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Back Local News Memorias ceremony held at ancient burial site in Hagåtña

Memorias ceremony held at ancient burial site in Hagåtña

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WITH the discovery of an ancestral burial site along the area of the Hagåtña Bridge project, two Memorias ceremonies were held separately last Friday and Sunday in honor of the remains found near the project site.

The Friday ceremony was attended by acting Gov. Ray Tenorio and representatives from the Department of Public Works and the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Sandy Yee, senior archaeologist at SWCA Environmental Consultants, said disturbed human bone fragments churned in with other prehistoric materials, such as shells, and modern metals, such as nails, have been found in the site.

Yee also stated it is possible that several burial sites are still in the area, since ancestral Chamorros established coastal settlements all over Guam.

Guam historian and activist Hope Cristobal said 20 Chamorro burial sites have been previously discovered within the area, where the old Barrio San Antonio used to be located.

Carl Dominguez, deputy director of the Department of Public Works, said as of now, the discovery of the ancestral burial site will not delay the project.

But, Dominguez said, “if the find is significant, then it is possible that it could slow down the project.”

Sunday ceremony

Chamorro elders and youth joined Hope Cristobal in a Memorias ceremony yesterday at around 5 p.m. During the solemn ceremony, the attendees offered their respects to the ancestors dwelling in the site.

“So today, due to its historical importance, our ceremony recognizes the significance of our ancestor’s remains. This is their home; this is our home,” Cristobal said in a statement read during the ceremony.

Cristobal said even in the 21st century, the ancestors continue to be a source of identity and inspiration since they were the ones who “provided the present generation with a sense of belonging, a sense of Chamoru peoplehood.”

“Today we maintain our values of respeto (respect) and our community value of fa’saina (acknowledgment of the status of the elder) for the sacred areas and our ancient ones,” Cristobal said as she ended her statement with a call for respect.

Questions

Cristobal said that as a consulting party to the project, she was not informed or provided the studies pertaining to the project. According to Cristobal, the impact studies and other attending documents should have been sent to the various consulting parties by the Federal Highway Administration before they started work on the project. 

Cristobal is also concerned about re-internment plans for the human remains and sacred objects found in the area. She is hoping the “handling and disposition of the human remains would extend beyond the process of data recovery.”

Lanes closed

Starting yesterday, the inner southbound and northbound lanes near the intersection of Route 1 and Route 8 have been closed to traffic as part of the construction work for the Hagåtña Bridge replacement project.

Motorists going to Hagåtña are advised to take alternate routes to avoid the heavy traffic expected to be caused by the project.

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