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The Ethnology of a 
War -Devastated Island 


L-- VOLUME 41 

Published by 

FEBRUARY 11, 1954 


A Continuation of the 




FEB 24 ^oy 





Chief Curator, Department of Anthropology 

Associate Editor of Scientific Publications 


The Ethnology of a 
War-Devastated Island 


The Ethnology of a 
War -Devastated Island 

Director, Bernice P. Bishop Museum 

Formerly Curator, Oceanic Ethnology 
Chicago Natural History Museum 



Published by 


FEBRUARY 11, 1954 


The Edward E. Ayer Lecture Foundation Fund 



The anthropological field research on which this report is based 
was conducted for Chicago Natural History Museum. For approxi- 
mately one year, from November, 1949, to the latter part of October, 
1950, I undertook both archaeological and ethnological investiga- 
tions in the Mariana Islands, principally on Saipan, with short 
periods of work on Tinian, Rota, and Guam. The present mono- 
graph contains the results of field work among the Chamorros and 
Carolinians of Saipan. A future publication will be devoted to the 
archaeological phase of the research in the Marianas, while special 
aspects of the work have been treated in articles in journals (Spoehr, 
1951a, 1951b, 1953; Stewart and Spoehr, 1953). 

The 1949-50 expedition was also sponsored by the Pacific Science 
Board of the National Research Council, as part of its program, 
known officially as Scientific Investigations in Micronesia (SIM). 
At the time of my field research in the Marianas, the United States 
Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands was administered by the De- 
partment of the Navy, which extended its full co-operation and 
valuable assistance. 

As in the case of my past field research undertaken in behalf of 
Chicago Natural History Museum, I am indebted to the Museum 
for its generous financial support of the Marianas project. Mr. 
Stanley Field, President of the Museum, and Colonel Clifford C. 
Gregg, Director, provided their usual thoughtful aid. To Dr. Paul 
S. Martin, Chief Curator, Department of Anthropology, I am par- 
ticularly indebted for encouragement and assistance. Miss Lillian 
Ross, Associate Editor of Scientific Publications, has kindly devoted 
much time and painstaking effort to seeing this report through the 
press. Miss Agnes McNary, Departmental Secretary, had given 
generous assistance during the period of preparation of the manu- 
script for publication. 

To the Pacific Science Board goes most of the credit for the 
anthropological field research carried out in Micronesia since World 
War II. It was a privilege to have the Marianas expedition receive 
the official sponsorship of the Pacific Science Board. Mr. Harold J. 


Coolidge, Executive Director of the Board, provided invaluable as- 
sistance in acting as liaison with the Navy Department and in caring 
for thi' great number of details inevitable in the preparation for a 
field project in the Pacific. He has my special thanks. Miss Er- 
nestine Akers of the Honolulu office of the Pacific Science Board 
was most helpful, and I am grateful for her assistance. 

The Navy Department kindly allowed me the use of government 
transportation for my family and myself from San Francisco to the 
Marianas and extended also the use of inter-island transportation 
facilities. Thv Department permitted me to rent quarters on Saipan 
foi- my family, provided commissary privileges, and in many other 
ways helped to make my stay in the Marianas both pleasant and 
productive. I am appreciative of the interest shown in my field 
work by Admiral A. W. Radford, then High Commissioner of the 
United States Trust Territory, Rear Admiral L. S. Fiske, then Dep- 
uty High Commissioner, and Commander L. B. Findley. On Guam, 
Rear Admiral and Mrs. E. C. Ewen and Commander E. C. Powell 
were most hospitable. For their assistance on Saipan, I am particu- 
larly grateful to Captain W. C. Holt, then Governor of the North- 
ern Marianas, and to Mrs. Holt, to Commander and Mrs. J. R. 
Grey, and Commander and Mrs. W. R. Lowndes. Commander 
Grey and Commander Lowndes were in turn Civil Administrators 
of the Saipan District during my period of field work. To the fol- 
lowing members of the administration staff and to their wives I am 
indebted for aid and hospitality: Captain S. P. Sanford, Lieutenant 
Commander J. B. Johnson, Lieutenant C. J. Carey, Lieutenant J. S. 
Broadbent, Lieutenant J. S. Bowman, Lieutenant R. F. Roche, 
Lieutenant B. L Rosser, Lieutenant (jg.) S. Weinstein, Lieutenant 
(jg.) D. D. Moore, Lieutenant (jg.) W. E. Laskowski, Ensign R. K. 
Hoffman, Chief C. T. Smallwood, Staff Sergeant J. E. Hinkle, U.S. 
M.C., and Messrs. Cyrus F. Quick, Frank L. Brown, Ernest G. Holt, 
Kan Akatani, Woodrow H. McConnell, and John A. Wood. 

I also wish to acknowledge the friendly interest of the members 
of the Capuchin mission on Saipan, in particular the Reverend 
Ferdinand Stippich, OFM, Cap., the Reverend Rufin Kuveikis, 
OEM, Cap., and the Reverend Marchand Pellet, OFM, Cap. 

An ethnologist is, most of all, indebted to the people among 
whom he has worked. My thanks go to all the Chamorros and 
Carolinians who helped me so generously during my stay on Saipan. 
In particular, I wish to express my gratitude to the following 
Chamorros and their families: Messrs. Ignacio V. Benavente, Vi- 


cente de L. Guerrero, Ricardo T. Borja, Elias P. Sablan, William S. 
Reyes, Juan M. Ada, Joaquin S. Pangelinan, Jos6 S. Pangelinan, 
Ignacio Sablan, Antonio S. N. Palacios, Joaquin M. Palacios, J. 
Torres, and Jose A. Shimizu, as well as Soledad J. Camacho. 

Among the Carolinians, I am especially appreciative of aid re- 
ceived from Messrs. Benedicto Taisacan, Antonio Mangarero, David 
Massiano, Antonio Angailin, and Eduardo Peter, and from Maria 

To Dr. Paul Fejos and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthro- 
pological Research, Inc., my thanks go for the loan of photographic 

On my return to the continental United States, I was enabled to 
conduct additional documentary research on the Marianas through 
a grant-in-aid awarded by the Social Science Research Council, to 
whom acknowledgment for their generosity is herewith made. 

Finally, to my wife, Anne Harding Spoehr, goes my special grati- 
tude for handling the problems of logistics on Saipan, for her assist- 
ance in the composition of text figures, and for her forbearance 
and encouragement during the period of field work and subsequent 
preparation of this report. 

Alexander Spoehr 
December 1 , 1 952 



List of Illustrations 15 

I. Introduction 17 

The Mariana Islands 20 

Saipan 21 

The People of Saipan 24 

Historical Antecedents of Contemporary Saipan 

II. Discovery 34 

Chamorro Culture at the Time of Discovery 34 

Discovery of the Marianas 37 

III. Conquest 41 

Chronology of Events Affecting Saipan 46 

IV. The Formation of a Hispanicized Chamorro Culture .... 55 

The Hispanicized Chamorro Culture 61 

V. Resettlement of Saipan 68 

VI. German Colony 75 

VII. Japanese Mandate 83 

VIII. Holocaust 91 

Post-War Saipan 

IX. The Total Community 98 

Medical Care and Public Health 100 

Public Education 101 

Courts, Judicial Procedures, and the Insular Constabulary . . 102 

Local Self-Government 104 

Economic Reconstruction 104 

Padres and Nuns 106 

X. Local Organization 107 

Place Names and Districts 107 

The Village 108 




Chahm Kanoa Ill 

Satellite Villages . 118 

Village and Farm 120 

Instability of Local Organization 123 

XI. Basic Aspects of the Economy 125 

Institutional Framework of the Island Economy 125 

Post-War Economy 126 

Utilization of Local Resources: The Land 127 

Utilization of Local Resources: The Sea . . . ~ 156 

Specialization and Exchange 162 

Summary 170 

XII. Political Organization 172 

Organization of the Municipal Government 173 

The P"'unctioning of the Municipality 175 

Political Leadership of the Electorate 178 

Cultural and Political Unity Among the Chamorros in the 

Marianas 181 

The Carohnians 181 

Summary 183 

XIII. Religion 185 

Church Buildings 189 

Religious Personnel 190 

Religious Societies 193 

Lay Assistants 195 

Church Services and the Church Calendar 195 

Stability of Religious Organization 200 

Survivals of Ancient Chamorro Belief 201 

Carolinian Ghosts 207 

XIV. Change, Stability, and the Dependent Society 210 

Chamorro Family and Kinship 

XV. Social Significance of the Chamorro Family 216 

XVI. The Household 217 

Size and Composition 217 

Household Routine 218 

Houses 219 

The Household and Its Food 228 

Illness and Health 234 

XVII. System of Kinship Terminology 241 

Referential Terms 241 



Vocative Terms 244 

Extension of Kinship Terms 248 

XVIII. Formation, Functioning, and Dissolution of the Family . . 249 

Marriage 249 

Divorce 266 

Parenthood: The Formation of the Family 267 

Children and Parents 275 

Lengthening of the Generation Span: The Children Marry . . 288 
Death 294 

XIX. Kinship Range and Family Status 301 

Kinship Range 301 

The Family and Status in the Community 304 

XX. Family and Church 308 

Family Novenas 308 

Ritual Kinship: Compadrazgo 310 

XXI. Conclusion 318 

Chamorro Kinship System as a Type 318 

Spanish Influence on the Chamorro Kinship System 320 

Contemporary Kinship Change 321 


The Saipan Carolinians 

XXII. The Carolinian Community 326 

Saipan Carolinian Origins 326 

The Community House 327 

Carolinian Kinship 332 

XXIII. Matrilineal Kin Groups 333 

Maternal Clan 333 

Maternal Lineage 335 

XXIV. The Household 336 

Size and Composition of Households 336 

Houses, House-Building, and Household Routine 339 

XXV. Kinship System 343 

Kinship Terminology 343 

Kinship Behavior 344 

Range of the System 352 

Brother-Sister Respect Behavior and Exogamic Regulations . . 353 
Kinship and the Life Crises 354 



XXVI. Carolinian Land Tenure 363 

The Pwol 366 

Farms and Farming 367 

XXVII. Changing Patterns of Kinship 370 

Appendix: Population of Saipan 372 

Bibli()(;kaphy 373 

Index 380 

List of Illustrations 



1. Map of the Mariana Islands 19 

2. Map of Saipan 23 

3. Sanvitores (from Garcia, 1683) 43 

4. Chart of the Marianas, by Alonzo Lopez (1700; from Burney, 1803-17, 

vol. Ill) 47 

5. Excavations at Obian (Objan), 1950 51 

6. Reminder of war. Burned-out American tank on Saipan, 1950 ... 92 

7. Reminder of war. Ruins of sugar mill, Saipan, 1950 93 

8. Map of Saipan place names and districts (after Cloud, 1949) 109 

9. Church at Chalan Kanoa, Saipan, dedicated in 1949 110 

10. Upper: Street in Chalan Kanoa. Lower: Chamorro house in Susupe 

village 113 

11. Tanapag village. Upper: Church. Lower: Street 119 

12. A Chamorro oxcart on the road to the farm (courtesy of Raymond M. 

Sato, Honolulu Academy of Arts) 122 

13. Map of Chamorro farm, Saipan 147 

14. Chamorro farmhouse, Saipan 149 

15. Chamorro farmer using /os/no.s (scuffle hoe) 153 

16. Upper: Saipan Carolinian men returning from spear-fishing in lagoon. 

Lower: Saipan Carolinian men making fish-trap 159 

17. Religious procession, Chalan Kanoa 187 

18. Rehgious procession, Chalan Kanoa 197 

19. Plan of Chamorro house, Saipan 223 

20. Piling firewood in the yard of a Chamorro house, Saipan 225 

21. Neighbors chatting, Chalan Kanoa 227 

22. Chamorro housewife grinding corn on a Mexican type of metate (courtesy 

of Raymond M. Sato, Honolulu Academy of Arts) 229 

23. Chamorro terminological structure, showing consanguine terms used in 

reference 243 

24. Chamorro terminological structure, showing affinal terms used in 

reference 245 

25. Chamorro matron, Chalan Kanoa 251 

26. Preparing food for a Chamorro wedding party, Chalan Kanoa .... 257 

27. Diagram of Chamorro reciprocal obligations 260 




28. Chamorro K'lxljjurciits and godchildren waiting at the church before the 

baptismal ceremony, Chalan Kanoa 269 

29. Chamorro family linkage and chains of authority 291 

30. Saipan Carolinian woman weeding .sweet potato field 340 

31. Saipan Carolinian terminological .structure, showing consanguine terms 

u.sed in reference 345 

32. Saipan Carolinian terminological structure, showing affinal terms used 

in reference 347 

L Introduction 

Though it is neither as picturesquely rugged as some of the high 
islands of Polynesia, nor as majestic as Ponape in the Carolines, the 
Island of Saipan in the Marianas group of Micronesia has a certain 
massive character of its own. Viewed from an approaching plane 
or from a ship offshore, Saipan appears as a handsome tropical is- 
land. Rising from its center are the forest- topped slopes of Mount 
Tapochau, whose form suggests a long-extinct volcano, though it is 
actually composed of eroded limestone. The western shore is bor- 
dered by a thin strip of white coral-sand beach, with the roll of 
breakers farther out marking the string-like barrier reef that encloses 
a narrow lagoon. Elsewhere, Saipan's shore line consists of steep 
cliffs. The spume and spindrift rise from the crashing waves and 
float upward. This rugged shore line is broken occasionally by 
stretches of beach leading out onto fringing reefs. A number of 
points of land give the island the irregularities that form its distinc- 
tive outline. From a ship offshore, these points — Agingan, Naftan, 
Kagman and Marpi — look like tapering arms extending into the 
ocean from Mount Tapochau, in the center of the island. 

On landing on Saipan itself, however, the visitor is presented 
with a different picture. Here is no Pacific island with abundant 
coconut palms, breadfruit, and pandanus; nor is there here the pre- 
World War II island covered with carefully tended fields of sugar 
cane. Saipan, five years after the war, is a strange and incongruous 
mixture of natural beauty and the ugly, abandoned remains of war. 
In the few years since the invasion of the island by American forces 
in World War II, the ancient ruined stone pillars (latte) that formed 
the foundations of prehistoric Chamorro houses have been joined by 
more recent architectural relics. The main town of Garapan — its 
pre-war population was more than 13,000 — is no more. Wrecked in 
the invasion battle, it was bulldozed and its ruins now lie beneath 
several feet of crushed coral limestone, on which were built rows of 
immense, war-time warehouses that today stand empty and aban- 
doned. The only visible remains of Garapan's former existence are 
the belltower of the old Catholic church, whose top projects above 



The Mariana Islands' 

Name Area Peak Elevation 

(Square miles) (Feet above sea level) 

Farallon de Pajaros 0.79 1,047 


Maug 0.81 748 

Asuncion 2.82 2,923 

Agrihan 18.29 3,166 

Pagan 18.65 1,883 

Alamagan 4.35 2,441 

Guguan 1.61 988 

SariKUun 1.93 1,801 

Anatahan 12.48 2,585 

Farallon de Medinilla 0.35 266 

Saipan 46.58 1,554 

Tinian 39.29 564 

Aguijan 2.77 584 

Rota 32.90 1,612 

Guam 215.50 1,334 

Total 399.12 

1 Data from Bryan (1946). 

the encroaching jungle; the small concrete hospital; and an unim- 
portant structure that was once a telephone exchange. On the slope 
above the site of the town, hidden in a clump of trees, is a bronze 
statue of the founder of the Japanese sugar industry on Saipan, his 
frock coat and striped trousers pierced by bullet holes. 

Scattered throughout the countryside are the foundations of 
ruined Okinawan farmhouses, surrounded by clumps of old banana 
trees growing in weed-covered yards. Along the beaches and on 
the heights at As Lito are dispersed the concrete pill boxes, bomb- 
shelters, and command posts of the Japanese defense forces — battle- 
scarred and cracked, with weeds growing on their roofs and through 
their walls, the massive steel ports rusty and ajar. 

The most extensive ruins of all, however, are of American origin 
and date from the time when Saipan was a great war-time base. 
These are the rows and rows of abandoned rusty quonsets, and the 
lines of vacant, gradually rotting warehouses. Scattered around the 
island are the sagging remains of officers' clubs, Red Cross libraries, 
and chapels. The great air strips and hardstands are deserted save 
for an occasional abandoned engine. Rusty equipment, sometimes 
scattered, sometimes neatly lined up, lies useless and forsaken. 

In this curious milieu, repeated at many a deserted American in the Pacific islands, live some five thousand people. This 
community does not inhabit the kind of village that through long 
and undisturbed occupancy has acquired an appearance that joins 

145° 147° 

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145° 147° 

Fig. 1. Map of the Mariana Islands. 


it iininulably to its habitat. There are no well-ordered relationships 
here on Saipan between man and nature, no completely accepted 
modes of subsistence and occupancy that are reflected in a neatly 
formed cultural landscape -houses, fields, and other man-made mod- 
ifications of the natural environment. There are no easily delineated 
patterns of settlement that give clear expression of a well-integrated 
and long-established local organization of community life. For war 
has passed this way, and its manifestations cannot be erased in a 
day or a year. The community on wSaipan was torn by the roots 
from its pre-war existence. It is this community, striving to adjust 
itself to the upset social and natural conditions of its island home, 
that forms the subject of this study. 

The Mariana Islands 

Stretching southward from Japan across the Pacific to the tip of 
New Guinea, there extends a long submarine ridge of volcanic origin, 
whose highest peaks project above sea level to form a series of is- 
lands and island archipelagoes. Among the more important of these 
are the IMariana Islands. This group consists of fifteen islands that 
lie in a long flat arc from Farallon de Pajaros (Uracas) in the north 
to Guam in the south, a distance of approximately 500 miles. 

The Marianas can be divided into a northern and a southern 
group. The northern islands are a series of volcanic peaks rising 
abruptly from the sea. The southern group, consisting of Guam, 
Rota, Aguijan, Tinian, and Saipan, is composed of coral limestone 
resting on a volcanic base, with occasional surface areas of volcanic 
origin. The southern islands are less mountainous, with lower 
elevations and much greater areas of level or gently rolling land 
than the northern group. The characteristic topographic feature, 
particularly of the four islands north of Guam, is their structural 
system of superimposed limestone terraces, bordered by steep cliffs 
that probably indicate former stands of the sea. 

The land area of the Marianas is approximately 400 square 
miles. The five southern islands together comprise more than three- 
quarters of this total, Guam alone including some 215 square miles. 
The southern islands, with much greater areas of level and more 
fertile land, are more suitable for human occupation and since pre- 
historic times have supported all but a small fraction of the pop- 
ulation residing permanently in the Marianas group. 

Although the Marianas are in the latitudes of the trade winds 
and enjoy a tropical maritime climate, they are also on the eastern 


fringe of the Asiatic monsoon area. The climatic elements are ac- 
cordingly determined to a large extent by the interplay of trade 
wind and monsoon. The trade winds prevail through the first part 
of the year until the early summer, when the winds shift to the south 
and the southwest. This condition continues until late summer, 
when the trade winds gradually assume control again. Tempera- 
tures are high, but, except for occasional spells during the summer 
months, are not oppressive. In the southern Marianas, temperatures 
range from 75° to 85° F., with a yearly average on Saipan of 78° F. 
In the summer the temperature is a few degrees higher than in the 
winter, and from time to time, when the wind drops, the heat com- 
bined with the high humidity makes for personal discomfort; but 
on the whole the Marianas enjoy a pleasantly warm but not an ener- 
vatingly hot climate. 

Rainfall is abundant, with an annual average on Saipan of 82 
inches. The Marianas experience distinct dry and wet seasons, the 
latter extending from about late June until early December, although 
the onset of each season is not sharply marked and tends to be 
variable. Also, during the dry season periodic rains can be expected. 

Mention of typhoons must also be included in any summary of 
climate in the Marianas. These terrific and destructive storms strike 
the area most frequently between August and November, although 
they can occur in any month of the year. They usually originate 
well south of the islands, and hence their characteristic high winds, 
which may exceed 140 knots, are well developed by the time the 
storms reach the southern Marianas. However, the well-deserved 
reputation of these storms does not mean that they devastate all 
the islands in the Marianas each year. Saipan has not been struck 
directly by a major typhoon since 1905. Rota and Guam have been 
less fortunate. Nevertheless, typhoons must always be expected. ^ 


Saipan, approximately 12.5 miles long and 5.5 miles across at 
its widest point, has a land area of a little more than 46 square 
miles. The island consists of a series of raised coral limestone ter- 
races on a volcanic base. Topographically, the surface can be 
divided into two major areas: a mountainous interior upland, which 
occupies nearly a quarter of the total land area; and a series of 

' For further information on the physical geography of the Marianas, see 
Bryan (1946) and the United States Navy Department Handbook (1944). 


plateaus and coastal terraces, and a low coastal strip on the west 
side, which surround the rugged interior. The interior upland con- 
sists of steep slopes and rocky cliffs, culminating in a north-south 
crest from which rise several minor peaks and one major one, Mount 
Tapochau, that is the highest point on the island (see fig. 2). 

The area surrounding the interior upland can be further divided 
into distinct surface regions. Bowers (1950, pp. 21-22) divides it 
into (1) a northern coastal terrace; (2) the peninsula formed by 
Kagman Point, which juts out from the east coast; (3) a southern 
plateau, including Naftan and Agingan Points; and (4) the coastal 
strip that fronts the lagoon shore along the west coast of the island. 
These areas contain the best farm land on the island. 

The coastal strip along the west side has been particularly im- 
portant in Saipan's history. As an area of human occupancy, it 
must be considered in conjunction with the lagoon, which combines 
with the land to provide a major subsistence resource. The lagoon 
is long and narrow, shallow through its southern extent and deeper 
in the northern arm. Until harbor improvements were made by 
the Japanese, the lagoon provided poor natural seaport facilities, as 
it was either too shallow or too studded with coral heads for regular 
use by ocean-going vessels, but its fish have always provided an 
important source of food for Saipan's population. In historic times, 
the principal settlements on the island have been along the lagoon 

The island's vegetation has been so altered by man that its 
original character is no longer preserved. Only in a few small re- 
stricted areas on Mount Tapochau and along the cliffs and steep 
slopes of the east coast are there patches of forest that probably 
resemble the vegetation of early days. The Japanese planted sugar 
cane on most of the arable land. Today, acres of sugar cane fields 
lie abandoned, invaded by vines and weeds and interspersed with 
the cultivated areas of present farms, as well as by the acres of 
abandoned military installations. The latter are in turn being rap- 
idly overgrown by vines, shrubs, and the tangan-tangan {Leucaena 
glauca), which in places has formed almost impenetrable thickets. 
Along the coast the usual strand vegetation is to be found. Other 
prominent features of the vegetation are the lines of acacia {Acacia 
confusa) and ironwood (Casaurina eqnisetifolia) set out by the Japa- 
nese, who also planted numerous poinciana trees. As on Guam, 
areas along the upper and mid mountain slopes are covered with 
sword grass {Miscanthus floridulus). Saipan also has one marsh 


(,^^10MH'T'iri'.^.T.'V» Tmi 

/mANAGAHA I. ^''''"i 






Fig. 2. Map of Saipan. 



ai'ca around Lake Susupe, just east of Chalan Kanoa village, and a 
small bit of mangrove swamp farther north along the lagoon shore. 
As on all Micronesian islands, the land fauna is markedly im- 
poverished. The mammals include two species of bats, E mballonura 
semicaudaia and Pieropus mariannus, the latter called fanihi and 
forming a traditional Chamorro food source but existing only in 
small numbers today. The rats are numerous and a serious pest. 
Mice are fortunately less numerous. Except for domesticated ani- 
mals, these few species com{)rise all the mammals on the island. 
Reptiles include the omnipresent gecko, the iguana (Varanus indi- 
cus), introduced by the Japanese, who also brought the toad, and a 
single species of small, non-poisonous snake (Typhlops braminus). 
Only a small number of species of land birds exist, among the more 
I)rominent being a dove (Phlegoenas xanthonura). The Marianas 
mallard [Anas oustaleti), formerly numerous, seems now to be ex- 
tinct on w^aipan. Flies and mosquitoes are common, but fortunately 
the island has been spared the presence of Anopheles, and malaria 
does not exist. The most obvious faunal species on Saipan is the 
giant African snail (Achatina fulica), introduced during Japanese 
times and constituting today a serious pest. 

The People of Saipan 

Apart from official American personnel and their families, the 
close to five thousand residents of Saipan are divided into two 
groups: a larger and dominant Chamorro population, and a smaller 
and ethnically separate Carolinian minority. There are no exact 
census figures for either of these two groups, but official estimates 
as of March, 1950, give the Chamorros a total of 3,821 and the 
Carolinians 1,104 (population data are included in the Appendix). 

In Micronesia, the Chamorros of the Marianas possess charac- 
teristics that have long caused them to be differentiated from the 
rest of the indigenous island population. On Saipan, Chamorros 
and Carolinians have been in close contact for many years, but they 
retain a marked degree of separateness. The contrasts between 
Chamorros and Carolinians will be examined in greater detail in 
following sections of this account, particularly in the chapter that 
deals specifically with the latter group. For purposes of orientation, 
however, a brief summary of these contrasts is included at this 

Modern Chamorro culture received its primary patterning after 
the Spanish first seized control of the Marianas in the seventeenth 


century. At this time the Chamorros of the islands north of Rota 
were removed to Guam, where they could be more easily controlled 
by the Spanish. In the following century and a half, Chamorro 
culture was transformed into a Hispanicized Oceanic hybrid. Ca- 
tholicism, with its close relation to familial life, was established as a 
central feature of the culture. Social organization became markedly 
modified. The old emphasis on maternal descent groups and on a 
rigid class structure of nobility and commoners gave way to Spanish- 
dominated patterns. At the same time elements of culture were 
introduced by the Spanish from the New World. Corn became the 
principal staple crop, supplemented by other New World vegetable 
foods and by associated elements of the food complex, such as the 
mano and metate, and tortillas. Thus a new culture developed, a 
Spanish-indigenous growth, incorporating also important American 
Indian and Filipino traits. Various aspects of this new pattern as 
it developed on Guam receive interesting treatment in Thompson 

The present-day Chamorros of Saipan have not resided there 
from the early days of Spanish contact. As mentioned previously, 
the original Chamorro population was removed from Saipan by the 
Spanish conquerors and for nearly a century and a half no Chamorros 
lived on the island. It was not until the latter half of the nineteenth 
century and the early years of the twentieth century that Chamorros 
returned in numbers as permanent residents, migrating primarily 
from Guam, with a few also moving from Rota. It is from this 
relatively late migration that the present Chamorro community is 
descended. After the Spanish-American War, Germany acquired 
control of Saipan; after World War I, the Japanese assumed the 
administration of the island; and since World War II it has been an 
American concern. During this period of successive administrations 
by outside foreign powers, Chamorro culture has been affected by 
influences emanating from Europe, Japan, and America. 

As a result of this long period of contact, Chamorro culture 
today is far removed from its original Oceanic antecedents. The 
Chamorros are as westernized as they are Oceanic, if westernization 
is not thought of purely in its twentieth-century context. 

Physically, the pre-contact Chamorro stock has also been greatly 
altered. The Chamorros were almost exterminated, largely through 
the introduction of epidemic diseases, on Guam during the Spanish 
period. In the subsequent recovery of the population, sizable ad- 
mixtures of Spanish and Filipino have made for a relatively hetero- 


geneous racial ffroiij), furtluT modified by additional outbreeding 
with individuals from other European countries, America, and more 
recently Japan. Many present-day Chamorros are physically indis- 
tinguishable from Europeans, while others display generalized Mon- 
goloid features. 

Through all these contacts and cultural modifications, the Cha- 
morro language has persisted and is today the language used on 
Saipan. Chamorro has incorporated great numbers of Spanish loan 
words, and educated Chamorros are wont to think of Spanish as 
(hi'ir "mother" tongue. Actually, however, Chamorro retains its 
Alal;i.\()-Polynesian morphology. One of the interesting features of 
the language is the way in which Spanish loan words are treated in 
accordance with the persisting Chamorro grammatical structure. 
Unfortunately, Chamorro has not claimed the attention of a pro- 
fessional linguist, though its study would reveal enlightening prob- 
lems in the relation of cultural to linguistic change. 

The Carolinians first came to Saipan in 1815, when a small party 
from a typhoon-devastated area in the central Carolines received 
permission from the Spanish authorities to settle on the island. The 
Carolinians therefore were the first to resettle Saipan after the for- 
cible removal of the Chamorros in the seventeenth century. After 
the arrival of the first party, other small groups migrated from the 
Carolines through the years of the nineteenth century. The last 
increment of permanent settlers moved from Guam, where they had 
established a colony, after the Spanish-American War and the as- 
sumption of American sovereignty over Guam. American authori- 
ties on Guam exerted pressure on the Carolinian colonists to give up 
their native dress for western fashions and in other ways to change 
their old customs. The Carolinians thereupon moved to Saipan, 
then under a German administration that was more congenial to 
the retention of Carolinian ways. 

Contemporary Carolinian culture on Saipan has been much 
modified by contact with the Chamorros and by the successive Span- 
ish, German, Japanese, and American administrations. But it does 
not conform to the basic Spanish-Oceanic pattern of Chamorro cul- 
ture. The Carolinians retain their own language for use among 
themselves, though most of them also speak Chamorro, for the 
latter is the dominant tongue. The Carolinians as a group are more 
conservative than the Chamorros, who are quick to borrow from 
outside sources. Probably because they are a minority, the Caro- 
linians display greater unity and cohesion as a group and are very 
conscious of their ethnic separateness. 


In a number of specific ways, the Carolinians display charac- 
teristics of their ancient island culture. In the subsistence pattern, 
the old division of labor whereby the men fished and the women 
took care of the garden plots still has great vitality. The men have 
never completely shifted to farming. Land tenure, inheritance, and 
the organization of familial life reflect the emphasis on maternal 
descent and the lineage, which are still of some importance in Caro- 
linian life. The Carolinians continue to favor their old therapeutic 
practices in the treatment of disease instead of utilizing the Western 
medical facilities available on the island. They are all nominally 
Catholics, but their exposure to Catholicism has been of much shorter 
duration than in the case of the Chamorros, and it does not play 
as large a part in their culture. The Carolinians as a group are 
more homogeneous; they do not display the range in worldly sophis- 
tication of the Chamorros, who contain individuals varying from 
simple farmers to persons educated abroad. 

