The first Marianas History Conference is underway here on Saipan, thanks to the efforts of the Northern Marianas Humanities Council, Guam Preservation Trust, and Guampedia. Welcome to all the attendees and presenters.
Among the many items to be discussed at this year's conference is the longstanding question of Amelia Earhart's disappearance someplace in the Pacific in 1937. Many theories have been put forth over the years to explain her disappearance but it is important to note that none are proven. The “smoking gun” of hard, direct evidence has never been found.
One such theorist is TIGHAR, a group devoted to trying to prove the hypothesis that Earhart landed and died on Gardner Island, (now called Nikamororo). While TIGHAR businessmen have sent some of their employees and contractors to Saipan to deliver a paper at the History Conference, their theory with its anecdotal evidence is no more, and possibly less, persuasive than any of the dozen or so other theories put forth over the years. I would submit that their attempt to debunk the Earhart on Saipan theory is done solely to further their own pet theory and the millions of dollars in funding that studying that theory has brought them over the years. Repeated trips (10 to date) to Gardner Island (Nikamororo) by TIGHAR has so far yielded nothing of substance provably related to Earhart, navigator Noonan, or their Electra aircraft.
The many stories and eyewitness accounts of Earhart being seen here on Saipan in 1937 are likewise unproven by hard physical evidence, but the idea that Earhart was brought by the Japanese to its Pacific regional headquarters here on Saipan has persisted because of the sheer number of reported sightings and anecdotal stories told and retold.
My own father, at 23 years old, healthy, and of sound mind, was one of those eyewitnesses and told me in detail about seeing a woman and a man of “urupeo” European features (white) disembarking from a Japanese ship at the Garapan Dock, now the commercial port of Saipan in 1937 where he worked as a stevedore loading water. While his account is unpublished and while he did not know Earhart or claim that this was definitely an Earhart and Noonan sighting, the rarity of seeing two white people here then and the “coincidence” of the 1937 summer date adds yet another piece to the intriguing Earhart on Saipan theory.
Rep. Stanley Tudela McGinnis Torres
17th CNMI Legislature, Capital Hill