780 CHamoru remains reburied in Saipan, honored in Guam

HONORING ANCESTORS: Representatives of Acho Marianas blow kulus Friday in Tumon in honor of 780 ancient CHamoru remains being repatriated at the same time on Saipan. Photo courtesy of Acho Marianas

On Aug. 21, Guam residents joined in honoring the repatriation of CHamoru remains in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

The 780 remains, collected from sites of ancient villages on Saipan, were returned to the earth, marking the largest mass reburial of ancestral CHamoru remains, according to Roman Dela Cruz of Acho Marianas.

In conjunction with a ceremony on Saipan held to commemorate the return of the remains, a small gathering was held at the Sagan Kotturan CHamoru Cultural Center, at Ypao Point, just hours before a shelter-in-place executive order issued by Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero went into effect due to an increased number of COVID-19 cases on Guam.

“God bless our ancestors,” Dela Cruz said in a video compilation of residents across the island blowing a "kulu" or CHamoru conch shell horn.

The reburial was organized by the Saipan Historic Preservation Office.

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