In physical type, the Carolinians also offer a contrast. They 
tend to be stockier and darker in skin color, with predominance of 
curly hair, and do not exhibit the extreme variations characteristic 
of the Chamorros. Features of dress also distinguish them. 

Chamorros and Carolinians get along amicably enough, despite 
sporadic occurrence of tensions between individuals of the two 
groups. However, the Chamorros as a whole consider themselves 
as a superior group and the Carolinians as a less civilized and back- 
ward one. In this, the Chamorros point to their long history of 
Catholicism, their greater literacy and schooling, and their progres- 
sive westernization. Whereas the majority of Carolinian adults 
know Chamorro, only a very few Chamorros know Carolinian. The 
amount of intermarriage between the two groups is not great, al- 
though it is more than is commonly supposed. My genealogies 
reveal twenty marriages today, but with the years of common resi- 
dence on Saipan, there is a considerable background of miscegenation 
between the two groups. In intermarriages, if the man is a Cha- 
morro, the children generally consider themselves Chamorros. 

The Carolinians, on the other hand, feel they are different from 
the Chamorros, but not necessarily inferior, and during my stay a 
number of Carolinians expressed mild resentment at the Chamorros 
who imputed inferiority to their group. In working with Carolinian 
informants, I found a number who pointed to difi^erences in the value 
patterns between Chamorros and Carolinians and who stoutly main- 
tained that their own were superior. Yet under the successive 
foreign administrations of Saipan, the greater degree of westerniza- 


lion of the Chamorros. their greater literacy, and their eagerness to 
borrow from the eulture of the administering group have given 
I hem a preferred position. 

One key to the status positions of Carohnians and Chamorros is 
found in the marriages with outhmders from other parts of the Pa- 
cific and of the world. The Chamorros have a long history of inter- 
marriage with Spanish, other Europeans, Americans, Filipinos and 
in the last few decades with Japanese. At the present time (1950) 
there are eleven Japanese adults living on Saipan who either are or 
have been married to Chamorros. In addition, there is a larger 
group which is the offspring of Japanese-Chamorro unions in the 
past. There are at least two Japanese children who have been 
adopted by Chamorro foster parents. On the other hand, there is 
only one Japanese living on the island who is married to a Caro- 
linian. Although in the past there have been a number of other 
unions of Carolinians with Japanese, Americans, or Europeans, these 
have been few and were generally casual liaisons unsanctioned by 
wedlock. On Saipan today there are also five Filipinos, all married 
to Chamorros, who intend to make Saipan their permanent home. 
There is also one long-time resident who originally came from San- 
tiago, Chile, married a Chamorro and has reared a family to adult- 
hood. There are no comparable marriages among the Carolinian 

There is also a contrast in marriages with islanders from other 
parts of Micronesia. There are two full-blood men from the Mar- 
shalls living on Saipan and married to Carolinians. There is also a 
resident of Saipan who is of mixed German, Portuguese, and Mar- 
shallese descent. He is married to a Chamorro. A parallel situation 
exists on Tinian. Thus, mixed-blood islanders, who usually have 
formal schooling, marry Chamorros, whereas full-blood islanders 
marry Carolinians. It would be difficult to conceive of a socially 
marginal mixed-blood group developing among the Chamorros out 
of the present contact situation, for despite the existence of a Cha- 
morro culture the group is racially heterogeneous. The same situa- 
tion does not hold for the Carolinians. 

These are a few of the more obvious contrasts between Chamorros 
and Carolinians. 


The people of Saipan have been the subject of four principal 
field investigations since the close of World War II. The first of 


these was conducted by E. E. Gallahue as part of the United States 
Commercial Company's Economic Survey of Micronesia. Gallahue's 
report (1946) on the economy of the Marianas has not been pub- 
hshed, but his principal conclusions have been incorporated in the 
final summary report of the survey (Oliver, 1951). The second and 
third field studies were part of the Coordinated Investigation of 
Micronesian Anthropology, sponsored by the Pacific Science Board 
of the National Research Council. Under this program, Alice Joseph 
and Veronica F. Murray undertook an analysis of Chamorro and 
Carolinian personality structure. Their interesting and important 
findings have recently been published (Joseph and Murray, 1951). 
The third investigation was a geographic study by Neal M. Bowers 
of problems of resettlement on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. Bowers' 
report (1950)' is fundamental to a full understanding of the com- 
plex problems of economic reconstruction in the Marianas. 

The present monograph is concerned primarily with social organi- 
zation, and its focus of interest lies somewhere between the study 
by Joseph and Murray on one hand and Bowers on the other. It 
necessarily impinges on both. In places, the same basic data appear 
in this report as in the other two, but in the present state of anthro- 
pological field research the confirmation of a previous investigator's 
data is surely desirable. Finally, in so far as the ethnographic study 
of Chamorro culture is concerned, this monograph is linked to 
those of Safford (1905), Fritz (1904), and Thompson (1947). 

During the last two decades, much field research has been devoted 
to the modern cultures of Hispanic America. A corpus of knowledge 
of these cultures has been obtained, which, combined with the data of 
documentary history, has allowed inferences as to the processes 
of change operative during the long period of Spanish influence and 
has facilitated the analysis of the dominant characteristics of con- 
temporary Hispanic-American cultures and societies. In order to 
give wider comparative perspective to these studies, Foster has 
recently initiated field research in Spain (Foster, 1951). At the 
same time, he has pointed out that the fact of pronounced Spanish 
influence in the Philippines makes the examination of Christian 
Filipino communities of marked significance in the comparative 
study of culture dynamics within the context of Hispanicized, non- 
European societies. 

The Chamorros of the Mariana Islands are also a Hispanicized 
group, with a long period of documented history behind them. 

1 Published 1953, after this report was in press. 


I'lfld research into the nature of Chamorro culture is a logical ex- 
tension of the anthropological investigation of modern Hispanic- 
American cultures. As subjects for study, the Chamorros are of 
more significance in the frame of reference of culture change among 
Hispanicized, New World societies than in purely Oceanic ones. 
The first purpose of this report is to bring the Chamorros into the 
comparative study of Hispanicized, non-European peoples more spe- 
cifically than has been done heretofore. It is primarily for this 
reason that the first part of this report is concerned with the his- 
torical antecedents of contemporary Saipan. This subject has been 
competently treated by Joseph and Murray in the introduction to 
their own volume on Saipan, but an attempt has been made in the 
present work to deal at somewhat greater length with the events of 
the Spanish period in the Marianas. 

The second point of interest of this report lies with Saipan as a 
war-devastated island. The Chamorros and Carolinians of Saipan 
lay directly in the path of World War II. The field research on 
which this report is based was conducted six years after Saipan was 
invaded, five years after peace was made with Japan. During this 
period, the Chamorros and Carolinians have attempted to reconsti- 
tute their society and to seek again an orderly existence. Part II 
is devoted to an analysis of various facets of post-war Chamorro 
and Carolinian social organization, in the attempt to determine what 
is stable and what is unstable and in flux. The Chamorros and Caro- 
linians remain a dependent society, and the analysis of relative 
stability and instability in their social organization allows a fuller 
comprehension of the nature of their dependence, and a partial 
answer to the question: What are the characteristics of dependent 

Part III of this report continues more intensively the analysis 
of social organization and is concerned specifically with Chamorro 
family and kinship organization. I have attempted to define the 
Chamorro kinship system as a type, in order to facilitate comparison 
with other Hispanicized societies, particularly those of the Philip- 
pines. At the same time, various additional aspects of Chamorro 
culture, as these are related to kinship, are incidentally examined to 
illuminate the past influence of Spain in the fashioning of what has 
become Chamorro custom. Change and stability, as reflected in 
familial organization, are also analyzed for their relevance to the 
questions raised in Part II. 

The report concludes with a section devoted to an outline of 
Saipan Carolinian kinship, in order to provide data paralleling but 


yet contrasting with the treatment of Chamorro kinship. The prin- 
cipal theoretical point of significance of the Saipan Carolinian ma- 
terial lies in the nature of the kinship change that has occurred in 
this group. It provides one more case of a society in which the 
breakdown of lineage as an organizing principle apparently has been 
accompanied by a shift in kinship pattern to a different and yet 
definable type. 



IL Discovery 

Chaniorro Culture at the Time of Discovery 

"When Europeans first arrived in the Marianas, they found the 
islands inhabited by a single people, speaking one language and pos- 
sessing a homogeneous culture. These people came to be called 
Chamorros the derivation of the word is uncertain and they are 
called by this name today. 

What is known of i)re-contact Chamorro culture links the Cha- 
morros with the remainder of Micronesia and with Malaysia. The 
prehistory of the Mariana Islands is still far from clear, but a few 
facts are beginning to emerge from the archaeological work that has 
been undertaken. To date, the earliest evidence of human occupa- 
tion of the Marianas comes from the Chalan Piao site on the west 
coast of Saipan. Here, a large oyster shell found associated with 
potsherds in undisturbed indurated sand beds has been dated by 
the radiocarbon method. The date obtained was 1527 B.C. ±200 
(Libby, 1952). The conditions at the site indicate that the oyster 
shell and the potsherds were deposited at the same time, shortly 
after the death of the oyster, which was probably eaten by man. 
On the basis of this Carbon 14 date, the inference is that man first 
arrived in the Marianas some 3,500 years ago. 

For early voyagers to have reached these remote islands, they 
must have possessed a form of transportation adequate for open-sea 
sailing. From the widespread distribution of the sailing outrigger 
canoe in Micronesia, and its presence in the Marianas at the time of 
discovery, it was probably this type of craft on which the first sea- 
farers reached Saipan and the other Mariana islands from the Malaj^- 
sian area. It is also probable that these people brought with them 
two tropical plants of undoubted antiquity in Malaysia taro and 
the yam and possibly also the coconut, the banana, and the bread- 

Until archaeological work progresses further, however, the culture 
of these earliest comers must remain largely a matter of conjecture. 
It is not until the period of discovery by Europeans, and just prior 



to this time, that our knowledge allows a fairly full reconstruction 
of the ancient Chamorro culture. This knowledge is based on ethno- 
history (Thompson, 1945), combined with the results of archaeo- 
logical work in late sites. Archaeological survey and excavations 
have been conducted principally by Hornbostel, whose work has 
been summarized by Thompson (1932), and by myself. 

At the time of European discovery the Chamorros were living in 
villages and small hamlets. Except for small settlements in the 
interiorly located Marpo Valley on Tinian and in the fertile parts 
of the interior of Guam, most of these hamlets were along the coasts, 
in locations that combined suitable farm land with access to the sea 
and its supplies of fish. Subsistence was derived both from cultivated 
plant crops and from fish and sea food. Yams, taro, bananas, 
breadfruit, sugar cane, and coconuts were important vegetable foods. 
In addition, the Chamorros grew rice, the Marianas marking the 
farthest eastward extension of rice-growing into the Pacific islands 
in pre-contact times. The evidence for rice-growing comes princi- 
pally from the accounts of early travellers, who mention it so fre- 
quently that their identification was probably correct. 

For protein food the Chamorros relied on fish, taken with hooks, 
nets, and spears. They were expert fishermen, competent canoe- 
builders, and skilled sailors. Their facility with outrigger sailing 
canoes was often marvelled at by the early explorers. The first 
missionaries used Chamorro canoes in their various trips from Guam 
to the northern islands of the chain. 

Domesticated animals seem to have been conspicuous by their 
absence. There is no certain evidence of the dog or pig, and whether 
the Chamorros had domesticated fowl is open to question (see 
Thompson, 1945, p. 30). The only wild animals important as food 
were the large fruit bat {Pteropus sp.) and the coconut crab {Birgus 
latro), both well liked today. 

The Chamorros possessed no metal, and so they were forced to 
make their tools of stone, shell, bone, and wood. An extensive 
assemblage of stone and shell adze blades, stone pestles and mortars, 
pounders, shell fishhooks and gorges, stone and shell net sinkers, 
bone spear-points and other artifacts has been recovered from early 
historic and prehistoric Chamorro sites. Pottery was much used 
and was manufactured locally; every late archaeological site is 
marked by the presence of numerous sherds scattered on the surface. 

The most distinctive feature of archaeological sites in the Mari- 
anas is double rows of stone columns, usually in sets of eight or ten, 


ealk'd laltc. The accounts of early observers, as well as the archaeo- 
logical evidence, make it certain that these were house posts, sup- 
porting superstructures of wood and thatch (Thompson, 1932, 1945), 
As Thompson (1945, p. 37) points out, there are insufficient latte to 
have provided housing for the entire population, and it is probable 
that many settlements consisted largely of houses with wood rather 
than stone posts. Yet some villages consisting mostly of stone- 
pillared houses did exist. The houses were strung end to end, in 
either a double or a single line, paralleling the shore. Examples are 
the famous Taga site on Tinian, now largely destroyed (Thompson, 
1932); the Blue site on Tinian, which I excavated; and large sites 
at Agingan and Unai Bapot (the former completely destroyed, the 
latter mostly so) on Saipan. Unfortunately, during and following 
World War II, military construction work resulted in the destruc- 
tion of the major latte on Saipan and Guam. Rota, the least dis- 
turbed of the southern islands, has today most of the surviving 
latte in the Marianas. 

In the villages consisting of houses of the latte type, the largest 
and most impressive structure is at the center (Taga and Blue sites 
on Tinian are examples). These buildings may well have served 
either as men's clubhouses — whose existence is documented in the 
early literature — or as the residences of chiefs. Apart from their 
size, there is little to distinguish them from other houses of the latte 
type. All have potsherds, artifacts, and the debris of daily life 
scattered in the ground and on the surface about them. 

The social and political organization of the early Chamorros is 
but sketchily known. Society was stratified rigidly. The upper 
class formed a nobility that was probably endogamous. Ranking 
below them came a middle and a lower class, though whether these 
together formed a commoner group or whether the middle class was 
a kind of lesser nobility is not known. In Micronesia as a whole, 
hereditary class systems are widespread, and Chamorro society ap- 
parently conformed to this pattern of stratification. 

The kinship system is even less known, as the early form has 
long since given way to patterns deriving from Spanish influence. 
Matrilineal descent prevailed and some form of matrilineage or 
matriclan probably existed, consonant with groupings found else- 
where in Micronesia. The relatively large size of many latte suggests 
that they were occupied by an extended family, no doubt based on 
maternal descent. Marriage involved, as it does today, an elaborate 
series of reciprocal social obligations between the parental groups. 


Adoption of children, found everywhere in Micronesia, was Hkewise 
common in the Marianas. 

Pohtical organization was not highly developed. Thompson 
(1945, p. 12) states that each island was divided into districts, each 
containing one or more villages, united under a chief. In each vil- 
lage, the men's clubhouse served as an assembly hall and no doubt 
as a focal point for political activity. None of the districts of the 
main islands were united into a larger, well-knit, political organiza- 
tion. Rivalry and warfare among the districts of a single island 
were the rule, and during the Spanish conquest the Chamorros were 
never able to organize for a concerted, sustained, and united offensive 
against the Spanish military. Warfare was usually conducted by 
stealth and ambush by small parties armed with slings and spears 
and not subject to a large degree of organization and central 

For further information on the ancient Chamorros, the reader is 
referred to Thompson's account (1945), which is the authoritative 
compilation of ethnohistorical sources on early Chamorro culture. 

Discovery of the Marianas 

On March 6, 1521, Magellan sighted the Marianas on his voyage 
westward across the Pacific. Secondary sources often state that 
Guam was the island he discovered and landed upon. Actually, 
the evidence is not this conclusive. Antonio Pigafetta, Magellan's 
chronicler, noted that "we discovered to the northwest a small 
island, and two others to the southwest. One was higher and larger 
than the other two." The islands were probably Saipan to the north 
and Tinian and Aguijan to the south, and Magellan may have sailed 
between Saipan and Tinian and landed on the latter. This pos- 
sibiHty was recognized by Lord Anson (1748, p. 337), who thought 
that Magellan first sighted Saipan and Tinian. Burney (1803-17, 
vol. I, p. 57) likewise felt that the three islands Pigafetta described 
were Saipan, Tinian, and Aguijan. The question is a minor one 
and probably will never be settled. It is mentioned here because 
Magellan may well have been the first European to see Saipan. 

In 1526, another group of Europeans arrived from the west. 
This was the Loyasa expedition, whose pilot was Sebastian del Cano, 
who had successfully brought Magellan's ship around the world and 
who was on his second trip across the Pacific. Both Loyasa and 
Cano died before the expedition reached the Marianas. The Span- 


iards ri'-provisioncd on Guam and picked up one Goncalo de Vigo, 
a Galic'ian who had been living on Rota. De Vigo had deserted 
from Magellan's ship, La Trinidad. After Magellan's death in the 
Philippines, La Trinidad attempted to sail from the Moluccas to 
Mexico by a northeasterly route, but failed, and in returning 
touched at the Marianas, where De Vigo deserted with two compan- 
ions, both of whom died. 

Although in the following year (1527) Saavedra sighted the Mari- 
anas, the next major event in the post-contact history of the islands 
took place in 1565 with the arrival of Legazpi. The navigator of 
the expedition was an Augustinian sailor-monk, Andres de Urdaneta, 
famous in his day, who had previously seen the Marianas as a 
menibei- of the Loyasa party. In secondary sources, Legazpi is 
often mentioned as having landed at Saipan, but he specifically 
states that on January 21, 1565, he sighted Guam, and the various 
accounts of the expedition make it clear that Guam was the pro- 
visioning island for the expedition. The party procured water, 
vegetables, and fruit, marvelled at the speed of the Chamorro canoes, 
were exasperated by Chamorro attempts to pilfer iron from the 
ships and to trade baskets of rice loaded with stones and straw, and 
revenged the murder of a Spaniard on shore by burning houses and 
killing several Chamorro men, though one can only speculate as to 
whether the murdered Spaniard had committed a serious breach of 
Chamorro custom. Several members of the Legazpi expedition — • 
Urdaneta, Caspar, Grijalva, and Legazpi himself wrote ethno- 
graphic notes of importance for the anthropologists that followed 
them centuries later. 

Legazpi formally proclaimed the Marianas to be Spanish terri- 
tory and then sailed west to establish Spanish claims to the Philip- 
pines. To his navigator, Urdaneta, credit is given for thereafter 
discovering the route from the Philippines eastward to Mexico by 
way of the prevailing westerlies. A feasible route for regular trans- 
portation between Mexico and the Philippines was thus discovered. 
On the voyage, westward ships could follow the trade winds, stopping 
at the Marianas for water and provisions. On the eastward trip, 
they passed north of the Marianas, in the belt of the westerlies. 
With the growth of the Spanish colony in the Philippines, the Mari- 
anas accordingly became important as a way stop, and thus the 
Chamorros were brought into increasing contact with Europeans. 

However, for a century after Legazpi 's visit, Spain made no 
attempt to colonize the Marianas. They were simply a welcome 


break in the long voyage from Acapulco to Manila. The number 
of ships making the voyage was never great and was confined largely 
to the annual galleon that brought gold from Mexico for the support 
of the Philippine colony. Yet over a period of a century the Mari- 
anas became well known to the Spanish, though the result of this 
contact on Chamorro culture must have been slight. Iron was 
eagerly sought from passing ships by the Chamorros, and this tran- 
sient trade appears to have consisted primarily of the exchange of 
iron for water and Chamorro-grown fruits and vegetables. 

The source materials for this century-long period are short and 
sketchy. Francisco de Sande notes that he sailed from Acapulco on 
April 6, 1575, and took 72 days to reach the Ladrones, where the 
water-butts were filled and where "I took on board a large anchor 
that I found that had belonged formerly to the flagship lost there by 
Ffelipe de Sauzedo." Francisco Gali (Burney, 1803-17, vol. II, p. 59) 
touched at Guam in 1582 on his way to Manila. In 1596, a Fran- 
ciscan spent a year on Guam (Thompson, 1947, p. 179). In 1600, 
the merchant ship Santa Margarita left Manila for Mexico, met with 
storms and, after the death of the captain and most of the crew, 
put in at Rota. Some of the survivors were killed, and the others 
were distributed among various Chamorro villages. The next year 
the galleon Santo Tomas arrived on the annual trip from Mexico 
and picked up five survivors, but the captain, Maldonado, refused 
to wait until the other twenty-six could be located. One of his 
company, Fray Juan Pobre, jumped ship and remained on Guam. 
Another account mentions the wreck of the galleon Nuestra Senora 
de la Concepcion during a storm on September 20, 1636. The ship 
is supposed to have gone ashore on Tinian. Many of the ship's 
company drowned or were killed by the Chamorros, the survivors 
escaping to Guam and Rota. The friendly Chamorros on Guam 
gave the Spaniards two outrigger canoes, and in these, six Spaniards 
and two "Indians" (probably Chamorros) sailed to the Philippines 
in two weeks. Twenty-two Spaniards were left behind, those that 
did not die being picked up by later ships or remaining as permanent 
residents in Chamorro villages. 

Although the ships touching at the Marianas were predominantly 
Spanish, visitors of other nationalities also arrived. In 1588, Thomas 
Cavendish, the third circumnavigator of the globe, sighted Guam 
and traded iron for fresh provisions from the Chamorros (Burney, 
vol. II, p. 90). Drake is sometimes thought to have touched at 
Guam, but the account of his voyage makes it more probable that 


he stopped at an island to the south. Burney (vol. I, p. 356) be- 
lieves it to have been the Palaus; Yap would fit the Drake account 
even better. Three Dutch explorers — Van Noort in 1600, Spilbergen 
in 1 <)](), and Admiral Schapenham, commander of the Nassau Fleet, 
in 1625 -all stopped at the Marianas to reprovision their ships 
(Burney, vol. II, pp. 225 226, 350; vol. Ill, pp. 33 34). 

The part that Saipan played in this thin trickle of trade with 
passing ships is not known. Guam, as the largest island in the Mari- 
anas, was the principal port of call. Yet Spanish ships must have 
stopped at Saipan. In a brief mention of the Chamorros, Antonio 
de Morga wrote in 1609 (Blair and Robertson, 1903-09, vol. 16, p. 
202) that "... some Spaniards and religious have lived among them, 
because of Spanish ships being wrecked or obliged to take refuge 
there." Bowers (1950, pp. 59-60) notes that Sebastian Cabot's 
1544 map of the world shows Saipan and Tinian placed with approxi- 
mate correctness with respect to Guam. One can conclude that the 
Spanish early knew about Saipan, even if the date of their first 
arrival on the island is a matter of conjecture. The first clear refer- 
ence that I have been able to find is contained in a letter from a 
Jesuit missionary, Peter Coomans, written in 1684, in which Coo- 
mans described an expedition which he accompanied to Saipan. On 
this expedition, the party raised the guns of a wrecked galleon from 
the sea at Agingan, on the south coast of the island. The galleon, 
according to Coomans, was wrecked in 1636 (Repetti, 1940c). It is 
possible that this was the Concepcion, as there is only a two-year 
discrepancy in dates between Coomans' account and that cited by 
Blair and Robertson. Thus, 1636 is the earliest date that a con- 
temporary observer has given to tie Saipan to our own calendar and 
to the stream of European colonial history. 

IIL Conquest 

The landing on Guam in 1668 of the first officially sponsored 
Spanish mission among the Chamorros opened the next epoch in 
the post-contact history of the Marianas. This period, which lasted 
for thirty years, was distinguished by the conversion of the Cha- 
morros to Christianity and by their complete political subjugation 
to Spain. It was a time of continuous strife and unrest, interspersed 
with brief phases of peace. By the close of the period, the Chamorros 
had been decimated and subdued by years of violence. 

Our knowledge of this thirty-year epoch derives almost entirely 
from the Jesuit missionaries. As was characteristic of their mis- 
sionary efforts elsewhere, the Jesuit padres carefully documented 
their work in numerous letters and reports. These formed the source 
materials for two important works, those of Garcia (1683) and Le 
Gobien (1700), which provide us with most of what is known of this 
period in the history of the Marianas. Important supplementary 
information is contained in a number of seventeenth century Jesuit 
letters translated and published by Repetti (1940a, b, c, 1941a, b, 
1945-46, 1946 47), as well as in later secondary sources (Murillo 
Velarde [1749], Freycinet [1829 37], and Corte [1876]). The Jesuit 
missionaries recorded events in the Marianas from their own par- 
ticular point of view, and in the absence of other first-hand accounts 
it is often difficult to arrive at a balanced historical interpretation. 
Certain of the principal events of the period are outlined below. 

In 1662, Luis de Sanvitores, a Spanish Jesuit, stopped briefly at 
Guam on his way to the Philippines. His glimpse of the Marianas 
led him to resolve to form a mission among the Chamorros. After 
overcoming numerous difficulties he was finally able to obtain the 
necessary support, and he set out for the Marianas with a small 
company of fellow Jesuits and secular companions. On June 15, 
1668, their ship arrived off Guam, and the company landed on the 

At first the padres were hospitably received. They made Agafia 
their headquarters and commenced the construction of a church 
and a house for their company. But it was not long before resistance 



developed. To judge from the missionary accounts, Chamorro an- 
tagonism toward the missionaries centered around baptism, particu- 
larly of infants and children. Enough cases occurred where baptism 
was followed by the death of the child for the Chamorros to infer 
that baptism was the cause of death. Also, by this time, the infant 
mortality rate may have been boosted by the introduction of new 

As far as the missionaries were concerned, the devil's advocate in 
the Chamorro resistance to baptism was a Chinese named Choco, 
who had been shipwrecked in the Marianas in 1648. For twenty 
years prior to the arrival of the Spanish missionaries he had lived 
among the Chamorros and in 1668 was residing in a village in the 
southern !)art of Guam. According to the missionaries, it was Choco 
who spread the belief that baptism caused death, and who encour- 
aged the Chamorros to resist. Sanvitores himself sought out Choco 
and, having succeeded in getting him to agree to being baptized, 
performed the ceremony on the spot, though the earnest padre was 
embarrassed to have his two Filipino secular helpers run amok 
during the service. Choco's baptism did not stick, however, and 
soon he was again encouraging the Chamorros to oppose the Spanish. 

Although baptism was a focal point around which resistance 
crystallized, it may well be somewhat over-emphasized in the ac- 
counts of Garcia and Le Gobien. It was attempts at baptism that 
resulted in the killing of a number of Spanish priests and helpers, 
including Sanvitores himself, who became a martyr to his cause 
when he was killed on Guam on April 2, 1672. Baptism was the 
occasion for open Chamorro hostility. However, it must not be 
forgotten that the missionaries' opposition to the sorcerers; to pre- 
vailing pre-marital sex practices and the apparently brittle marriage 
tie; to methods of disposal of the dead, which involved the display 
of ancestral skulls in the men's houses; to the men's houses them- 
selves; to the custom of wearing little or no clothing; and probably 
to other undescribed facets of Chamorro custom, affected a series 
of institutions at the core of the local society and culture. The net 
effect is described by Garcia, who noted the commencement of armed 
opposition to the Spanish in the following words (Garcia, 1683, 
Higgins' translation): 

Certain villages of the island of Guam were uneasy, and there was unrest 
because of the inconstancy of those natives, who change just for a change, and 
because their shoulders, unaccustomed to the weight of law or reason, felt 
the yoke of Christ too heavy, although it is light and easy for those who love 


Fig. 3. Sanvitore.s (from Garcia, 1683). 



Once aiUagonism toward the Spanish had broken out into open 
hostihty, the secular power of Spanish coloniahsm was set into force. 
At first it was most inadequate, as only a small group of secular 
hi'lpi'rs and soldiers accompanied the priests, a force that was 
slightly replenished from time to time with the annual arrival of the 
galleon from Mexico. In 1676, the first governor of the Marianas 
was appointed, Don Francisco de Irisarry y Vivar, who took up 
residence on Guam and supported a strong secular policy. We are 
told (Gai'cia, 1683, Higgins' translation) that Irisarry 

. . . made it obligatory for all baptized indios to attend church on Sun- 
days and fiesta days, and to send their sons and daughters not only to learn the 
things of our Faith, but also to perform certain offices and duties necessary 
to the formation of a Christian and political republic. 

The Spanish troops in the Marianas were never very numerous 
but the Spaniards finally prevailed, through their uncompromising 
zeal. The situation was such that it is doubtful that they could 
have remained in the islands without constant recourse to armed 
force. The man responsible for breaking the back of Chamorro re- 
sistance was Jos^ de Quiroga, who arrived on Guam in 1679. There- 
after he directed most of the armed expeditions against the Cha- 
morros. (Completely fearless, highly aggressive, thoroughly cogni- 
zant of Chamorro methods of warfare, physically tough as nails, 
and quite unscrupulous, Quiroga was in the tradition of the typical 
Spanish conquistador. He spent nearly twenty years in pacifying 
the islands, in which effort he finally succeeded. Thus, in the Mari- 
anas as in the New World, the sacred and secular aspects of Spanish 
colonialism were firmly bound together. The policy cannot be de- 
scribed better than in the words of Garcia's account of the conversion 
of the Chamorros: 

It has been necessary in this spiritual conquest, as experience has shown 
us that it is always necessary among barbarians, that our Spanish zeal carry 
in its right hand ... a plow and the Kvangelical seed; and in its left hand . . . 
the sword, with which to prevent embarrassment to the religious labor. 

Certain other features of the thirty-year period of conversion 
and conquest deserve brief mention. The Spanish were aided by 
the lack of a high degree of political organization among the Cha- 
morros. The latter were accustomed to fighting each other before 
the Spanish came, and inter-district warfare continued to be a feature 
of Chamorro life, even though opposition to the Spanish no doubt 
created a common bond. Thus, in 1669, Sanvitores was influential 
in effecting a peace on Tinian between Marpo, an interior district. 


and Sunharon, a coastal one, which seem to have been traditional 

Also, during the period, the missionaries slowly succeeded in 
gaining converts among the Chamorros, so that a group of Chris- 
tianized Chamorros was created to assist the Spanish effort. It is 
at this time that marriages of Spanish men and Chamorro women 
were first described. In one such instance, occurring in 1676, Garcia 
records that the father of the bride made an attempt to kill the 
bridegroom but was frustrated by the Spaniards, who hanged the 
father publicly in Agafia. 

