Interpreting an Authentic Chamorro Sakman From the Historic Record
By Pete Perez
Abstract: This paper looks at the development of replicas of the Chamorro Flying Proa over two hundred and fifty years after its suppression by Spanish colonials in the Mariana Islands. It provides an in-depth analysis of the historic record that informed three organizations' efforts to build authentic Chamorro sailing canoes using both wood and fiberglass - Sakman Chamorro, Inc. and 500 Sails, both based in Saipan, and Chelu, Inc. in San Diego, California. While the historic record included drawings and first- person descriptions of the canoes and how they were sailed, the record was incomplete and the construction of an accurate replica required analysis and interpretation of a wide range of factors in order to fill in the blanks. The author, who was intimately involved in all three organization's efforts to build an authentic Chamorro sailing canoe, describes that process and explains what was behind specific decisions that affected the outcome in both the design and operation of the resulting canoes.