The CNMI celebrates tomorrow a milestone that was crossed about 42 years ago that gave the Northern Mariana Islands its status as a commonwealth.
On March 24, 1976, the U.S government signed the agreement known as the Covenant Agreement that allowed the Northern Mariana Islands to enter into a political union with the United States, but with the right to local self-government. That day has since become known as Covenant Day.
However, since then, many no longer remember the day’s importance. The Saipan Tribune went out to ask what exactly Covenant Day means to the islands today.
“Covenant Day means a lot to our people. Our forefathers met with the United States delegation to negotiate our Commonwealth and what we can and cannot control.”
—Saipan Mayor David Apatang
“It [Covenant Day] was a historical event for the people of the CNMI. The Covenant is an agreement which established the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands. It established a political union with the United States.”
—Joann Aquino, Saipan Mayor’s Office
“Covenant Day was when we became a part of the United States and it was the day we were given U.S. citizenship. The Covenant also paved the way for us to establish our constitution.”
—Larissa Flores, Saipan Mayor’s Office
“Covenant Day signifies the Commonwealth’s relationship with the United States and our United States citizenship.
—Henry Hofschneider, Saipan Mayor’s Office
“Covenant Day is a time when I reflect on the struggles of past generations and the measures they took to choose a political status for the indigenous people of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas. It also opened up closer political ties with the United States and opened up a dialogue in the United States House of Representative by giving the CNMI a seat in the House of Representatives through the enactment of legislation.”
—Danny Aquino, CNMI Museum
“Covenant Day is significant because, with the signing of the Covenant came a variety of opportunities for the islands’ indigenous people as a result of the U.S. citizenship that came with the establishment of the Commonwealth.”
—Hanzel Campollo Batan, DFS Galleria
“I know that, if it were not for Covenant Day, we wouldn’t have all the amazing benefits that were once only exclusive to Americans. Today means celebration of our freedom.”
—Jose Marks, San Jose