IAO hopes to create plan to revive islands’ identity

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The Indigenous Affairs Office hopes to come up with a strategic plan within the next six months on how to preserve and make resilient the CNMI’s indigenous culture.

Taking all the suggestions received during the inaugural indigenous conference last week, IAO resident executive Roman Tudela said it would take time before a plan is put into play.

The conference was split into work sessions and Tudela believes it would take quite sometime to collate all the information obtained at the conference.

The biggest struggle at the conference, Tudela said, was first identifying what the indigenous Chamorro identity is. After many cultural and traditional influences, figuring out what the islands’ identity really is has become quite an issue. Once that question has been answered, it is just a matter of time before it is revived and strengthened, Tudela said.

According to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, who was also present at the conference, he believes that the indigenous culture could be strengthened through language.

Tudela and Carolinian Affairs Office executive assistant John Tagabuel agreed, saying that language is the sole identity of the indigenous islanders.

According to Tagabuel, it falls on whether or not families still practice the language at home. Tagabuel believes that, in order to revive the islands’ identity, the current generation and its families should strive to continue speaking the native language.

One solution that seems popular among those of Northern Marianas descent is the establishment of an indigenous cultural center, Tudela said.

“The center would play a vital role in everything that we plan to do,” he said.

There were many suggestions raised at the conference but, according to Tudela, it would take approximately four to six months to thoroughly go through every suggestion and come up with a plan that will benefit the islands’ future.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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