Chatfield: Work on Marine base to continue

PROTEST: David Lotz, who is a member of the Guam Review Board for Historic Preservation, speaks out against the land clearing of Magua' on Nov. 4. Dozens of protesters stood in front of the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station in Dededo to protest the land clearing within the future Marine Corps base site. David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

The recent outcry over a military project's land clearing – out of concern the site of an ancient CHamoru village was being erased – lacked facts, a military press release contends.

"During the consultation process, the Guam (State Historic Preservation Office) state archaeologist and (Marine Corps) archaeologists specifically determined this not to be an ancient village," the military's press release quotes Al Borja, environmental director for the Marine Corps on Guam, as saying.

Still, items found at the site were gathered for safekeeping, the press release stated.

"Out of respect for the cultural significance of the historically displaced items found at the site, the Navy has recovered and carefully placed each item in a secure area pending a joint decision on their future interpretive use," Borja stated.

"We remain committed to continuing this important work with our preservation partners as we build the new Marine Corps Base and uphold our responsibility to cultural preservation," Borja added.

The press release later adds: "the Department of the Navy encourages the community to stay informed with the facts."

At issue is the land clearing that's part of the Marine Corps base construction in Finegayan, Dededo.

The site is called Magua'. Magua' is an ancient CHamoru settlement area which had been cleared of latte, artifacts and other cultural evidence, and then bulldozed, acting Speaker Therese Terlaje stated in a recent news release. 

However, the military's Nov. 16 press release states, "the area was previously cleared after World War II and recent archaeological investigations indicate it was not permanently populated, rather intermittently used for processing forest and food products." 

Military cultural resource managers recently met with a government of Guam team led by the Guam SHPO state archaeologist, "as part of a continuing and ongoing collaboration to preserve Guam's rich cultural resources," the Navy press release stated.

"We continue to work closely with Guam SHPO and Guam Preservation Trust in preparation for future consultations regarding the treatment plan for the artifacts that have been recovered from the area," Borja stated.

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