House resolution honors Kaipat’s contributions to the CNMI
The House of Representatives presented Thursday a commemorative resolution to the family of the late former representative Jacinta “Cinta” Matagolai Kaipat to honor and commend her for her “relentless dedication and selfless contributions to the CNMI.”
Commemorative Resolution 23-1 also extends the Legislature’s condolences to Kaipat’s bereaved family on her untimely passing.
Kaipat passed away on Feb. 22, 2023, reportedly due to cardiac arrest. She was 61.
Rep. Roy A. Ada (R-Saipan), who introduced the commemorative resolution, said during the presentation in the House chamber that Kaipat was loved by many people in the Marianas and in the region.
Ada described her as a strong advocate for indigenous rights and for preservation of lands and environmental protection.
Among Kaipat’s distinguished accomplishments include being the first Refaluwash woman to become a lawyer in 1997, becoming a member of the House of Representatives representing Precinct 1, and as a founder of the environmental Pagan Watch, which largely campaigned against a military plan to use the island of Pagan as a training ground.
“We would like to present the family with this commemorative resolution for all her dedication to the CNMI,” Ada said.
Ada’s family and relatives were present during the presentation.
Kaipat’s brother, Augustin “Gus” Kaipat, said they are happy that House members put some time into adopting the commemorative resolution.
“It means a lot to us,” Augustin Kaipat said.
He said that, for their family, Jacinta Kaipat is not gone and that if she’s here he knows she would continue to work for the people and to continue to fight for the CNMI’s natural resources.
“Because if you care about land, it means you care for the people,” he said.
The commemorative resolution states that, as a young girl, Kaipat took a leap of faith when she traveled thousands of miles across the globe to Evanston, Illinois, where she would complete high school at Evanston Township High School in 1979.
Kaipat went to DePaul University where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts with an emphasis in law, with the highest honors.
She then attended the University of Minnesota Law School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she obtained her juris doctorate in 1997.
In 1995, in the midst of pursuing her juris doctorate, she served as a member of the legal team of the 3rd CNMI Constitutional Convention to oversee the legal sufficiency of constitutional amendments offered by the delegates.
From 1995-1998, she co-produced and co-directed the film Lieweila: Navigators’ Children, a critically-acclaimed cultural documentary tracing the history and path of the Carolinian people who emigrated to the Marianas using only the natural elements to navigate.
From 1999 to 2006, Kaipat served as an administrative hearing officer for the CNMI Department of Labor.
On Nov. 5, 2005, she was elected to the House of Representatives 15th Legislature, as one of the representatives of Precinct 1.
From February 2008 to February 2011, she was appointed to serve as deputy Labor secretary, where she led the department’s implementation of Public Law 15-108.
From September 2011 to December 2015, she served as an assistant attorney general for the Office of the Attorney General, where she served in both the Criminal and Civil divisions.
From July 2008 to March 2019, Kaipat served as a member of the Marianas Visitors Authority board. She also previously served as a member of the Northern Marianas Trades Institute board of directors in 2008, the Pagan Mining Task Force in 2006, and board of directors for Karidat in 2004, the CNMI Historic Preservation review board in 2000, and the CNMI Board of Parole in 2000.
In 1999, she worked with the residents of Tanapag village and Green Peace to force the United States and CNMI governments to address the cleanup of Tanapag’s polychlorinated biphenyl contamination.
In 2002, she co-founded Pagan Watch, an organization that sought to protect the land, waters, and communities of the NMI from exploitation, among other things.
In 2006, she founded Beautify CNMI!, a coalition of government, private sector, and community volunteers that worked together on environmental initiatives to make the CNMI a better place to live and visit.
In 2008, Kaipat was a member of the Friends of the Marianas Trench Monument, which advocated for the preservation of the waters surrounding the northern islands of Asuncion, Maug, and Farallon de Pajaros for environmental protection.