Dozens flocked to the University of Guam Thursday night. The topic: Cockfighting, Culture, and Colonialism, a teach-in hosted by Independent Guahan.
As reported, President Trump recently signed the Farm Bill, which bans cockfighting in all states and territories effective later this year.
Guam's former delegate, Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo was unable to vote on the measure. Her opposition fell on deaf ears.
Now, the discussion is heavy on what's next - and what residents can do to keep the popular pastime.
It's more than a ban on cockfighting. Dr. Michael Bevacqua of Independent Guahan urges residents to see the bigger picture.
"This is a democratic deficiency of the united states," "If you're in the territory, it's always deficient because you're not a part of the conversation."
While some have celebrated the recent ban on cockfighting, calling it a bloodsport, Bevacqua cites its cultural significance.
"And so interestingly enough, cockfighting became a way that Spanish would encourage indigenous people in the Philippines, in Guam, and in Latin America to come out of the jungles and come into the towns where they could be watched over, where they could give money, where they could be socialized in a Spanish way," he said.
On Sundays, men would attend Mass, and then they'd cockfight.
"During the Spanish period, cockfighting becomes a central part of men's life," Bevacqua said. "Because you go to church, you prepare for the fiesta, you do as you're supposed to do as a good Spanish subject, part of being a good Christian, and then you get to spend the rest of the time cockfighting with your friends. And so, it was an important part."
Accounts show CHamorus were passionate about the sport, which Spanish recognized was more profitable than exporting tobacco.
In the 1960s, it was even considered as a means of marketing Guam as a tourist destination.
"If we could promote this idea, we could get people to come in from Asia who like gambling because cockfighting is big in certain Asian countries," he said. "However, this was never really pursued."
And for those who argue cockfighting isn't a part of Guam's culture, Bevacqua said to listen carefully.
When CHamorus were finally able to elect their own leaders, they compared politics to cockfighting. One account shows a southern politician received a dead rooster on his porch every time he lost an election.
"One of the ways you can see that cockfighting is embedded in the culture though is how it has come to be used in terms of electoral politics," he said. "Hayi gayu-mu? Who is your gåyu? is a very sort of important thing."