War in the Pacific
Archelogy and History of Guam
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1. Basic legislation and general protection

General protection by law of surviving historic structures and archeological sites from destruction or vandalism is the first and fundamental need, especially with the recent transfer of the public domain on the island to the Government of Guam, until which these lands were theoretically covered, like all other federal lands, by the Antiquities Act of 1906. A territorial law, similar to the various state laws protecting historic and archeological remains, should be promptly enacted, stating the general policy of conservation of historical resources in line with the historic sites Act of 1935, and specifically prohibiting any disturbance of historic and archeological sites on all government lands, providing for the authorization of excavations or collecting on the island by qualified representatives of reputable institutions, by issuance of permits on the favorable recommendation of the Conservation Committee for Micronesia of the Pacific Science Board (National Research Council), or of the Subcommittee for Pacific Archeology of the same organization. The only other measures looking toward general protection of historic and archeological remains which I can suggest are educational — involving a degree of care in arousing local interest — and discussed in section three below,

2. Areas to be reserved or developed

(1) AGANA. The plaza and the adjoining "azotea" or governor's garden should be kept, and kept up, much as they are now, with perhaps the addition of historical markers (with fairly long explanatory text, rather than — as is preferable in many instances — merely labels). Restoration of the 1884-1944 Government house or of the 1912-1944 church, or other public buildings formerly located about the plaza, does not seem necessary or justifiable.

The old Spanish stone bridge just off Marine Drive should be preserved (this requires primarily its being kept clear of vegetation) and could be marked. A very nice little park could be made here, by putting a lily-pond type of small pool under the bridge in the former channel, perhaps enlarging it to a bilobate shape, placing a few shade trees, and furnishing benches — a quiet, restful little park, neither a formal garden nor a recreation area.

Of major interest to possible tourists would be the Japanese refuge-tunnels in the hill under the Bishop's residence and the Japanese fort on the hill near Tutujan which I judge to be on the site of, and perhaps incorporating masonry of, old Fort Apugan of the 19th century. The former — the artificial caves — would require no attention beyond keeping them unoccupied and marking them. The fort needs to be cleared of vegetation and cleaned up generally; the masonry is in fairly good condition.

Restoration or even maintenance of the Torres house as an uninhabited exhibit would be quite possible, but undoubtedly much more costly than its historic interest would justify. Possibly the owners could be induced to rehabilitate it without major structural change and occupy it, out to permit its being designated and marked as a historic house for visitors to see (from the outside). Another possibility, if funds were available, would be acquisition and rehabilitation of the house for use as the historical section of the Guam Territorial Museum or as headquarters for the Guam Historical Society or both. In any case, the Torres House should be preserved somehow from further deterioration and final collapse, if at all possible, as a surviving remnant of pre-war Agana — either by the Government of Guam or by the Guam Historical Society, under a satisfactory understanding with the owners. Clearing out of all vegetation is the most urgent need; permanent re-roofing is necessary for continued preservation.

The surviving latte site in the Agana Heights area should be preserved, excavated, and if possible acquired — at least the comparatively good east group of latte — for interpretive development, possibly as a field archeology laboratory of the Guam Museum.

(2) TUMON BAY. The archeological site (12 latte groups) in Gongna Cove, at the north end of Tumon Bay, is one of the few so located as to be suitable for preservation and interpretation, or "recreational" development. The land on which it is located should be acquired, the site should be brushed off and kept clear; the latte should be preserved, fallen tazas restored again, the area protected from disturbance, the signs replaced, and a detailed interpretive plan worked out, in connection with recreational development of Tumon Bay.

(3) POLANTAT, MAIMAI, URUNO, etc. Archeological sites (latte groups) other than that at Gongna Cove, discussed above under Tumon Bay, and that in the Agana Heights area, need not be specifically reserved developed, out should be given protection, whether on public land, or private property, under the recommended general legislation.

(4) UMATAC. The three old forts and the ruined church should be acquired by the Territorial Government, for protection and for possible development as a historical park. A certain amount of repair and stabilization is needed at all these buildings. A most interesting plan for interpretive development here, with museum exhibits and other interpretive devices covering the early Spanish period, could be worked up, but I do not believe it would be justifiable, even if the area were to be considered for National Historic site status, unless the history of Spanish Guam were not covered in the Guam Museum.

(5) SEJA BAY. The old Spanish stone bridge at Seja Bay should also be protected, which could perhaps be done most simply by reserving it along with the buildings at Umatac and placing it under the same supervision.

(6) THE "CASA REAL" AT RITIDIAN POINT. This very interesting ruin, close to a house belonging to Juan Castro of Toto and presumably on his property, certainly should be acquired, protected, and preserved, if at all possible, even if it is not surprisingly old as suggested above. No special interpretive or other development, beyond clearing it and keeping it brushed off, is recommended at the present time; but it could well be designated nevertheless as a territorial historical park for primarily protective purposes.

