The Northern Marianas Descent Corp. has come up with the idea to create an indigenous cultural center—at the current site of the American Memorial Park
House Bill 20-109, as proposed by Rep. Alice Igitol (R-Saipan) to establish an Indigenous Cultural Center and Indigenous Hall of Fame, was brought up at the NMDC meeting last Tuesday.
After much discussion, meeting participants voted to explore the idea of establishing the cultural center on the American Memorial Park site.
Saipan Tribune archives quote Indigenous Affairs Office resident director Roman Tudela as saying that the establishment of a cultural center is essential in regaining the identity of the indigenous Chamorro and Carolinians for future generations.
NMDC board member John Gonzalez said the idea is still subject to further discussion in future meetings. “We will be discussing this further to get more feedback,” he said.
Gonzalez said that many of the NMDs present at the meeting raised a proposal to reclaim public lands that originally belonged to the NMDs like the American Memorial Park.
“One of the proposals they want on the table is to reclaim the public lands that are rightfully owned by us [NMDs],” said Gonzalez.
The plan is to discuss the proposal with the federal government.
“Those of Northern Marianas descent [want] to negotiate reasonably and rationally with the federal government, who is currently renting and leasing that property, and take it back and build the cultural center,” Gonzalez said.
According to him, the goal is to build the best possible cultural center for the indigenous Chamorros and Carolinians.
The center should embody, promote, and preserve the indigenous culture and the American Memorial Park is the perfect area to establish a cultural center that meets the criteria because the area is centralized and right by the ocean.
“Gone are the days where we remain quiet and are very accepting of decisions. We want to be proactive,” said Gonzalez.