Sunday, January 13, 2008

Lieweila - Required viewing!

Whether you’ve lived here all your life, for a few years, or have not yet set foot on the island but intend to arrive soon, you need to watch this DVD.

I hated history in school. I hated reading the big, thick, boring text books while trying to remember dates, and names. Perhaps it was the method of teaching as I’ve now come to realize that I’m a very visual and hands on person. As a kid at least, it never really seemed important to go back and look at how things once were, the past didn’t seem to have much relevance. It is also awfully hard to learn anything when doing the head bob and textbook drool!

Now, as an adult living in an area of the globe that has played such an enormous role, especially when it comes to charting the course of the modern world, I see the importance of the past and it’s effects on daily life here.

As I finished watching Leliewia I couldn’t help but have one thought in mind.

Thank you. Thank you Cinta for telling your story and giving everyone, especially us foreigners, a much better understanding of how things have come to be. Within the Northern Mariana Islands, Saipan at least, has become a melting pot of cultures. Located in the Western Pacific its colonist past and numerous occupying powers have created a living experience unique to none I’ve experienced in all my travels.

As in any multicultural society there will always be differences of opinion and problems as a result. This is especially true in a society that has endured multiple takeovers and an influx of numerous cultures in a relatively short period of time. Compounding the situation here is the relative isolation offered by miles and miles of deep blue sea and the small landmass upon which everyone is asked to inhabit cohesively. Saipan is after all only 5 miles wide by 25 miles long yet nearly 60,000 people call it home at any one time including some who've never ventured off the island.

To truly understand the problems faced today I believe it would be wise for everyone who has not yet done so to familiarizing him or herself with the islands past. This is especially true of those who may have, or wish to have, a role in shaping the future of the Commonwealth.

This DVD is a great starting point and provides a succinct historical summary. Although primarily the Carolinian perspective it gives insight into how present issues have deep seeded roots in the past and how devastating and difficult it is to overcome the distrust that accompanies colonization and the imposition of ones beliefs on others.

It also illustrates how important it is to stand up and preserve the indigenous culture despite outside influences. Unfortunately, as the film discusses the loss of pride in ones culture is a sure recipe for its ultimate demise. In my opinion the long-term economic survival of these islands depends heavily on keeping the Carolinian and Chamorro cultures alive. Tourists will always be attracted to something they don’t have at home.

Additional views and thoughts by others here and here. Buy the DVD here.


bigsoxfan said...

The Saipan libarary has a book titled "the Last Navigator" The authors name is ..Thomas, I think Steve Thomas, but not sure. Anyway, the book explores the oral tradition of Pacific Navigation from both the pratical and societal standpoints extremely well.

CNMI Blogger said...

A heartfelt thank you, Mike!