The Spanish centered their efforts on Guam. Their headquarters 
were at Agaiia, where they built a church, a parish house, a seminary 
and a small presidio. From Agafia, they ventured to other parts of 
Guam and to the northern islands. The latter, however, were 
visited only periodically, though in the first few years the padres 
explored the chain as far north as Maug, apparently landing on all 
but two of the smallest islands — Farallon de Medinilla and Farallon 
de Pajaros. To the remaining thirteen, Sanvitores also gave Span- 
ish names, though Asuncion is the only island name that has per- 
sisted. In the other twelve cases the original name has been retained. 
The list of names is given below: 

Chamorro name Spanish name 

Guam San Juan 

Rota Santa Ana (in the Jesuit accounts, 

Rota is also referred to as Zarpana, 
which sounds very much like a 
phonetic modification of Santa 

Aguijan San Angel 

Tinian Buenavista Mariana 

Saipan San Joseph (Saipan — spelled Saypan 

by Garcia — is today sometimes 
said to be of nineteenth century 
Carolinian origin. This is incor- 
rect, as the name is found as far 
back as the sixteenth century) 

Anatahan San Joaquin 

Sariguan San Carlos 

Guguan San Phelipe 

Alamagan Concepcion 

Pagan San Ignacio 

Agrihan San Francisco Xavier 

Asonson Asuncion 

Maug San Lorenzo 

Sanvitores also established the name "Marianas" for the islands 
as a whole, in honor of Marie Ana of Austria, thereby superseding 


the names "Ladronos" and "Islas de Latinas Velas" which had been 
in previous use, though "Ladrones" continued to be used as a syno- 
nym. Also (hiring this period, the first reasonably accurate chart 
of the Marianas was drawn by Padre Alonzo Lopez. Lopez arrived 
on duani from Mexico in 167L He was sent by Sanvitores to 
Aguijan, Tinian, and Saipan, and he spent some time on Tinian, 
where he established a small seminary. 

It is interesting to note that the exploration carried out by the 
padres was done entirely by outrigger canoes, manned by Chamorros. 
These were the accepted method of transportation and required a 
high degree of hardiness. In October, 1668 in the typhoon season 
Padres Sanvitores and Morales set out from Guam for the north- 
ern islands. Sanvitores went as far as Saipan, and Morales con- 
tinued on to Anatahan, Sariguan, Guguan, Alamagan, Pagan, and 
Agrihan, returning to Guam six months later. In July, 1669, San- 
vitores went even farther north to Asuncion and Maug, returning 
to Guam in four and a half months. Trips to Rota, Tinian, and 
Saipan seem to have been relatively routine. A Spanish comment 
on these outrigger trips gives an indication of what they were like 
(Garcia, 1683, Higgins' translation): 

[On a cancel . . . the greatest happiness that one may dare to hope for, not 
being a fish ... is to escape with his life, for death is always before him, the 
imminence of it not permitting him to eat or sleep, and when dire necessity 
makes him take some sustenance, the fare is nothing more than a few roots, 
which together with sea.sickness, serve more to alter the condition of the 
stomach than to succor his needs. 

Guam was the center of Spanish colonization in the Marianas, 
and the islands to the north were decidedly peripheral. By the end 
of the seventeenth century the northern islands had been conquered 
and all the Chamorros forced to move to Guam, with the exception 
of a few who managed to stay on Rota. The following chronology, 
covering the period of conquest and conversion to Christianity, 
outlines the principal events affecting Saipan and the other islands 
north of Guam. The chronology makes only brief mention of the 
course of local history on Guam, which, though it was the base of 
Spanish operations, is subsidiary to Saipan as the principal subject 
of this account. 

Chronology of Events Affecting Saipan 

1668: On June 15, Luis de Sanvitores arrived in the Marianas. 
He landed on Guam with four other Jesuit priests, Fathers Medina, 

^l/ytvuvntj oil jf 

I*agon it 

Santfiin I 
^4/tatnfan C^ 


^IgmifttLiii Q 

on Kota ^\f 



ISLAS Marianas. rorr.AiojizoLopea. 

Fig. 4. Chart of the Marianas, by Alonzo Lopez (1700; from Burney. 1803-17, 
vol. III). 



Cassanova, Cardenosa and Morales; one novitiate, Lorenzo Bustillos; 
and a small group of secular helpers and soldiers Spanish, Filipino, 
and Mexican commanded by Captain Juan de Santa Cruz. Con- 
tact was made with a survivor of the Concepcion, named Pedro, 
who assisted the Spanish. [In the Garcia account, three other Con- 
cepcion survivors are mentioned: Lorenzo, from the Malabar Coast; 
Francisco Maunahun, a Filipino; and one Macazar, a "Christian 
ludio," probably from either the Philippines or Mexico. Lorenzo 
and Maunahun became secular assistants to the padres. Lorenzo was 
killed on Anatahan in 1669; Maunahun, who was found living on 
Alamagan, was killed on Rota in 1672. Macazar sided with the 
Chamorros and was later captured by the Spanish.] 

Sanvitores was at first confined to Agafia by the wishes of the 
chiefs, but Medina was sent to visit all the villages of Guam. Cas- 
sanova was sent to Rota, and Cardenosa and Morales were ordered 
to proceed to Tinian. Morales went on to Saipan, but in August, 
he returned to Guam with a severe wound in the leg received from 
hostile Chamorros while he was administering baptism. Sergeant 
Lorenzo Castellanos and Gabriel de la Cruz, his Tagalog servant, 
were attacked and "died in the sea near Tinian." 

On October 20, Sanvitores and Morales, his wound healed, left 
Guam for Tinian and Saipan. Morales continued on to the northern 
islands, while Sanvitores remained on Saipan, where he "travelled 
over the entire island . . . , and there was not a single village, either 
on the beach or in the hills that he did not visit." He also went to 
Aguijan and Tinian, where he established a residence with one padre 
(presumably Cardenosa) and returned to Guam on January 5, 1669. 

In the meantime Morales was making his way north by canoe. 
He reached Agrihan in December, 1668, and then returned to Guam, 
the entire trip taking six months. 

1669: The church at Agaiia was dedicated, and construction of 
the college of San Juan de Lateran on Guam was commenced. In 
July, Sanvitores, with two secular companions, started from Guam 
once more for the northern islands, as he believed Morales had not 
discovered them all. He went to Rota, Tinian, and Saipan and 
then made his way northward beyond Agrihan to Asuncion and 
Maug, arriving at the latter in August. Morales had not reached 
either of these two islands, both of which were inhabited. According 
to the Spanish sources, apparently all the islands which Sanvitores 
re-named had Chamorros living on them. Sanvitores then turned 
back to Guam. On his way back, he stopped at Anatahan and it 


was here that Lorenzo, the Concepcion survivor, was killed while 
attempting to administer baptism to a child. Sanvitores continued 
on to Tinian. Here he found Medina and Cassanova trying to 
settle a local civil war. Unable to calm the unrest, Sanvitores de- 
cided on a show of force. Returning to Guam on November 15, he 
set out for Tinian ten days later with an expedition consisting of 
ten soldiers (eight of whom were Filipinos), under the command of 
Captain Juan de Santa Cruz, and accompanied by the "general de 
artilleria," Antonio de Alexalde, who had one field piece, the size of 
which can be inferred from the fact that the gun, along with the 
entire personnel of the expedition, was carried by three or four canoes. 
The party arrived on Tinian and a peace was negotiated. During 
the negotiations Medina visited Saipan briefly and returned to 

1670: With calm restored on Tinian, Medina crossed over to 
Saipan once more. He landed on the south coast of the island, at 
Obian (Objan) and with two secular companions walked northward 
to the town of Laulau, on Magicienne Bay. The three then pro- 
ceeded to an interior village called Cao. On January 21, while at- 
tempting to enter a house to baptize a crying child, Medina and one 
companion were both killed by lance thrusts. The bodies were 
recovered by Captain Juan de Santa Cruz and his soldiers, who 
came over from Tinian. On Santa Cruz's return to Tinian, the 
Tinian Chamorros rose against the Spanish, but were routed by the 
field piece and two muskets. The island was pacified, and in May 
Sanvitores went back to Guam. 

1671: On June 9, the galleon Nuestra Senora del Buen Socorro 
arrived at Guam from Mexico en route to the Philippines. Four 
new padres arrived with her: Francisco Ezquerra, Francisco Solano, 
Alonzo Lopez, and Diego de Norega. A few soldiers also disem- 
barked. Sanvitores sent Cassanova, who had returned from the 
northern islands. Morales, and Bustillos on to the Philippines, so 
the mission gained only one padre. 

Shortly after the departure of the galleon, the Guam Chamorros 
staged an uprising, ascribed by the Spanish to the opposition of the 
Chamorro sorcerers (makahnas) to the padres. At this time the 
Spanish garrison consisted of thirty-one soldiers (twelve Spaniards 
and nineteen Filipinos), armed with muskets and bows, and with, of 
course, their small but impressive field piece. They had also taken 
the precaution of stockading the Agana church and parish house. 
The Chamorros attacked at Agana but were repulsed, and inter- 
mittent fighting continued until October, when peace was made. 


After the uprising, the padres again set out for the other islands. 
Ezquerra went to Rota, and Lopez to Aguijan, Tinian, and Saipan, 
the hitter ishmd not having been visited since Medina's death there 
the previous year. Lopez estabhshed himself on Tinian at Sunharon 
— located at the harbor area on the west coast — and built a small 
seminary for the teaching of Chamorro children. Apparently no 
attempt was made to establish a mission on Saipan; in these early 
days, efforts were concentrated on Tinian. 

1672: Norega died of illness on Guam in January, and, shortly 
after, Ezquerra returned from Rota. In March, unrest broke out 
■on Guam, and Diego Bazan, a secular assistant from Mexico, was 
killed. Sanvitores ordered all members of the Spanish group to 
Agafia, though word could not be gotten to Lopez on Tinian. Be- 
fore the company could be concentrated, four of the Spanish were 
killed in various parts of Guam. Sanvitores allowed himself, as 
superior of the mission, more freedom of movement. On April 2, 
while attempting to baptize a child near Tumhon, Sanvitores and 
his Filipino assistant, Pedro Calangson, were killed. 

After Sanvitores' death, the southern villages on Guam remained 
friendly to the Spanish, but the northern ones were hostile. A puni- 
tive expedition was carried out against the Tumhon area. Unrest 
spread to Rota, where Francisco Maunahun, a Filipino survivor of 
the Concepcion wreck and helper of the Spanish, was killed with 
another Filipino on June 5. Solano, Sanvitores' successor as superior, 
died on June 13. The unrest on Guam continued. 

In the meantime, Lopez remained on Tinian, unaware of Sanvi- 
tores' death. Tinian continued quiet, and Lopez went on with his 
work. However, Ezquerra, who had succeeded Solano, sent a mes- 
sage to Lopez to return to Agafia. Unrest was spreading and no 
doubt would soon have reached Tinian. Lopez accordingly returned 
to Guam, avoiding Rota, which was in open rebellion. 

1673 81: During this period, the Spanish were so occupied on 
Guam that they hardly concerned themselves with the other islands. 
It was a time of intermittent outbreaks, of sporadic killing of padres, 
secular assistants, and soldiers by the Chamorros; and of the burning 
of villages and the killing of Chamorros by the Spanish. The first 
governor of the Marianas was appointed in 1676, and he proceeded 
with punitive expeditions "to restrain the pride of some villages and 
castigate the insolence of others." One brief expedition of this type 
was carried out against Rota in 1675. Jose de Quiroga arrived in 
1679 and assumed command of the soldiers in 1680. Stringent 



measures were taken against the Guamanians and a plan was ini- 
tiated to concentrate them in a few villages. In 1681, Quiroga 
undertook a punitive expedition to Rota, which "served as a place 
of retreat and asylum for the seditious, who came from time to time 
to the island of Guahan [Guam] in order to pervert their compa- 
triots and to inspire in them a spirit of revolt." 

Fig. 5. Excavations at Obian (Objan,\ View from above, showing a house 
site in process of excavation. This house formed part of the village attacked 
by Quiroga in 1684. 

1682 9 Jf.: By 1682, Guam was sufficiently quiet, at least out- 
wardly, so that the Spanish could turn their attention once more to 
the northern islands. In his annual relacion for the year June, 1861, 
to June, 1862, Solorzano, the superior on Guam, reported that a 
missionary had gone by canoe to Rota, Aguijan, Tinian, and Saipan 
and that "good results were obtained at every place." (Repetti, 
1940a.) Presumably this was Padre Peter Coomans, a Belgian Jesuit 
from Antwerp, who went to Rota in March, 1682 (Repetti, 1940b). 
Le Gobien (1700, p. 800) notes that Coomans, after indicating the 
site for a church which was to be built on Rota and leaving three 
fervent workers there, proceeded "to visit the northern islands, with 


llMll/CI?«|-rw nr 


some officers who had received orders from the governor." After 
returning, Coomans apparently remained on Rota, for in a letter 
written from the island in May, 1683 (Repetti, 1940b), he reported 
that a church and parish house had been constructed on the west 
side of the island and that a second church and house had been 
started in the northern part of Rota at the village of Agusan. 

In 1684, the Spanish determined to make a major effort to sub- 
jugate the islands north of Rota. On March 22, 1684, Quiroga left 
Guam for the northern islands with twenty canoes and a small 
frigate (Le Gobien, 1700, p. 302). He stopped at Rota and left on 
April 12, with Padre Coomans, for Tinian (Repetti, 1940c). They 
arrived at Tinian two days later and found the Chamorros friendly. 
The next day they set out for Saipan, taking some canoes and crews 
from Tinian. The subsequent events are taken from Coomans' 
letter (Repetti, 1940c). 

The expedition landed, judging from the letter, on the west 
coast of Saipan and immediately met armed resistance. For several 
days it fought its way along the shore, and then marched south to 
the village of Agingan, located on the shore at the point nearest 
Tinian. The friendly Tinian Chamorros were sent to the nearby 
village of Obian, also on the south coast, to offer peace, as the people 
of Obian on previous occasions had been friendly to the Spanish. 
On April 20, peace delegates arrived from Obian, though in the 
meantime the Spanish were fighting another group, and "brought 
back a Chamorro head as a trophy." By April 30 all was peaceful, 
and the Chamorros were asking that their children be baptized. On 
May 7, Coomans left Saipan, leaving "a sufficient garrison," which, 
judging from Le Gobien's account, included Quiroga. Coomans 
stopped at Tinian, and also at Aguijan, which, he noted, had a few 
inhabitants. On May 11, he set out for Rota. 

Coomans' general description of Saipan is unfortunately very 
brief, and merely consists of a statement that "all the land is fertile 
and gives abundant crops of grain and roots throughout the wide 
plains that surround a single mountain." 

For the remainder of the story we must depend on Le Gobien. 
He notes that, after arriving on Saipan, Quiroga sent on to the is- 
lands to the north an expedition consisting of some twenty-five 
soldiers. It is stated that Padre Coomans accompanied the party. 
Coomans must have gone back again to Saipan. 

With Quiroga, the strong man of the Marianas, absent on Sai- 
pan, the latent unfriendly elements among the Guam Chamorros 


staged a major revolt, in July, 1684. They killed forty or fifty 
soldiers, a priest, and a lay brother, and wounded the governor and 
two priests. The Spanish retired to their fort. The governor sent 
a letter to Quiroga, but the messenger would go no farther than 
Rota. Padre Strobach on Rota then set off with the letter but was 
killed on Tinian, where the Chamorros revolted and also killed 
seventeen other Spaniards — presumably from Quiroga's group — on 
the island. Next, the Chamorros attacked Quiroga on Saipan. His 
force consisted of only thirty-six men, but, characteristically, he 
took the offensive and made a number of forays, burning several 
villages and attacking the two main camps of besiegers. He sacked 
Obian village and then demanded canoes to take him to Guam. 
This the Obian villagers were glad to do, as they "ardently desired 
to be delivered of so terrible and dangerous a neighbor." On the 
night of November 21, 1684, Quiroga and his men left Saipan in 
eight canoes. Three of these, containing fifteen Spaniards, were 
wrecked on Tinian, for it was the typhoon season, and the sea was 
very rough. In two days' sailing, Quiroga made Guam. Perhaps 
because the Chamorros on Tinian were afraid of reprisals for their 
killing of Strobach and the other Spaniards, they received the fifteen 
shipwrecked men from Quiroga's party hospitably and sent them 
on their way to Guam. 

The expedition that Quiroga had sent to the northern islands 
was less fortunate. It met no resistance, but on the return trip the 
Chamorro pilots overturned the canoes in order to drown the party. 
Padre Coomans, however, seized his pilot before the canoe could be 
capsized and put in at Alamagan, where a Chamorro noble gave 
him protection; Coomans later proceeded to Saipan, where he was 
killed in July, 1685 (Le Gobien, 1700, p. 367). 

On his return to Guam, Quiroga immediately took the offensive 
again and before long had the situation under control; but until 
1694 no further attempts seem to have been made to conquer the 
Chamorros of the northern islands. 

169Jf.~98: Quiroga had been handicapped by having as a superior 
a governor of weaker character than he, but in 1694, D'Esplana, 
the governor, died and Quiroga became governor. In October, 1694, 
he went to Rota. No resistance was encountered and the island was 
peaceful. Through the following winter and spring Quiroga pre- 
pared for a campaign to conquer the northern islands finally and 

In July, 1695, Quiroga's expedition set out in a small frigate 
and twenty canoes. A sudden storm arose and the canoes put in at 


Rota, but Qulroga in the frigate continued on to Saipan. Here he 
met armed resistance, but the fire of the Spanish was so heavy that 
the Chamorros dispersed. We are told (Le Gobien, 1700, p. 388) : 

Some who were brought before Quiroga were punished, and he explained 
to them that ... he came to live peacefully with them. "I ask but one thing," 
he said to them, "... that you listen to the preachers of the gospel and show 
yourselves docile to their teachings." The people of Saipan liked propo- 
sitions and promised him everything he wished. 

Quiroga then returned to Tinian, but he found that the people 
of Tinian had retired to the nearby island of Aguijan to make a 
stand. There is not a harbor or even a satisfactory landing place 
at Aguijan, and its inaccessibility, with steep cliffs rising from the 
sea, is most impressive. Despite this, Quiroga stormed the island 
and managed to climb the cliffs. The Chamorros surrendered and 
asked quarter. Quiroga granted it, on condition that the people 
move to Guam. Le Gobien further notes that the move "was done 
the next day," a highly improbable statement. 

The report of Quiroga's victories on Saipan, Tinian, and Aguijan 
spread to the northern islands, and Le Gobien states that their 
inhabitants were ordered to go to Saipan. In 1698, the Saipan 
Chamorros, too, were forced to move to Guam. As the seventeenth 
century closed, Saipan's green slopes were deserted. The Marianas 
had been conquered. 

IV. The Formation of a Hispanicized 

Chamorro Culture 

The next period in Chamorro history saw the formation of a 
Hispanicized culture one that was neither indigenous nor im- 
ported, but a blend of old and new. The resulting culture growth 
was the end product of a process similar to that which has taken 
place in Latin America, where new culture types have formed from 
the impact of Spain on indigenous peoples. The Marianas provide 
an important example outside Latin America of the tremendous in- 
fluence of Spain in refashioning the cultures within her former 

The decision as to where to set the terminal points of this period 
of Chamorro history must be somewhat arbitrary. The process of 
Hispanicization started during the conquest of the islands but was 
not all-pervasive until their inhabitants had been subjugated. The 
process continued throughout the period of Spanish administration, 
until the end of the nineteenth century. Within this two-century 
span, change continued, even after the new culture had emerged as 
a distinct type. This culture, however, received its primary pat- 
terning during the eighteenth century and particularly prior to 1769, 
when the Jesuits were expelled from the Marianas. Largely as a 
matter of convenience, the period of Hispanicization is here taken 
to include the time span from the conquest of the Marianas until 
the Chamorro re-settlement of Saipan in the nineteenth century. 

In the early years of this period, there were a number of factors 
that facilitated the culture change brought about by Spanish control. 
These factors are noted briefly below. 

(1) The first point of significance is population size. As a result 
of the Spanish conquest and of the introduction of new diseases 
there was a terrific decimation of the Chamorro population. Thomp- 
son (1947, pp. 32-43) has reviewed the principal changes in popula- 
tion trends and only the main points need be recapitulated. The 
total Chamorro population at the time of arrival of the Spanish 
missionaries was estimated by Sanvitores at nearly 100,000. Various 



other estimates for this period from seventeenth, eighteenth, and 
nineteenth century sources range from approximately 33,000 to 
73,000. I beheve that Sanvitores' figure was considerably too high. 
The large number of archaeological remains in the Marianas has 
suggested to Thompson that the population was once relatively 
dense, but the unknown time span covered by these remains makes 
this sort of evidence of doubtful value. Yet even with a drastic 
revision of Sanvitores' estimate, a conservative guess would still put 
the Chamorro population at 40,000 or 50,000 at the time of San- 
vitores' arrival in 1668. 

Less than a half-century later, when the first population records 
were inaugurated, the Chamorro population for the first census, in 
1710, is given by Freycinet (1829-37, vol. II, p. 331) as 3,539; by 
Corte (1876, p. 150) as 3,678; and by Marche (1891, p. 244) as 3,197. 
Despite the variation in these sources, they differ little when meas- 
ured against the decimation of population that had occurred. After 
1710, the Chamorro population continued to decrease. In subse- 
quent census counts, an attempt was made to distinguish full-blood 
Chamorros from those of mixed Chamorro and Filipino or European 
parentage. It is doubtful that the figures are anything but approxi- 
mations, but even then they are revealing. Freycinet reported a 
low point of only 1,318 full-blood Chamorros on Guam in 1786 
(Freycinet, 1829 37, vol. II, p. 337). During the next forty-five 
years the curve started to climb upwards. In 1816, there were 2,559 
Chamorros (Freycinet, 1829 37, vol. Ill, p. 91) and Marche gives 
the Chamorro full-blood count on Guam as being 2,628 by 1830 
(Marche, 1891, p. 246). During this period Rota had only a few 
hundred 467 in 1710, and 233 in 1763 (Freycinet, 1829-37, vol. II, 
p. 357). In any case, the depopulation attendant upon the conquest 
is striking. 

The hybrid group, made up primarily of Chamorro-Filipinos and 
Chamorro-Spanish, numbered 95 in 1725 (Marche, 1891, p. 244) 
and then increased rapidly. By 1753 it numbered 764 (Freycinet, 
1829-37, vol. II, p. 334), and by 1830 had grown to 3,865 (Marche, 
1891, p. 246). According to Marche, after 1830 the census was 
taken without attempting to distinguish mixed-blood and full-blood 
persons. The Chamorros as a racially mixed group became a recog- 
nized entity. 

A principal point to be derived from this brief survey of popula- 
tion trends is that during the eighteenth century there were but a 
few thousand people on Guam. The small size of the Chamorro 


group was a factor that favored Spanish control and the inculcation 
of new beliefs and practices. At the same time, the growing mixed- 
blood group likewise must have facilitated culture change through 
the influence of Filipino and Spanish fathers on their offspring. 

(2) A second factor facilitating change was the concentration 
of the Guam population in a few villages, a process which commenced 
during the conquest of the islands (Repetti, 1945 46) and which 
allowed a greater measure of supervision by the Spanish padres and 
the secular authorities over the lives of the people. Also, in contrast 
to the New World, there was really no way for a large segment of 
the population who tired of Spanish control to move away to an 
isolated area outside the spatial limits of Spanish administration. 
There was no major hinterland of wide extent, such as the interior 
of the Yucatan peninsula or the Pet^n area of Middle America, into 
which the hard-headed, independent-minded could retreat to form 
their own communities. It is true that some Chamorros sailed to 
the Carolines, but the number was probably small. The only group 
left isolated was the handful of people left on Rota, among whom 
the old customs did persist longer and who are still considered by 
the Guamanians somewhat as "country cousins." Yet, after the 
conquest, even the Rota people had a Spanish-appointed alcalde. 

(3) A third important factor is found in the specific points at 
which the Spanish attempted to induce change. The Spanish, par- 
ticularly the padres, had very definite ideas as to what they intended 
to do. The first objective was of course the Christianization of the 
Chamorros, coupled with a new system of political administration 
and control. But, in addition, the Jesuits and political governors 
introduced crafts, schools, specific changes in methods of farming, 
and a variety of other features of culture content. 

(4) A fourth point facilitating change was that the Spanish es- 
tablished themselves firmly in a position of authority and developed 
among the Chamorros a virtually unquestioning acceptance of this 
position. Respect for authority has been described as a Chamorro 
personality trait, even by the Chamorros themselves. It is a trait 
that tends to persist to the present day. Thus Sablan (1929, p. 9), a 
well-educated Chamorro, noted that it is Chamorro nature to believe 
everything without questioning. This attitude of mind undoubtedly 
developed out of the conquest. Once the Spanish had established 
their position, their efforts at change must have been made easier. 

With these factors in mind, we may next review briefly the events 
of the period as they bear on the question of culture change, and 


then examine the principal characteristics of the Hispanicized culture 
that emerged. 

In spite of the intermittent turmoil of the conquest period, the 
Spanish early attempted to introduce new culture traits, as well as 
to abolish old ones they considered pernicious. For the year 1675 it 
is noted by Garcia (1683, Higgins' translation): 

In order that they [the Chamorros] may be well occupied for the improve- 
ment of these islands, they are taught to grow corn, cotton, and other neces- 
sary crops for their use. The girls are taught to spin cotton and the boys to 
weave it ... . Whatever is shown them they learn easily. 

A letter from Guam, written in 1678 by Padre Solorzano, not 
only gives a concise description of the Chamorro public house for 
unmarried men, but of Spanish attempts to abolish it as an institu- 
tion (Repetti, 1946 47, p. 432): 

The Urritaos, or unmarried men, are the most unrestrained and offer the 
most resistance until totally subdued by arms .... These Urritaos have 
very pernicious vices, namely, to buy girls for their infamous practices. In 
each village there is one house, in more populous villages two, of Urritaos. 
Those who live in these communal houses come to the father of some girl 
and give him a pair of iron barrel hoops, which they buy from some ship in 
exchange for turtle shell, or one or two swords, whereupon the father joyfully 
turns over his daughter as if he were placing her in the best of positions, and 
they take her with them to the communal house and after some time she re- 
mains married to one of them and they build themselves a house that they may 
live apart. Many of the houses of the Urritaos have been destroyed by us and 
in place of them we have established orphanages for boys and girls in which 
they are trained with great care in religion, deportment and other accomplish- 
ments needed in a Christian commonwealth. 

And for 1679, we have the following statement (Garcia, 1683, 
Higgins' translation) : 

They now eat pork and are becoming fond of corn although they do not 
make bread of it because they do not have the utensils with which to prepare 
or bake bread. They grow many watermelons and much tobacco but they 
do not know how to prepare or roll the latter. 

From Solorzano and Le Gobien, we learn that in 1681 the Span- 
ish governor of the Marianas called a general assembly on Guam at 
Agaiia and proposed that the people should take an oath of allegiance 
to the king of Spain and recognize him as their sovereign, which 
they agreed to do (Repetti, 1945 46, pp. 434 435; Le Gobien, 1700, 
p. 294). Le Gobien continues with the following remarks: 

From this time on, the Mariana Islanders began to acquire the customs 
of the Spaniards and to conform with their usages. They were taught to 
cover themselves and to make their clothes, to sow Indian corn, to make 


bread, and to eat meat. Artisans were sent to the different villages to show 
them how to weave, sew, make canvas, prepare the skins of beasts, do iron- 
work, hew stones, build in European fashion, and exercise various other 
trades . . . that had been utterly unknown to them. The children brought up 
in the seminaries became skilled in all these crafts and afterwards acted as 
instructors for their companions .... Up till then the islanders had been far 
from reasonable with regard to their dead .... They buried them near their 
houses .... They accompanied these burials with mournful songs and ex- 
travagant ceremonies. They renounced all these vain .superstitions .... The 
question of marriages gave much more trouble .... The indissolubility of 
marriage seemed to them an insupportable burden .... But they had to 
yield nevertheless .... Everywhere in the island were published the regula- 
tions for marriage prescribed by the Council of Trent, and everybody was 
obliged to observe them .... One had the satisfaction of seeing the whole 
island of Guam profess the Christian religion. 

During the same j-ear, Solorzano, the superior of the mission, 
commented in his annual report (Repetti, 1945-46, p. 437) : 

Cotton seeds have been planted and they give a good crop .... There 
has been a satisfactory increase in the cattle, goats, and sheep brought there 
from the New World by the governor. Most prolific of all were the pigs. 

Finally, there is the statement in Garcia's concluding chapter: 

Many old superstitions have been uprooted; many thousands of baptisms 
accomplished; the frequent attendance of the sacraments established; public 
houses destroyed; and marriages have been performed according to the rites 
of the church. 

Garcia and Le Gobien, fellow Jesuits of the padres in the Mari- 
anas, were a bit over-enthusiastic concerning the extent of the 
changes reported, but their statements do show that changes were 
being initiated. It is also true that the Jesuits in the Marianas 
were undoubtedly the most important contact agents. It is in- 
teresting to note that they were not entirely of Spanish origin. Coo- 
mans, writing from Rota in 1683, gives the national origin of the 
fourteen priests and three brothers — all Jesuits — then in the Mari- 
anas. Of these, five were Spanish, including the superior, but the 
others were from Austria, Bohemia, Upper Germany, Naples, French 
Belgium, Flemish Belgium, and Mexico (Repetti, 1940b, p. 320). 
It seems clear, however, that the Spanish influence tended to be 

With the end of the conquest period, the Jesuit missionaries did 
not relax their efforts. In addition to building churches and follow- 
ing purely religious pursuits, they maintained the seminary of San 
Juan de Lateran in Agaiia, founded during the conquest, as well as 
several farms. They introduced a whole series of new food plants 


— mostly from the New World — cattle, horses, and probably pigs, 
and new tools for agricultural purposes. In addition, they were 
responsible for bringing a knowledge of many of the principal crafts 
of contemporary Europe to the Marianas. Much of the techno- 
logical change of the period was directly due to the Jesuits. As a 
group, they appear to have been highly literate, and as SafTord 
(1905, p. 22) notes, even the lay brother in the kitchen kept a li- 
brary. In 1769, the Jesuits were expelled from the Marianas by 
royal decree. Thereafter, mission work was assumed by the Augus- 
tinians, who remained in the Marianas until the end of the Spanish 
period. The Augustinians never devoted the personnel and energy 
to the islands that their predecessors had done, and often the Mari- 
anas suffered neglect. In 1819 there was only one priest in residence 
(Freycinet, 1829-37, vol. II, p. 393). The groundwork of a new 
culture pattern, however, had been thoroughly laid by the Jesuits. 

On the secular side, an administrative organization was estab- 
lished whereby Guam and Rota — the only islands inhabited in the 
eighteenth century — were divided into municipalities, each in charge 
of an alcalde with a number of subordinate officials. At the top of 
the hierarchy was the governor. The system is concisely described 
by Thompson (1947, pp. 58-64). The money for defraying expenses 
for running the colony was brought to Guam each year by the gal- 
leon from Mexico. 

