CULTURAL CENTER OPENS ON SAIPAN

admin's picture

Village promotes Chamorro arts, tradition

By Clarissa David SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, March 28, 2011) – Various local crafts and native artworks in several forms are now on display at the Saipan Chamorro/Carolinian Village Cultural Center Headquarters, which officially opened Saturday morning.

Government officials and community members attended the ceremonial opening of the cultural center-located at 1213 Capitol Hill Road-which also houses the office of the Inetnon Amot yan Kutturan Natibu/Mwiischil Safey me Kkoor Aramasal Faluw, the organization that made the establishment of the cultural centers in the CNMI possible.

IAKN/MSKAF is a non-profit corporation created in 2007 to promote and support traditional healing and indigenous culture preservation through educational programs, community awareness, conferences and workshops, documentation, and publication of learning materials.

The group received a grant from the Administration for Native Americans in September 2010 to establish village cultural centers on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota as well as research and publish a manual or book with CD on the traditional Chamorro art form of Chamorrita to be published by the end of 2012.

Last March 19, the IAKN/MSKAF officially opened the Rota Chamorro Village Cultural Center at the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Rota office.

Saturday's ceremony featured the traditional blessing or offering an appreciation prayer to the Ut spirits, cultural performances, and a feast of traditional food.

"Local culture and tradition is on the verge of collapsing. As we move forward with this project, we can do something before we completely lose our heritage," Isidoro T. Cabrera, president of IAKN/MSKAF, told Saipan Tribune.

According to Cabrera, the opening of the cultural center headquarters is only the beginning of a bigger and more important task ahead.

"It is very important that we continue this project by teaching activities at the cultural center that will continue for all generations to come," he said, adding that traditional medicine preparation and other culture-related classes will soon be offered at the center by various cultural experts.

Among these cultural experts is Noel Quitugua, who moved to Washington in October 2009 but was contracted under the ANA grant to work on various craft displays, including a replica of an authentic Chamorro or latte stone house, which he also made for the NMI Museum.

"With this village cultural center, I'm finally seeing my dream to have a place where people can see the richness of our culture," said Quitugua who used to work for the Commonwealth Council for the Arts and Culture.

Cabrera disclosed that they plan to partner with the Public School System to have students from various public schools visit the center and perpetuate the local culture, language, and traditions through the youth.

He said more arts and crafts displays will be available in two to three weeks, with the schedule of cultural classes to be announced in the coming days.

Cabrera also said that they will work on opening a village cultural center on Tinian early next year.

Indigenous Affairs Office resident executive director Ignacio "Ike" Demapan congratulated the IAKN/MSKAF for the success of the cultural center headquarters' opening.

"We can use this as a vehicle to advance our culture and our languages," said Demapan, adding that the project is "long overdue."

Demapan also hopes to see a bigger and larger building for the center where they can provide local arts and crafts on a larger scale through the help of the IAKN/MSKAF and government officials, including Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan.

"We have been working cohesively with the association and we will continue to work with them to reach our goal. The administration is always ready to assist this group," he added.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment