Ancestral remains reburied in CK

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THE CNMI Historic Preservation Office and Triple J Saipan Inc. on Friday conducted the reinterment of 36 ancestral remains on the grounds of  Surfrider Resort Hotel in Chalan Kanoa.

“It was supposed to be done in January, but HPO asked Triple J for  postponement because we had a lot of things happening,” HPO Administrator Rita Chong said.

For the reinterment ceremony, Chong said they followed the old rituals.

“We did some research and we found some observations from Spanish priests…about the burial rituals [of Chamorros],” she said.

The remains were placed in cloth bags and woven baskets, which were then brought to the burial place.

The Indigenous Affairs Office led the procession while Vicente “Guelo” Rosario and Kiantae Blas Laguana led the ceremony, which included the  blowing of the conch or kulu and the recitation of Chamorro chants.

“The blowing of the kulu signifies to everybody on island that there is an important event happening,” Chong said. “The blowing of the kulu at the end of ceremony  means ‘goodbye.’ ”

She noted that the ceremony was modeled after the old rituals “as realistically as we could.”

The reinterment ceremony, Chong said, also signifies that the CNMI no longer considers ancient remains as archeological findings that will be placed in boxes and in crypts. “Our protocol now is, where we find them, we put them back,” she added.



Vicente “Guelo” Rosario blows the conch or kulu while Kiantae Blas Laguana recites a chant during the reinterment ceremony for 36 ancestral remains on Friday at Surfrider Resort Hotel. Also in photo are Triple J chairman and chief executive officer Robert Jones and Historic Preservation Office administrator Rita Chong.

Chong thanked Triple J for providing a resting place for the ancestral remains where people can also meditate and pray.

“They went above and beyond what was required,” she said of Triple J.

The ancestral remains were found four years ago when Triple J started constructing a new hotel in the area, Triple J chairman and chief executive officer Robert Jones said.

“We made the call right away to HPO. As a developer, we should be concerned about the cultural heritage of the people where we live,” he said. “We must be respectful of the trails that these forefathers [have left behind].”

Carolinian elder Lino Olopai of Chalan Kanoa thanked Triple J, Jones and his family for holding a reinterment ceremony. “He is the only investor that I know who has been very sensitive to [the history and culture of the] indigenous people.”

He hopes that other investors on island will follow the example of Triple J.

Indigenous Affairs Office resident director Roman Tudela Jr. said it was his first time to witness a burial ceremony that followed the old rituals. “But the whole big deal here is putting these remains back to where they belong,” he added.

He said the IAO supports HPO’s plans to rebury ancestral remains.

“We ask for the public’s patience. We will bring the remains back to where they belong,” he added.




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