Since a hut burning incident at the Carolinian utt earlier this week, Carolinian Affairs executive assistant John Tagabuel has approached authorities in an attempt to secure the area from further harm.
Tagabuel told Saipan Tribune yesterday that although unsure whether the incident was intentional or an accident, he wishes to “get to the bottom of this” and that any efforts to vandalize the structure must be accounted for.
“The structure itself is iconic, it depicts the old way of living for our Chamorro brothers and sisters and for someone to come in and just disrespect it like that is a slap in the face,” said Tagabuel.
The Carolinian utt is a complex made up of several traditional huts. The structure burned this week was the largest at the complex.
Tagabuel stressed the economic value of the huts, given that the main source of revenue for the CNMI is tourism. Tagabuel said that a lot of tourists, after visiting Garapan, frequent the area to take pictures and ask about the people of the CNMI.
“It’s sad that we have people out there that could [damage a structure as important as this],” he said.
Tagabuel told Saipan Tribune that he has already spoken with local authorities to resume their hourly routine of checking the area.
“I don’t want another repeat, because this is the second time. The first time was a Carolinian hut [in 2014],” he added.
After looking into their files, Tagabuel said the Taga hut replica cost about $14,000 to $18,000 to make.
Reconstructing the hut is very time-consuming, he said, since the process of remaking the roof involves many other smaller processes, to be as close to ancient times as possible.
“Since a large portion of it has been burned, I think if [the roof] is going to be replaced, it would be better to replace the entire thing,” he said.
Damage to the hut is estimated at $2,000.