Panel: Kumisión i Fino’ CHamoru
The History of Fino’ Haya and the Evolution of Guam’s Chamoru Orthography
By Dr. Robert Underwood
The Commission on Chamoru Language and the Teaching of the History and Culture of the Indigenous People of Guam
Abstract: The story of Fino’ Haya (the language of the island) is a rich story encompassing not only the origins of the people who speak it, but the story of their experiences throughout the centuries. The CHamoru language is the clearest evidence that the people of the Marianas are Pacific Islanders, but it is so much more. In its vocabulary, in its rich constructions, in its adaptation to changing times, we bear witness to the strength and resiliency of a great people. I am sure that I can have a conversation with Hurao in spite of 340 years of time. But I am also sure that we could teach each other a lot. The use of CHamoru and its maintenance is the single greatest contribution to the continuity of the people of the Marianas. Dancing, navigating, eating and history books pale in significance to the single revolutionary act of producing a meaningful sentence in CHamoru. This presentation reviews the historical changes to CHamoru and the urgency of supporting a CHamoru-speaking community.