- By Gina T. Reily
SHPO: there's a ton of online resources with info about Guam ancient burials
The government has yet to finalize its report on multiple discoveries of ancient remains at the future Marine base in Dededo, but there is a glut of online resources filled with information about pre-historic burials on Guam, acting state historic preservation officer Carlotta Leon Guerrero said.
“There’s a ton of information out there that is not well known and could help inform people hungry for knowledge about our ancestors,” Leon Guerrero said, reacting to Sen. Telena Nelson’s inquiry about the status of archeological finds at the military construction sites in U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz.
Nelson, chair of the legislative committee on historic preservation, said her office has not received any updates on recent archeological discoveries.
More than a dozen ancient burials were reported by the agency last year but Nelson said there was a dearth of information on the result of any archeological studies.
“It has come to our community’s attention that in recent months, there have been additional discoveries of human remains at the future Marine Corps Base, but there has been very little information disclosed about these discoveries, including the condition in which they were found and what action was taken with them,” Nelson said.
“It is important to remember that this construction site is not only the site of the future Marine Corps Base, but it is also a living museum containing significant Chamoru artifacts, remnants of the ancient village of Måguak (Magua’), and the remains of our ancestors who lived and were laid to eternal rest there,” she added.
The senator on Thursday sent a Sunshine Act request to Leon Guerrero seeking a preliminary report on last year’s discoveries.
Pending the availability of SHPO report, Leon Guerrero suggested available resources that can be found online.
“One report has pictures of a young man found with 10 spear points in his body skeleton,” she said. “Spears were made from human bones. There is also information on nine people buried in canoes.”
At the legislature, Nelson said that with more ancient remains getting dug up from centuries of undisturbed peace, “it is only proper for our people to engage our spirit of inafa’maolek and extend our cultural practice of showing respect.”
Meanwhile, the Joint Information Center said the Department of Defense has “a history of constructive cooperation” with SHPO that “allows the military to accomplish its missions responsibly, deliberately, and with the utmost respect for Guam's rich cultural heritage and environmental resources.”
JRM said the military will “continue to extensively work with GovGuam, SHPO, federal and local agencies to ensure responsible and deliberate construction planning and execution activities in the future.”
JRM said since the onset of the U.S. Marine Corps relocation program, the military has been in strict adherence to the National Historic Preservation Act, the 2011 Programmatic Agreement, and federal law.
During an informational briefing at the legislature in the summer last year, SHPO disclosed that, along with human remains, diggings at the Camp Blaz's Magua site netted lusong, earth ovens, tools, pottery, and other artifacts from the latte period.
Prior to being cleared, Magua was listed as a site eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, and is located near a fresh water source, inland from the cliffs above the ancient village of Haputo.