The only real significance of the Marianas continued to be their 
convenience as a way stop on the route from Mexico to the Philip- 
pines. Throughout the eighteenth century, the annual galleon regu- 
larly passed through Guam. With the revolt of the Spanish colonies 
in America in the 1820's, Spain's empire began to crumble and the 
Marianas were no longer important to the Spanish. The galleon 
ceased to run. Political control of the islands was shifted from 
Mexico to the Philippines, and the appropriations for the govern- 
ment of the Marianas were reduced. The nineteenth century was 
for Guam a period of stagnation, enlivened only by the visits of a 
few notable exploring expeditions, in particular those of Kotzebue, 
Freycinet, and Dumont d'Urville, by a few American merchant- 
men in the developing China trade, and, particularly during the 
middle years of the century, by numerous whaling ships, which 
stopped at the Marianas to provision. 

In addition to the priests and the Spanish political officials, 
elements in the population that must have been important as agents 
of culture change were the Filipinos and Mexicans who settled in 


the Marianas. Unfortunately we know little of these people; most 
of them seem to have been brought to the islands either as soldiers 
or as secular assistants to the missionaries and the governor. Some 
were convicts from the Philippines. A few other persons — mostly 
sailors — were the kind of wanderers characteristic of the Pacific is- 
lands, such as the young Englishman, Robert Wilson, who met 
Kotzebue's ship and showed him the entrance to Apra harbor. 
"Wilson" is a well-known Chamorro name today. An interesting 
statistical picture, whose accuracy is not to be taken too seriously, 
is given by Chamisso (Kotzebue, 1821, vol. Ill, p. 91) as to Guam's 
population in 1816, according to the figures of the Spanish governor. 
The governor was the only native Spaniard on the island. 

Population of the Marianas, 1816 

Civil and military officers 147 

Spaniards and mestizos 1,109 

Natives of the Philippines and their descendants 1,484 

Indians (Chamorros) 2,559 

Mulattos 38 

Indians from the Sandwich Islands and the Carolines ... 52 

Total 5,389 

Today, the Chamorros are such a physically mixed population 
that it would be virtually impossible to conceive of a "mestizo" 
group arising from them. They nevertheless evolved their own dis- 
tinctive culture from many roots and continued to maintain their 
own Chamorro language. In this fact lies their special interest to 
the historical ethnologist. 

In summary, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, 
the Marianas formed a quiet, out-of-the-way corner of the Spanish 
colonial empire. When this empire disintegrated, with the loss of 
the New World colonies in the nineteenth century, the economic 
condition of the Marianas tended to regress as financial support 
from the mother country dwindled, and as the position of the islands 
on the Mexico-Philippines route no longer was of any real impor- 
tance to Spain. A number of governors sincerely attempted, with 
little or no success, to improve the economic position of the islands. 
Yet the very isolation of the Marianas tended to stabilize the hybrid 
culture that emerged during the century and a half following the 
conquest period. 

The Hispanicized Chamorro Culture 

"Hispanicized" is here taken in a very broad sense, and refers 
to changes in Chamorro culture occurring during the period of Span- 


ish lulministraLion of the Marianas through the medium of contact 
agents brought to the islands under the sponsorship of the Spanish 
authorities. Many introduced culture elements were actually not 
Spanish in origin. They came from either the Philippines or Mexico. 
It must be remembered that by the eighteenth century the Spanish 
in Mexico had been considerably acculturated through contact with 
Mexican Indians. It seems very likely that many inhabitants of 
Mexico- Indians, mestizos, and Spanish whites born in Mexico — 
came to the Marianas under secular or church auspices and were the 
agents through which much change was directly initiated. The 
Filipino immigrants that settled in the Marianas were Christianized 
and undoubtedly relatively acculturated. They were probably 
mostly Tagalogs, with some Visayans and Pampangans. 

The following brief outline describes certain outstanding charac- 
teristics of the hybrid Chamorro culture, which became relatively 
stabilized by the time of the resettlement of Saipan in the nineteenth 
century. Guam was the locale where this culture was formed. Rota, 
with but a few hundred inhabitants, was much less important. It 
is this culture which the Chamorros today consider traditional and 
which they refer to when they speak of costumbren Chamorro. The 
data that follow are derived partly from eighteenth and mid-nine- 
teenth century sources, partly from Safford (1905), who was an ob- 
servant reporter of the Chamorros at the commencement of American 
administration, and partly from Thompson (1947). In addition, I 
have projected into the past, data obtained through my own field 
work in cases when they refer to long-established customs. Certain 
points mentioned only briefly below, such as the system of land 
inheritance, of family organization, or of the concept of "hot" and 
"cold" are described in greater detail in later chapters. 

The local unit was a village or hamlet, on Guam subsidiary to 
the single town, Agana, which grew in relative importance when the 
Spanish established it as the capital of the island. A simple system 
of roads and trails connected these villages with Agana. On Rota, 
there were only trails. Transportation was by foot, or by kareta, 
the two-wheeled, Spanish, ox-drawn cart. The water buffalo was 
also used for transportation. Horses were introduced by the Span- 
ish but never thrived in the Marianas. 

Agafia, the capital town, contained most of the population. It 
was further distinguished by having a number of stone buildings — 
particularly the church and convento and government structures. 
The Spanish introduced stone masonry and tile roofs as architec- 


tural features, and these were first incorporated into the churches, 
parish houses, and government buildings. The more important sub- 
sidiary villages also possessed masonry churches and parish houses. 
Masonry, however, penetrated the domestic architecture to a much 
lesser degree and was the mark of the upper class. Wood houses 
with mat sides and thatch roofs, raised on posts, formed the usual 
type of domestic dwelling. Separate cook-houses were built at the 
side or rear of the main house. 

The Chamorros lived by subsistence agriculture supplemented 
by fishing. An extensive series of New World food plants was in- 
troduced into the Marianas. Of these, the most important was 
maize. Safford (1905, p. 24) points out that on the basis of Garcia's 
account maize was being grown on Guam as early as 1676 by the 
Spanish. It took hold among the Chamorros rapidly and became a 
staple crop. In addition, the sweet potato was an important new 
plant. Other food plants introduced from the New World and 
Europe included squashes, pumpkins, red peppers, cucumbers, toma- 
toes, onions, garlic, beans {Dolichos lahlab), eggplant, pineapple, 
cantaloupe, watermelon, lemons, limes, oranges, peanuts, coffee, ca- 
cao, and cassava. 

The Chamorros did not abandon their former food plants. Rice, 
taro, yams, bananas, breadfruit, coconuts, and sugar cane continued 
to be grown and used. Safford (1905, p. 359) notes that two new 
varieties of wet rice were introduced from the Philippines. To a 
degree, however, maize seems to have supplanted rice as a locally 
grown staple. After the resettlement of Saipan, rice was little 
grown by the Chamorros who migrated back to the island. Maize 
gives a more certain yield under the climatic conditions in the 
Marianas, though it has always been subject to the depredations of 
the introduced Norway rat, which was a pest in the eighteenth and 
nineteenth centuries, as well as at the present time. 

With these food plants came associated methods of planting and 
cultivation. Even today, most corn is planted in hills. Agricultural 
tools were simple, consisting primarily of the fosinos, or scuffle hoe, 
and the machete. Both were Spanish introductions, though Cha- 
morro machete forms often resemble Philippine holos. Slash-and- 
burn agriculture was practiced, with the necessary accompanying 
field rotation, but the land resources were adequate for the small 

The Spanish introduced the water buffalo, cattle, pigs, goats, cats, 
dogs, horses, mules, and probably chickens. The deer was intro- 


duced on Guam in the eighteenth century, multiplied rapidly, and 
was hunted for meat. These introduced animals increased markedly 
the sources of protein foods, which in pre-contact times were largely 
restricted to fish. However, beef and pork were primarily festal foods. 

Fish continued to be a significant part of the diet and were pro- 
cured by reef and shore fishing, principally through the use of nets, 
weirs, and hook and line. Philippine types of weirs, called gigau, 
were introduced and are still used today. However, it is interesting 
to note that the Chamorros lost touch with the sea. Their famous 
sailing outriggers were no longer built, and there was almost a com- 
plete loss of the skills associated with canoe-building, seamanship, 
and navigation. Only a small, paddling outrigger for inshore work 
continued to be made. By Freycinet's time (1819) the boats used 
for open-sea sailing were all built and manned by Carolinians who 
had come to the Marianas from the central Caroline atolls. 

The pre-contact, locally used narcotic was the betel nut, chewed 
with lime and the leaf of Piper betle. Tobacco was introduced by the 
Spanish and supplemented, but did not supplant, the betel nut, 
which is still in favor at the present time. 

Numerous craft technologies were brought by the Spanish. The 
blacksmith, the mason, the carpenter, the gold- and silversmith, the 
tailor, the cobbler, all became recognized craftsmen. Yet apparently 
specialization did not proceed to the point where men lived by these 
crafts alone. Perhaps there was a regression from a greater degree 
of specialization that once existed, but in the middle of the nine- 
teenth century Governor Corte (1876, p. 74) commented: 

Each person makes only the ropes and nets which he needs for his own 
use, and even the more indispensable duties, such as cultivation . . . are per- 
formed each for himself. Because of this there are no carpenters, nor masons, 
nor stoneworkers, nor shoemakers, nor tailors, nor blacksmiths who are these 
exclusively, but there are many who work in these capacities for themselves, 
or for others when it occurs to them to do so. 

Thus the introduction of these crafts, while enlarging the body 
of available techniques, did not really lead to the full specialization 
of labor that might have been expected. In Corte's time there were 
no stores, though he notes that "each house, more or less, is a selling 
establishment." In keeping with the rudimentary development of 
craft specialization, the market as a prominent feature of village or 
town life apparently never crystallized as an institution. 

Some old crafts were lost. One of these, the making of sewn 
plank, outrigger sailing canoes, has already been mentioned. The 


making of pottery was another craft that disappeared. In 1819 
Freycinet noted that pottery-making had been almost entirely aban- 
doned on Guam, the art of firing having been lost (Freycinet, 
1829 37, vol. II, p. 454). 

Within the hamlet, village, or town, the elementary family of 
parents and children was the residence unit. For subsistence, this 
unit was largely self-sufficient. Corte (1876, p. 37) noted that the 

. . . live isolated in their own families; each one plants what there is to 
eat, brings from the field what is needed, makes his house, his clothes, cares 
for his animals, or hunts or fishes . . . and if anyone needs anything from a 
relative or neighbor, he asks for it, he begs for it as a favor, or he pays for 
it more dearly than if he had bought it, even if it be from his father or his 

Within the family the man was the farmer and fisherman, the 
wife the housekeeper. Together with maize-growing, there diffused 
the techniques of its preparation for food. The three-legged Mexican 
metate of stone — or, in later years, concrete — was used for grinding 
the corn, often with a prehistoric pestle serving as a mano. This 
was women's work, as was the making of tortillas, tamales, and en- 
saladas, all favorite foods. The earth-oven tended to be abandoned 
in favor of a raised hearth set in the cook-house. The hotno, a bee- 
hive-shaped oven for baking bread, likewise was adopted. 

Land became individually owned, and a pattern of commuting 
between the village or town house and the farm developed. On the 
farm there was often a small shed or simple building, used as pro- 
tection while spending a night or two. Land was inherited through 
the institution of partido, a formal division of land among a couple's 
children. Surnames passed down in the paternal line, and whatever 
formalized clans or lineages that may once have existed passed away. 
Kinship was nevertheless widely extended and came into play par- 
ticularly at the time of crisis rites. Of these, baptism, marriage, 
and death came to be especially emphasized. Through their cele- 
bration, the sacred link of the family and individual to the church 
was affirmed; and by a system of inter-familial, reciprocal giving of 
gifts and services, the tie with relatives was renewed. The institution 
of compadrazgo became firmly established as a form of ritual kinship. 

The most conspicuous building of the settlement was the church, 
and Roman Catholicism was the accepted religion of all. After the 
expulsion of the Jesuits, the religious establishments on Guam tended 
to be understaffed. Corte (1876, p. 35) states that in the early 


years of the nineteenth century, the population was distributed in 
Agaiia, Umatac, Agat, Inarajan, Merizo, Pago, and Rota, that all 
had churches, but that rarely were there priests for all. The par- 
ticular characteristics of the religious life of the period are little 
reported. The Virgin Mary occupied a special position of honor 
and esteem. The family novena became well established. The 
secular aspects of the celebration of novenas and crisis rites seem to 
have developed more than these same aspects associated with cal- 
endrical religious feast days. Marriage was celebrated as a church 
rite. The pre-contact men's house was abolished. 

Although Catholicism was the accepted religion, a strong belief 
in the potential danger of ghosts of the dead remained and became 
crystallized in the concept of the taotaomona, the spirits of the an- 
cient and pagan Chamorros. Thompson believes that this was a 
post-conquest formulation, but undoubtedly it was a rephrasing of 
ancient concepts. Those aspects of magic associated with the curing of 
disease continued in existence, though much curing was based largely 
on the use of herbs, and was practiced principally by old women 
called suruhana. In addition, the Spanish brought concepts of hu- 
moral pathology — in particular the division of foods, plants, medicines, 
disease, and human nature into "hot" and "cold" categories, with 
the concept of health equated to a balance in the body of "hotness" 
and "coldness." Pregnancy and menstruation were conceived to be 
dangerous states, and various restrictions on conduct were imposed 
on women at these times. 

The first missionaries decided that the Chamorros should adopt 
western clothing, which was one reason cotton was brought to the 
islands. But the growing of cotton and its weaving into cloth was 
finally abandoned, and cloth was imported. Men wore a shirt and 
trousers, and women wore a skirt and blouse, though while working 
it was customary for men to wear only shorts. On Rota, life was 
simpler, and clothing was at a minimum even in the nineteenth 
century. The festive Filipina mestiza dress for women was intro- 
duced from the Philippines and is still worn by older women today. 

The Jesuits brought musical instruments, and the Chamorros 
likewise adopted Spanish dances. The Chamorrita, the Chamorro 
folk song, was a much-used vehicle for expressing everything from 
moral precepts to sentiments of love. Cockfighting on Sundays 
after mass became a favorite amusement. 

The Chamorro language was reduced to writing by the priests 
for purposes of religious instruction. It is doubtful that many 


people were literate, however, though prestige was accorded to literacy. 
Great numbers of Spanish loan words were borrowed, including the 
Spanish number system and the Spanish system of weights and 
measures, which superseded that of the Chamorros. Yet, despite 
this extensive borrowing and despite the great decimation of the 
full-blood Chamorro population after the conquest, it was neither 
Spanish nor Tagalog that became the language of the islands. 
Probably because few Philippine, Mexican, or Spanish women mi- 
grated to the Marianas, the mothers of each succeeding generation 
were Chamorro-speaking, a fact that Safford believes to have been 
responsible for the survival of the language. Chamorro is the lan- 
guage of the Chamorro people today. 

V. Resettlement of Saipan 

For more than a century the islands north of Rota remained 
uninhabited. They were not completely deserted, for hunters from 
Guam visited Tinian periodically, searching for wild cattle. A full 
account of this activity is given by Walter, the chaplain and chroni- 
cler of Anson's voyage. In 1742, Anson landed on Tinian, with his 
crew in desperate condition through the ravages of scurvy. He spent 
several months on Tinian, where he found great numbers of cattle, 
hogs, and fowl, as well as large supplies of sour oranges, limes, 
lemons, coconuts, and breadfruit. Tinian's abundance allowed An- 
son's men to recuperate, and the island has never before or since 
been described in such glowing terms as those contained in Anson's 

When Anson landed on Tinian, he captured a small Spanish bark 
of about fifteen tons, lying at anchor in Tinian harbor, a Chamorro 
sailing outrigger canoe, and a Spaniard and several Chamorro men. 
The Spaniard was a sergeant in charge of a party of twenty-two 
Chamorros who had come to Tinian to kill cattle and hogs, the meat 
of which was to be dried and taken to Guam to supply the garrison. 
Whether Tinian's cattle and hogs were introduced prior to the aban- 
donment of the island or early in the eighteenth century is not clear. 
In any case, they multiplied rapidly, for in the Anson account the 
cattle alone were estimated as numbering at least ten thousand head 
(Anson, 1748, p. 309). 

Tinian continued to be used as a provision storehouse for Guam 
through the remainder of the eighteenth century. The island was 
visited by Byron in 1765, Wallis in 1767, Gilbert in 1788, and Mor- 
timer in 1789. Mortimer (1791, pp. 65 66), who landed on Tinian 
to secure provisions and water, stated that his party "found several 
huts erected by the Spaniards, who came here annually from their 
settlement at Guam to procure beef . . . ," though Mortimer found 
no one actually living on the island. Whether Saipan was used in 
similar fashion is not known. Probably because it had a more ac- 
cessible harbor and had become known through Anson's account, 



the few non-Spanish ships passing through the Marianas found it 
more expedient to stop at Tinian than at Saipan. 

In the early nineteenth century, however, attempts were made 
to settle Saipan, as well as Agrihan. Chamisso notes that in 1810, 
a Captain Brown, commander of the ship Derby, with one Johnson 
and several Hawaiians, sailed for Agrihan but missed the island and 
turned south to Tinian. Here two parties formed: one consisted of 
Johnson, four other white men, and the Hawaiians, who were to 
build a boat and sail north to Agrihan; the other consisted of the 
second mate and three other men, who received their discharge from 
the ship, bought a longboat from the captain, and prepared to 
overhaul it for "commercial purposes," possibly intending to use it 
for trading with passing American vessels, which were beginning to 
stop at the Marianas. Captain Brown presumably went on his way. 
The two parties moved from Tinian to Saipan, which had better 
supplies of timber. When the mate finished his longboat, the Ha- 
waiians rose up and killed the mate and one other white man. In the 
meantime, the Spanish governor heard of the presence of strangers 
on Saipan and in June, 1810, brought Johnson, four other whites, 
two negroes, and twelve Polynesians — seven men and five women — 
to Guam. Johnson thereafter made Guam his home (Chamisso, in 
Kotzebue, 1821, vol. Ill, pp. 87-88). 

In 1815, the Spanish broke up a settlement on Agrihan, consisting 
of some forty persons, including three Englishmen, one American, 
and the remainder Hawaiians. At the time of Chamisso's visit in 
1818, another settlement had already formed on Agrihan (Chamisso, 
op. cit., p. 88). Arago speaks of an American vessel that had been 
wrecked on Agrihan, the survivors being taken to Guam by the Span- 
ish; this account may refer to one of these groups (Arago, 1823, p. 10). 

These attempts to resettle the islands north of Guam were transi- 
tory. The actual resettlement of Saipan was part of a quite different 
series of events, which concern the trading voyages and migrations 
of Caroline Islanders northward to the Marianas. It was the Caro- 
linians, who, in the nineteenth century, resettled Saipan. 

Among the most adventurous and competent sailors and navi- 
gators of Micronesia were the inhabitants of the low-lying atolls 
of the central and western Carolines. Don Luis de Torres, vice- 
governor of Guam during the early part of the nineteenth century, 
was a careful observer of both the Chamorros and the Carolinians 
who visited Guam. De Torres himself made a trip to Ulithi in 1804. 
The Carolinians told de Torres that "they had previously had com- 

70 - SAIPAN 

mercial intercourse with the inhabitants of this island [Guam], and 
only given it up on hearing of the settlement of the white men, and 
having themselves been witness of their cruelty." (Kotzebue, 1821, 
vol. II, p. 240.) It seems probable that the Spanish conquest forced 
a break in relations long established between the Caroline islanders 
and the Chamorros of Guam. The Carolinians returned in 1788, 
but on the trip back their fleet of canoes was lost in a storm and it 
was not until the turn of the nineteenth century, in 1805, that they 
again made regular trading trips by canoe to Guam (Kotzebue, op. 
cit., pp. 241 ff.). 

The commodity that drew the Carolinians to Guam in the nine- 
teenth century was iron, which they traded for their own handicraft. 
In addition, by this time the Chamorros were no longer canoe- 
builders and navigators. The canoes described by Anson in 1742 
were apparently built and sailed by Chamorros, but Freycinet, who 
visited the Marianas in 1819, noted that ''the boats that are used to 
sail between the islands today are built in the Carolines and are 
handled by sailors from that group." (Freycinet, 1829 37, vol. II, 
p. 459.) The Carolinians eventually provided the principal trans- 
portation between Guam, Rota, Tinian — the latter still valuable to 
Guam as a source of meat supplies and eventually Saipan. 

The accepted date for the settlement of Saipan by the Carolinians 
is 1815. The Carolinians are said to have requested permission to 
settle on Saipan because their home islands were devastated by a 
typhoon. Their request was granted, provided they would transport 
dried beef and pork from Tinian to Guam. The source of this in- 
formation is Corte (1876) and as he was generally well informed 
there is little reason to doubt his statement. Chamisso has listed 
Carolinian islanders who were living on Guam in 1816 (in Kotzebue, 
1821, vol. Ill, p. 91) while Freycinet (1829-37, vol. II, p. 327) 
stated that on Saipan in 1819 houses were just beginning to be built, 
four already being occupied by Carolinians from "Lamoursek" 
(probably Lamotrek). Freycinet himself did not land on Saipan, 
though Gaudichard, Arago, and B^rard of his party visited Tinian, 
where a few Carolinians were staying, as well as a Chamorro alcalde, 
and confirmed the fact that Saipan was being settled (Arago, 1823). 
There is no doubt that by the early years of the nineteenth century 
the Carolinians were moving to Saipan as well as to Guam. 

The Carolinians continued to maintain regular trade relations 
with Guam, as well as to migrate to the Marianas. In 1849, a canoe 
arrived at Guam from Satawal, and next day two more from Lamo- 


trek, the crews and passengers being permitted to settle at Maria 
Christina, a small Carolinian village near Agaiia. By this time, the 
Carolinians had founded the town of Garapan on Saipan's west 
coast. In 1851, the population of the island was 267 (Diccionario 
historico, 1851). When Sanchez (1865 66, pp. 258, 298) visited 
Saipan some years later, in 1865, he reported that Garapan had 424 
Carolinian inhabitants and 9 Chamorros, one of whom was the al- 
calde. Sanchez was much impressed with the appearance of the 
Carolinians and with their skill as canoe-builders and sailors. 

Tinian had been by-passed by this movement of Carolinians 
northward to Saipan, though Tinian continued to be used as a source 
of meat supply for Guam. Corte (1876, pp. 82-83), governor of the 
Marianas from 1855 to 1866, stated that only about 20 persons were 
on Tinian, including a number of lepers. Cattle and hogs were 
killed on Tinian, and the meat was dried and shipped for sale to 
Guam on Carolinian canoes. Corte estimated that there were 800 
cattle and about 3,000 hogs running wild on the island. Sanchez 
(1865 66, p. 212) visited Tinian in 1865 and stated that the village 
of Sunharon, at the harbor, had about a half-dozen houses, containing 
15 persons, who came from Agana and were employed in killing 
cattle and drying meat. These people were rotated back to Agana 
every two years. In addition, Sanchez noted on the eastern side of 
the island a "hospital" for lepers, containing "three wretched mor- 
tals," attended by the same people engaged in killing cattle. The 
United States Trust Territory's colony for the treatment of Hansen's 
Disease, presently located on Tinian, thus has had less distinguished 

In 1869, however, an attempt was made to establish a more per- 
manent settlement on Tinian, when one H. G. Johnson obtained a 
concession that gave him the usufruct of Tinian for eight years. 
He imported some 230 Caroline islanders from Namonuito. The 
baptismal records of the Chalan Kanoa church on Saipan show a 
considerable number of baptisms of these Carolinians performed on 
Tinian in July, 1871. The colony, however, was not successful. 
Johnson died in 1875 and a number of years later the people moved 
to Saipan. On Saipan today the village of Tanapag is largely in- 
habited by descendants of these islanders, who have held themselves 
socially somewhat apart from the Garapan Carolinians. 

The Chamorros did not return to Saipan in any number until 
the Carolinians had long been established there. If Sanchez is cor- 
rect, there were only nine Chamorros on Saipan in 1865. The Cha- 


morros migrating to Saipan also settled at Garapan. Corte wrote 
that Garapan was divided into three barrios, one of Chamorros and 
two of Carolinians, but it is not clear to what year this condition is 
to be referred. Ibanez (1886, p. 142) noted that the census of 1872 
gave Saipan 425 inhabitants, though he gave few other details. 
Governor Olive (1887, p. 52), reporting for the year 1886, stated 
that there was one town on Saipan — namely, Garapan divided into 
three barrios, the northern one being Chamorro and the southern 
two Carolinian; that there were 145 houses in the town; and that 
the total population numbered 849, of which two-thirds were Caro- 
linian. This figure was confirmed by Marche (1891, p. 251), who 
visited the island in 1887. The general trend in the population 
growth on Saipan is also given in an official report on the Marianas 
in 1885 (Islas Marianas, Informe . . . , 1885), which gives the fol- 
lowing population totals for Saipan: 1835, 128; 1863, 420; 1881, 
751; 1885, 797. In the last two decades of the nineteenth century 
the number of Chamorros on Saipan slowly increased, with a marked 
influx in the early years of the German regime. 

These two groups the Carolinians and the Chamorros who 
resettled Saipan in the nineteenth century maintained their separate 
social and cultural identity. As Joseph and Murray (1951, p. 29) 
have pointed out, each group preserved its own language and cus- 
toms. By this time the hybrid Chamorro culture had crystallized, 
and though there were numerous individual culture traits shared by 
the Chamorros and their Carolinian neighbors, the cultures of each 
had markedly different configurations. The Carolinians clung to 
their own dress, their house types, and their canoe-building. The 
women were taro-, yam-, and sweet-potato-growers; the men were 
fishermen. The Carolinians also preserved the essential features 
of their social organization, including maternal lineages and clans, 
the men's house, patterns of sex relationships, the widespread 
practice of adoption, and their system of chieftainship. They con- 
tinued their ancient dances. They remained only superficially af- 
fected by the forms of Catholic ritual. In all these features of life 
they differed from the Chamorros. 

Chamorro culture, westernized in a seventeenth and eighteenth 
century sense, also included attitudes of superiority towards the 
Carolinians. The Spanish administrative system, extended weakly 
to Saipan, was nonetheless in the hands of the Chamorros. Sanchez 
(1865 66, p. 258) remarked on the simplicity and docility of the 
Carolinians and their respect for the few Chamorro residents, who 


were really in authority. There was apparently little tension and 
relations were amicable enough, but there is little doubt, from state- 
ments that go back to Chamisso's day, that the Chamorros con- 
sidered themselves decidedly superior to their unacculturated neigh- 
bors. A reflection of this was caught by Safford (1933 34) on Guam 
in 1900, during the first year of American occupation, when he 
observed : 

The Guam people treat the Caroline islanders kindly, but look upon 
them as savages and heathen. On one occasion I asked a Chamorro lady 
why the ladies of Guam do not wear flowers in their hair when going to a 
fandango. She replied, "Why seiior, do you take us for Carolinas?" 

Nevertheless, though the two groups of Chamorros and Caro- 
linians preserved their separateness, they both lived on one island, 
in one principal town- Garapan (and later a small subsidiary village, 
Tanapag) and formed a single Saipan community. If Guam was 
a remote corner of the Pacific world, Saipan was even more so. 
During the mid-nineteenth century and just before, the Marianas 
were frequently visited by whaling ships, but this was a transitory 
phase in the nineteenth-century history of Saipan. Sanchez, for 
1865, stated that "no one visits the Marianas except perhaps some 
English or American whaling ship," and, with regard to Saipan, 
". . . scarcely a single vessel comes here." (Sanchez, 1865-66, p. 
365.) Except for the Carolinian canoes, there was no inter-island 

A few contemporary notes fill out the picture of Saipan in the 
nineteenth century. Most of these relate to the Carolinians. They 
maintained a canoe-building yard, where Sanchez saw two vessels 
being built and several others careening, and where the pilots had 
an informal school for the young. Every year in the spring months 
the Carolinians made trips to Guam during the good weather. On 
these trips they brought dried meat from Tinian, as well as some 
pigs, a little tobacco, and coconut line cables and ropes, made lo- 
cally on Saipan. 

Corte (1876) provides the following description of the island: 

The island is covered everywhere by a luxuriant forest growth with many 
coconut palms and breadfruit trees, while ifil, dago, and other timber trees 
of the same type as those in Guam grow sparingly. All the different types 
of plants which grow on Guam are found on Saipan or can be raised there, 
while some things — tobacco, for instance — grow better. No produce, how^ever, 
is cultivated in quantity because the people, being very few in numbers and 
of simple wants in the midst of great abundance, are satisfied to plant a few 
camotes and to raise a few pigs and chickens for the occasional whaling ships 


that pass by ... . The islanders also grow a small tobacco crop which they 
bring to Guam for sale or barter. 

Corte noted that the houses on Garapan were arranged on either 
side of broad streets that made it the best town of the islands, after 
Agana. The town included a timber chapel or church, a residence 
for the alcalde and one for the missionary, though at the time of 
Corte's visit there was no priest in residence. Periodically, priests 
came to Saipan from Guam to baptize children and perform mar- 
riages. The oldest baptism recorded in the Chalan Kanoa church 
records is dated 1856. In 1865, Sanchez (1865-66, pp. 260 261) 
noted that the Carolinians "have scarcely any notion of Christi- 
anity." Toward the end of the Spanish period, however, Augus- 
tinian priests were in residence, and the Catholic missionaries were 
more active. Elderly Chamorros remember Padre Thomas Queba, 
who built a masonry church at Garapan. At the end of the century, 
Tanapag village, a few miles north of Garapan, had become estab- 
lished, and here too a small masonry chapel was built. 

The Spanish-American War at the close of the nineteenth century 
marked the final disintegration of the Spanish colonial empire. 
Guam passed to American hands, and Germany purchased all the 
Mariana Islands north of Guam. With this event, the Marianas 
entered a new phase in their history. Thereafter, the cultural in- 
fluences affecting Guam largely stemmed from contact with Ameri- 
cans, while German, and, later, Japanese influences were important 
on Saipan. 

VL German Colony 

In November, 1899, Germany formally took over the administra- 
tion of the Mariana Islands north of Guam. During the first years 
of the German administration, the Marianas formed a separate dis- 
trict in the Sudsee Gebiet. In 1907, the islands were combined with 
the Palaus and the western Carolines into a single district, with 
headquarters on Yap. A station director resided on Saipan, and he, 
together with a small staff, administered the Marianas. 

