HAFA ADAI EXTENDED TO "LOST" CHAMORROS IN AUSTRALIA

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By Jayvee Vallejera

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (September 10, 2001 - Saipan Tribune/PINA Nius Online)---The Northern Marianas House of Representatives has adopted a resolution extending greetings to the "newly-found" Chamorros in Australia.

It came on the occasion of the planned trip to Brisbane by a Saipan group seeking to establish the first formal reunification since a group of Chamorros was sent to Papua New Guinea during World War Two.

The resolution, offered by Representative William S. Torres, extends the Northern Marianas Legislature's warm greetings and "Hafa Adai" to the Chamorros, who long ago were assimilated into Australian society.

Fragments of historical records and oral history passed down through generations show that Chamorros from Saipan were sent to Papua New Guinea by the former Japanese administration.

Japan administered Saipan until the American invasion during World War II and at the time also occupied parts of Papua New Guinea.

The Chamorros who were sent to Papua New Guinea as a result of the war became permanent residents of Papua New Guinea, which was then under Australian rule. They intermarried with locals.

When Papua New Guinea became independent, the Chamorros were not recognized as residents but were treated as foreigners and allegedly subjected to pressures.

The Chamorros and their families in PNG were then offered residence by the Australian government. There, they re-established their families and, after many years, became assimilated into Australian society, all but forgetting that they originally came from the Northern Marianas.

It was only in June this year that a group of tourists from Australia swung through Guam and the Northern Marianas. They found out that they were, in fact, relatives of long-lost Chamorros who were originally sent to Papua New Guinea.

Torres said: "This discovery resulted in a chain of history-in-the-making, beginning with the historical mission of the Chamorros’ relatives, friends, officials, historians and ordinary folk on a sojourn to Brisbane, Australia."

The lawmaker said that this trip to Australia by local residents to reconnect with long-lost Chamorros is of major anthropological and historical value.

It is also a major promotional feat for the Northern Marianas tourism industry, he said.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune. 

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