This is to request an Open Government Act to review and inspect all documents relating to, relevant to, and reference to the properties and site of the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium, the Francisco “Tun Ko” Palacios Ballfield, and the track-and-field located in San Jose Village, the traditional Chamorro village of i Sengsong Katan Uda.
As you are all aware, I Sengsong Katan Uda (San Jose village), the site of the Ada Gym, Tun Ko Ballfield, and the track-and-field, has been known for decades to be a highly sensitive ancient and traditional Chamorro cultural and heritage site.
Both the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs and Historic Preservation Office were aware of the cultural significance of i Sengsong Katan Uda since the digging in the early 2000s up to the mid-2000s for the construction and upgrade of the gymnasium, the baseball field, and the track of the sports complex. This traditional Chamorro village hosts ancient Chamorro human remains and artifacts. The archaeological digging at the site and the archaeological survey reported all these from the site in the past two decades.
Recently, the actions by those directly involved in the planning and development of the sports complex in preparation for the 2022 Pacific Mini Games has over-reached its needed development infrastructure. The sports event is only 32 days from game day on June 17. This amount of earthmoving and construction at this late time to game day needs to be answered by the those involved: the CNMI government, departments and agencies, including the Northern Marianas Sports Association, which is the custodian of the sports complex facility.
In the meantime, we ask that all earthmoving activities at the site shall cease until all records have been received, reviewed, and evaluated by an independent professional archeologist, and other professional individuals relevant to this desecration of our sacred heritage settlement site of I Sengsong Katan Uda.
Our sacred cultural heritage sites cannot continue to be destroyed just to make way for the construction and upgrade of the sports complex to host the Pacific Mini Games next month in June. These bulldozing of our sacred grounds only happened so quickly or just in the last month or so to begin construction of additional facilities when the games are only just two months away (at the time of bulldozing).
The notice for the CNMI as host of the Pacific Mini Games was known since several years ago. In fact, the PMG was to be held in the CNMI last year, 2021 but it was postposed to June 2022 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lastly, this facility must be named “Marianas Sports Complex” as it is mis-appropriately named “Oleai Sports Complex,” referencing Woleai, an atoll in the Caroline Islands, which is an historical disinformation on the significance of this important traditional Chamorro village of Katan Uda. This village was later renamed “San Jose Village” after construction of the patron St. Joseph Church that was built for the village people, and since the Chamorros accepted the Catholic religion from the Spanish era in Sa’ipan. This is the factual history of the Chamorro heritage of their traditional village Katan Uda.
We look forward to your utmost cooperation on this important cultural and heritage issue that we are now faced with again after the desecration of i Sengsong Anaguan, Garapan’s business district, to make way for the construction of the Best Sunshine Grand Mariana Casino and Imperial Pacific International Resort just seven years ago from March to June 2015.
Again, this request is hereby submitted under the CNMI’s Open Government Act and the Federal Freedom of Information Act. We ask for your prompt response to inspect the records.
Liana M.S. Hofschneider
President, Matua: Council for Native Chamorro Advancement