At no time during the German regime was there more than a 
handful of German nationals on Saipan. Yet the arrival of German 
officials brought marked changes in the administration of Saipan 
and the other islands under German control. Although the Germans 
were primarily interested in the copra resources of the islands, they 
introduced a series of measures that altered very considerably the 
type of administration under which the Chamorros and Carolinians 

Public health measures under the Spanish regime had been 
virtually non-existent. The German administration immediately 
started wholesale vaccinations for smallpox, which in the centuries 
past had been a scourge of the Chamorro population. The Germans 
also provided the regular services of a government doctor. After a 
visit from the famous Koch, yaws ceased to be diagnosed as leprosy, 
and it was recognized locally that the former should not be confused 
with syphilis. 

At the same time, in the first years of German administration 
an attempt was made to establish schools on Saipan. The first 
government report notes that two schools were started on Saipan — 
one at Garapan and one at Tanapag and one on Rota, under 
Chamorro teachers. These efforts were not entirely successful until 
1905, when a German teacher arrived on Saipan to take charge of 
the administration's educational program. In the second year after 
his arrival, 254 pupils attended school on Saipan — 179 Chamorros, 
74 Carolinians, and one Spaniard- with an advanced class of nine 
pupils (German Govt., 1906 07, p. 4137). By 1912 the school had 



grown to 385 pupils, with an additional special school for interpreters 
(German Govt., li)12 13, {). 181). Subjects included the reading 
and writing of German, arithmetic, Biblical history, geography, 
music, and calisthenics. Formal instruction was undoubtedly on 
"fundamentals," but judging from the number of middle-aged 
people on Saipan today who speak German and who still know "Ich 
weiss nicht was soil es bedeuten," the instruction was thorough. The 
learning of English was not encouraged, and according to a state- 
ment by Fritz, the governor of the Marianas, the speaking of Eng- 
lish was prohibited. 

The Germans also sent a few young men off the island to secure 
vocational education. Several Chamorros, three of whom are living 
today, went to the German colony at Tsingtao to learn the crafts 
of carpentry, blacksmithing, and shoe-making, while one, Gregorio 
Sablan, became a school teacher and a remarkably well-educated 
man, with a full command of at least five languages. Two other 
young Chamorros went to Germany for schooling. Four were sent 
to the Yap headquarters to be trained as cable station operators. 

In political affairs, the German administration retained for the 
most the Spanish system of alcaldes and subordinate officials, but 
the functions of these became largely a matter of carrying out the 
instructions issued by the German officials. Judicial matters were 
taken out of the hands of the local people. Each village had a local 
resident as its head and the village was in turn divided into dis- 
tricts, each headed also by a resident, who reported cases of illness, 
kept the census records, collected taxes, secured laborers for con- 
struction of public works, and reported unusual occurrences. These 
officials were appointed, but their choice was influenced by popular 
preference, so that an attempt was made to gain community con- 
fidence in the system of administration. The various officials also 
received a small salary for their services. There is little doubt that 
the German administration was much more efficient and better or- 
ganized than the casual Spanish one that had preceded it. It was 
a system designed for order and eflficiency, however, and not pri- 
marily for training in local self-government. 

The Germans also established a police force. At first a few 
Malayans were brought to the Marianas for this purpose, but they 
were early replaced by Chamorros and Carolinians. The German 
administration recognized that the peaceful nature of the popula- 
tion hardly made the police force necessary, but through the incul- 
cation of "habits of punctuality and obedience, of co-operation, and 


of comradeship between Chamorros and Carolinians" among the 
members of the force, it served a worth-while purpose (German 
Gov't., 1900-01, p. 1951). Fritz (1904) noted that petty thievery, 
especially as regards food and fowl, was widespread, but that of- 
fenses against life were very rare. 

The German administration levied a yearly poll tax of three 
marks and continued in a more effective manner a work tax inherited 
from the Spanish regime. Under the Spanish, all men between the 
ages of eighteen and sixty were required to work for the government 
fifteen days a year, though the required period was apparently 
never worked off, or the work was performed only nominally. With 
the Germans, every male between the ages of fifteen and fifty was 
required to aid in the construction of public works; married men 
worked for twelve days and bachelors for twenty days a year, 
without remuneration (German Gov't., 1899-1900, p. 1006). Sai- 
pan's first adequate road system was built under this regime. 

In addition to setting up yearly records on vital statistics and 
instituting a series of minor ordinances, the German administration 
focused its attention on land problems and policy. The major 
German effort in the Marianas was directed toward copra production. 
In stimulating copra exports the Germans found it necessary to 
rely on the Chamorros and Carolinians, so that the relation of the 
local population to its land resources was an important consideration. 
Accordingly, a number of measures were instituted, certain of which 
are briefly noted. 

During the Spanish period, a few Chamorro families on Saipan 
obtained very large grants of land for grazing purposes, though 
there is no evidence that these lands were ever put to use. When 
the Germans assumed control of the island, they revoked these 
grants but allowed the holders to retain sufficient land for their 
needs, in amounts that they could handle. The remainder of these 
grants was incorporated into the public domain, which was then 
opened to homesteading by Chamorros and Carolinians. The Ger- 
man government recorded all titles to land and issued certificates 
covering such titles to individual owners. They also allowed the 
leasing, though not the homesteading, of public domain to German 
colonists on very reasonable terms, but were unsuccessful in drawing 
more than a very few adventurous souls of German nationality to 
the Marianas. Finally, in 1904, all foreign real estate, consisting 
principally of a few Japanese holdings, passed into the hands of the 
German government or the Chamorros. 


At the same time, the Germans attempted to maintain sub- 
sistence agriculture by decreeing that any person owning a piece of 
land was obliged to set out one-quarter of a hectare in food plants. 
Governor Fritz reported that this edict was necessary, for many 
owners neglected to make adequate plantings of maize, sweet pota- 
toes, and other food crops. A similar decree had been passed by 
the Spanish, though probably it was never enforced. Copra plant- 
ings increased in German times, but Fritz noted that the great 
majority of persons preferred to harvest the numerous wild coconuts 
and to buy imported rice with the proceeds. Saipan never became 
a really large-scale copra-producing island, and the entire Marianas 
never produced more than a few hundred tons a year. 

At least partly because of the German homestead plan, the 

early years of the twentieth century saw a steady migration of 

Chamorros from Guam to the German Marianas, particularly to 

Saipan. This immigration was complemented by a surplus of births 

over deaths, so that the German period was one of marked popula- 

.f tion increase. The following figures on population totals for the 

German Marianas reflect this trend (German Gov't., 1900 01; 

1903-04; 1911-12). 

1901 1904 1912 

Chamorros 1,330 1,686 1,920 

Carolinians 772 897 1,109 

The migration from Guam included some 100 Carolinians. The 
new American administration on Guam made a misguided effort to 
induce the Carolinian colony on Guam to adopt Western clothing 
and customs; the colony accordingly moved north and joined its 
fellow Carolinians on Saipan. Also, in 1902 there were some Caro- 
linians on Rota, some on Tinian, a few copra workers on Agrihan, 
Sariguan, and Alamagan and about 100 Carolinians on Pagan (U. S. 
Navy Department, Handbook, 1944, p. 34). During the German 
period there were two terrific typhoons, one in 1905 and another in 
1907, in the Carolines and some of the population of the devastated 
atolls were temporarily placed on Saipan. Also on Saipan for a time 
was a group of banished Samoans, numbering between 60 and 70. 
They are remembered today for their large stature and equally 
large appetites. 

During the latter part of the nineteenth century, Japanese traders 
extended their activities to the Marianas, consequent upon the de- 
velopment of the copra trade in the Pacific. In the ensuing German 
period, shipping and trade were primarily in the hands of the Japa- 


nese. In 1906, there were two Japanese firms operating in the 
Marianas: the Hiki Company and the Murayama Company. In 
1907, the two firms combined to form the Nanyo Boeki Kaisha, 
which became a large and important concern in Micronesia (U. S. 
Navy Department, Handbook, 1944, pp. 28-29). Most of the 
shipping, varying from some sixteen to thirty ships a year, was 
Japanese, and the whole Marianas trade gravitated toward Yoko- 
hama. In addition, three German and German-Chamorro firms 
were organized: the Marianas Handelsgesellschaft, which leased the 
northern bird islands; the Tinian Gesellschaft, which exploited 
Tinian's livestock; and the Pagan Gesellschaft, which leased the 
four principal northern copra-growing islands in order to increase 
copra exports. Though the economic development of the Marianas 
during the German period was very modest, it did result in an in- 
flow of imported goods. The ships that called at Saipan, together 
with the official German mail boat, which called about every two 
months on its run through German Micronesia, Hong Kong, and 
Sidney, also increased very considerably the contacts of the Mari- 
anas with Japan and other parts of the Pacific. 

What was the effect of the German administration on Chamorro 
and Carolinian society and culture? An important point is the set 
of values and attitudes that the handful of German administrators 
brought with them. The principal source of the period is the mono- 
graph on the Chamorros and a series of related papers by Fritz, the 
first German governor. As Joseph and Murray (1951, pp. 42 ff.) 
have so well pointed out, Fritz's writings are as illuminating for the 
insight they give into German attitudes as they are for the ethno- 
graphic information they contain. These same attitudes tend to 
be reflected in the official German government reports and in the 
papers of other German visitors and officials. Briefly, the following 
axioms that governed German attitudes deserve comment: 

(1) Work in itself is a virtue. It should further be directed 
toward the earning and saving of money. The first government 
report states (German Gov't., 1899 1900, p. 1006): "Our task as 
regards the education of the natives is clear . . . [they] must be 
trained to work; they must be encouraged to earn and to save 
money." In another place, the report states: "Unfortunately, the 
desire to earn and to save money is not very strong in either of the 
two groups [Chamorros and Carolinians], and this . . . hampers their 
development. Natural resources supply them with everything they 
need for their very simple way of living, so that very little work is 


needed; a great deal of the work, it should be mentioned, is per- 
formed by women." 

(2) Order and efficiency, as reflected in punctuality, obedience, 
and technical knowledge, are desirable ends. Again, the first official 
report notes that the first school was more successful in training 
children in orderliness and punctuality than in teaching them the 
content of the instruction. The local police force was considered 
primarily of value in inculcating habits of punctuality, obedience, 
and co-operation. The laxness of the Spanish regime is commented 
on and the efforts taken to tighten the administration are described. 

(3) Progress toward civilization in the Marianas is to be meas- 
ured in large degree in economic development and in higher stand- 
ards of living. Coupled with this, the local residents should be 
taught the German language, and respect for German traditions 
and customs. 

What was the effect of these attitudes of members of the con- 
trolling power on the Chamorros and Carolinians? First, so far as 
one can tell, the Carolinians were much less affected than the Cha- 
morros. The marked social and cultural differences between the 
two groups continued, and though skills such as canoe-building and 
navigation seem to have declined among the Carolinians, and 
though cultural change occurred among them, they appear to have 
remained attached to their own way of life. 

The Chamorros were certainly more affected. Costenoble (1905, 
pp. 80 81) remarked that the Chamorros showed an "unmistakable 
urge toward progress" but the Carolinians displayed none. It was 
the Chamorros who were sent to Tsingtao, Germany, or the Yap 
headquarters for special training in various skills. It was from the 
Chamorros that the principal response came to urgings to work and 
save. Among the Chamorros were a few who worked to amass land 
holdings through the homestead plan, who started a soap factory, 
who seriously specialized in craft skills, and who became school 
teachers. It seems reasonably certain that the German period saw 
a widening of the range of Chamorro material wants, an increased 
acceptance of a money economy, a greater receptivity to foreign 
ideas as Saipan's contacts widened, and probably a more pronounced 
equating of wealth to status. In the attitude toward work as a 
virtue in itself, the Chamorros today are much closer to Germans 
and Japanese than are the Carolinians, and it is possible that the 
German administration stimulated change in this direction among 


the Chai-norro group. Work in itself, however, is not the pronounced 
and emphasized virtue among the Chamorros today that it is among 
the Germans and Japanese, as well as in other parts of Europe and 
in parts of America. Among many South Sea communities, the 
value of work is judged according to the immediate ends involved, 
a fact that few foreigners have realized, as the significance of the 
particular ends in the local cultures is seldom appreciated. 

As Joseph and Murray have pointed out, the German period on 
Saipan is now regarded as the "good old days." No doubt this is 
partly the result of looking at the past through rose-colored glasses 
— a characteristic of all humans. Yet on post-war Saipan today 
there are certain rather obvious comparisons that the middle-aged 
can easily make. In German times, no bloody invasion with all 
the modern instruments of destruction had passed over the island. 
The resources were still intact. There was ample fertile land. Life 
was leisurely. The German regime maintained order and stability. 
There was a modest outlet for those who wished to strive for wealth 
and knowledge. The Chamorros, used to being under authority, 
could not have found German colonialism particularly oppressive. 
In the words of Gregorio Sablan (1926, p. 371), who lived on Saipan 
in this period, "From the very beginning of the German administra- 
tion the natives of Saipan were quite contented, because the Ger- 
mans have shown themselves to be highly cultured and of refined 

Although there was a widening of off-island contacts, an expan- 
sion of world-view, and developing differentials in wealth, literacy, 
knowledge, and social status among the Chamorros, the essential 
configuration of Chamorro culture and the major outlines of their 
social organization do not appear to have been greatly modified in 
German times. From Fritz's monograph, we learn that surviving 
elements of early forms of material culture, such as the head rest, 
were disappearing, and that new items, such as sewing machines, 
were coming into widespread use. Yet the Chamorros continued as 
a folk society, maintaining their traditional costumbren Chamorro^- 
that core of usages centering around family, farm, and church. As 
for the latter, the Spanish Augustinians were replaced by German 
Capuchins. Fritz was not impressed with the piety of the Chamor- 
ros, pointing out their continuing belief in ghosts and spirits, yet 
such apparent contradictions are of common occurrence in mission- 
ized societies and the fact does not negate the acceptance of Christian 
ritual and basic dogma. Chamorro culture on Saipan represented a 


continuation into the German period of the hybrid form crystallized 
in previous years, with some modification and addition to culture 
content through contact with German residents. 

VIL Japanese Mandate 

The relatively brief period of German administration in the 
Marianas came to a close with World War I. In October, 1914, the 
Japanese navy took possession of Saipan and the other German 
islands in the Marianas. The remainder of German Micronesia 
was likewise seized by the Japanese. A naval administration was 
established, with headquarters at Truk and with a number of 
subordinate administrative districts, of which the former German 
Marianas was one, with Saipan as the local headquarters. 

After the end of the war, Japan, firmly established in Micro- 
nesia, was awarded a League of Nations mandate over the former 
German Pacific possessions north of the equator on terms advanta- 
geous for the extension of her empire. In accordance with the man- 
date agreement, Japanese armed forces were withdrawn from the 
islands and in 1922 a civil administration, the South Seas Govern- 
ment, replaced the navy as the administering authority. With the 
inauguration of a civilian administration, the economic development 
of the limited resources of the Micronesian islands received in- 
creased impetus that steadily intensified until World War II. Under 
the South Seas Government, the headquarters were shifted from 
Truk to Koror. The Marianas remained a district, administered 
from Saipan. 

I do not propose to document in detail the history of the Japanese 
mandate, but rather to sketch the major events of the period as 
they affected Saipan. For further information the reader is referred 
to sources listed in the bibliography. 

During the period of Japanese naval administration on Saipan, 
the outward appearance of the island did not change radically. 
Crampton (1921), who visited the island in 1920, found that Garapan 
was inhabited by less than 3,000 people, of whom a few score were 
Japanese officials and traders and the remainder Chamorros and 
Carolinians. The latter still wore their traditional dress. The town 
extended along the shores for a mile or so; the houses for the most 
part were built of wood and thatch with a few stone buildings. In 



Ihe countryside were to be found some Japanese plantations, as well 
as the small farms of the Chamorros and Carolinians. The intro- 
duced coconut beetle was raising havoc with the coconut palms. 
However, Saipan's agriculture resources were not yet heavily 

The Japanese early realized the suitability of Saipan for the 
growing of sugar cane. Their first ventures wei;e not particularly 
successful, but, with the formation in 1922 of the Nanyo Kohatsu 
Kabushiki Kaisha (South Seas Development Company, or more 
popularly "NKK"), plans for large-scale sugar production crystal- 
lized. From this date until the coming of World War II, Saipan 
became more and more intensively developed as a large-scale pro- 
ducer of sugar. By 1940 the exports of sugar from Saipan were 
valued at 6,644,000 yen (Oliver, 1951, p. 34). The growing and 
processing of sugar cane dominated the lives and activities of 
Saipan's population. 

An important role in the development of the sugar industry was 
played by the Japanese government, who leased public domain to 
the South Seas Development Company. For the first years this 
land was leased rent free; later, as operations expanded, a charge 
was made. The sugar company built a large mill and town for the 
mill workers at Chalan Kanoa and installed a narrow gauge railroad 
around the island to haul the cane from the fields to the mill. Even- 
tually, virtually all arable land was cleared for fields. The coconut 
palms were by this time in very bad condition due to the depredation 
of pests and were largely removed. Most of the land leased by the 
sugar company was in turn rented out to tenant farmers, who pro- 
duced cane under contract and under the supervision of the company. 
Saipan was the first island to be developed as a sugar producer, but 
the industry was soon extended to Tinian, whose production ex- 
ceeded that of Saipan by 1940. A mill was also built on Rota 
shortly before the war, and that island was in process of development 
when the war terminated further activity. 

On Saipan, Japanese enterprise extended into other fields of 
agriculture. Coffee, cassava, and pineapples were all cultivated, 
though on a minor scale compared to sugar. During the latter 
part of the Japanese period, commercial fishing also became im- 
portant, the principal catch being bonito. Commercial fishing was 
entirely in the hands of Japanese nationals, primarily Okinawans. 

In the economic development of Saipan, the Japanese followed 
a policy radically different from that of the Germans. The latter 


had attempted to develop a copra industry based on Chamorro and 
Carolinian labor, organized essentially on the basis of a household 
economy. The Japanese by-passed the Chamorros and Carolinians 
completely and brought thousands of Japanese nationals to the is- 
land. The Japanese policy involved none of the difficulties in chang- 
ing the work habits and values of a subject population that the 
Germans had experienced. In addition to simplifying labor prob- 
lems, the migration of Japanese nationals provided an outlet, albeit 
a minor one, for Japan's surplus population. The growth of the 
Japanese population was remarkable. In the Marianas north of 
Guam there were 1,758 Japanese in 1920; 15,656 in 1930; and 42,547 
in 1937. The Japanese population on Saipan increased from a mere 
handful at the beginning of the Japanese regime to 20,696 in 1937 
(U. S. Navy Department, Handbook, 1944, pp. 34 35). This in- 
crease continued until the outbreak of World War II, though statis- 
tics are not available. The bulk of the immigration came from 
Okinawa, which supplied most of the farmers and fishermen. The 
Japanese from the home islands were principally government officials, 
sugar company officials, and tradespeople. 

As a result of the economic development of Saipan and the 
immigration of Japanese to the islands, the Chamorros and Caro- 
linians became a small ethnic isolate in what was essentially a part 
of Japan (or perhaps more accurately, of Okinawa). They were of 
minor importance in the economic productive organization of the 
island, though their presence caused legal complications. The 
Japanese respected their obligations under the mandate agreement 
and provided medical facilities and an education program for Cha- 
morros and Carolinians. They also subsidized the Catholic mission. 
To the Japanese, however, the island existed as a resource to be 
developed to the utmost as an integral part of the empire; the Cha- 
morro and Carolinian population was incidental and entirely second- 
ary to this major effort. 

As Bowers (1950) has pointed out, the economic development of 
Saipan was accompanied by a radical change in landscape. The 
road system started by the Germans was extended and developed. 
A narrow gauge railroad was built. Extensive harbor improvements 
were undertaken. Garapan changed from a predominantly Cha- 
morro and Carolinian village to a predominantly Japanese town and 
port of some 13,000 people, with numerous stores and shops. Motor 
transport and many bicycles were imported. Small Japanese vil- 
lages grew up in other parts of the island. The countryside was 


dotted with farm houses. Virtually all the land was laid out to 
sugar cane, which was interspersed with small plots of subsistence 
food plants. Local areas were devoted to special crops, such as rice 
in the low-lying regions around Lake Susupe and coffee and pine- 
apples on certain of the slopes of Mount Tapochau. The cultural 
landscape was completely altered. ,. 

How did this change affect the Chamorrbs and Carolinians? The 
contact milieu was of course completely different from that of the 
preceding German regime. Then there was only a handful of Ger- 
man contact agents. Under the Japanese, there was only a handful 
of Chamorros and Carolinians among the thousands of contact 
agents, the Japanese newcomers. The numerical relationship of 
contact agents and the population being acted upon was reversed. 

The relationship between the Japanese and the Chamorros and 
Carolinians can be examined with respect to a number of features 
basic to the social organization and culture of the latter two groups. 
One of these was the relationship of the Chamorros and Carolinians 
to their land resources. During the German period, there was more 
than enough public domain of good quality for homesteading. With 
the development of the sugar industry and the influx of Japanese 
nationals, homesteading was not allowed and public domain was 
allocated to Japanese agricultural development, while in addition 
an intense demand developed for the leasing of Chamorro and Caro- 
linian land to small Japanese farmers and the sugar company. The 
result was that both Chamorros and Carolinians leased most of their 
land and lived on the proceeds, retaining enough farm land for a 
farm house, with a garden and possibly a bit of pasturage. Bowers 
(1950, p. 114) states that at least 75 per cent of the Chamorros and 
Carolinians rented the greater part of their land. I would estimate 
an even higher percentage. Also, as it was no longer possible to 
increase land holdings through homesteading, the amounts of land 
individually owned tended to become frozen. As rents steadily rose, 
those with large land holdings tended to prosper; those with little 
or no land could not easily increase their holdings and had to be 
content with what they had. Land became valuable in the eyes of 
Chamorros and Carolinians for the rent that could be obtained, not 
as a resource to be developed by their own efforts. 

The Japanese validated the ownership titles recorded during the 
German regime and respected Chamorro and Carolinian rights in 
real property. The principal exception to this statement is the 
taking of land for military installations just before and after the 


outbreak of war. The Japanese conducted a careful cadastral sur- 
vey of the island, clearly establishing boundaries and settling dis- 
puted titles. At first, although no restrictions were placed on the 
sale and transfer of land among Chamorros and Carolinians, no alien 
other than the government could enter into a contract for sale, 
purchase, or mortgage of land owned by an islander. In 1931, this 
provision was changed to permit Japanese individuals or corporations 
to purchase or mortgage private land with government permission. 
Although adequate figures are lacking, at the end of the Japanese 
period a process of land alienation had commenced that affected 
small land-holders particularly. One informed Chamorro estimated 
that approximately one-third of the Chamorro and Carolinian 
families had no farm land at the time of the invasion during World 
War II. Undoubtedly, under the pressure of Japanese industry, the 
process of land alienation would have been accelerated had not the 
war intervened. 

In addition to living on their rents, both Chamorros and Caro- 
linians obtained income from employment. The latter worked 
largely as stevedores, whereas Chamorros learned a variety of skills. 
They became hospital technicians, nurses, school teachers, policemen, 
and mechanics, and they also practised their traditional crafts such 
as blacksmithing and carpentry. Bowers (1950, p. 114) is entirely 
correct in noting that the majority, particularly among the Chamor- 
ros, came to regard employment rather than agriculture as the 
principal path to material advancement, despite the fact that the 
Japanese reserved office jobs for their nationals. 

In political affairs, the Japanese continued the* German system 
of appointing prominent men to act as representatives of the is- 
landers. There were one alcalde and five subordinate district con- 
cierges, the latter chosen from four districts in Garapan and from 
Tanapag village. At the outbreak of the war, one concierge was a 
Carolinian and another was part Carolinian, though he considered 
himself a Chamorro. The Japanese officials issued instructions to 
the alcalde, who in turn relayed the instructions to the district 
leaders. Communication was primarily one way — from the Japanese 
officials to the Chamorros and Carolinians. Land problems were 
referred directly to the Japanese land office. Local laws and or- 
dinances were enforced by the Japanese police, who employed some 
Chamorros as policemen. After 1936, the Japanese instituted a 
change in that the Chamorro and Carolinian alcalde and concierges 
were elected rather than appointed. 


In connection with the system of administration, it should be 
noted that the Japanese classed both Chamorros and Carolinians 
as santo kokonii or "people of the third class," ranking below both 
Okinawans and Koreans, not to mention the Japanese from the home 
islands. In reference, Chamorros and Carolinians were called 'Ho- 
ming" (the equivalent of "native"), though the Japanese also used 
the term "konaka" to distinguish the Carolinians. All three terms 
had distinct connotations of inferiority, and the first two were 
bitterly resented by many Chamorros. The term "native" continues 
to be used by American personnel. "Kanaka" is recognized as an 
invidious term and is seldom heard today. This point is mentioned 
because sensitivity to status is particularly a feature of Chamorro 
culture. Presumably this sensitivity was sharpened under the Jap- 
anese. The Chamorros were very conscious of the fact that they 
were segregated into toming schools and that vocational instruction 
that might lead to competition with Japanese was not given. 

After the Japanese assumed control of Saipan in 1914, they in- 
terned and removed the German Capuchins. Until 1921, the island 
was without priests, but by an agreement between the Japanese 
government and the Vatican Spanish Jesuits were sent as mission- 
aries to the Marianas. Five Spanish nuns were also sent to Saipan 
in 1928, to aid in teaching Chamorro and Carolinian children. The 
form of Catholicism taught by the Spanish Jesuits was extremely 
austere. Dancing, in the form originally brought by the Spanish, 
was discouraged and in many cases prohibited. Relations between 
the sexes, particularly the unmarried, were believed sinful under 
circumstances that in most countries would be considered quite 
innocent. The priests themselves remained aloof from convivial 
occasions among their parishioners. It is interesting to note that 
after 1932 the Japanese government subsidized both Catholic and 
Protestant missions in the mandated islands. In the latter thirties, 
however, relations between the church and Japanese officials on 
Saipan began to deteriorate. Exercises required for children at the 
Shinto temple were set at the same time as mass; in the Chamorro 
and Carolinian school the Japanese teachers expressed attitudes 
hostile to the church; and missionary replacements of priests were 
discouraged or prohibited. 

The specific cultural changes in the Chamorro and Carolinian 
communities are not easy to reconstruct, but certain points are 
relatively clear. The social cleavage between Chamorros and Caro- 
linians continued; intermarriage between the two groups occurred, 


particularly at the mixed Chamorro-Carolinian village of Tanapag, 
but on the whole it was not frequent. The Carolinian group ex- 
hibited a number of important changes in social organization. At 
the beginning of the Japanese period, the Carolinians maintained 
four men's houses on the beach at Garapan and one at Tanapag. 
As an institution, the men's houses gradually disintegrated, as did 
the organization of chiefs and elders associated with it. Clan and 
lineage likewise weakened. Outrigger-canoe building and naviga- 
tional knowledge largely disappeared. Additional features of change 
are more fully discussed in that part of the report concerned with 
Carolinian social organization. 

Among the Chamorros, increasing differentials in wealth de- 
veloped, and a few of the families with large holdings of real property 
became well-to-do, with large and well-furnished houses. Living 
standards generally rose among the Chamorro group, and the in- 
creasing range of wants was matched against the influx of trade 
goods from Japan. Some Chamorros sent their sons to Japan for 
schooling. Many other Chamorros, as well as numerous Carolinians, 
took advantage of government-sponsored special rates to visit the 
Japanese home islands. 

Apart from items of material culture content, such as adopted 
foods, bicycles, Japanese tools, and footgear, it is difficult to deter- 
mine deeper-lying levels of change in both Chamorro and Carolinian 
life during the Japanese period, as the documentation is not ade- 
quate. Chamorro sensitivity to status probably was affected by 
Japanese concepts.^ The following is a post-war example: 

A Chamorro hospital technician had his wages reduced ten dollars a month 
because a previous hospital administrator had allowed him an unreasonably 
large salary increase. The hospital budget was reduced and it was necessary 
to bring the technician's salary into line with those of other technicians and 
the nurses. The technician resigned, although the matter had been explained 
to him, for he felt that the cut was an affront to his status and position. His 
interpretation was based on pre-war Japanese conditions, where government 
positions were often high in prestige but low in pay and cuts in the latter 
were rare. 

Probably most of the changes in Chamorro and Carolinian life 
were effected more through the numerous friendly relationships es- 
tablished with individual Japanese than through the more forma- 
lized aspects of political, economic, and educational organization. 
A number of Chamorro-Japanese marriages took place, though the 

• I am particularly indebted to Mr. Kan Akatani for his assistance on this 


children were more often assimilated to Chamorro culture than to 
Japanese, partly no doubt because of the strength of the church, 
which retained its place at the core of Chamorro culture. 

Virtually all Chamorros except the aged learned to speak Japa- 
nese, though the reading knowledge of most was very limited. Re- 
spect for Japan and her culture was emphasized in the schools, as 
respect for Germany and her culture had been emphasized during 
the preceding regime. Yet if we are to judge by the Chamorros 
today — in religion, in familial organization, and in many other ways 
they retained a set of usages, a body of custom, and a framework 
of social organization that remained distinctively Chamorro. The 
language they spoke among themselves was still Chamorro. As a 
group they in no way lost their identity. 

With the outbreak of World War II, the military construction 
that had already commenced on Saipan was expanded. As the war 
proceeded, consumer goods declined in abundance and quality. The 
tempo of military activity increased. Chamorros and Carolinians 
were conscripted for construction work. The church was comman- 
deered as a military storehouse, and the priests had a difficult time 
with the ever-suspicious police. In February, 1944, the Marshalls 
fell to American forces. The Marianas now lay directly in the path 
of war. They were as vital to Japanese defense as to the American 
offensive across the Pacific. At this time the Chamorros and Caro- 
linians were ordered to their farms, and their houses in Garapan 
were used for troop billets. Military defenses on Saipan were 
rushed. Two airfields had been built and a third was under con- 
struction. More than 20,000 troops were now on the island. In 
June, 1944, the expected American blow fell on the unfortunate 
island, bringing to a close the Japanese regime on Saipan. 

VIIL Holocaust 

On June 11, 1944, the first pre-invasion attacks by American 
carrier aircraft swept Saipan. On the same day the last of the 209 
ships required to transport the American landing force of more than 
77,000 men left Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshalls. At this time the 
Japanese had approximately 29,600 troops on Saipan. The instal- 
lation of their shore batteries had not been completed, while the 
need to disperse their available forces at the several possible landing 
points weakened their defense. 

