4th Marianas History Conference 2019 Book III: History

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I Maga’taotao Siha The Elders Who Inspire Us to Decolonize By Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero Independent Guåhan victoria.lola@gmail.com and Monaeka Flores Independent Guåhan mflores.guam@gmail.com Abstract: At each General Assembly, Independent Guåhan honors a maga’taotao: a hero or notable figure that has helped guide the island and the CHamoru people on their quest for self-determination. Independent Guåhan draws from a diverse array of CHamoru leaders and community members, highlighting the historic and political context that informed or provoked their wisdom and work to further broaden or complicate conversations about self-determination. Family members of each maga’taotao share their insight and reflect on the lives and contributions of each individual. A wide range of critical issues are examined and demystified through their stories including environmental stewardship, political autonomy, protection of historic and cultural resources, economic development, land use, sustainable agriculture, security, CHamoru language advocacy, education, CHamoru identity and survivorship to name a few. This presentation will highlight the maga’taotao celebrated in the Independent Guahån series and the important roles they have played in the progress of our people.

For as long as Guam has been colonized, there have been people in our history who have actively fought for freedom, who lived self-determined lives, raised their voices against injustice and the continued denial of rights to the CHamoru people, and worked diligently in their respective areas of expertise to make our island a better place. They are our maga’taotao – as Eddie “Ed” LG Benavente would call them – our heroes. Uncle Ed was himself a maga’taotao as the co-founder of Nasion CHamoru, executive director of the Commission on Decolonization, co-founder of