Guam | Hiking and Chamoru Village

By Tecpatl Kuauhtzin

We began the day talking about the ethics of conducting interviews in a community setting. Best practices, as told by my professor, include keeping sensitive information undisclosed and sharing how any and all information will be used with the participant. We then proceeded to cover health and illness in Oceania.

 Later, we visited the coast. I don’t quite remember the name of the area or the beach, but it was astonishing. The waves were like none I have ever seen before and they crashed beautifully against the rocks. I sent my drone up to get aerial footage, and was not disappointed!

We ended the school day with a visit to the mountains as the sun was setting. Because we jumped out of the car and watched the sun set so quickly, we never checked where we were. We were running on island time and island schedule, lol.

That night, we visited Chamoru village, as we were told by locals that it is always active on Wednesdays with numerous food and jewelry vendors. There is also a lot of dancing and laughter everywhere! We had a blast looking through the booths and we even got called up to dance. It was an experience.

Tecpatl studied abroad in Guam in Summer 2019.

Guam | Prutehi Litekyan

By Tecpatl Kuauhtzin

In class, we learned about a movement on Guam to protect a sacred site known as Litekyan. The local Chamoru community is trying to raise awareness and seize the destruction of the land by the United States Marines. The Marines plan to use a segment of Litekyan, which is currently open to all, to serve as a firing range. Although they will not use all of Litekyan, their environmental impact will damage the area and if they build their range, the entire land mass will not be available to the public, including the indigenous Chamoru people that have taken care of the region for thousands of years.

We were fortunate enough to engage in the demonstration and meet members of the community that were passionate about protecting their sacred sites. Being these reminded me of home and our Protect The Sacred rallies on the mainland.

I came across Amber, a Chamoru woman who was holding up a familiar sign. I introduced myself and my communities, explained what I am doing in Guam and asked her if I could take her portrait. Telling this story is important to me because it hits very close to home. Constantly, we are struggling against desecration of our sacred sites as Indigenous Peoples all over the world. Furthermore, we are constantly having to be at the forefront of environmental protection because it impacts our communities first.

It was beautiful to see families and youth demonstrating together. The signs the community was holding up were very thought provoking, and I was surprised to see that many cars passing by honked in support. The movement is growing.

Guam | Class Field Trip to Hagatna and the Town

By Tecpatl Kuauhtzin

Every Wednesday, we have a class field trip as part of our course. This wednesday, we went to Hagatna and toured parts of the city with Elder Malia. One of the most notable parts of the trip was traveling to the canoe house where the most traditional canoes are still kept to this day. The Chamoru people are a canoe maritime people, and it was incredible to see their traditional structures as well as their contemporary changes. Malia was very knowledgeable about the history and language of her people, and shared in detail.

We spent some time learning about the importance of the canoe and how fast it was, as noted by Spaniards during the 1500s. It is truly remarkable technology, as the canoe is shaped differently than most canoes in the world. Instead of keeping a symmetrical shape, it is curved and this allows the air to flow differently, letting the small canoe soar.

Our next stop was the Guam museum, but on the way we stopped by the town’s Catholic church. Right in front of the church, there was a vendor selling Coconuts, and because it was a really hot and humid day, all of us wanted a coconut. He sold it with a straw and told us to come back when we finished the juice. He would then open it for us and serve it with soy sauce. it was delicious!

After being refreshed by the coconut, we headed to Guam museum! It was closed, but Elder Malia’s status as a leader in the community granted us access because she was giving us a tour. It was beautiful and had a really nice view of the town. As we all gathered on the outlook, Malia explained the history of this town center and how the Spanish gathered and displaced Chamoru people when they were colonizing the island. The Spanish relocated Chamoru people around the churches and the Spanish officials lived in the hills to police the community with a good view of the land.

Fortunately, we ended on a happy note as we then traveled to a Latte site where there were multiple giant Latte structures. Malia explained that these structures were used as foundations for the traditional Chamoru houses. They are found all over Guam and are reminders of its original inhabitants. The Latte are very important to the Chamoru.

Tecpatl studied abroad in Guam in Summer 2019.

Guam | Visiting the Island You Can Walk To

By Tecpatl Kuauhtzin

We want to take advantage of our free time before classes start, so today we hopped in our rental cars and headed to a beautiful beach we found on google! It was relatively close, and it sure was beautiful. On the way there we told jokes and shared stories, getting closer with every passing minute.

There was a small island in the middle of the water, and I had the urge to try to swim to it. About 5 minutes out, I realized the shore was just not going to deepen. We ended up walking about 3/4 of the way to the island but some in the group were not comfortable swimmers so we decided to turn back and leave it for another day. We later googled it and found that on low tide, it is perfectly safe to walk to.

We then noticed a swing set in the water built out of wood and approached it. We figured it was there for the public to use and my classmates began doing photoshoots on it, haha. The tide was only knee high, so we were not able to use the swing set to jump, but nevertheless it was a good time.

Tecpatl studied abroad in Guam in Summer 2019.

Guam | First Visit With Guam’s Waters

By Tecpatl Kuauhtzin

After our orientation and initial introductions, my group decided to take a sunset stroll to the beach by the University of Guam’s campus. It was a short 15 minute walk and allowed us all to get to know each other a little more. We talked about our majors and what each of us were hoping to get out of the program. After a bit of walking, we reached the shore and were amazed by the view. The water was also incredibly beautiful and warm, something I was not used to feeling. It was an awesome first day.

Tecpatl studied in Guam in Summer 2019.

Guam | Native Justice: Social Movements in Guam

By Tecpatl Kuauhtzin

My journey with the Native Justice program begins in the school year, during which I learned about the opportunity to participate in this travel study during an Asian American Studies course. Immediately, I was interested in learning more about the Chamoru people and Guam, and how their experiences relate to mine as a Native American youth living in a heavily industrialized and colonial space. I had always been interested in participating in a study abroad program, but never felt connected to one as much as this one. The scope of the program, from working with Chamoru community organizations to working with the environment, was important to me as a student focused on American Indian issues and environmental protection.

Fast forward to today, July 6, I am sitting in the airplane and will be arriving to Guam shortly to meet my cohort and attend our orientation.

Tecpatl studied abroad in Guam in Summer 2019.