Carrier aircraft attacks continued on June 12. On June 13 and 

14, the island was subjected to heavy bombardment by battleships, 
cruisers, and destroyers. During this time under-water demolition 
teams and minesweepers cleared under-water obstacles. On June 

15, the American assault forces commenced landing on the southern 
lagoon beach on the west coast of the island. In the first twenty 
minutes 8,000 men were put ashore. Despite the intensity of the 
pre-invasion bombardment, it had not been crippling, and fierce 
resistance was immediately encountered by assault troops. In the 
first forty-eight hours there were 4,000 American casualties. After 
five days of heavy fighting, American troops seized the Japanese 
airfield at As Lito and penetrated across the island to the east coast. 
Thereafter, the assault forces moved against the Japanese cornered 
on Naftan Point and also pushed northward against the main body 
of Japanese troops defending the island. On July 9, after heavy 
fighting, organized Japanese resistance came to an end and the is- 
land was declared secure. Nevertheless, months of mop-up opera- 
tions were necessary to reduce isolated pockets of resistance. (For 
accounts of the invasion of Saipan, see Hoffman, 1950; Hough, 
1947; Isely and Crowl, 1951.) 

Saipan was one of the bitterest battles of the Pacific war. Official 
American casualties from June 15 to July 9 were listed at 14,224, 
with 3,144 killed in action. Of the Japanese force, 23,811 were 
killed and 1,810 taken prisoner. Civilian loss of life among the 
Japanese was heavy, as civilians had been told that they would be 
tortured and killed if taken prisoner, and many committed suicide. 




At the time of the invasion the Chamorros and Carolinians were 
dispersed on their farms, together with the S{)anish priests and nuns, 
who had been forced to leave Garapan. The Saipanese were skep- 
tical of Japanese statements that civilians would be tortured, the 
women raped, and the men killed, if they fell into American hands. 

Fig. 6. Reminder of war. Burned-out American tank on Saipan, 1950. 

During the three weeks of terrific fighting, the Chamorros and Caro- 
linians tried^to avoid the ground battle, air attack, and naval gun- 
fire by seeking cover in caves, and often by shifting their hiding 
places. They particularly tried to avoid the company of Japanese 
soldiers who they knew would sooner or later be engaged in battle. 
As opportunity offered, they made contact with American marines 
and soldiers and were transported to rear areas. 

For every Chamorro and Carolinian family, the invasion was a 
harrowing experience. Apart from the danger, they soon ran out 
of food and water, and their clothing was shredded to rags; they 
were in wretched condition when they finally reached the safety of 
internment camps. Many were wounded; over 300 were killed. 

'jj*W«»^-wl-^'*^— -' 


Fig. 7. Reminder of war. Ruins of sugar mill, Saipan, 1950. 



In the invasion battle, only the sugar mill village of Chalan 
Kanoa was spared destruction. Garapan was demolished. The 
Chamorros and Carolinians lost all their material possessions. The 
larger society in which they existed as a small part was destroyed. 
The economy of Saipan was utterly devastated. 

To many Chamorros and Carolinians, their wartime experiences 
remain as well-springs of anxiety. In 1950, with the outbreak of 
the Korean war, the community became extremely jittery. Stocks 
of rice in the stores were bought up as families attempted to lay in 
food; rumors of every sort ran through the island. The people did 
not calm down until it became apparent that Saipan was not under 
imminent attack. 

The anxiety over war is seldom expressed by these people but 
occasionally it comes out. I was talking with a Chamorro friend 
about his corn crop. Suddenly he said, "I tell you, seiior, I am 
afraid. I never say anything, but in my stomach I am afraid of 
war. We have seen it once and many people are anxious. When 
we hear talk of war, there is fear in us. We wonder whether it is 
worth-while to clear the land and plant our crops. Yes, we are 
anxious and afraid." 

After the invasion Saipan was built into a huge American mili- 
tary base, but with the surrender of Japan the tides of war receded 
from Saipan's shores and military activity was cut back, until in 
1950 the last military installation was closed. During this period, 
the Saipan people experienced a variety of vicissitudes. After the 
capture of the island, they were kept in a camp separate from those 
containing Japanese and Korean civilians, and in November, 1944, 
were moved into Chalan Kanoa, where some new housing units 
were constructed to relieve the congestion. They were, however, 
kept behind barbed wire until after the repatriation of the nearly 
14,000 Japanese and over 1,300 Korean civilians in the spring of 
1946. After this they were granted freedom of movement. They 
were in demand for government employment. Houses and stores 
were built; abandoned jeeps reconditioned; Chamorro boys began 
to wear aloha shirts and the girls learned to use lipstick and read 
American fashion magazines. A school was opened in 1944. The 
church was early re-established. Political elections for community 
leaders were held, and in 1947 the municipality was instituted. 
Much was accomplished to form again an orderly pattern of ex- 
istence. Yet by 1950, the date of this field study, deeper and more 
basic adaptations were still to be made. The organization of com- 


munity life in post-war Saipan and the manner in which it reflects 
successful adaptation to changed circumstances are the subject of 
the following section. 


IX. The Total Community 

It would be misleading to describe the Chamorros and Caro- 
linians as though they formed the only community on Saipan, or 
as though they live in complete social and spatial isolation from 
the non-indigenous people residing on the island. Actually the 
Chamorros and Carolinians are part of the larger total island com- 
munity. They are not, as they were before the war, only a numeri- 
cally small element in a much larger population made up primarily 
of Japanese. The Chamorros and Carolinians now form the majority 
on Saipan, but there is still a larger total community that must be 
briefly described in order to provide a realistic context for the 
material that follows. 

The total community on Saipan consists of two groups: the per- 
manent residents and the transients. The permanent residents are 
the Chamorros and Carolinians. The transients are the official 
American personnel and their families, and they in turn could be 
divided in 1950 into two groups: official military personnel and of- 
ficial administrative personnel. The duties of the former were not 
directly concerned with the administration of the Marianas. Be- 
tween the close of World War II and 1950, American military 
installations were maintained on the island, but they were gradually 
reduced until in the late spring of 1950 they were closed down 
completely and all purely military personnel departed, leaving the 
administrative group behind. 

The military personnel lived and worked largely within the 
boundaries of the military reservations. Although Saipan is a rela- 
tively small island, there was a spatial separation of military tran- 
sients, and Chamorros and Carolinians. There was also social sepa- 
ration between the two groups. The social contacts between them 
were controlled by two factors: the extent of Chamorro and Caro- 
linian paid work on military projects and as domestic labor, and the 
amount of off-the-job contact. 

With the end of World War II came the rapid demobilization of 
military personnel in the Pacific area. As just mentioned, however, 



military facilities on Saipan were not immediately closed down. As 
a result there was a heavy demand for the extensive employment 
of Chamorros, and to a lesser extent Carolinians, in a variety of 
capacities: as office workers; as domestic help; and as skilled and 
unskilled labor on base construction and maintenance projects. 
This wage work, though it proved to be relatively short-lived, pro- 
vided the opportunity for Chamorros in particular to widen their 
range of skills in such varied occupations as those of typists, me- 
chanics, bar-tenders, and truck drivers. Along with this transference 
and widening of skills went a flow of culture content that included 
such familiar facets of American culture as a liking for hamburgers, 
Coca-Cola, and juke boxes. At the same time there was a consider- 
able diffusion of the knowledge of English. 

Off-the-job contacts were purposely limited by the authorities. 
Enlisted personnel were restricted from Chamorro and Carolinian 
living areas except under special circumstances and were allowed to 
roam only the single paved street of Chalan Kanoa. This street 
soon became lined with soft-drink and beer stands and various other 
small retail establishments, all operated by Chamorros and catering 
primarily to enlisted personnel. Off-the-job relations with officers 
and their families were more limited, and except for a few formal 
and informal social contacts the officer group and the Chamorros 
and Carolinians remained largely apart in their leisure hours. 

The small administrative group, numbering about twenty families 
and thirty single men, mostly enlisted personnel, has always main- 
tained closer relations with the Chamorros and Carolinians. This 
follows from the fact that their official duties are connected with 
the welfare of the permanent residents. In addition to the contacts 
during working hours, off-the-job contacts at parties in the village 
and occasional social gatherings in the administrative living area 
bring together Chamorros and Americans. Each group has its own 
residence area, and there is spatial and social distance between the 
groups, but it is considerably less than was the case with purely 
military personnel. 

It should be noted that there is not a general attitude of sus- 
picion and avoidance of administrative personnel by Chamorros 
and Carolinians. The two groups are not isolated from each other 
by the pronounced barrier of antagonism that is sometimes found 
in such circumstances. On the other hand, Americans temporarily 
resident on Saipan vary greatly in their interest in and desire to 
know about Chamorro and Carolinian culture, while it is primarily 


the more socially prominent Chamorro leaders who maintain the 
closest relations with Americans. ' ^ : 

The official duties and functions of the administrative group on 
Saipan are controlled by the objectives of American administration 
in the Trust Territory as a whole. These objectives in turn derive 
from the obligations embodied in the American trust agreement 
with the United Nations. Among the more important of these 
objectives are the improvement in medical care and health of the 
citizens of the Marianas; the establishment of a system of public 
education; the establishment of courts, judicial procedures, and an 
insular constabulary; the extension of the political competence of the 
citizens of the Marianas to handle their own affairs; and the recon- 
struction of the local economy after the destruction and dislocation 
caused by the war. It is primarily in the pursuit of these objectives 
that the American administration impinges at various points on 
the community life of the permanent residents of Saipan. These 
points of contact and the activities that are involved are outlined 

Medical Care and Public Health 

The most important function of administration is probably that 
of medical care. The district hospital, serving all the Marianas 
north of Guam, is located on Saipan. This hospital is staffed by 
American naval medical and hospital corps officers and a small num- 
ber of enlisted administrative assistants, but the nurses and tech- 
nicians are Chamorros and Carolinians. The hospital is located at 
the administration area and not in the Chamorro or Carolinian 
village areas. In addition, a dispensary is maintained at Chalan 
Kanoa, the principal village. The dispensary is under the immediate 
supervision of a Chamorro medical aide, whose original training un- 
der the Japanese has been supplemented by additional post-war 
experience under American medical officers. The latter are in close 
touch with the community and have a wide range of contacts and 
personal acquaintances. 

The administration medical department also has general super- 
vision over public health measures. In 1950, the municipality em- 
ployed one Chamorro sanitary inspector; a member of the Insular 
Constabulary was also detailed to this duty, under the supervision 
of American personnel. Public health measures include water puri- 
fication and inspection of sources of drinking water; inspection of 
latrines in village living areas; inspection of sanitation in retail 


food-handling establishments; and periodic inoculation against 

The most serious medical problems on Saipan derive from the 
high incidence of tuberculosis and intestinal parasites. Death rates 
from tuberculosis are very high, particularly among the Carolinians, 
among whom one out of every fifty males dies of the disease every 
year. The death rate is lower among Chamorros and has not blocked 
their relatively rapid recent population increase. Measures taken 
to combat tuberculosis include complete chest X-rays taken of the 
entire population in 1950, frequent subsequent examinations of sus- 
pected cases, and hospital isolation of patients. Intestinal parasites, 
particularly Ascaris, infect most of the population. It has proven 
very difficult to reduce the degree of infestation, largely because of 
the casual toilet training of children. 

Western medical practice is accepted by most of the Chamorros. 
Virtually all Chamorro mothers have their babies in the hospital 
and receive pre- and post-natal examinations in the dispensary. The 
Carolinians are much less receptive and maintain to a much greater 
degree their traditional therapeutic system in the treatment of 

Public Education 

A single large school, located in Chalan Kanoa, serves the entire 
island. Buses bring Chamorro and Carolinian children to school 
from the outlying villages and districts. The school is divided into an 
elementary section, which in 1950 had 875 students divided into six 
grades, and an intermediate section of 83 students divided into 
three grades. The municipality council has made school attendance 
compulsory at the elementary level. Students whose performance 
is judged satisfactory are encouraged to attend the intermediate 
school. For further training, a number of boys and girls were sent 
to the school operated by the navy for children of families of military 
personnel. This school closed down after military facilities were 
disestablished in 1950. A few Chamorro students from Saipan also 
attend high school on Guam. 

The Chalan Kanoa school is supervised by an American educa- 
tional administrator, a professional civilian, who has under his 
direction all the schools in the Marianas north of Guam. A well- 
educated Chamorro acts as principal of the school. In addition, the 
teaching staff consists of one Carolinian and eleven Chamorro 
teachers for the elementary section of the school, and six American 


teachers, usually wives of administrative officials, for the interme- 
diate section, with two additional Chamorro teachers for vocational 
work. T 

In the curriculum, English is stressed and is taught, in so far as 
the limited facilities allow, through the medium of history and 
geography. Although some instruction in farming and carpentry is 
given, thorough teaching in the rudiments of tropical agriculture 
and in crafts useful to the island children remains an unfulfilled 
dream of the educational administrator. Progress in this type of 
instruction is handicapped by lack of available instructors. The 
Chamorros themselves are greatly in need of assistance in improving 
their agricultural competence, and except for a knowledge of car- 
pentry and mechanics they have little skill in crafts. One of the 
most successful courses has been that of sewing for girls. 

Not only has the educational system as a whole had to be es- 
tablished, but a group of teachers has had to be trained as well, for 
there has been little carry-over of trained personnel from the Japa- 
nese period. In pre-war times, teachers in the Chamorro school 
were almost all Japanese, and there is now only one competent 
teacher who could be recruited from the persons who taught before 
World War II. 

In order to enlist the support of the parents, a Parent-Teacher 
Association on the American model has been introduced. At monthly 
meetings, accomplishments of the school are demonstrated and proj- 
ects involving the parents are discussed. It is certainly one of the 
few Parent-Teacher Associations where the men do all the talking. 

Courts, Judicial Procedures, and the Insular Constabulary 

During the period of naval administration, the Trust Territory 
has been governed largely through a body of Interim Regulations 
which outline the framework of administrative organization and its 
principal functions, and contain a series of regulations affecting 
various matters such as criminal codes, municipal governments, con- 
servation, and alien property. An important part of the Interim 
Regulations deals with the establishment of a court system, judicial 
procedures, and a criminal code. 

For the Trust Territory as a whole a uniform series of courts 
has been established, and their constitution, competency, and pro- 
cedure have been defined. The lowest of these is the municipal 
court, intended to operate at the local level and in so far as possible 


in accordance with local customs. On Saipan the mayor of the 
municipality is the judge of the municipal court. The court re- 
corder is also a Chamorro. The building used for the court is located 
in the administrative area and is also utilized for such higher courts 
as may be convened. 

The municipal court is competent to try civil cases where the 
amount at issue does not exceed $100, and criminal offenses the law- 
ful punishment for which does not exceed a fine of $100 or six 
months' imprisonment or both. The greatest volume of court cases 
is handled at the municipal court level. These are, in the main, 
criminal rather than civil cases. The Chamorros and Carolinians 
have not often resorted to court action in civil cases, but the small 
number of such cases is probably due to uncertainty as to the 
correct procedure to take to institute a civil case rather than to a 
desire to avoid court action as such, for the Chamorros are by no 
means averse to the latter and the court as an institution is not new. 
, It can be anticipated that the volume of civil cases will steadily 
grow with the wider dissemination of information as to procedures, 
particularly^ in regard to cases involving the sale and inheritance of 
land. These latter cases have been largely held in abeyance pending 
a solution of the land problem, but eventually they will become one 
of the principal causes of legal disputes. 

An important role in island life is played by the Insular Con- 
stabulary. The Central Pacific Insular Constabulary for the North- 
ern Marianas was established in 1948. In 1950 there were twenty- 
nine members of the constabulary on Saipan. The constabulary, 
made up of local males — twenty-eight Chamorros and one Caro- 
linian — constituted the island's police force. A marine non-commis- 
sioned officer was assigned as officer in charge, but the constabulary 
as a whole is a well-trained group needing supervision primarily 
only in such new activities and projects as are from time to time 

The principal functions of the constabulary include enforcing 
the island's laws and making necessary arrests and commitments, 
running the local jail, enforcing traffic regulations, enforcing tax 
collections and customs, and maintaining a fire prevention and fire 
fighting service. It might be thought that a small island like Saipan 
would have little need for a police force, but the presence until 
recently of American military forces, and the relatively widespread 
use on the island of motor vehicles alone make the constabulary 


Local Self-Government 

The Chamorros and Carolinians of Saipan are organized politi- 
cally into a municipality that includes the principal village of Chalan 
Kanoa, the satellite villages, and the outlying farming districts. 
The municipality has an elected mayor who is the principal liaison 
official between the local political unit and the administration. 

The activities of the municipality, whose organization and effec- 
tiveness will be considered in detail in a later section, are related to 
administrative functions at a number of points. The administration 
is responsible for over-all supervision of matters such as preparation 
and approval of budgets, municipal ordinances, and co-operative 
municipal projects. The administration maintains the island water 
system and provides running water as well as electricity for the 
municipality, which pays for these utilities from its tax-supported 
treasury. The administration likewise supports public works proj- 
ects such as maintenance of island roads, and through the constabu- 
lary provides police and fire protection. On its part, the munici- 
pality operates a telephone system servicing administration needs 
and a few subscribers. These are the most important ways in which 
the local governmental organization and that of the administration 
are inter-related. 

Economic Reconstruction 

A major obstacle in the establishment of an agricultural economy 
on Saipan has been the extremely complex tangle of land ownership. 
When Saipan was invaded the public land records were destroyed, 
and during the construction of American base facilities, most of the 
property markers were bulldozed, picked up as souvenirs, or other- 
wise carried off. As a result, land ownership and farming rights are 
highly troublesome questions, and a land office has been established 
by the administration to deal with them. 

The administration is also concerned with various other economic 
questions. The most important of these is the stimulation to im- 
provement in agriculture. To this end a small farm is maintained, 
partly as a demonstration project and partly as a means of distri- 
bution of various forms of economic plants and livestock. Assistance 
is also given the local people in procuring equipment, livestock, and 
building materials, and to some degree in marketing produce. 

Until 1950, a branch of the Bank of Guam was maintained by 
the administration on Saipan. The bank was operated for the con- 


venience of military personnel and Chamorros and Carolinians. 
Actually little or no commercial banking was done in the sense of 
loaning working capital to Chamorro or Carolinian enterprises. In 
1950, a mainland American bank took over the Bank of Guam and 
its Saipan branch. With the departure of military forces from Sai- 
pan, the feasibility of maintaining a branch bank has become 

The navy also operated a fleet post office on Saipan. This was 
much used by Chamorros, who have done their part in helping to 
maintain the thriving business of the principal American mail order 

In summary, then, the Saipan community of Chamorros and 
Carolinians is neither self-contained nor self-sufficient. The Ameri- 
can administration is intimately connected with community life at 
the various points just noted. Any examination of the Chamorros 
and Carolinians as a community in process of reforming after the 
dislocations of World War II must take this fact into account. 

A second point is that the administration has not been a stable 
and unchanging element in its personnel, in its policy, or in its 
activities. The length of the stay of administrative officials varies 
from a few months to two years, with a normal tour of duty of 
about eighteen months. The stability of the administration as a 
system would not normally be greatly affected by the rotation of 
personnel were it not that its policy and activities tend to fluctuate 
with personnel changes. In some departments of the administration, 
the sphere of activities was established rather early after the war 
and is relatively stable, with a considerable degree of diffusion of 
knowledge among the Chamorros and Carolinians as to what the 
functions of these departments are, or are desired to be. In other 
fields, policy has not yet crystallized at the local level, and activities 
remain sketchily co-ordinated toward uncertain objectives. The 
medical and educational departments belong to the former category. 
Here any shifts in personnel are counterbalanced by definitely es- 
tablished functions. Economic affairs tend to belong to the latter 
category, and in this field it has been only the efforts of a few capable 
administrators, working in a situation of flux, that have given pur- 
pose to administrative activities. The administration itself is thus 
to be seen as an organization in process of formulation and clarifi- 
cation of its functions and objectives, not in the higher levels ap- 
plying to the Trust Territory as a whole as much as in the interpre- 
tation of administrative functions at the local level. On Saipan, 


there are inevitable repercussions of this fact in the Hves of Cha- 
morros and CaroHnians. 

Padres and Nuns 

There is one small but important group on Saipan that is neither 
Chamorro nor Carolinian but yet contains essentially permanent 
residents. These are the priests and nuns of the Roman Catholic 
mission. Although a Baptist mission is located on Saipan, it serves 
principally as logistic support for mission work among the small 
Protestant group in the Bonin Islands north of the Marianas and 
among the Protestants at the Tinian leprosarium. In 1950 the 
Seventh Day Adventists were also making plans for a mission on 
Saipan. The community, however, is Roman Catholic in its re- 
ligious aflfiliation. 

The priests and nuns live in the village of Chalan Kanoa and 
not, as do the administrative group, in a separate housing area. At 
least one and usually two American priests of the Capuchin order 
are in permanent residence. Some seven Sisters of Mercy, of either 
Spanish or Latin American extraction, staff the convento madres and 
are in charge of the catechism school maintained for Chamorro and 
Carolinian children. Both priests and nuns expect to remain on 
the island indefinitely, the mother superior already having resided 
there for twenty-nine years. It should be noted that the priests 
and nuns use Chamorro exclusively in their dealings with the Cha- 
morros and Carolinians, though priests newly arrived in the Mari- 
anas are often sent to Saipan from Guam to learn the language, as 
so many of the Guamanians speak English. 

X. Local Organization 

Place Names and Districts 

Saipan has many place names, constantly used by the people in 
everyday speech to locate events of interest. These names are of 
two types: (1) names for particular topographic features, such as 
points of land, beaches, small valleys, and elevations; and (2) names 
for districts. The local place names have been collected and care- 
fully plotted by Cloud (1949). Some of the more important district 
names have been reproduced in figure 8. 

The origin of Saipan place names is obscure. Most of them are 
Chamorro (allowing for Spanish loan words), although a few are 
Carolinian. "Garapan" is a Chamorro alteration of the Carolinian 
"arabal," meaning a species of shrub common on the lagoon beach, 
while "Oleai" is also of Carolinian origin. To what extent the 
Chamorro place names antedate the removal of the Chamorros from 
Saipan at the end of the seventeenth century is uncertain. Obian 
(Objan) is mentioned in the seventeenth century letters of the padres 
as being a village on the southern coast of Saipan at the present 
location of a large archaeological village site, so presumably "Obian" 
is an old place name. The same is true of "Agingan" and "Laulau." 
There is some indication, therefore, that at least a few of the present 
place names have considerable antiquity. However, Tinian, from 
which the Chamorros were removed by the Spanish at about the 
same time they were removed from Saipan, has few Chamorro place 
names, which suggests that many contemporary Saipan place names 
originated in the nineteenth century, after the re-settling of the 

All of Saipan is divided into districts, each of which has a name. 
In pre-contact times, the more important districts consisted of a 
major village, or several neighboring ones, together with the sur- 
rounding lands. Archaeological village sites on Saipan are primarily 
along the coast, so that there were probably uninhabited interior 
districts, but the district was an important social unit. On the basis 
of documentary evidence, Thompson (1945, pp. 12 13) notes that 



the people of each district in the Marianas were composed of a 
group of related nobility, their dependents among the commoner 
class, and their slaves, with the highest ranking noble acting as the 
leader (/ magalahe). The district functioned as a unit in war and 
in intra-island rivalry. The scanty evidence indicates that in pre- 
contact times Saipan had no centralized political organization 
binding all the districts of the island into a single, cohesive, political 

Today the district has little social significance. The districts 
are not co-operating groups nor are they related particularly to the 
village organization. As social units they have no functioning im- 
portance. It is true, however, that in 1950 the local organization 
of Saipan was highly unstable. In time, if there is a dispersion of 
the people from the principal village of Chalan Kanoa to newly 
established smaller villages in more remote farming areas, the dis- 
trict may acquire more important social functions through its closer 
relationship to the modern village organization, though it is doubtful 
that the district will ever again conform to the pre-contact pattern. 

The importance of the district at the present time lies in the 
fact that district names are at the core of the place name terminology 
for the island. District names function as place names for rather 
general areas delimited by topographic features, although the dis- 
trict itself has no definite boundaries. It should also be noted that 
the Chamorros use no general word of their own for the district; 
nor do they refer to it by the Japanese word, "mura"; nor do they 
use the Spanish-derived term "lanceria," which denotes several 
neighboring farmsteads. District names today are much-used, con- 
venient designations to indicate in everyday speech where one's 
farm is, where one is going, and in other ways to locate verbally 
people, things, and actions. 

The Village 

Apart from the household and farm, whose sociological nature as 
a local unit is mainly a reflection of the existence of the family, the 
most important component in the local organization of the island is 
the village. On Saipan there are six villages: one principal one, 
Chalan Kanoa; and five small satellites, Susupe, San Antonio, As 
Lito, Oleai, and Tanapag (fig. 8). 

After the capture of Saipan by American forces in 1944, only 
the houses of the sugar company village of Chalan Kanoa remained 
intact. Chalan Kanoa was built by the Japanese to house sugar 



^^.^■iKr'rr^^^rr^^r.r,^ ^ TT-w^, ^■r'^'' 

/managaha >>»^''- .eooN 





Fig. 8. Map of Saipan place names and districts (after Cloud, 1949). 





company workers, principally Okinawans, and the large sugar mill 
was located at the north end of the village. The mill buildings 
were destroyed but the houses were fortunately spared, and, follow- 
ing the invasion, the Chamorros and Carolinians were assigned to 
Chalan Kanoa as a housing area. Although military government 

Fig. 9. Church at Chalan Kanoa, Saipan, dedicated in 1949. 

authorities constructed a considerable number of additional frame 
houses, Chalan Kanoa was very congested by the relatively large 
number of Chamorros and Carolinians confined to its limits. As 
soon as restrictions were lifted, a process of dispersion commenced. 
This dispersion took two forms: the enlarging of Chalan Kanoa by 
the building of new houses in the adjoining areas; and the estab- 
lishing of small satellite villages. The congestion in Chalan Kanoa 
is now much relieved but the dispersion is continuing, though at a 
less accelerated pace. 

The population of the several villages in 1950 was approximately 
as follows: Chalan Kanoa, 3,845; Susupe, 254; Oleai, 158; San 
Antonio, 290; As Lito, 109; Tanapag, 269. Total 4,925. 


Chalan Kanoa 

Chalan Kanoa ("canoe road"), the principal village, takes its 
name from the district in which it is located. It is a compactly 
built settlement of modest houses, small stores and other commercial 
establishments, a school, several municipal buildings, and a large, 
newly constructed church with its associated mission structures. 
With one exception, the village streets are of gravel, are regularly 
laid out, and in the older sections of the village are lined with shade 
trees planted by the Japanese. Despite its pre-war origin, the vil- 
lage does not give an impression of long-established use and sta- 
bility. Here and there are stores built only a year or two ago and 
now already closed, while near-by a new one is about to open. At 
the north end of the village lies the wreckage of the sugar mill — a 
reminder of war. Occasional abandoned and half-wrecked pre-war 
buildings are still to be seen. These are small indications that the 
village is a recent and not yet economically stable settlement. 

Chalan Kanoa is divided into wards, called distritos, each con- 
taining about 400 persons. The distritos are post-war divisions, 
closely related to political organization, as each distrito elects a com- 
missioner as its representative on the municipality council. Sepa- 
rate polling places are set up in each ward at the time of the annual 
elections. In other ways, the distritos are convenient units for or- 
ganizing village activities. The church organization makes use of 
them in carrying out functions such as cleaning the church, which 
is done in turn by the women of the different distritos. Another 
example is the practice of the administration medical department in 
giving inoculations and vaccinations to the adults of each distrito. 
The distritos are useful divisions of the village and in time will 
probably become even more crystallized as local units. It should 
be noted that the Chamorros' use of the term "distrito" in this 
connection should not be confused with the island districts previ- 
ously described. Also, surprisingly, "barrio" is not used in preference 
to "distrito." 

The houses in the village are all small and modest. Before the 
war, there were pronounced differences in wealth within the com- 
munity, and these were reflected in the large size and pretentious 
character of the houses of the wealthier Chamorro families. The 
destruction of war wiped out these wealth differentials and today 
the houses are much alike in size, though Chamorro and Carolinian 
houses show differences associated with differences in patterns of 
household life. 


In Uie central part of Chalan Kanoa the houses date from Japa- 
nese times, have concrete walls with corrugated iron roofs, and 
usually have small frame rooms that have been added recently on 
one or both ends. Also, the Chamorros and Carolinians have all 
added separate cooking houses to the rear of the main house. In 
other parts of the village, the houses are of frame construction, 
built in post-invasion times of lumber mainly salvaged from areas 
us(>d for housing American troops. These, too, have corrugated 
iron roofs and separate cooking houses. Most of the houses are neat 
and painted, when paint is available. 

After the invasion, the congestion in Chalan Kanoa made it 
necessary for at least two families to share a single house, which 
was partitioned through the center, but today most houses are oc- 
cupied by a single family. The family unit itself usually consists of 
an elementary family group. Extended families as household units 
were formerly common among the Carolinians, but most of these 
units have broken down into their component elementary families, 
each maintaining separate residences. Among the Chamorros, the 
elementary family is the long-established household unit. 

An important feature of Chalan Kanoa is the separation of Cha- 
morro and Carolinian living areas. The houses of the two groups 
are not interspersed one with the other. Instead, the Carolinian 
minority is concentrated in two distritos, with the Chamorros living 
in the others. The social distinctiveness of Chamorros and Caro- 
linians is thus reflected in their residential separation. 

Apart from the houses, there are certain loci of interest and 
activity in Chalan Kanoa that give the village its form as a social 
entity. At these focal points the people congregate in activity that 
is important in the economic, political, religious, and social organi- 
zation of community life. They accordingly deserve brief comment. 

Beach Road.— Beach Road, a two-lane, paved, military highway 
built during the war, runs through the west side of Chalan Kanoa 
and is the principal road into the village. As the visitor newly ar- 
rived on the island approaches Chalan Kanoa his first realization 
that he is entering the village comes with the abrupt appearance of 
a large, weather-beaten sign, "Welcome to Chalan Kanoa, the capi- 
tal of the northern Marianas." Along both sides of Beach Road is 
a miscellaneous array of small stores, pool halls, soft-drink and beer 
joints, a restaurant, a popcorn stand, the quonset housing the vil- 
lage movie, a dentist's office, and a makeshift garage, while set back 
from the road stands the massive structure of the church. 