(7) WORLD WAR II SITES AND MONUMENTS. Preservation and historical development of the landing beaches north and south of Apra Harbor would be pleasing but is not practicable. The only areas requiring special treatment in this connection would appear to be very limited ones at the historical markers described below insection 3-c. Of the physical remains of Japanese occupation mentioned insection B-6 above, the coast defense guns on the beach at Gongna Cove and the tunnels in the cliff behind Agana are of interest; the former can be protected from vandalism, if not from natural deterioration, by inclusion, along with the adjoining restored archeological (latte) site, in general recreational development of Tumon Beach, and the tunnels require neither special preservation, except for prohibition of vandalism, nor any extensive interpretation.

3. Interpretive Program

None of the protective measures recommended for preservation of historic sites and archeological remains are fully justifiable unless at least some degree of public use, current or expectable, is involved. As I do not envision tourism becoming very important on Guam, in the foreseeable future, the following recommendations are intended primarily for the direct benefit, inspirational and educational, of the people of Guam themselves.

a. Territorial Museum. The first requisite, it seems to me, is development of the Guam Museum, to cover both natural history and human history, with particular emphasis on marine biology and Marianas archeology, to serve both as a collecting-point and repository, for scientific and historical data as well as for actual specimens, and also as an educational medium for the people of Guam, especially school children, with systematic exhibits incorporating explanatory statements. A tentative detailed museum plan can be worked up for later submission if desired. Organized displays on each of several fields of interest should be prepared. In addition, and without awaiting plans, historical and archeological objects can be accumulated systematically, and should include such items as the three-legged concrete metate now lying out beside a house in Umatac, and uprooted latte stones at Magazine 173, NAD, as well as available smaller archeological specimens. The installation of an exhibit on Guam in the Interior Department Museum in Washington is also a good idea (see Guam Daily News, October 12, 1951).

More helpful as a general guide than anything I could write a recent paper by Alfred N. Brooks on "Village and small-town museums," (Museum News, March 1, 1952, p. 7), which strikes me as so valuable a clear-cut statement of basic principles applicable to all small museum that I quote it in full forthwith:

"Discussion of museums, spoken and written, is without end. However, in this discussion one kind of museum is almost always omitted, the village or small-town museum, commonly called historical because it is usually an adjunct of the local historical society. Its quarters are, as a rule, humble; a room,or a few rooms, in which are gathered all sorts of objects having historical association with the community and countryside. But no matter how small, it performs an important service not only at home, but often abroad, by preserving precious and sometimes invaluable things that might otherwise have been thrown away and lost forever. It may be little more than a communal attic, but attics contain treasures on which a very small museum may well build an enviable reputation.

"The meager financial support of these museums is derived mainly from membership dues, and the income from small vested funds. Occasionally the historical society that sponsors them receives a legacy large enough, if not otherwise ear-marked, to buy a house, and even to add a fire-proof extension, better, as rule, the latter, though small, when the money will not provide both, because security against fire is the one thing above all others that induces persons so inclined to give or loan valuable objects, manuscripts, maps and books which are a "talking point." Something that the local press will notice, and the public heed; something people will go to see, and be proud to show others. Too often however all the money goes into the building that, the sum total of dues and income being inadequate, becomes a financial handicap. This is briefly the story of the local, perhaps the typical town museum, cared for by a group of historical- and museum-minded people, mostly women, whose labors are wholly those of love and whose training, professionally speaking, is nil.

"In these circumstances the case of the small local historical museum sounds pretty discouraging, and the chances of its ever being anything but a failure seems unlikely. This is not true however, for the fact remains that a spark of historical and artistic interest is being kept alive even in the most heedless town or village. Meanwhile the museum is protecting what has been salvaged to date, and is slowing down the drain of many desirable things from the community by way of the antique dealer and the collector, it is saving at least some of the records of the past and establishing a background without which there can be no foreground for the picture of our life.

"What can the untrained people who have taken on themselves this museum job do to improve their museum? If the museum is starting from scratch, how to plan best for the future? The first answer, though oversimplified, is to think of the museum as you do of your own home, and of its care as an outside housekeeping job — an outside interest in the sense of the civic, or charitable, or church work you do. Get the people who are interested together and divide up the housekeeping among them. Many hands make light work.

"Next, agree to the three basic rules, and stick to them as if life itself depended upon them. The life of every successful museum, smallest to largest, does depend on them in the same way that the successful life of stores, of hotels, and of all public institutions depends on them. And see to it that no bit of work done in following these rules is wasted. The three rules are: keep clean; be orderly; look attractive. In single words: cleanliness, orderliness, attractiveness. The most important of these is cleanliness. The last, attractiveness, will result naturally from the first two.

