Friday, January 8, 2010

What's at Stake

Koohan Paik has assembled a fact sheet about the proposed military buildup on Guam. This concise document distills the intimidating 11,000 page EIS document (released in November by the military) into something the average person can wrap their head around.

The results are chilling. Just a few of the many disastrous effects outlined in the EIS:

* Depletion of Guam's fresh water supply
* Destruction of historic archaeological and sacred cultural sites
* Dredging of 2.3 million square feet of fragile coral reef (that's 40 football fields!)
* Destruction of the largest mangrove forest on US soil
... and the list goes on and on.

In addition to the obvious environmental disaster this buildup portends, I think it's really important to keep in mind the threats it also poses to the endangered Chamoru culture. I'm posting here two videos highlighting traditional island culture - they are inspiring, and remind us all of what is at stake.

Despite hundreds of years of colonization, Chamoru culture has managed to survive, largely because there has continued to be a homeland for the Chamorus in the Mariana Islands. Much of that land was taken away and/or polluted by the military after World War II, with devastating effects (including loss of farming traditions, loss of fishing traditions, loss of language, and loss of traditional housing customs). The added land-takings being proposed - and the contamination of those lands - could well be the final nail in the coffin of this beautiful and resilient culture.

So what can you do to help? First and most important, get the message out there. Bookmark this blog and forward the link to your friends. Read the Fact Sheet and forward it widely. Check out the list at right for ways to get involved, and visit the blog links posted here. The more people who know about what the Marianas are facing, and why, the more power we will have to change the direction the islands are currently headed.

We have a small window of opportunity right now to help stop this: Japan and the US are currently in disagreement over how and when this buildup will happen, and who will foot the fill. I will continue to post information here about things we can all do to help as they arise.

Si Yu'us maase, Olomwaay, and thank you!

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