Construction on the new canoe house in Susupe was officially done last Friday, with a blessing ceremony that signaled the project’s completion.
The hut, owned by the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, is part of the DCCA Seafaring program and is modeled after the traditional architecture of ancient Chamorro huts, made of the same materials used in ancient times.
According to project coordinator John Castro, the project took five months to build with seven staff, which were all awarded plaques after the blessing ceremony.
Tony Piailug, a descendent of the great navigator Mau Piailug, told the media Friday that he and his men also worked on a canoe that will be housed in the hut. The keel of the canoe, he noted, is made from a monkey pod tree obtained in Chalan Galaide.
“This project is so important because in the ancient times there have been a problem with food and travelling. Nowadays we have problems with travelling… If we have a boat we can travel freely,” he said.
In a brief conversation with Castro, he noted that the hut has yet to be officially named, but in the olden days, canoe houses were usually named for the village they were situated in.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, who attended Friday’s unveiling, noted that the cultural significance of the canoe house helps promote the CNMI to tourists.
“…Our culture is what we have. It is our tourism. People come to our islands and, as natives here,…it is important that we continue to promote [Chamorro and Refaluwasch] culture,
said Torres. “It is important that we continue to move forward and it is important to teach our children our native culture. I am really proud to say that, in this administration, we do not just break ground.”
The canoe house is located near the Naked Fish restaurant in Susupe.