Five members of the community have joined the ranks of outstanding individuals who have been give recognition for their contribution to the field of humanities in the CNMI.
The Northern Marianas Humanities Council announced Friday the five recipients of the 22nd Governor’s Humanities Awards held at the Charley’s Cabaret at the Pacific Islands Club Saipan in San Antonio.
Dr. Boyd Dixon, senior archeologist with Cardno GS in Guam and the CNMI, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award in the Humanities, for his tireless efforts that go beyond research and publication of the islands’ deep history. Dixon is currently working on a paper titled, “Archeological Roots of Louisiana in the Pre-WWII Japanese Sugarcane Plantations of the Northern Marianas Islands in Micronesia,” and has produced several technical reports on Saipan and Tinian in the last five years.
The award for Research and Publication was given to Lynne Michael, who, with a background in ethnomusicology, published the book, Memories and Music, The Japanese Era on Rota, along with accompanying CDs, preserving the unique time in the history of Rota through interviews, songs, and first-person accounts.
500 Sails co-founder Emma Perez was recognized as Outstanding Humanities Teacher in a non-classroom setting. Since moving to Saipan in 2013, Perez has taught over 1,200 swimmers, and has become one of the main “land based” teachers of sailing basics, through 500 Sails, which is dedicated to restore the sailing tradition of the CNMI.
The Outstanding Humanities Teacher in a Classroom Setting award went to Dr. Chas Algaier, who has been involved in education and the humanities in the CNMI for the past 25 years. Algaier was instrumental in the creation of the first baccalaureate degree program in Elementary Education at the Northern Marianas College.
Eric Joel Reyes, founder of Guma Taotao Taga, was given the Humanities Award for the Preservation of Traditional Cultural Practices. Reyes is a champion of traditional music and dance, a Fafa’na’gue, which is a certified traditional Chamorro dance instructor, and is producer of the award-winning Chamorro traditional album of the year, ‘Guinaifen I kulu’.
Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, who was acting governor at the time of the awarding, honored the awardees for their dedication to educating the community, especially the youth, “on the values of the human and the humanities, whether it be inside or outside the classroom, or on the open ocean revitalizing our culture”
“The humanities celebrate human experience, the human dimension,” Palacios said. “[It] teach[es] us how to be critical thinkers and how to make important decisions, not just as policy makers, cultural leaders, community leaders but also as simple human beings. It helps us understand our past so we can create a better future for ourselves, for the next generations.”
NMHC chair Polly DLG Masga earlier highlighted the prestige of the awards, saying these awards mean the CNMI is not only recognizing the efforts of the awardees but also the overall impact that these individuals make to the community, and the impact that will follow for generations to come.
“Tonight, we recognize individuals for their contributions through publication, classroom settings, outside of classroom setting, and traditional cultural practices. These elements have all contributed to the realm of humanities in their own distinctive way,” Masga said.
Every year, the Humanities Council makes a call from the community to nominate individuals and organizations with outstanding contributions to the humanities.