"A few concrete amplifications of these oversimplified answers. Never crowd the objects exhibited. Shakespeare knew this, and said, it as none but he could, "Order gave each thing view." Make this your law. Then keep it. The inevitable result of crowding is confusion that makes it impossible to see things to advantage that are set out with the express purpose of being seen to the best advantage. It also makes cleaning and dusting difficult.

"Know where everything is — objects on exhibit, and those in storage. And have at hand a quick, sure way of finding out where, when, and from whom every item was obtained. This is a must. The way to meet it is two-fold. Put a number on each item, in ink or sewn, as far as possible. Keep a correspondingly numbered card catalogue, with group headings under which the individual items belonging to the group are recorded as to source, date, and donor together with any pertinent comment. When possible a page reference to the type of thing recorded in some reliable book or encyclopedia that the museum or the town library may own. Do not be abashed by the smile of any professional or near-professional cataloguer at this way of keeping your museum in hand. A working tool is worthwhile when you cannot have a precision instrument.

"The museum is the place for all books, pamphlets, manuscripts and maps that deal with local matters in any form. It is not the place for books in general: Dickens, anthologies of poetry, volumes on science, and many more belong in the town or village library. Also, most resolutely, stick to being a museum and resist not being one. Avoid being thought of as a genealogical society. It will save no end of time in trying to answer questions about family trees that can only be properly answered by a professional genealogical society or a family history.

"Finally, it is a matter of general agreement that there are many unlisted small local museums scattered through the country that are not only highly educational but also delightful communal centers. Whenever and wherever this is so, it is because those who run them have a passion for cleanliness, orderliness, and attractiveness."

b. Division of Conservation and Sciences. The idea of a separate governmental unit for these purposes may be impracticable or premature, but I wish nevertheless to offer the suggestion for consideration. It will no doubt suffice, at least for the time being, to have parks and monuments administered by the Director of the Department of Land Management, and the museum handled along with the public library by the Department of Education, but I believe it would be desirable to establish a separate organization, to combine the functions of a state Parks board, the supervision of the territorial Museum, and other concerns of the government in the fields of conservation and science.

c. Markers and Wayside Exhibits.

(1) Existing historical Markers and Monuments

First in historical order is the Magellan Monument at Umatac; as discussed above, there is no known positive evidence that Umatac actually was the point at which Magellan landed.

A stone marker at the north end of Tumon Beach carries the inscription: "In this very place was martyred the Venerable Father Diego Luis de Sanvitores, S.J., on April 2, 1672. Msgr. Olano Vic. Apostolic dedicated this remembrance. Being Governor of Guam Capt. J. P. Alexander U.S.N., January, 1940." The monument is in fair condition; a small chapel adjoining is kept up and in current use.

A much older historical memorial is the roadside shrine between Asan and Agat, just off the present highway (Marine Drive) north of the turnoff to Agana Heights and Santa Rita, with two plaques in the altar. The upper one states in Spanish, "The Governor Don Felipe Cerain, R.I.P.., had this difficult road constructed in 1784 and 1785, planted the coconut-trees of the community, and brought [caused, produced] innumerable benefits to these islands. Pray to God for his soul," and the second reads, "The Governor Don Francisco Villalobos, the governors, [i.e., Commissioners] Don Antonio Guerrero, Don Juan de Rivers, an Don Lucas de Castor, and all the district leaders [cavezas de barangay — heads of wards] of Agana, with the help of their fellow citizens succeeded from 1832 to 1834 in establishing the first rice fields in this fertile meadow. They gratefully entreat the protection of the Virgin Mother of God, and in honor of the Sovereign Queen they wish to make its name, Cienega de La Purisima."

Most of the other existing historical markers or monuments pertain to World War II and the liberation of Guam. The first in historical sequence and most interesting is the concrete memorial at Merizo commemorating the rising there against Japanese occupation, just before the American reconquest, and the Guamanians killed by the Japanese for that attempt: "Requerdon ayu sihu i manmapuno nu i Japones giya tinta, Maleso gi dia 15 di Julio, 1944; yan giya faha, Maleso gi dia di Julio, 1944. (lists of 16 names and 30 names, executed at the localities Tinto and Faha, respectively) Mandichoso i manmatai gi sainata — mahatsa esta na tablero nu i taotao Maleso. 1948."

The next in order of time and significance is the monument with a shell and a flagpole, placed by the American Legion, on Marine Drive opposite the road dawn from Santa Rita, "At this point landed U. S. forces — 21 July 1944 — liberation of Guam."

