 budget and allocate an additional $60,000 more to them,” said Terlaje.
“I’ve attended past hearings where we called SHPO out for not enforcing the way they should be, why we aren’t getting their reports like we should be, why the public can’t be notified of the human remains they are discovering on military construction sites like they should be. They continue to tell us that it’s because they are understaffed. This extra allocation is not enough to fund another needed position for their division, but it will give them a fighting chance at preserving our island’s resources better.” The amendment to increase funding by $110,000 to the SHPO failed with only five votes in favor from Sens. Sabina Perez, Joanne Brown, Telo Taitague, and Christopher Duenas. The nine senators who voted against the increase were Senators Amanda Shelton, Telena Nelson, Joe San Agustin, James Moylan, Tony Ada, Frank Blas Jr., Mary Torres, Pedo Terlaje, and Clynt Ridgell. The Speaker subsequently introduced another amendment to bring SHPO’s budget back to its FY 21 allocation. This amendment passed, bringing the division’s budget to at least status quo. “This was the Legislature’s opportunity to prioritize the protection of our history and culture by increasing the SHPO’s capacity to protect our historic and cultural sites. More resources are needed especially when precious cultural artifacts and human remains continue to be discovered and removed as a result of the increasing number of federal and local projects undergoing construction at this time,” Terlaje said.