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Senators must approve transfer of antiquities

by Lannie Walker

Guam - Holding on to her island's rich history is the job of Linda Aguon, Guam's historic preservation officer.  Currently, her agency, the Department of Parks & Recreation, is tasked with deciding what artifacts can be sent off-island.  But Senator Judi Guthertz (D) says the Guam Legislature must approve any transfers.

"There should be one more layer scrutiny whenever you are sending off remains or artifacts that are really part of the prosperity and heritage of the people of Guam," she explained.  Under Bill 359, the Legislative Branch of the Government of Guam would have the last word on antiquities leaving the island.

Aguon says she agrees with the aim of the bill but has concerns about the type of legislative concurrence, saying, "It's not defined clearly type of concurrence because it would be kind of cumbersome to wait for a bill then for measure to pass."  Senator Guthertz says the recent relocation of Guam artifacts prompted the legislation, adding, "The site of the Latte of Freedom is where one of the ancient latte stones was moved from Nimitz Hill."

But the senator was concerned the latte stone might be moved much further, saying, "There were rumors floating around that perhaps some of these artifacts might be set to the Smithsonian.  Says Aguon, "They should confirm these speculations with our office before its even put into a bill."

However, Aguon says the bill comes at an appropriate time.  "With the military buildup being of great concern, how are we going to address artifacts found on DoD land?" she questioned.  She additionally says she would like to see language in the bill encouraging federal entities to give the Guam Museum any artifacts found on land owned by the Department of Defense.

For now, both Aguon and Guthertz seem to have a common goal: preserving Guam's heritage.

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