“…Northern Marianas Decent-“ISM”

One of the fundamental differences between communism and democracy is that in a democratic system one is at liberty to do or say almost anything, including denouncing cultural identity. You can even have a bizarre and demonic identity so long as you’re not endangering someone else’s life. One can even be like Donald Trump who is a classic modern day masquerader and a flip-flopper. One can also be a Democrat or Republican.

On Monday, April 11, 2016, in his letter to the editor, Mr. Rudy Sablan was describing his conversation with a Chamorro man who also identified himself as a Northern Marianas Decent or NMD.It sounded like the man he was talking to was assertively passionate about his hereditary lineage and proud to be who he is, a Chamorro. The man was referencing not his association with but his identity to a particular group of people indigenous to a particular place.

Among other issues he was raising was the inclusion of Article XII and questioning the essence of Northern Marianas Decent and its importance in the CNMI Constitution. He bemusedly thinks that his ethnicity is not worth protecting because it has no enduring bona fide meaning and cultural redeeming value to him. He was almost apologetic for having it included in Article XII of our Constitution. Questioning the wisdom of such provision and implicating the decisions and judgements of our constitutional delegates as fundamentally flawed is callously disingenuous.

I don’t want to make a case for “ISM” because it is not a person. I do want to say however, that NMD is a person and if any Chamorro/Carolinian, including Mr. Sablan, who doesn’t want to be included in that definition and identified as an NMD and wishes to publicly renounce it, is perfectly fine. I just don’t take kindly anybody, including Mr. Sablan, trashing those of us who fundamentally believed in our cultural heritages and have an abiding appreciation for who we are as a people.

The thought of a real possibility that Chamorros and Carolinians may be becoming extinct as indigenous people of the Commonwealth was a compelling interest for our constitutional delegates. Not protecting the possible demise of an indigenous population within the islands of the Commonwealth would be an unconscionable and abominable act and the constitutional delegates made an imperative moral and cultural decision to institutionalize its protection. Section-by-section analysis of the Constitution revealed the deliberative passions of our delegates and their decisions and judgements was not an afterthought.

The colossal threat of a possible extinction of indigenous Chamorro and Carolinian may be fictionally insignificant to Mr. Sablan, as his argument seems to indicate, but for those of us who are still clinging on to our cultural heritages and traditional values passed on by our ancestors, it is who and what we are that matters most. The ratification of our Constitution by overwhelming majority of our local people was because of its provisions, inclusive of Articles XI and XII which embodies our inalienable right to protect our distinct traditional way of life. Affirming its importance was further engrained in the Preamble of our CNMI Constitution. Our traditions and cultural beliefs are indispensable, untradeable and unforfeitable because it is dignified. It is through our action that causes indignity to ourselves.

Mr. Sablan is a blessed person because he is Chamorro and Carolinian living in both worlds. But then again, this does not have much significance to him because he sounded that cares less of his heritage. As for his other arguments, it’s pointless to conversationally engage, he already indignified his ethnicity and I respect his decision nevertheless.

Daniel O. Quitugua
Vice president, NMDC

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  • naisur

    Dear Mr. Quitugua, you wrote “…One of the fundamental differences between communism and democracy…”
    According to Business Dictionary (http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/communism.html)
    Communism is “… economic and social system in which all (or nearly all) property and resources are collectively owned by a classless society and not by individual citizens…”
    At the same time one of available on internet definitions of democracy states that democracy is “…a political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them…” (https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/democracy).
    Maybe you are right when you compare two fundamentally different things: the right of possession and the political system. For some reason, you put the equal sign between ethnicity, self-defiance,culture and quite economical issue of free land market. Probably, it did not occur in your head that opposition to ban of Article XI and Article XII undermines capacity of people defined as NMD as capable one. I understand your concerns about preservation on Chamorro an Carolinian heritage but you cannot force people to remember who they are by taking from them the right to manage their own land.

  • fan4life

    he thinks he a reborn american, pathetic.

  • truth670er

    Actually, I don’t think potential extinction of “indigenous people of the Commonwealth was a compelling interest for our constitutional delegates,” as Mr. Quitugua suggests. The prohibition of permanent alienation of land was put into the Covenant at the urging of U.S. negotiators who feared that the locals would sell all the land to outsiders, live it up on the money, and then become even more dependent on U.S. taxpayers for their survival. And U.S. taxpayers would be forced to foot that bill because of United States strategic defense and security interests in the islands.

    So, first, the convention was just following the Covenant, which already had been negotiated and approved. Second, the delegates to the First Constitutional Convention were led down a predetermined path by husband and wife team Howard Willens and Deanne Siemer, who was appointed General Counsel for the Department of Defense a month after the CNMI Constitution was ratified by CNMI voters.

    The “Section-by-section analysis of the Constitution” was written by Ms. Siemer and Mr. Willens. It is hard to see what connection there is between Article XII and “cultural heritages and traditional values,” which unquestionably were stronger when Article XII was conceived than they are now, or how in any way Article XII has helped to preserve and protect those “heritages” and “values.”

    To the contrary, Article XII today seems to operate as little more than a symbol to brandish to rally racist sentiment (NMD superiority and ethnic solidarity even while being betrayed and exploited by a NMD-controlled government) and a false and feigned victimization. I cannot see how Article XII has in any way served to further the “inalienable right to protect our distinct traditional way of life.”

    • jun


      And the twenty-five years had passed and we need to change such racist act or constitution (CNMI Article XII). I am by definition 100% NMD and such practices is not in my lingual.

      Well said.

      Si Yu’us Ma’ase

  • Xtreme74

    To each his own but, I personally would like to see the CNMI predominantly controlled and inherited by NMD only!. Foreigners can come and make money here using our NMD land but will not own it period. I mean c’mon Saipan is only 14 miles long 5-7 miles wide. need i say more?. We will not live like the American Indians in a reservation. However, they have more land rights than we do in respect to NMD in our own Island and that needs to be reviewed. ConCon/US Congress need to re-visit and amend.

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