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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Testifying for Wonderland: Hope is not lost!

I wish I wasn't so emotional. I would not be able to stand up there and speak coherently. I'd be sobbing too hard and people who know me personally, know that my frustration comes out in tears and gasps - or anxious laughter. Neither of those would get my point across properly. I do have something to say though.

When I was young, about middle school age, I'd go with my mom, aunts, and grandmother to gatherings. They were gatherings of many families who were ready to stand up and ask for their land. The land I'm talking about is the cliff line property in Harmon. This was acres and acres of land that the military had taken after the war. And even as a young girl I knew how important this was. I could see it in the eyes of the people at these gatherings. You could hear it in their voices as the english mixed with chamorro. They were catching up on what's been going on in each other's lives. They were being reintroduced to the families who once shared a community and now shared a longing to have what was taken from them. They collectively longed to reclaim their history along with their land. So they marched and protested.

Now years later, our island gathers. We will march, protest, and testify. And I am an adult. This time I will not sit and watch. I will be involved. My eyes and voice will be apart of the collective, letting the younger generations know that this is important and that land should not be taken or bought against our will. They will know that there are people who are standing up to protect their coral reefs, their history, their culture, and their future. One day it will be their task to defend Guahan and they will have the spirit of their ancestors in them.

Hope is not lost. I witnessed it in my grandmother, my mother, my aunts, and their peers. I witness it now, in my peers.

The harmon cliff line properties were eventually returned to original land owners. My grandmother was not alive to see her ancestral lands returned. Now, whenever I think of that land I think back to the day when our family gathered there, before it was returned. I remember how happy my grandmother was watching her grandchildren run and play on the land that she last knew as a child. I'm thankful she will not have to witness what is happening now, but I'm sure she'd be proud that we have not stopped fighting for the rights of our people.

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