A commission of local leaders and scholars has been established to give voice to the experiences of our ancestors during the historical Spanish circumnavigation of the Earth.
The commission was created through the passage of Sen. Kelly Marsh-Taitano’s legislation in May which established “I Estoria-ta: Inetnon estudion i umali’e yan umafana’ i taotao hiyong yan taotao tano’ Commission” to finally share Guam’s ancestral accounts of Magellan and Elcano’s circumnavigation journey that sailed them right through Guam waters 500 years ago.
The commission will be dedicated to the research, planning and coordination of efforts to ensure Guam’s full representation and participation throughout the 3-year event launched in Spain that would not only retrace the historical voyage but also include scholarly conferences, studies, public events, exhibits, cultural exchanges, state visits, agreements and multinational maritime exchanges.
Considered a maritime event, academic undertaking and diplomatic opportunity for the island, Dr. Robert Underwood said the establishment of the commission would ensure that Indigenous narratives and critiques are incorporated into the planning and development of events and materials.
The 10-member commission incorporates local leaders and scholars with various concentrations and specialties relative to the island’s history. I Kumision I Fino’ Chamoru is represented by Dr. Robert Underwood, the Department of Chamorro Affairs is represented by Dr. Michael Bevacqua, the University of Guam is represented by Dr. Carlos Madrid (with Dr. David Atienza as his alternate), Guam Visitors Bureau is represented by Dee Hernandez, Guam Young Men’s League is represented by Vic Paulino, the Guam Preservation Trust by Joe Quinata, and the Mayor’s Council of Guam represented by Umatac Mayor Johnny Quinata.
In addition to Commission on Decolonization Director Melvin Won Pat Borja, appointed by Senator Marsh Taitano, Adelup Senior Policy Advisor Adrian Cruz was appointed by i Maga’Hagan Guahan and TASA’s Sandra Iseke Okada was appointed by Speaker Tina Muna Barnes.
As early as last year, Dr. Underwood highlighted his travels to Spain and the Czech Republic, visiting six universities and three museums as well as his meetings with government officials in order to ensure the cultural and historical exchanges take place in commemoration of the indigenous encounter with the Spanish.