Senator calls for halt to all clearings near historic sites

Photo shows artifacts removed from historic sites taken by the Office of Senator Therese Terlaje during a May 23,2019 visit to Finegayan / NCTS area.

Senator Therese Terlaje has called for a halt to all clearings near historic sites in response to additional burials found near Magua.

During a July 13, 2020, informational briefing on Magua, the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) disclosed that a latte period human burial had been found and a survey of the adjacent area was underway to determine the full scope of the burial grounds.

According to Terlaje, she was informed recently that three additional burials were found.

“These multiple discoveries of burials follow the past refusal by U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to preserve Magua in place, and DoD’s deliberate removal of Latte Period latte, lusong, earth ovens, tools, pottery, and other artifacts from the area,” the senator said.

Prior to being cleared, Terlaje said Magua was listed as a site eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, Magua is also located near a freshwater source, inland from the cliffs above the ancient village of Haputo.

The burials were found between Magua, marked on a 1676 map as Mahgua, and another historic site in the direction of Route 3.

“This must stop now. The clearing of latte and lusong from Magua and the disturbance of the adjacent burial grounds is a serious mistake and a grave injustice to Chamorro heritage and future generations. The unilateral decision by DoD to clear latte and other rare village artifacts that survived thousands of years in known historic sites eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, to unilaterally deem them culturally insignificant or not worthy of avoidance, is contrary to international standards of protection of indigenous cultures, and reminds us of the generations of harm that continue to be perpetuated by the land takings,” Terlaje said.

She added: “The DoD has not sufficiently altered its destructive plans for Magua, Litekyan, or Haputo despite our input in the “consultation” process under NEPA and NHPA. I am grateful to the SHPO for informing me of these findings and for stating that he would pursue preservation in place of the burial site found near the ancient village of Magua. However, if we are to prevent another incident like what has happened at Magua, the people of Guam must act united and strategically. I call on our Governor, Congressman, Government agencies and all leaders to halt all further clearing by DoD in the Magua, Haputo, Litekyan, and Fena sites until the U.S. agrees to preservation in place of ancient villages and cultural sites on military-controlled property on Guam, and agrees to grant open access to these sites to Guam’s children.”