The words of Vice-Speaker Tina Muna Barnes said, “A renewed effort to fulfill a decades-old promise to our ancestors.” 

Also authoring Bill 264, her legislation would seek to fund the construction of the CHamoru National Shrine, or the “Nåftan mañaina-ta shrine,” a final resting place for disturbed ancestral remains. 

“The Guam Legislature made a solemn promise that our ancestors who were dug up from the sites for their eternal rest, we promised that we would restore the honor and the dignity they are due,” said Vice-Speaker Tina Muna Barnes. 

The measure follows a 32-year-old promise for a memorial site by lawmakers in 1992 and another push by the legislature in 2016, identifying the shrine to be built at the Tamuning cliffline above the Hilton Resort and Spa. 

Meanwhile, ancestral remains returned by the Bishop Museum in Hawaii in the 1990s are part of the Hans Hornbostel Collection, waiting in acid-free boxes in a temporary repository for the Department of Chamorro Affairs. 

“This is not the appropriate treatment for our ancestors. They are being cared for in as dignified a manner as possible. But this is not how we respect our dead,” said DCA President Melvin Won Pat.

Meantime, the shrine, designed by the late architect Andrew Liguana, was initially estimated to cost upwards of $2-million to construct.  

Patrick Lujan is with the Guam State Historic Preservation Office and he said, “What we had thought of 5 million dollars as a ceiling and something of a comfort zone might be a little bit of a tight squeeze–but nevertheless, we’re going to work diligently and try to make it as efficient as possible. whatever we don't spend will go back to the coffers of our people.”

Bill 264 seeks to appropriate $5-million from FY24 general fund revenues collected in excess to the Department of Parks and Recreation to construct the shrine. 

The total footprint of the project is estimated around more than 5 acres. Lawmakers continued to discuss that matter in session.