Should Kelly Marsh hand oversight of CHamoru Self-Determination - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Should Kelly Marsh hand oversight of CHamoru Self-Determination to another senator?

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Someone who isn't CHamoru is overseeing a Legislative Committee on CHamoru Self-Determination.

"I'm standing in solidarity," Sen. Kelly Marsh, chair of the Committee on Heritage and The Arts, Parks, Guam Product Seal. Hagatna Revitalization, Self-Determination and Regional Affairs said. "I believe in indigenous rights, I believe in our right to decolonization."

Her position on particular CHamoru issues, however, isn't without question.

"There's certainly a fine line between supporting and re-colonizing," Dr. Lisa Natividad said.

Natividad is a former Commission on Decolonization member. Marsh's position as Legislative chair on self-determination has created an interesting problem. Usually, the legislative chair of self-determination sits on the Commission on Decolonization. But since Marsh can't vote in a native plebiscite, she can't sit on the commission.

"By definition, Dr. Marsh doesn't qualify," Natividad said.

While Marsh is the overseer of self-determination, she said she won't seek a seat at the decolonization table.

"I want to make it clear that I'm not planning to and I'm not interested in serving on the Commission," Marsh said. "I think that should go to a different senator. I'm still familiarizing myself with the regulations, but regardless, I think it's important that somebody with a different background, different expertise - somebody who is a native inhabitant - that they sit on the commission."

If Marsh lacks the qualifications and experience to sit on the commission, we asked her if it would it make sense to hand oversight of self-determination to one of her colleagues.

"This is an opportunity for two of us to be putting time and energy to this. There's a lot of work to be done," Marsh said.

The Legislature appoints three members to the commission, and this would mark the first time a legislative oversight of self-determination didn't qualify for a seat on it.

Marsh has found an ally in the Independence task force's Dr. Michael Bevacqua, who said the more non-CHamorus who support decolonization, the better. Bevacqua cited Marsh's experience teaching Guam history at UOG.

"I'm happy - sort of - that she's there, hopefully, to infuse a little bit more understanding," he said.

But other activists in the movement tell KUAM News Senator Marsh overseeing self-determination is a step backward - and Natividad agrees.

"It looks very colonial," Natividad said.

"I think the bigger message is we all have a role in this. We all need to understand it," Marsh said.

"Everyone really needs to reflect in terms of sense of place and to operate from a space of place that's appropriate in the context of colonization," Natividad said. So, that being said, do you think Dr. Kelly Marsh needs to reexamine her place in this battle for self-determination?  "I think absolutely and one thing I would applaud her for as well is being a real supporter. She has always been very much a supporter of our work and through the lens of settler colonialism, she needs to reflect on where is the appropriate positioning for herself to contribute."

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