First public hearing for Guam place names project

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I Kumisión i Fino’ CHamoru yan i Fina’nå’guen i Historia yan Lina’la’ i Taotao Tåno’ (The Commission on the CHamoru Language and the Teaching of the History and Culture of the Indigenous People of Guam) or the Kumisión, held its first public hearing Tuesday night for the I Na’an Lugåt or the Guam Place Names Project.

Dr. Robert Underwood, Ge’hilo, Kumision i Fino’ CHamoru, spoke with K57’s Patti Arroyo about the project on Tuesday morning.

At a hearing for the bill reverting Inarajan to its original CHamoru name, Inalahan, Underwood said the Kumisión recently passed a master plan for changing village names and it includes an extensive place naming process in consultation with the mayors. The process also includes public hearings and outreaches all over the island.

The Kumisión organized public hearings all over Guam, dividing the island into southern, central, and northern regions, to review the village names.

The first public hearing at the Agat Community Center was the first of three to be held at community centers around the island to review village names.

The villages up for review Tuesday night were Hagat, Santa Rita, Humatak, Malesso’, Inalahan, and Talo’fo’fo’.

Underwood says the village name changes are required by law.

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“People should kind of comprehend that it is required by public law that the village names be spelled keeping with the most current orthography and that they pronounce with the traditional pronunciation as much as possible. So we have taken on the first three months of the work on these place names and we are gonna take it section by section,” Underwood said.

He added that the southern villages are generally supportive of the move. However, Underwood expects some pushback in the central villages and also when the Kumision starts the discussion on specific place names.

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“When we get to place names that is a slightly different issue,” he said.

The Kumisión will address village names over the next three months. According to a release from the Kumision, central village names will be addressed in May and northern village names in June.

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