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Ms. Yoshikawa Yuumi, parliamentary vice-minister of foreign affairs from the Government of Japan, speaks at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at the Sabånan Fadang Memorial on Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz, Guam, Jan. 25, 2023. During the ceremony Maj. Gen. Stephen E. Liszewski, Commanding General of Marine Corps Installations Pacific, presented the memorial to Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, Guam Governor, to symbolize the transfer of the memorial to the people of Guam. While Camp Blaz will continue to care of the site, the memorial will be available for future, public access. The Sabånan Fadang Burial Site was constructed as part of the base’s commitment to preserving the rich cultural heritage of Guam. 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.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Garrett Gillespie

Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz Holds Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Sabånan Fadang Memorial

25 Jan 2023 | Maj. Diann Rosenfeld Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz

Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz held a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony at the Sabånan Fadang Memorial located on the base’s Main Cantonment area on Jan. 25, 2023. The ceremony symbolically dedicated the memorial through the Guam Governor’s office to the people of Guam.

“It is only fitting that ahead of tomorrow’s Camp Blaz Reactivation and Naming Ceremony, we symbolically and with abiding respect place this memorial in CHamoru hands to enhance an enduring cultural heritage earned through courage, perseverance and ingenuity over millennia,” said Maj. Gen. Stephen Liszewski, Commanding General of Marine Corps Installations Pacific.

The Sabånan Fadang burial site was found when an archeologist, monitoring the MCB Camp Blaz construction, discovered a single tooth in 2020. What was notable about that tooth were the unique etchings decorating its surface. The finding of this single tooth halted construction in the immediate area until Camp Blaz completed its investigations. Originally, four grave pits were discovered at the Sabånan Fadang site but during the construction of the memorial, the archeologists discovered another three. There are at least 13 CHamoru individuals laid to rest at this site dating back as early as the Latte Period. Through close collaboration with the Guam State Historic Preservation Office, the memorial was completed in February of 2022.

“Let us remember the CHamorus that rest here and across our island, let us remember their characteristic spirit of ingenuity, strength and resilience,” said Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero. “Let us remember the greatest gift that they have left behind to all of Guam’s children, a unique heritage and legacy that continues.”

"It is only fitting that ahead of tomorrow’s Camp Blaz Reactivation and Naming Ceremony, we symbolically and with abiding respect place this memorial in CHamoru hands to enhance an enduring cultural heritage earned through courage, perseverance and ingenuity over millennia" Lou Leon Guerrero, Guam Governor

The ribbon cutting included Gov. Leon Guerrero, Maj. Gen. Liszewski, Guam Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio, Dededo Mayor Melissa Savares, MCB Camp Blaz Commanding Officer Col. Christopher Bopp, Government of Japan Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Defense Kimura Jiro and Government of Japan Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoshikawa Yuumi.

“I want to especially thank the military for making true a commitment that Admiral Menoni said to me when we first unearthed these remains, he invited me to pay respects and he said to me, “Governor, we are going to preserve [the remains] in place and construct a monument and so I want to thank the military for making that commitment come true,” said Leon Guerrero. “…I am humbled by their commitment to memorialize our history with this beautiful monument, a place where our people have the opportunity to honor our ancestors.”

The memorial will be available for public access once construction of MCB Camp Blaz is completed.

“Gov. Leon Guerrero and Lt. Gov. Tenorio, thank you for being a part of this memorial’s history, every step of the way and accepting its dedication on behalf of the indigenous CHamoru,” said Liszewski. “Just as true as we are to the Marine Corps’ mission of being the nation’s premier warfighting organization, we will likewise remain faithful to our duty to protect and preserve cultural resources under our stewardship.”

The ribbon cutting ceremony is part of a series of events leading up to the MCB Camp Blaz Reactivation and Naming Ceremony on Jan. 26, 2023. For a full list of events, visit www.mcbblaz.marines.mil/