Fig. 10. Upper: Street in Chalan Kanoa. 
Susupe village. 

Lower: Chamorro house in 


114 , SAIPAN 

The small retail establishments are primarily a product of im- 
mediate post-war years, when there were numerous military person- 
nel still on the island. Beach Road was the point of off-the-job 
contact between enlisted personnel and the community, for sailors 
and soldiers spent their spare time and money in the stores along 
the road. By 1950 half of these stores had closed, but Beach Road 
nevertheless contains enough centers of purely Chamorro and Caro- 
linian interest to retain a place in the village. 

Stores. — During 1947 the village acquired numerous small retail 
stores, most of which have since collapsed. In 1950 there remained 
a bakery, a meat and fish market, a popcorn stand, a restaurant, a 
movie, several barber shops, a cobbler's shop, a watch-repair shop, 
three pool halls, a blacksmith's shop, a garage, and a scattering of 
small general stores, most of which also dispensed beer. Most of 
the stores are concentrated along Beach Road, but a few are dis- 
persed through the village. Many are built adjoining their owners' 
houses, or as part of the house. They are all small. The store signs 
outside are in English; the language spoken inside is Chamorro. 
The general stores sell a variety of canned foods, rice, soft drinks, 
candy, often clothes and dress goods, and usually beer. They are 
owned and operated by Chamorros. The Carolinians operated a 
few stores but they soon went out of business. 

In 1950 the economic situation was depressed, and many stores 
were going bankrupt. Yet one or two new ones were opening — 
part of the process whereby a few store owners with the most capital 
and business knowledge were capturing the declining trade from 
weaker rivals. It will probably not be long before the village has 
only a half-dozen general retail stores. 

Apart from their economic importance, the stores are significant 
in that they are centers for the dissemination of news and rumor. 
They are neighborhood meeting places and they facilitate the per- 
sonal face-to-face contact that is the main communication channel 
within the village. The stores open early, many by 5:30 or 6:00 
A.M., to catch the before-breakfast trade. In the morning or early 
afternoon women customers predominate. In the late afternoon or 
early evening the men drift in, often for a beer. Seldom does one 
go to a store without tarrying to pass the time of day and to indulge 
in a bit of gossip. 

There is no established market in Chalan Kanoa. Through the 
stimulus^of the administration]^a small weekly farmers' market was 
commenced in order to give the farmers some cash income from the 


sale of their products; but gradually the market faded away. If 
they have the money, people buy imported food in the stores. If 
they do not have the money, or credit, many prefer to start small 
garden patches. The weekly market is not embedded in Chamorro 
culture as an established institution. 

School. — This is likewise a center of community interest. The 
pre-war Japanese school buildings have been repaired and added to, 
and serve for the present school. The school is large and the grounds 
are extensive. Here is the daily center outside the home for the 
children of school age. After school hours and on week-ends, base- 
ball games are often played on the school grounds, for the school is 
also one of the few recreational centers in the village. 

Municipal Buildings. — These include a building used for council 
and other meetings, one used for the 4-H club, a bandstand-like 
structure (the kiosko), and most important of all, the municipality 
offices. Except for the kiosko, all are of Japanese vintage, the 
municipality offices being housed in the pre-war dispensary. The 
buildings, except for the municipality offices, are used only inter- 
mittently. The council building is used once or twice a week for 
meetings, the 4-H club periodically lapses into complete inactivity, 
and the kiosko is used mainly for the play of small children, occasional 
informal boxing matches between the older boys, and, once a year, 
as a polling place at election time. The municipal offices, however, 
are the scene of daily activity, partly because they also include the 
village dispensary. In the morning the offices are crowded with 
mothers waiting outside the dispensary with their children, and with 
such other people as wish medical attention. Doctor Torres, the 
Chamorro medical aide, is the busiest man in the village. The 
mayor's office near-by is quieter. The mayor is a linguistic virtuoso, 
with a fluent command of Carolinian, Chamorro, English, and Japa- 
nese, and a considerable knowledge of Spanish and German as well. 
Behind his desk is an American flag and a photograph of the Presi- 
dent, while he is flanked by a bookcase containing English, Japanese, 
Spanish, and German dictionaries, as well as a book on American 
municipal government. In a near office is the elderly municipality 
treasurer, and next door, the attractive Rosa is either figuring dues 
and taxes on her abacus or making the keys of her typewriter 
clatter. In a far corner of the building sits the telephone operator. 
People come and go, and until the quiet of the afternoon descends 
the scene is a busy one. 


Church. In Chamorro eyes, there could be no established village 
without a Catholic church. It is true that neither Susupe nor San 
Antonio have churches, but Susupe adjoins Chalan Kanoa on the 
north and could be considered part of the latter, while San Antonio 
is a weakly established village and is close enough to Chalan Kanoa 
for its people to use the church in that town. 

At the north edge of the village, rising from the ruined buildings 
of the old sugar mill, is the new Chalan Kanoa church, the largest 
post-war structure on Saipan. It is built of typhoon-proof concrete 
and dominates the surrounding cultural landscape. Built and largely 
paid for by the Chamorros and Carolinians, it was designed and its 
construction supervised by the padre. 

Next to the church is the new parish house. The old parish 
house is located near the center of the village. Also in the village 
is the convento madres of the nuns, a post-war structure surrounded 
by a quiet garden. Between the convento madres and the church 
are several buildings used for catechism classes, conducted by the 
nuns and lay assistants. 

Back of the church is the cemetery. Along the north side of the 
cemetery are more than three hundred neatly aligned white crosses, 
which mark the graves of the Chamorro and Carolinian war dead, 
killed in the invasion of Saipan. 

Well before daylight many families are astir. If housewives are 
going to make tortillas- a task that the younger women tend to 
avoid — they are up by four o'clock. The first mass is at five o'clock, 
so persons who plan to attend it are up by at least 4:30 A.M. The 
early mass is generally well attended, primarily by Chamorros, 
though some Carolinians also are present. A second mass is held at 
seven o'clock. Originally the early mass was for the early-rising 
Chamorros and the late mass for the more leisurely Carolinians, 
but today there is no strict cleavage in the attendance of the two 

After mass, people return to their houses for breakfast, change 
into work clothes, and proceed with the morning's affairs. The 
Chamorros — even those who do not attend week-day mass — usually 
have had breakfast and are ready for the day's work by 6:30 A.M. 
The Carolinians are generally somewhat later risers. 

Stores also open early, often between 5:30 and 6:00 A.M. for the 
small neighborhood stores, and between seven and eight o'clock for 


the others. Government employees start work at seven o'clock. 
School classes commence at eight o'clock. Farmers leave for their 
lancos immediately after breakfast, and the rumble of the heavy- 
wheeled oxcarts leaving the village for the farms is a familiar sound. 

One of the housewife's first tasks is to rake the yard outside, 
accomplished with a bamboo rake made on the island. Raking the 
yard is also one of the first household chores assigned to the children. 

At noon the children walk home from school and many of the 
men return to their houses for lunch. Afterwards some people, par- 
ticularly the women, take a brief rest, but the siesta is not observed 
by most Chamorros. Fritz noted that it was a common custom in 
German times, but as a culture trait the siesta is certainly not 
general today. The Carolinians, however, are fond of early after- 
noon rests and it is not unusual to see adults and chiklren stretched 
out on the floors peacefully sleeping. But even with them, it is not 
an invariable custom and Carolinians often omit it, particularly if 
there is an immediate job to be done. 

In the late afternoon the children return again from school, with 
some of the boys lingering for a baseball game. Then the children 
repair to the convento madres for catechism, taught under the super- 
vision of the nuns. In the afternoon the matrons of the village do 
a bit of visiting, and after the men have finished work they, too, 
may drop into a store for a beer and gossip. Some of those who are 
employed by the government drive to their farms for a few hours' 
work before sundown. Finally, the church bell rings for vespers. 
The day's work is done. 

Supper is eaten after sundown, though the hour may be quite 
variable. Farmers with oxcarts often do not return till long after 
dark. After supper there is a good deal of visiting. Three times a 
week there is a movie, to which the people flock, particularly if a 
western film, replete with cowboys, Indians and stagecoaches, is 
currently showing. Before the movie there is invariably a terrific 
blaring of music through a loud-speaker outside the movie house. 

The Chamorros do not retire until late — ten or eleven o'clock or 
even midnight. Rising as early as they do, it is a wonder that they 
can work, with the relatively little sleep that they usually obtain. 

The work days of the Chamorro week include Saturday. One may 
go to confession on Saturday to prepare for Sunday, but otherwise 
Saturday is not notably different. The termination of the week 
comes on Sunday, always a day of rest. Sunday starts early for 
those who go to the first mass, but their religious obligations are 


completed sooner than those who go to late mass, so they have a 
longer day of relaxation ahead. After mass there is a leisurely 
breakfast. Sometimes the family goes to the farm or plans a picnic 
on a beach along the south or east coast of the island. In the village, 
during the day, phonographs and radios blare out from the few 
houses that possess them. Here and there piano music is heard — 
stilted little classical pieces, or jazz for the more popular-minded. 
Usually the young men and older boys have a baseball game in the 
afternoon on the school diamond. Cockfights are always scheduled 
for Sunday afternoon. Sunday, too, is the proper day for all civic 
events, such as elections and P.T.A. meetings. And always there 
are family parties in progress. 

One event is always to be observed, regardless of the day of the 
week. At morning, at noon, and at sundown there are invariably a 
few people trudging up the highway to the administration area, 
carrying food for relatives in the hospital. The hospital has a galley 
and tries to prepare food that the patients like, especially rice and 
fish, but there is nothing that takes the place of food cooked at home. 

The daily round of Chamorro life is of course adjusted to a 
yearly cycle of events. There is first of all the alternation of wet 
and dry seasons. With the advent of the dry season, Saipan's 
luxuriant plant growth changes radically and the countryside turns 
tawny. The dust blows down the hot, dry streets of Chalan Kanoa 
and coats the leaves of bushes and trees. In the country the farmers 
burn their fields as they have always done. As the fires kill the 
young rats and the eggs of the giant African snail, the bane of Saipan, 
the farmers are not too careful of their fires and nearly every day a 
fire goes out of control. The constabulary tries to extinguish them, 
with varying degrees of success. 

The yearly cycle is also affected by the religious calendar of the 
Catholic church. The holidays of Saipan are the holy days of the 
church calendar. American secular holidays such as July 4 and 
Labor Day are holidays only in the sense that Chamorro employees 
of the government receive a day off. Occasionally a celebration is 
planned, but usually through the stimulus of the American adminis- 
tration. Otherwise it is the holy days that provide the break in 

Satellite Villages 

Beginning in 1947, the dispersion of people out of Chalan Kanoa 
resulted in the establishment of five small satellite villages (see fig. 8). 

Fig. 11. Tanapag village. Upper: Church. Lower: Street. 



Tanapag, a small coastal village in the northern part of the is- 
land, is built on the site of the pre-war village of the same name, 
which was totally destroyed during the war. The population of 
Tanapag consists of both Chamorros and Carolinians, with the latter 
predominating. There is a considerable background of intermixture 
between the two groups. The people have moved back to their old 
house plots and have built new frame houses. However, nearly 
half of the old village is within the limits of a military reservation 
and is not open to settlement, a fact that disturbs the people very 
considerably. Tanapag has a temporary church, and plans are un- 
der way to build a permanent one (see fig. 11). 

Oleai, first settled in 1947, is a Chamorro community, though 
three Carolinian families also live there. It, too, has a church. Oleai 
was settled by people who wished to move closer to their farm lands. 

In As Lito, a small Chamorro village to the east of Chalan 
Kanoa, most of the people have made use of abandoned quonset 
huts for their quarters, as well as for their own church. As in the 
case of Oleai, the inhabitants of As Lito moved out of Chalan Kanoa 
to be closer to farm land. 

Susupe borders Chalan Kanoa on the north and is spatially a 
northward extension of the latter. The houses are new frame struc- 
tures. There are several stores in Susupe, but no church, as the 
church in Chalan Kanoa is near-by. The community is predomi- 
nantly Chamorro. 

San Antonio, the most recent settlement, is an old quonset area. 
It is poorly located with reference to farm land, and it may never 
become established as a permanent village. It has no church. 

These villages are all satellites of Chalan Kanoa, for Chalan Ka- 
noa contains the greatest variety of retail stores, the few wholesale 
houses, the dispensary, the municipality offices, and the large per- 
manent church. There is, consequently, continuous movement be- 
tween the satellite villages and Chalan Kanoa. 

Village and Farm 

Through long-established custom, village and farm bear a well- 
defined relationship to each other in Chamorro life. Ideally, every 
family living in a village has also a small farm, often at some distance 
from the village. On each farm is a modest structure (lanco), vary- 
ing from a simple shed to a small house. During the week, the family, 
or often only the men, daily go to the farm, sometimes spending 


the night but usually returning to the village in the evening. In 
German times, Prowazek (1913, p. 50) noted that Chamorro men 
generally spend the week at their lanco, while Fritz (1904, p. 46j 
stated : 

Every Chamorro has, besides his residence within the village, a ranch on 
his plantation .... He and his family spend several weeks there, not so 
much because of the work that is to be done as because of the opportunity 
for leisure .... On Sundays they ride to the village ... to go to mass and to 
attend cockfights. The houses on the plantations are built with less care 
and are smaller than those in the village, but the style is the same as that 
of the permanent residences. 

Perhaps because in Japanese times the fast-growing town of 
Garapan acted as an attraction, most of the Chamorros today prefer 
to return to the village from the farm at night. Some, however, 
spend most of the week at the farm, and a very few have taken to 
living on their farms entirely, only coming in to Chalan Kanoa on 
Sundays for special occasions. The established pattern is for each 
family to have two residences, with the house in the village the more 
pretentious and more frequently used, and at the present time there 
is a definite preference for spending the week-ends and most week 
nights in the village. As one Chamorro said, "We like to have people 
about us." The following incident is also an indication of the 
strength of the village as a local unit: 

In order to stimulate farming by encouraging the people to live 
on their farms, the administration started to run a school bus from 
Chalan Kanoa to the satellite villages and into the outlying country, 
so that school children could be brought to school daily while their 
parents remained on the farms through the week. One of the ob- 
jections the people had made to moving out to their farms was the 
difficulty in getting their children to school. After the bus had been 
running for a short time, however, it was found that a number of 
people who had moved to the country shifted back to the village, 
for they could ride the bus to the farms in the morning and return 
to the village with the bus driver at night. Instead of bringing 
children in from the farms, the bus was taking adults out from the 

The island road system consists of a number of paved highways 
and secondary gravel roads. When troops were stationed on the 
island, the roads were kept in excellent repair; now they are rapidly 
washing out, particularly the secondary gravel ones. The side roads 
to the farms are often mere tracks, traversable only by oxcart or 
jeep. Nevertheless, the road system remains good enough so that 



even remote farms on the island are accessible without too much 

The traditional form of transportation is the kareta, a two-wheeled 
cart drawn by an ox. Oxen are also occasionally ridden, though not 
to the extent reported in German times. After the war, the Cha- 
morros and Carolinians were able to obtain a relatively large number 

Fig. 12. A Chamorro oxcart on the road to the farm (courtesy of Raymond 
M. Sato, Honolulu Academy of Arts). 

of scrapped military vehicles, which, with considerable ingenuity, 
they have put into running condition. In 1950, there were 304 Cha- 
morro- and Carolinian-owned motor vehicles, including 207 jeeps, 
12 passenger cars, and 85 trucks. The large number of vehicles and 
the war-time road system have favored the continuance of the pre- 
vailing village pattern of local organization as opposed to a perma- 
nent dispersal of the people to their farms. By 1950, however, the 
people were beginning to be seriously pinched economically, so that 
it was doubtful how much longer the community could keep its 
vehicles running. A return to the oxcart seems inevitable, particu- 
larly as the gravel roads become less passable with each year's wet 
season. It seems probable that more time during the week will 
be spent at the farms, assuming that government employment is 
not available. 


The village serves a number of functions that ensure its con- 
tinuance as a local concentration of population. It is a religious 
center, to which most Chamorros come on Sundays to attend mass, 
as well as the periodic special holy day services. It is also the 
trade center, where purchases can be made in the stores and a certain 
amount of agricultural produce sold. It is a center for the dissemi- 
nation of news and rumor. And it is a center for social occasions, 
ranging from baptism and marriage parties to purely informal 
gatherings. As a nexus of interest and activity, the village will 
inevitably continue as a focal point in the local organization. 

Instability of Local Organization 

At the present time the settlement pattern of Saipan is in flux. 
As previously mentioned, after the war the Chamorros and Caro- 
linians were concentrated in a single village, Chalan Kanoa; but 
with the enlarging of that settlement and the establishment of the 
satellite villages, the population was dispersed and the previous con- 
gestion was relieved. At this point the pattern might have become 
fixed except for the fact that the economy was largely based on 
government employment at military installations. When these were 
closed down, economic pressure forced — and continues to force — 
further dispersion of people to the farms. Although some people 
have moved permanently to their farms, the traditional Chamorro 
village-farm pattern is still so strong that the trend is toward the 
establishment of additional small satellite villages in areas of pro- 
ductive farm land. In .1950, two additional villages were under 
discussion, one at Matansa, north of Tanapag, and the other at 
Chacha, on the east side of the island. Complications hindering 
the establishment of these villages were the difficulties of getting 
school children to Chalan Kanoa, the problem of building a new 
church at each village, and, most important, the complex tangle of 
ownership and tenure and occupance rights that the war brought 
to Saipan. Economic pressure is forcing a dispersion of population 
into satellite villages, while the highly unfortunate land situation is 
at the same time impeding the trend. 

Chalan Kanoa itself is not as well located as was pre-war Gara- 
pan to serve as the social and economic center of the island. There 
has been some discussion as to the desirability of moving back to 
the Garapan site if permission could be received. However, the 
new church has been built at Chalan Kanoa, and this in itself will 


probably ensure the village's place as the focal center for the Cha- 
morro and Carolinian community. 

In summary, until Saipan has a stable economy and until the 
land question is resolved, the settlement pattern will not be perma- 
nent. Probably the traditional village-farm relationship will con- 
tinue. This element of culture exhibits little disposition to change 
and has so far transcended post-war economic developments and 

XL Basic Aspects of the Economy 

The present chapter makes no pretensions to being a complete 
analysis of the economy of the Chamorros and Carolinians. Atten- 
tion is focused primarily on the external adaptation of the community 
to its natural environment through the prevailing use of local re- 
sources, as reflected in economic organization. In consequence, pro- 
duction and exchange are the principal forms of economic activity 
that will be examined. Certain phases of consumption will be dis- 
cussed in connection with the family and household patterns of 
Chamorros and Carolinians. 

Although economics is not to be confused with technology, the 
latter is closely related to forms of economic organization, particu- 
larly in production activities. For this reason technological data, 
such as information on Chamorro agricultural tools and cultivating 
methods, are included in the following discussion when they are 
relevant to important aspects of the economy. 

Institutional Framework of the Island Economy 

Chamorro economy is set in a framework of economic institutions 
that have been borrowed through the years of contact with the 
West and Japan and that are now completely accepted facets of 
Chamorro culture. In particular, the Chamorros are fully accus- 
tomed to the following concomitants of a Western price economy: 
(a) the full acceptance of money as a measure of value and as a 
medium of exchange; (b) an established system of weights and 
measures; fc) fully accepted concepts of private property, both 
personal and real, the latter associated with cadastral land surveys; 
(d) formal statutory law established by the successive governing 
powers in the Marianas and controlling property transfers, whether 
by assignment, sale, or inheritance; (e) familiarity with such concepts 
as capital, rent, profit, and wages, measured in terms of money. 

Gallahue (194G, i)p. 23-24) notes that the Chamorros became 
particularly impressed by the significance of private property, rents, 



and trade, durinti; the economic development of the island by the 
Japanese. He further states: '~'~^ 

Chamorros are accustomed to dealing with basic institutions involved in 
a price and exchange economy .... Exchange of goods by sale is the common 
form of transfer in the Marianas. Formal, as well as implied contracts, 
are recognized not only in daily transactions and custom, but also in law and in 
courts .... Chamorros have been governed by formal law for generations .... 

The Carolinian minority on Saipan does not display as complete 
acceptance of these economic institutions as the more sophisticated 
Chamorros. Among the Carolinians, subsistence income distributed 
according to channels organized on a relatively widely extended 
kinship basis and not making use of money is a common feature. 
Yet, the Carolinians became familiar in Japanese times with most 
of the economic institutions noted above. 

Post -War Economy 

After the capture of Saipan by American forces, the island was 
built into an immense military base. Then came the end of the war 
and the rapid demobilization of military personnel. Base facilities, 
however, were not immediately closed down. As a result, there was 
a heavy demand for the extensive employment of Chamorros and 
to a lesser extent Carolinians, as office workers, and as skilled and 
unskilled laborers on base construction and maintenance projects. 
The arrival of the families of official personnel also created a demand 
for domestic help. A local economy soon developed that depended 
essentially on government employment. The extent of farming, on 
the other hand, was minimal. 

The income derived by the community from government em- 
ployment was spent on imported foods and other commodities. This 
very fact acted as a force to keep wage levels high, for imported 
goods were expensive because of the transportation costs and the 
government believed that relatively high wage levels were needed 
to keep the local labor force employed. As outlets for imported 
goods, small retail stores came into existence. They were owned 
and operated by Chamorros and a few Carolinians. These stores 
in turn were dependent on the established wage economy. The flow 
of cash into the community made for an appearance of outward 
relative prosperity, but the entire economy was of course extremely 
vulnerable and started to collapse as soon as military installations 
began to close down. 


By the summer of 1950, both the army and navy base instal- 
lations had closed, leaving only the navy's administration unit as a 
source of employment. As the district headquarters, the administra- 
tion activities on Saipan will always offer a certain amount of em- 
ployment to Chamorros, but by no means enough to carry the 
community. In 1950, therefore, the economy was in a very un- 
settled state. In a realistic report to the High Commissioner, an 
economic survey board (Bach, 1950) noted : 

Saipan ... is at present in the worst economic straits of the inhabited 
islands of the northern Marianas chain. Saipan's economy since the war has 
become estabUshed on a false, untenable basis, almost complete reliance on 
wages paid by the military for types of work that contribute nothing to the 
real wealth of the island. So few basic necessities are produced on Saipan 
that an excessive amount of foodstuffs as well as other commodities have to 
be purchased .... 

The economy of Saipan in 1950 was, therefore, a melange of op- 
posing forces. On one hand was the sharply decreased amount of 
wage labor, coupled with the Chamorros' great reluctance to curtail 
consumption of the imported foods to which they had become 
accustomed. On the other hand, the administration's attempts to 
encourage farming and the exploitation of local resources were being 
impeded by a complex land problem, as well as by other factors. 
In the end, however, the future economy of Saipan must be based 
on the local resources if it is to achieve permanent stability. The 
remainder of this chapter is an examination of various facets of this 
basic problem, as seen in the context of economic flux and insta- 
bility prevailing five years after the close of American-Japanese 

Utilization of Local Resources: The Land 


Economic reconstruction on Saipan, based on the use of local 
resources and in accord with the prevailing local competence in 
tropical agriculture, is seriously handicapped by depletion of land 
resources. This depletion applies both to native plant resources 
and to the soil itself. Depletion of plant resources followed in part 
upon the clearing of large areas by the Japanese for sugar cane. 
Today the sugar cane industry is destroyed, while its reconstruction 
and operation as a major industry are beyond the present capability 
of the Chamorros and Carolinians. The clearing of land may have 
been a step forward for the Japanese but not for the present popula- 


tion. In addition, the introduction of the coconut beetle prior to 
World War II destroyed many coconut trees, and although a parasite 
recently has been introduced to combat the beetle, the few remaining 
stands of coconut trees have not yet regained their health and 
bearing capacity. New trees have been planted, but they will not 
mature for a number of years. Thus Saipan does not have in suf- 
ficient quantity that mainstay of Oceanic peoples, the coconut. 
There has also been serious depletion of trees suitable for structural 
timber, and of the breadfruit, a potentially valuable food source. 
Added to the depletion of trees is the burden imposed by the rat 
and the African snail — pests that seriously hamper subsistence 

During and immediately after the war large areas of agricultural 
land were taken by the American military for base facilities. Much 
of this land has been bulldozed and covered with crushed coral lime- 
stone and thus has been rendered permanently unusable for culti- 
vation. Unfortunately, it comprises some of the best agricultural 
soil on Saipan, including much of the narrow coastal strip along the 
west side of the island. In other areas, the topsoil has been bull- 
dozed into revetments and could be salvaged by their dispersal, but 
steps to salvage such land had not been taken by 1950. (For de- 
tailed information on the destruction of soil resources, see Bowers, 

Fortunately, Saipan's present population can be supported by 
the remaining good land, provided it is carefully managed. However, 
resettling available land and bringing it into productive use has 
been seriously hampered by a complicated ownership tangle which 
presents one of the most serious obstacles to the development of 
an agricultural economy. 


Prior to World War II, the Japanese administration had com- 
pleted a careful cadastral survey of land owned privately by Cha- 
morros, Carolinians, and Japanese as well as land held by the govern- 
ment as public domain. Concrete boundary markers had been set 
at all major corners, and the island as a whole had been completely 
surveyed. Public records of ownership were maintained; records of 
sales and leases of real estate were kept up to date; and official 
titles of ownership were issued by the government to all private 
owners of land. As a result, the Chamorros in particular are accus- 
tomed to the sale and lease of land, to the public recording of all 


land transfers, and to the validation by the administering authority 
of claims to ownership. The situation in the Marianas is quite 
different from that in the Marshalls and in many parts of the Caro- 
lines, where the people do not engage in the sale or leasing of land 
and where there is only a minimum of familiarity with legal docu- 
ments and public records. 

During the invasion of Saipan the public land records vanished 
and presumably were destroyed. The only land records that were 
salvaged from the destruction accompanying the battle were those 
of the South Seas Development Company (NKK). A number of 
individuals were able to preserve their government-issued certificates 
covering their land titles, but most of the Chamorros and Carolinians 
lost all such documents in the invasion battle, when mere survival 
was their only concern. All but a few of the concrete boundary 
markers were later bulldozed, carried away as souvenirs, or disap- 
peared in other ways. Chamorro and Carolinian houses were all 
destroyed. The resulting confusion in determining land ownership 
can easily be imagined. 

A first step in unravelling the tangle was taken by the military 
government authorities during the period from October 23, 1944, to 
February 24, 1945, when an investigation of real estate ownership 
was conducted and a report filed on the findings (Coburn, 1945). 
At this time, testimony was taken from Chamorros and Carolinians 
as to the extent and location of their privately owned land, and the 
NKK records that contained copies of instruments by which the 
company leased or purchased land from civilians and leased land 
from the Japanese government were collected and checked against 
the verbal testimony. 

This commendable first step was not followed by further con- 
structive action until 1950, and for five years the problem of settling 
ownership claims was not really faced. By 1950, an administrative 
land office had been established on Saipan and steps were being 
formulated to cope with the situation. At this time the NKK records 
were translated and the Chamorros and Carolinians were given some 
hope that their titles would eventually be validated. In the mean- 
time, however, since the close of hostilities with Japan, American 
military forces have occupied and used much private land, including 
that on which a golf course for Americans has been built, with no 
compensation to the owners. Also, the Chamorros and Carolinians 
have received no legal assurance of their permanent occupance of 
their houses, even though many of the houses were built by them- 


selves. They have no assurance of retaining ownership of any real 
property. It is not surprising that the land situation has contributed 
to a general feeling of economic uncertainty. Five years after the 
cessation of hostiHties with Japan, a clearly defined, explicit program 
for settling the land question, whereby local administrators, Cha- 
morros, and Carolinians would be fully informed of the provisions 
of the program, and whereby the local administrative unit would 
be provided with adequate authority for attaining the ends of the 
program, had not been instituted. In all fairness to the time- 
consuming complexity of the work involved, and the fact that the 
administration has been caught between military exigencies and 
civilian needs, the degree of progress toward a solution of the land 
question has not been a credit to American administration. For- 
tunately, in 1950 this negligence was beginning to be realized and 
steps were being taken to correct the situation. 


There are no accurate figures as to the amount of land owned 
by Chamorros and Carolinians at the time of the invasion in 1944. 
It is known that most of the privately owned land on Saipan was 
in Chamorro and Carolinian hands, despite the pre-war process of 
land alienation that had commenced by the end of the Japanese 
regime. Probably two-thirds to three-quarters of Chamorro and 
Carolinian land was leased, and as the NKK records contain figures 
on the amount of land leased by the company from private owners, 
Coburn was able to start with these records, then proceed to take 
statements from all persons claiming to own land, and thereby to 
arrive at a reasonably accurate estimate of total Chamorro and 
Carolinian land holdings. The Coburn findings reveal that about 
2,140 cho (1 cho is approximately equal to 2.5 acres) were claimed 
by 662 persons, of whom 384 were Chamorros and 278 were Caro- 
linians. It should be remembered, however, that these figures refer 
to claimed, not proven, holdings. 

Size of Holdings 





4-5 5-6 6-7 7-8 




1 cho 




cho cho cho cho 



10 cho 

Number of Individual Holdings 
154 198 88 71 40 27 21 19 8 10 26 


The size of individual land holdings is also important. The 
table (p. 130) indicates the predominance of small holdings. Only a 
few families on Saipan had land holdings of more than 10 cho (ap- 
proximately 25 acres) . 

The amount of land privately owned by Chamorros and Caro- 
linians in relation to the total arable land in the island is difficult 
to determine. At the time of the outbreak of the war, estimates 
place the total arable land at about 10,000 cho, most of which was 
under cultivation, primarily for sugar cane. It should be noted that 
this land varied greatly in quality. The Coburn report gives the 
Chamorros and Carolinians more than one-fifth of this total, but 
their land holdings were concentrated along the productive western 
coastal strip, the southwestern lower slopes of Mount Tapochau, 
and in the districts of As Lito, As Teo, and Laulau — all areas of 
relatively good land. The balance of arable land not owned by the 
Chamorros and Carolinians was mostly public domain leased to 
the NKK. 


