Guam – JGPO and DOD officials have promised to allow 24/7 access to the trail to Pagat caves and the ancient Pagat village. However, the cave and the ancient village that DOD is referring to isn’t the only cultural, and historical site in that area. PNC followed members of We are Guahan this weekend to see two other latte sites that DOD and JGPO have not made mention of.
Members of “We Are Guahan” have said that the Pagat cave, the ancient Pagat village, and the trail to the cave aren’t the only historical or cultural sites in the Pagat or Rt.15 area. So we decided to follow them into the jungles of Pagat to see for ourselves. The hike down to the cave is steep after the caves the trail continues on to the ancient Pagat village. UOG professor Mike Bevaqua stopped at a lusong (grinding stone) and said, “As you walk on this trail you can see a lot of different artifacts such as this basalt lusong right here there was a limestone lusong back there up ahead there’s latte so south of here you’ve got dozens of latte and then to the north there’s more latte as well and so this is the trail that most people take down here and most people think that Pagat is that cave and that natural arch when in truth Pagat it extends there was hundreds of people that lived down here there are fifteen different sets of latte that we’ve found and there are probably more out here.”
A latte set is the set of latte stones left from what was once an ancient Chamorro house. Some ancient Chamorros presumably chiefs or those of the higher classes built their houses on stone pillars called latte stones. Lusong are ancient grinding stones used to grind medicinal plants and food. Although DOD has promised to allow 24-7 access to this particular site of lattes stones and lusong, Bevacqua says it still may be in the range of stray bullets. “This what is in most people’s minds and DOD’s mind is the basis of Pagat really they don’t really think of it as expanding further north than this so that’s why they’re basically saying you can still come to Pagat all you want cuz they’ll be firing up there not down here although technically this is still in their danger zone,” said Bevaqua.
Maps of the proposed firing range in the FEIS show that the surface danger zone extends over the ancient Pagat village. From the Pagat village the trail continues on to the coastline where the limestone rocks create a natural arch. From here we hiked north up the coastline till we reached a bluff and a native limestone forest. Just a few feet inside the forest is another ancient Chamorro latte site.
We saw no trash in this area it was however littered with artifacts. Even areas away from the latte sites were covered with pottery shards complete with designs or etchings in them, clam shells, scrapers, sinkers and other tools were also found throughout the area. “If DOD considers Pagat to be the latte site next to the natural arch and the cave then this latte and the six or seven others in this area are not part of Pagat and all of the pottery shards all of the shells all of the lusong then their not part of Pagat either,” said Bevaqua asking, “I guess according to them it’s okay to fire over here or it’s okay to block this place off because this isn’t culturally historic or this isn’t significant.” We asked Bevaqua “Right here where we’re at at this latte site what’s due west from here?” He replied saying, “Rt. 15”
The entire area is filled with native plants and trees. For example Fadang, Lumot or native moss that is used by locals to decorate nativity scenes, and Nunu or Taotaomona trees also known as Banyon trees in English.
We continued to hike inland from the coast towards Rt. 15. Once we reached an overlook on the Cepeda Ranch We are Guahans Leevin Camacho paused to say, “I think if you’re not from here this may not look pristine but for those of us who appreciate the beauty of our island and the ocean coming up here I mean who would want to build a firing range on the bluff above here to build a target right next to this scenery here. Not only is this area where our ancestors used to live not only does DOD have more than enough property to build the ranges on it’s own within it’s footprint but again who would want to disturb this with gun fire?”
The Rt.15 or Pagat area also includes the Cepeda ranch which is a CLTC ranch as well as some privately owned properties.