Two command post locations during the brief campaign are indicated by less permanent signs: A board marker in a small low-fenced plot at Piti, "Command post of Brig. Gen. L. C. Shepherd, USMC, 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, July 1944, during reconquest of Guam," and a red board marker on the road from Agana to Maina and Koontz Junction, near Tutujan, "Command post of Maj. Gen. R. S. Geiger, USMC, 3rd Amphibious Corps, August 1944, liberation of Guam."

Finally there is the Battle of Yigo monument, on the highway close to Yigo, with a wooden sign between two American tanks, at the approximate location of the last organized Japanese resistance.

(2) Proposed Additional Markers and Exhibits. All of the existing signs and shrines described above should be maintained; those of wood should be replaced by otherwise similar markers of permanent materials.

The following are suggested in addition:

Gongna Cove: at the archeological (latte) site, short explanatory signs, like those installed by Osborne six years ago but of permanent materials, or else one larger marker incorporating a restoration drawing of the village to show latte supporting houses; at the nearby Japanese fortifications, a sign identifying the coastal guns and commenting on Japanese defense arrangements, the American landings having come south of where the enemy expected and prepared at Tumon Bay.

Agana Heights latte site: if acquired for development, a complete interpretive scheme with several explanatory signs and exhibits-in-place and field exhibit of specimens; in any case, at least a single marker to the effect that it is — a latte group, house-support pillars, from pre-Spanish or early historic times, typical of the hundreds of sites which formerly existed on Guam.

Agana — Spanish period: A series of historical markers, each with very brief text, could well be installed in the plaza-azotea area, particularly at the remaining structures of the Governor's garden. A historical marker at the old Torres House is recommended. A plaque or small sign on the Spanish bridge just off Marine Drive is desirable, but perhaps not essential — the effect of antiquity might be impaired by giving the construction period.

Agana — Japanese occupation: An explanatory sign at the entrance to one of the main tunnels of the grid or network under the Bishop's Palace might be worthwhile. A marker on the fort near Tutujan, overlooking the town, "Japanese fortification during the 1942-1944 occupation — believed to be on the site of an old Spanish fort" or some similar brief general statement, would also be of possible value.

Apra Harbor — Orote Point: The site of Fort St. Louis, if it can be positively located, could be marked, but I do not feel that this is essential. A sign at the head of the old Spanish staircase cut in the cliff near the light-house on Orote Point is desirable.

Invasion beaches: more extensive and detailed marking is perhaps desirable.

Old Pago: a historical marker, text about as follows: "Site of the former Chamorro village of PAGO, founded about A.D. 1680 under Spanish auspices, abandoned in 1857 after the smallpox epidemic, the survivors moving to Sumay" — if this information is accurate, or else whatever corrections are required.

Talafofo caves: Natural history interpretation, by means of at least a brief explanatory sign, is desirable as well as "recreational" development, but no human history seems to be involved.

Inarajan cave: no marker or other development should be installed unless constant protection has been provided for the few and easily-destroyed pictographs.

Merizo: A metal plaque on the wall of the parish house could identify it as a convento built in 1858, the only Spanish building still in use on Guam, and could well also give the date (1917) for the nearby bell-tower.

Umatac: in addition to the Magellan monument, historical markers at each of the three Spanish forts and the ruined church are definitely recommended; explanatory, with fairly long texts.

Bridges on the Agat-Umatac road: that on the west coast just south of Nimitz Beach could be marked; but I see no great need to mark the one at Seja Bay, at least at present.

d. Tours, Talks, and Schoolwork. Probably as an extension service of the territorial museum, provision of guided trips to historic and archeological sites, and of illustrated lectures and informal talks on scientific and historical fields in the Mariana islands, would be desirable. Very possibly the Pan-American World Airways would like to have such interpretive services, field trips as well as talks, available for travelers required to lay over in Guam.

Of particular value, it seems to me, would be the incorporation of guided field trips, to such points of historical interest as Umatac, in the school curriculum at appropriate times; the study of history, often found pretty dry, especially by quite young scholars with yet undeveloped imaginations, may come alive when depending not entirely on books and lectures but also utilizing actual sites and remains.

e. Publication Needs and Possibilities. Comprehensive but comprehensible summaries of the various fields of science and human history, in Guam are, it seems to me, a felt want: non-technical surveys of the geology, flora, fauna, pre-Spanish archeology, early history, and recent history, sufficiently complete and correct to be of some value, but so clearly and simply written as to be of wide understandability and general interest. These, and also more detailed scientific publications, should be among the objectives of the Guam Museum. I doubt that a museum journal is needed, but either a revived Guam Recorder or a historical society periodical bulletin, even a mimeographed one, should be encouraged.

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Last Updated: 14-Feb-2004