DEDEDO, Guam --
In close coordination and cooperation between Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz, Officer in Charge of Construction Marine Corps Marianas, the Guam State Historic Preservation Office, Granite Obayashi Joint Venture and Kleinfelder / Garcia and Associates completed a monument honoring ancestral burials found at Sabånan Fadang during the construction of MCB Camp Blaz, Feb. 11.
The monument’s construction supports the base’s commitment to preserving the rich cultural heritage of Guam. A cultural ritual led by Governor Lourdes Leon Guerrero and the Guam SHPO was held on Nov. 23, 2021 at Sabånan Fadang to return the grave goods and cover the exposed burial sites with CHamoru soil prior to construction of the monument.
The burial site includes seven grave pits from the Latte Period to the very early Post-Contact Period. The meticulous archaeological work of the MCB Camp Blaz cultural resources team allows historians to permanently record important details and gather physical evidence of Guam's history for the benefit of the public and future generations.
“The complex and meaningful ways these individuals were buried shed light on traditional CHamoru burial practices,” said Cacilie Craft, Kleinfelder GANDA senior archaeologist and regional manager. “We have evidence of cremation, of possible dental work, allusions to kinship bonds, and overall, more evidence that the interior plateau was more heavily utilized than archaeologists previously thought.”
The monument has a dedicative plaque featuring a large engraving of a “trongkon nunu,” a banyan tree said to serve as a home for “taotaomo-na,” ancestral CHamoru spirits. The plaque is nestled between two ancient CHamoru lusongs, mortars used for pounding seeds or roots into processed food. The plaque’s descriptive text, written in both English and CHamoru, introduces the ancient Sabånan Fadang area and the lifestyle CHamorus endemic to the Latte Period enjoyed based on archaeological findings.
“The complex and meaningful ways these individuals were buried shed light on traditional CHamoru burial practices.” Cacilie Craft, Kleinfelder GANDA senior archaeologist and regional manager
“For one thousand years, Sabanan Fadang has been the resting place of our ancestors, until they were disturbed for military construction purposes,” said Carlotta Leon Guerrero, acting Guam SHPO. “The brief time they spent above ground, with us again, is helping to strengthen our culture and heritage as we strive to learn more about the life they lived on the northern plateau.”
MCB Camp Blaz remains committed to a responsible construction process through extensive joint efforts and collaboration with the government of Guam, federal and local agencies. This monument is just one of many projects MCB Camp Blaz has supported during the buildup process to ensure we are being good stewards of the environment and respectful to the island of Guam and CHamoru ancestry.
Archaeological findings at Sabånan Fadang provide insights into Guam’s culture and history. For example, the ancient burials found at Sabånan Fadang show signs of strong kinship among ancient CHamorus identified by what seems to be the positioning of relatives in poses that embrace one another at the time of burial.
Craft expressed the great level of care the team of archaeologists took while investigating and preserving the site. “Working at the site has meant something personally for each one of the crew members,” said Craft. “Some of the CHamoru members of the archaeological crew have seen it as their duty to care for their ancestors’ remains and material past” and are “proud to have been able to ensure the world knows these remains were and are still here.”
A finalized report is in progress and MCB Camp Blaz will share additional information with the public after the full analysis of the burials are completed.
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