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Islanders unite to protect Pagat

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - Hoping to protect Pagat from the Department of Defense plans to use the area as a firing and training range for the U.S. Marine Corps, concerned island residents gathered along the Back Road to Andersen Air Force Base, uniting hands to form a human chain - a show of solidarity that the ancient Chamorro village of Pagat must be protected.  

Joe Quinata is from the Guam Historic Preservation Trust and is hoping to build an alliance with the DoD in the preservation and protection of Pagat.  "And if the DoD wants to be part of this alliance, then we're happy," he told KUAM News.  "If they don't, then we have another step to take."  Asked what that next step is, he responded without hesitation: litigation.

Pagat, a historic site that dates back to 700 A.D., was officially placed on the National Trust For Historic Preservation's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places List. Anthea Hartig is the organization's regional director, and said about today's rally, "If you think of it contextually in terms of advocacy from grassroots, spending 20-30 hours poring over the Final Environmental Impact Statement, effort of this magnitude it takes all of us together individual and as a whole to make a difference.  So, we're really glad to be here."

It wasn't just residents of Guam that gathered at Pagat, but Jeannae Flores and Hermon Farahi traveled from Saipan to show their support and are filming a documentary called "Weaving Solidarity: Taking A Look At The Military Buildup from An Indigenous Perspective."  "We're here to pretty much document all of it and also me personally I want to be here to preserve my culture history and my Chamorro people," said Flores.

Farahi added, "It seems like Pagat represents lot of tradition for Chamorro people.  the problem being that lots of lands have been given up since acquisition in Spanish-American War all the way to the present, and I think people really feel enough is enough  and this sacred land for a lot of people there's burial sites here a lot of the suruhanus the healers come here to find inspiration and it just means a lot for local people and the fact that they want to create firing range here has brought a lot of resentment toward the military and what they want to accomplish.

"And it seems like there's some tensions now with the local people and what the military wants to accomplish.  We're here to support and document the Chamorro people as they engage in the struggle."

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