Fanohge Coalition calls for Guam self-determination
The Fanohge Coalition in Guam, which consists of 37 networks, nonprofits, and organizations, is advocating for CHamoru self-determination and land rights. Self-determinations includes the right for the CHamoru to be a part of the conversation regarding the Guam decolonization efforts. This can be exercised by preventing government leaders from being the only voices in important political decisions. On May 11, 2020, the Fanohge Coalition sent a letter to the island’s leaders outlining their goals and seeking support in their fight for justice.
The letter includes this powerful statement: “We understand that decolonization does not only occur when it is sanctioned by federal courts or when it favors the interests of people who were not historically wronged by the colonization of Guam. Instead, it relies upon the collective efforts of our entire community—native inhabitants and allies alike—coming together to understand and support a just and genuine decolonization effort.”
The CHamoru are the indigenous population of the Mariana Islands, of which Guam is the southernmost island. In the 1600s, the Spanish increased colonization efforts in the Mariana Islands, eventually utilizing Guam to exert control over the native CHamorus. The Spanish maintained control over Guam until the 1898 Treaty of Paris following the Spanish-American War, which allowed the United States to gain Guam as a territory.
However, even with this transition in ownership, Guam was still under the control of foreign leaders, essentially becoming an American military base. In 1941, Japan invaded the island, and it was occupied by Japanese forces until 1944, when it was finally reclaimed by the United States and remained under their control. This multi-colonization process has prevented the native CHamoru people from having control over their own land, culminating into this recent increase in decolonization efforts.
Organizations like the Fanohge Coalition and the Commission on Decolonization have worked hard to gather support, resources, and momentum in their mission towards CHamoru self-determination. Last September, the Fanohge Coalition organized a large march in order to advocate for a decision regarding Guam’s statehood. Over 2,000 people gathered to show their support and highlight the unity in the Guam community over this issue. The Fanohge Coalition has also started a petition to appeal for CHamoru self-determination, which has gained around 3,000 signatures.
The Fanohge Coalition had sent their letter to the 15 members of the Guam Legislature seeking their support. Three members wrote statements confirming their support for CHamoru self-determination, and 11 members responded to a survey confirming their support as well. Only one member responded no to the survey asking if he supports CHamoru self determination. However, the movement continues to gather support and gain momentum from the 14 members of the Guam Legislature who have extended their support in this fight for equality and justice.