Panel: From Militarism To Tourism
Military Secrets During the Occupation of Guam
By Seyoung Choung
Saint John’s School
Abstract: It’s oft-repeated that the military remains neutral from politics, but in Marianas history, transparency was never a priority. The armed forces were unaccountable to the Chamoru people whose land they occupied. The author intends to submit a paper covering the secrecy of the military throughout 20thcentury Guam history to address such issues. The topic of the paper is a challenge to prevailing pro-military historiography surrounding Guam’s history. Despite a strong consensus among Marianas scholars that the political machinations of the military were conducted forcefully and without the approval of the Chamoru people, this understanding has not been fully translated into primary school curriculums due to flaws in the American educational system. Indigenous voices remain esoteric compared to an over-glorified portrayal of the United States military in simplified narratives. The paper aims to shed light on the unreliability of many military sources in the retelling of the history of the Marianas. To do so, the author compares military sources (primarily naval) with indigenous testimonies, civilian recordings, statistical findings, and scientific papers. The contradictions that arise from examining Guam’s history from different angles will be examined at length to reveal the truth about military arrogance during the decades long occupation of Guam.
“In Guåhan, there is no blank slate. One always begins with the presumption that the military is a key factor in whatever one is doing.”
– Robert A. Underwood
University of Guam President Emeritus
American imperialist ambitions have not waned since the War of Independence toppled Britain’s monarchy in 1781. Since the war’s start, the domestic settlement of the contiguous United States took a little more than a century to achieve. In that 114-year-period (1776-1890), Native Americans were subjugated and relegated to reservations on the least hospitable lands available. Chinese immigrants, who toiled to build the Central Pacific railroad through the Rocky Mountains, were excluded by an act of congress, the only cultural group in American history to be targeted in this manner. African Americans, once bonded in slavery, were freed, but even constitutional amendments were perverted to create social isolation, economic poverty, and political absence.