In order to stimulate a return to farming and to allow those who 
wished to return to their land to do so, the administration in 1947 
established a system of revocable permits.^ According to this system, 
an individual was given a permit by the government to use a tract 
of land for farming purposes. The permit was revocable on thirty 
days' notice by the government and carried no assurance of perma- 
nent tenure. Revocable permits were issued to persons who wished 
to return to their own land and to those who wished to farm public 
domain. In the former case, even though an individual was on his 
land, he merely held a revocable permit to farm it. A formal deed 
or title was not issued to him because the administration did not 
wish to commit itself to validating ownership to tracts where 
boundaries might be in dispute. Also, the plans of the military 
services for future bases on Saipan were uncertain and it was not 
known what future military land requirements might be. 

Until the postwar wage economy started to collapse, except ini- 
tially there actually was not much demand for revocable permits. 
By 1950 the demand increased, as people realized they would have 
to depend more and more on locally produced food. Unfortunately, 
the administration previously had allowed a few individuals to take 

' This system actually started in 1946, through the issuing of revocable permits 
for approximately 100 hectares of land. However, no permanent records of these 
permits were kept. 


out permits for excessively large tracts. Also, boundary determi- 
nations were not looked into until the demand for permits had 
become large, and boundary disputes on revocable permit land be- 
came a troublesome feature of the system. 

In the table below are given the amounts of land issued on a re- 
vocable permit basis between 1947 and mid-195(). The table shows 
the sharp rise in revocable permits, coincident with the decline of 
wage work, in 1950. 




























Total 410 2,233.6 166 581.5 

1 hectare = 2 All acres. 
* First six months only. 

The system of revocable permits was and is a purely stopgap 
measure to encourage a return to agriculture. The system provides 
the holders of such permits with no security, about which the Cha- 
morros complain. Thus, they were encouraged to plant coconuts, 
but at the same time they were given no assurance that after the 
seven years required for the coconut palms to mature they would 
still be in possession of the land. Also, the increasing number of 
permits issued will eventually entail more labor in adjustment of 
permanent land titles. The system, though worth while as a tem- 
porary expedient, has no value for the final settlement of the Saipan 
land problem. 


Although this is not an administrative report, it should be noted 
that a program to resolve the ownership problem on Saipan as 
rapidly and as fairly as possible must incorporate the following 
provisions : 

(1) Establish the boundaries of usable privately owned farm 
land through mutual agreement of adjoining owners, record titles 
to such land, and issue some sort of official deed as a validation of 

(2) Effect the equable exchange of private land whose utility 
has been destroyed by the construction of military installations for 


tracts of public domain of equal value, set the boundaries of the 
new tracts, record their titles, and issue deeds to the owners. Au- 
thority for this step has already been promulgated in an official 
Trust Territory policy letter. 

(3) Initiate a homestead plan whereby persons who own no 
land or insufficient land to support their families may homestead 
limited tracts of public domain. A considerable number of families 
fall in this category. A homestead plan had already been instituted 
on Tinian and one was in process of formulation on Saipan during 

(4) Convert land held under revocable permits to permanent 
title or leasehold according to (a) whether the land is the private 
property of the permit holder; (b) whether the permit holder wishes 
the land in exchange for private property whose value has been 
destroyed; (c) whether the permit holder wishes to homestead the 
land under permit, provided he is qualified to do so; (d) whether 
the permit holder wishes to lease the land from the government in 
cases where he has demonstrated his agricultural competence. 

(5) Completely re-survey land-holdings, following the steps 
listed above. To attempt to re-survey Saipan prior to other steps 
would postpone major decisions far too long. 

(6) Allow compensation to owners of private land still occupied 
and used by the government, and formulate a decision as to whether 
compensation will be paid on all private land occupied by the 
government following the close of hostilities with Japan. 

(7) Establish effective procedures for the settlement of land 
disputes, particularly in cases involving the inheritance of real 
property. Many owners have died intestate since the war, and nu- 
merous disputes among the heirs can be anticipated. These disputes 
involve some form of codification of inheritance customs if the dis- 
putes are to be settled by court action. 


The Chamorros of Saipan have long been accustomed to the 
individual ownership of land. During the nineteenth century there 
was abundant land on Saipan and no real pressure of population on 
the land resources. Each family cultivated its own fields and if 
more land was needed there was plenty to be had. In addition, 
some half-dozen families had received Spanish grants for grazing 
rights to large tracts on the island, though the land included under 


these grants seems never Lo have been fenced and was only partially 
used. Administrative supervision by the Spanish authorities of land 
use and ownership on Saipan was at a minimum. 

With the assumption of control by Germany, the government's 
supervision of land holdings became more systematic and rigorous. 
The German government recorded all titles to land on Saipan and 
all individual owners received certificates covering such titles. A 
homestead plan was initiated, and it drew considerable numbers of 
Chamorros from Guam. The Spanish grazing grants were revoked, 
and the holders of these grants were awarded ownership of tracts 
whose size was in keeping with their abilities to use the land pro- 
ductively. The remainder was allocated to public domain and 
opened to homesteading. There was plenty of land available for 
all who wished to bring it into agricultural use, particularly for the 
planting of coconuts. 

As the population of the island slowlj^ increased, the centers of 
settlement remained at Garapan and near-by Tanapag, on the west 
coast. Privately owned farm lands were also concentrated along the 
narrow western coastal strip, where the land was not only fertile 
but close to the two villages. In the German period, as the island 
road system improved, more distant agricultural districts were also 
brought under cultivation, particularly As Teo, Laulau, Chalan 
Kija, As Lito, and the southern and western slopes of Mount Tapo- 
chau. The land use and ownership pattern for both Chamorro and 
Carolinian lands were crystallized in the German period. It was 
also at this time that the larger private land-holdings of present-day 
Saipan were accumulated, largely by homesteading. 

When the Japanese acquired control of Saipan, they officially 
validated the German-issued titles to the Chamorro and Carolinian 
owners. With the development of the sugar cane industry, however, 
a significant change took place, for public domain that was formerly 
available to Chamorros and Carolinians as a reservoir of unused 
land was no longer open to them. The inheritance of privately 
owned land became of relatively greater concern. Disputes among 
heirs were not uncommon and were frequently taken to the Japa- 
nese courts, which attempted to settle these disputes among Cha- 
morros and Carolinians by recourse to traditional customs concerning 
the inheritance of real property prevailing among the members of 
the two ethnic groups. Unfortunately, the destruction of the Japa- 
nese court records during the invasion removed a fruitful source of 
data on Chamorro and Carolinian inheritance. 



In obtaining data on Chamorro inheritance, I experienced dif- 
ficulty in collecting case material because present conditions hamper 
the functioning of traditional inheritance customs. Having no clear 
title to farm land and conscious of the fact that neither their village 
houses nor the plots on which the houses stand are legally theirs to 
dispose of as they see fit, the Chamorros have held a considerable 
number of inheritances in abeyance until the questions of land 
ownership are more nearly resolved. The case material on which 
the following conclusions are based comes primarily from the pre- 
war period. 

Real Property: Farm Land and Sitio. — Real property takes two 
principal forms: farm land, and the sitio, or town lot. Before the 
war, the sitio was located in Garapan or Tanapag and on it was 
built the town house of the family. Inheritance involves both farm 
land and sitio. 

Marriage and Allocation of Farm Land. — Before the war, when a 
couple married, the ideal pattern was for them to establish them- 
selves in their own house in the town. In later Japanese times, 
Garapan became so congested with Japanese that this often was not 
possible, and married children often lived with one set of parents; 
but it is still considered most desirable that newly married people 
should have their own house as soon as possible after marriage. 

If the parents of the son are alive and active at the time of his 
marriage, the father will take the son to his farm and allocate a 
section of it to the young man for his own use. This section the 
son is free to cultivate for himself, and it is here that he will build 
his farm house (lavco). If the groom's father is dead, it is probable 
that a division of farm land has already been made and that the 
groom possesses a tract of farm land in his own right. 

When a Chamorro woman who owns land marries, the land does 
not become her husband's and she retains ownership of it. But the 
husband becomes the manager of the land and it is he who decides 
the use to which it will be put. 

Partido. — The Chamorros possess no unilineal kinship groups 
comparable to the clans and lineages of the remainder of Micronesia, 
where such groups generally function as land-holding, corporate 
units. Nor do the Chamorros practice primogeniture. Instead, be- 
fore the death of the male parent, the family's land holdings are 
formally divided among the heirs. This formal division of land is 


called the particlu. It is by custom considered right and proper that 
every male head of a family should make a partido before his death. 
In actuahty, it often happens that he does not, and that a division 
of the land is made by the heirs after his death. This division after 
the death of the male parent is also called a partido, but in the 
narrow sense of the term the partido refers to the division initiated 
by the father. 

When a husband and wife become so old that they no longer are 
active, they call their children together. The father and husband, 
who has previously consulted his wife, tells each child what his or her 
share of the land is to be. If the father has previously allocated 
various tracts of farm land to the sons who are married, the formal 
announcement acts as validation of the previous allocation. Further- 
more, the father's word is not to be disputed, there or thereafter. 
Parental respect is one of the major emphases of traditional Cha- 
morro culture. The gathering of the family at the partido is a serious 
occasion; the children have come to hear the word of the head of 
the family. Generally included in the land so divided is any land 
the mother may have owned at the time of her marriage, as well as 
that owned by the father, together with land acquired during their 
married years. There are few exceptions to this statement. 

Following the announcement by the father, his heirs may assume 
formal and sole control of their land, or the father may state that 
formal ownership is not to be assumed until his death. Sometimes 
the partido is put in writing, but this is not the usual rule. More 
often it is a verbal transaction. 

The formal partido prior to the father's death is a traditionally 
sanctioned act preliminary to the inheritance of land by the heirs. 
In actuality, there are a considerable number of instances where 
either the father or both the parents have died without making a 
partido. In such a case, it remains for the surviving heirs to come 
to an agreement on the division of the property. In Spanish and 
German times, when there was plenty of public domain available, 
the lack of promulgation of a partido by the father apparently did 
not result in many serious disputes among heirs. In Japanese times, 
however, after the establishment of the sugar industry, there was 
no public domain available and there was also great demand by the 
NKK and migrating Okinawans to lease Chamorro land. Land 
came to have much greater value and the partido much greater 
significance. At the same time, parents who were receiving a cash 
income from the leasing of the family land were sometimes reluctant 


to make a partido and hence possibly to lose their sole control over 
the family purse strings. The situation was conducive to intrafami- 
lial disputes over land inheritance. 

Regardless of the formal aspects of the partido, Chamorro custom 
dictates that the family land holdings should be divided at each 
generation. With Saipan's small Chamorro population and with 
public domain available for homesteading, the process of division 
did not at once result in smaller and smaller individual holdings. 
In Japanese times, however, these permissive factors were removed, 
and a trend was commenced toward smaller individual holdings, as 
well as toward a loss of family land holdings altogether. One factor 
leading to land alienation occurred in cases where a man's heirs sold 
their land inheritance on his death and divided the money proceeds, 
as they felt that division of the land would result in such small 
individual tracts that sale of the land to an outsider was desirable. 

The Dirision of Land. — In discussing the division of inherited 
land with Chamorros, one tends to encounter two generalizations 
given by informants with regard to traditional Chamorro custom: 
(1) Farm land is divided equally among male and female children, 
irrespective of sex; and (2) farm land is divided equally among male 
children; the female children do not participate in the inheritance 
of farm land, but are compensated by receiving movable property, 
often at the time of their marriage, or a part of the sitio. When 
these generalizations are checked against case material, one finds 
that each is true under special circumstances, and that they repre- 
sent poles of a continuum that includes a considerable variety of 

If a family has a relatively large amount of farm land, there is a 
greater probability of an equal division of the land among sons and 
daughters than if the family is poor. In no case, however, did my 
investigation reveal that a daughter received more land than a son, 
providing the latter was not an illegitimate child. 

Joaquin P. had a large farm (for Saipan) of more than 15 hectares. He 
had three sons and two daughters. He divided the land equally among all 
of them at the time he made a partido. 

It must be remembered that an equal division does not neces- 
sarily mean an equal division of acreage. Land on Saipan is very 
unequal in quality. Both quality and area are here included as 
factors, when it is stated that a land division is equal among the heirs. 

The head of a family may make an equal division of land if the 
family is relatively land wealthy, but if its land holdings are modest 


the chances are that the daughters will not participate in the 

Manuel G. had five sons and two daughters, but only a small farm. 
When he made his partido, he divided the farm land equally among his five 
sons. The two daughters received no land, but when they married he gave 
each a cow, several pigs, and some chickens. The sitio, with its house, was 
given to the oldest son. 

Ignacio C. had four sons and one daughter, and eight hectares of farm 
land. He divided the eight hectares equally among his sons. His daughter 
received no farm land. However, before and at her marriage she received a 
.series of gifts of movable property from her parents to help her start her 
married life. This movable property included a sewing machine, a chest of 
clothes, jewelry, a metate, kitchen utensils, some furniture, a cow, and several 

Thus, even though a daughter may not receive farm land as an 
inheritance, the parents will attempt to compensate her with movable 
property (mobile). The amount will vary with the wealth of the 
family. Livestock, particularly cows and pigs, always figures im- 
portantly, and additional items of wealth are sometimes included. 
It must be remembered that a married daughter is supported by 
her husband and that her non-participation in a land distribution 
may be affected by this fact. One informant said that if a daughter 
were married at the time of her father's partido she would have less 
chance of an equal division of land with her brothers than if she 
were single. 

In another series of cases, sometimes in wealthy families, some- 
times in those more modestly situated, there will be an unequal 
division of land, the daughters participating but not receiving as 
large a share as the sons. Several informants stated: "Many Cha- 
morros like to give some land to their daughters, for then the 
daughters will not be too dependent for land on their husbands at 
the time of marriage." 

Miguel P., who is still living, made a partido before the war. He had 
three pieces of land, consisting of 23 hectares, 4 hectares, and 13 hectares, 
respectively. He has three sons and three daughters. The division was as 
follows: The 23-hectare piece he divided equally among his three sons; the 
4-hectare piece he divided equally among his three daughters; the 13-hectare 
piece he kept for his own use, and for that of his wife after he dies. When 
both he and his wife have died, this piece is to be equally divided among all 
surviving children, regardless of sex. 

Miguel also helped each son purchase a sHio of his own and build his 
own house in pre-war Garapan. He did not so provide for his daughters, 
but he presented them with movable property. 


Juan R. had six sons and three (laughters. When he became old, he 
called his children together to announce the partido. He had about 30 hec- 
tares of land to divide. A small part of the land he divided equally among 
the three daughters. The remainder— a much larger and better area — he 
divided among the sons. He gave five of the sons equal shares, but to the 
sixth son, who was the youngest of the children and still a boy, he gave a 
larger share. Although the daughters received but a small part of the farm 
land, Juan divided his large sitio into three parts and gave one part to each 
of the three girls. He willed his house to one of the girls and for the other 
two he had houses built on their lots. 

In the division of land among the children there is, therefore, a 
very considerable variation in the degree to which daughters share 
land with sons. To what extent this is a reflection of change in 
inheritance customs it is difficult to say. Testimony of older in- 
formants is by no means uniform, though many with whom the 
question was discussed felt that by "old" Chamorro custom farm 
land was divided principally among the sons, with the daughters 
occasionally receiving lesser amounts of farm land but being com- 
pensated principally by receiving movable property or a part of the 
sitio. There is also some evidence that the Japanese courts found it 
expedient to divide land equally among heirs in cases of disputes 
brought to court for settlement. It is possible that there has been 
a trend toward the equal division of land among siblings of both 
sexes who are heirs to an estate, and that this is a principal factor 
in the amount of variation found in case material. But the matter 
is by no means certain. 

There are certain special factors that affect the division of land : 

(1) Retirement of the parents: It has been mentioned that a 
father may make a partido when he and his wife retire from active 
work because of advanced age. If the father provides that the 
children may immediately thereafter assume formal control of their 
respective inheritances, the father and mother will continue to live 
in the family house at the sitio, and they may also retain the use of 
their farmhouse, and perhaps a little plot of land around it on which 
to raise a few chickens and cultivate vegetables. In the case of 
Miguel P., noted above, the parents retained a share of their land 
at the time of the partido. If the parents dispose of the bulk of 
their real property at the time of the partido, it is then incumbent 
upon the children to look after the welfare of their parents and to 
support them if necessary. 

(2) Death of one spouse: At the time of a partido it may be 
stipulated that if the father dies before the mother, she will receive 


her own share of the land. The mother may in turn make a partido 
of her share, or its final division may be decided at the time of the 
first partido. 

Ricardo R. made a partido, dividing the land equally among his children 
and his wife. He died and his wife used her share of the farm land, continuing 
to live at the sitio with an unmarried daughter. The wife in turn made a 
partido, dividing her small tract of land equally among the children. 

Even if the wife does not get a special share at the partido, it is 
the obligation of the children — not always observed — to care for 
her on the death of the father. In case a partido is not made before 
the death of the father, the wife will often take the land. 

Antonio C, who had 30 hectares of farm land, died in 1919, before making 
a partido. Maria, his wife, took the land. In 1937, she made a partido, 
dividing the land equally among her nine children. By this time there were 
only 18 hectares left, as she had been forced to sell the remainder to meet the 
cost of living expenses in the intervening years. 

If the wife dies before her husband, he retains ownership of the 
farm land and also has the right to make a partido of his wife's land, 
provided they have living children. I learned of no cases where a 
wife made a partido of her own land and a husband of his, and I 
was told that this procedure was not customary. 

If a couple has no children and one spouse dies, the evidence is 
not entirely clear as to the disposition of the land, except that land 
originally inherited by either spouse will eventually go to their re- 
spective siblings; but land acquired by the couple, through purchase 
or homesteading, will eventually be divided more or less equally 
between the families — usually the siblings — of the man and wife on 
their decease. 

In the case of a remarriage after the death of a spouse, or if man 
or woman has two sets of children by successive spouses, it is not 
clear as to what customary rules, if any, are followed. Two cases 
are given below: 

Luis P.'s wife died and he remarried, thereafter having another set of 
children. When Luis made a partido, the land inherited and acquired by Luis, 
his first wife, and his second wife, was divided equally among all the children 
of both wives. 

Francisco V. married a widow after the death of his first wife. Francisco 
has one set of children by his first wife, his second wife has one set of children 
by her first husband, and Francisco and his second wife have another set of 
children of their own. There are thus three sets of children to be considered 
as heirs. Francisco has not yet made a partido. However, it is clear that his 


second wife's children by her first husband will not participate, as they in- 
herited land from their own father. It is also fairly clear that Francisco's 
children by his first wife will receive more land than those by his second wife, 
because part of Francisco's land was owned by his first wife and will go to 
her children and not to the children of his second wife, who has no land of 
her own. 

(3) Youngest child: Chamorro families are large, and it often 
happens that the youngest child is still economically dependent on 
his parents at the time the father makes a partido, or at the time of 
his death. In such case, the youngest child, if a son, may receive 
more land than his siblings, to compensate for the fact that he will 
need material support until he grows to adulthood and can earn his 
own living. If the youngest child is a female, similar compensation 
may be made, by awarding her a part of the sitio, or movable 

Francisco P. made the following partido of his land: To the youngest 
child, a boy, he gave 5 hectares of his best land; to the oldest child, a son, 
he gave 6 hectares, but it was poor, stony land; to three other sons he gave 3 
hectares apiece of average land; to his two daughters he gave 2.5 hectares 

This division was approximately equal among the sons, with the girls 
receiving only a little less, except for the youngest son, who was given an 
appreciably greater share. 

(4) Illegitimate children: It is the consensus of Chamorro opinion 
that an illegitimate child does not share equally in inheritance with 
legitimate children, and the case material I obtained completely 
supported this generalization with one exception — the child of un- 
married parents who married each other after the child's birth. 
Such cases of illegitimacy are often conveniently forgotten and 
information is difficult to obtain. I suspect that in most cases the 
child is not considered illegitimate with regard to inheritance. 

If an unmarried man has a child and then marries a woman other 
than the child's mother, he may give a piece of his land to the child 
at the time he makes a partido, even though his wife objects that 
the child is not hers and hence should not share in the inheritance. 
But the man is not obliged to make a settlement on the bastardo, 
and if the father is poor, the child will receive nothing. 

Vicente is an old man, the illegitimate son of Felipe, a long dead Chamorro 
land-holder. Felipe gave Vicente 2.5 hectares, a much smaller share than 
that received by each of the legitimate children. 

Similarly, if an unmarried woman has a child and later marries 
a man other than the child's father, her husband may give a share 


of land to the bastardo, though the share will be smaller than that 
given to each of his own children. He is not obliged to make this 
settlement, and his decision will be dictated largely by his own 
kindness, generosity, and affection for his wife and the child. I was 
told that an illegitimate child cannot claim an inheritance from either 
his real or his foster father, but I have no case material to check 
the statement. 

(5) Adopted children: Although adoption has not persisted 
among the Chamorros with the high incidence common in Polynesia 
and Micronesia, adoptions do occur. I have no case material where 
an adopted child does not share in the inheritance of a foster parent's 
estate. The adopted child's share may not equal those of the fos- 
ter parent's own children and a generalization probably cannot 
be made on the point. I collected a few cases of inheritance involving 
adopted children, and in each instance the latter received less than 
the real children. I was told that if a couple had no children of 
their own, but had an adopted child, the latter's claim to the couple's 
land would be paramount to the claims of the siblings of the foster 

Juan and Maria had five sons and two daughters, and one adopted girl. 
In dividing their small farm at the time of the partido, they gave each of their 
children about 1.7 hectares. The adopted child received no farm land, but 
Juan and Maria gave her the family house and the silio. 

(6) Voluntary gift of land by one sibling to another: Two cases 
were recorded in which one sibling gave inherited land to another. 
In the first case, a brother gave a part of his land to his sister after 
the partido and death of their father, for the sister had inherited no 
land and was poor. The second case is given below: 

David N. received 3 hectares of farm land as his inheritance. David and 
his wife worked hard and secured more land, which they then divided among 
their children at the time of the partido. However, the 3 hectares that David 
inherited he gave to his younger brother, who was poor and who had insuffi- 
cient land, and whom David pitied. 

(7) Unmarried men and women: In case a man or woman is 
unmarried and has no children at the time of death, his or her land 
will go to brothers and sisters, or, if they are not living, to their 

(8) The sitio: The disposition of the sitio and of the house upon 
it is variable. If the sitio is large, the unoccupied portion may be 
divided among sons, daughters, or both. Its disposition depends 


partly upon the distribution of farm land. The parents have the 
right to live in the family house built on the sitio as long as either 
lives. After their death, Chamorros say that the house should be 
inherited by the child who has lived longest with the parents in 
their old age and cared for them most. As all the houses in Garapan 
and Tanapag were destroyed and there is no clear title of private 
ownership for those now in use, contemporary case material is not 
obtainable, but the statement seems reliable, on the basis of pre-war 
data. "The house should go to the child who has served the parents 
longest," is a common Chamorro saying. This child is often the 
youngest. And it is often an unmarried son or daughter. 

Disputes. — Conflict among the heirs may arise over the division 
of inherited land. If the parents both die without making a partido, 
the land is divided by common consent of the children, though the 
oldest son is the acknowledged head of the family and his word will 
carry most weight. In such a case, disputes may sometimes arise 
over the division of property. Disputes may occasionally arise even 
if the father has made a partido, but on this point Chamorro custom 
dictates that the word of the father is not to be challenged and that 
changes in the division of property after his death can take place 
only by consent of all the heirs. 

Mariano, Vicente, and their three brothers received equal shares of their 
father's land when he made his partido. Mariano argued with Vicente over 
the fact that a spring was on Vicente's land. "For that reason you should 
take less land," Mariano said to Vicente, "or set the spring aside for all of us 
and leave the immediate area around it unfenced." But Vicente did not heed 
Mariano's complaints, for he felt he had a right to the spring and to the land 
around it too, as his father had divided the land that way. 

Disputes among heirs may arise prior to the partido. As men- 
tioned previously, when a son marries it is customary for his father 
to allow him to use a section of the father's farm where the son can 
build a lanco and where he can plant crops. If another son marries, 
the father will do the same for the second son. Perhaps the tracts 
of the two sons are adjoining. As a partido has not yet been made, 
the boundary between the two tracts may be indefinite, and the 
very indefiniteness may cause the sons to argue as to which land is 
theirs to farm. This type of dispute is settled after the partido, but 
the dispute may leave ill-feeling between brothers. 

Juan and Jose were brothers who farmed adjoining tracts on their father's 
land. No partido had been made by the father. Juan planted breadfruit 
along the margin of the land he was farming. Jose saw the breadfruit seed- 


lings and was annoyed, so he got some larger breadfruit and planted them 
next to Juan's. Then Juan was angry. He took his machete and cut down 
some of his brother's breadfruit. There was hard feeling between the two 
brothers for a long time. 

Summary. — On the whole, the institution of the partido is a 
reasonably effective mechanism for forestalling disputes among heirs 
over the inheritance of land and houses. From the foregoing data 
it is apparent that the division of land among heirs is flexible. The 
principle that is applied is the equal distribution of benefits according 
to need among all the children. The youngest male child may be 
given more land than his brothers, but this is because he is still 
only a boy and they are adults. If the daughters do not share in 
the division of land, the parents compensate them with movable 
property with which to start their married lives; it must also be 
remembered that adult daughters generally have husbands who sup- 
port them. In the absence of a partido, this principle of the equal 
welfare of siblings is still applied. 

The core of Chamorro land tenure and inheritance on Saipan 
lies in the individual ownership of land and in the division of the 
family holdings among the children of each generation. As an ob- 
servant man remarked, "When a Chamorro thinks of land, he thinks 
of his children, and of how much land he should have to provide 
for them. This is always uppermost in his thoughts." 

It should be noted that this custom of continuous division of 
holdings at each successive generation has not yet taken place in a 
context of population pressure on strictly limited land resources, 
except during the last decade of the Japanese regime. With the 
intelligent use of Saipan's present land resources, the pressure of 
population on these resources may not become acute for a con- 
siderable number of years. Eventually, it can be anticipated that 
the problem will arise and that it will have repercussions on the 
prevailing system of land tenure and inheritance. 


In 1950, the Chamorros of Saipan were far from supporting 
themselves by farming, but the drop in wage work was driving many 
people to take up at least a minimum of subsistence agriculture. 
There is great variation among the Chamorros in the amount of 
farming skill and in the like or dislike of farm life. The confusion 
surrounding land ownership is a most unsettling factor in the estab- 
lishment of an agricultural economy. Enough agriculture was being 


practiced in 1950, however, to enable one to make reliable observa- 
tions regarding Chamorro farms and farming methods, though un- 
fortunately, no figures were or are available as to actual farm 
production according to the crops raised, land area under cultivation, 
livestock owned, or other categories of statistical data without which 
a complete picture of local agriculture is impossible. The following 
sections are devoted primarily to an over-all characterization of 
Chamorro agriculture and its relative importance in community life. 


It is difficult to obtain today an accurate picture of the extent 
to which the Chamorros actually farmed during the latter part of 
the Japanese regime. It is certain that many families retained their 
farmhouses {lancos) and a small plot of ground near-by on which 
to raise a few chickens and pigs, and to graze a cow. Probably most 
families also planted a little corn and a few vegetables. But the 
bulk of the Chamorros and Carolinians leased or sold most of their 
land to migrating Okinawans or to the sugar company, living 
primarily on their rents or on a certain amount of wage labor. 
There remains, particularly among the middle-aged and older Cha- 
morros, a core of knowledge regarding traditional Chamorro subsist- 
ence agricultural techniques. There are also many men, particularly 
younger ones, with only the sketchiest knowledge of farming, and 
for the group as a whole the level of agricultural competence, judged 
purely on the basis of subsistence farming, is not high. To judge 
from the remarks of those men who are capable farmers, in the last 
years of the Japanese administration the extent of knowledge of 
agriculture suffered a decline which continued through the immediate 
post-war period, simply because so little real farming was practiced. 
The competent Chamorro farmers of today do not have a high 
opinion of the farming abilities of the Saipan group as a whole. It 
seems certain that a raising of the level of agricultural competence 
is a prerequisite to the development of an agricultural economy 
on Saipan. 


An important factor in local agriculture is the attitude toward 
farming as an occupation. One finds little prestige attached to 
farming, and it is not a profession to which young men aspire, al- 
though there is respect for the competent farmer. This attitude is 
by no means shared by all, for there is a nucleus of men who are 
sincerely devoted to farming and who feel that Saipan's future is 


dependent on agriculture. This nucleus includes not only men of 
little formal education but a number of the community's leaders 
and other men of sophistication. The most outstanding example is 
a man now in his sixties, the wealthiest Chamorro on Saipan before 
the war, and an outstanding leader, who today is one of the most 
vigorous exponents and practitioners of better farming methods. 

It might be thought that the lack of esteem in which farming is 
held by the bulk of the Chamorro group is a contradiction of the 
previous statement as to the Chamorro concern for land and its 
ownership. Actually, there is no contradiction, for the Chamorros 
recognize land as income-producing wealth and as the basis of human 
livelihood. It is merely that many would prefer to receive the 
income in rent rather than engage in the actual manual work of 

In contrast to farm work, non-agricultural wage-work particu- 
larly white-collar work — enjoys higher prestige. Undoubtedly, one 
reason is that since the war many have worked for wages and feel 
that they can make more money than at farming, which, with all 
the confusion about ownership and tenure and the lack of trans- 
portation facilities to potential markets, has been anything but 
profitable. Also, the skills that the Chamorros have learned in the 
last two decades have been those that characterize wage-work rather 
than farm work. Formal education in Chamorro eyes is a ladder to 
the store, the shop, or the office desk, not to the farm. Likewise, 
to the non-farming entrepreneur, small or large, is attached more 
prestige than to the farmer, though a number of people happen to 
be both. 

Wage-work is at present fixed in Chamorro values as a desirable 
thing. One often hears: "Many like to work for wages," or, "If 
the NKK came back tomorrow, many people would be very happy 
to lease their land and if possible work for wages." 


In the year 1950 many new farms were cleared. Some men were 
rather pathetically trying to clear off the bush between huge over- 
grown quonsets that occupied most of their land. Others were more 
fortunate, for their farms were not occupied by buildings. Still 
others were clearing public domain. Everywhere, however, it was 
necessary to clear either abandoned sugar cane fields or areas over- 
grown by bush, particularly by the tangan-tangan {Leucaena glauca), 
which since the war has spread like wildfire over the island. 



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100 50 


Fig. 13. Map of Chamorro farm, Saipan. 



Size of Farms.- — When Saipan was re-settled in Spanish and German 
times, and farms were estabhshed on the island, no regular pattern 
of farm tracts was laid out. Instead, people selected land they liked, 
and the individual tracts have irregular boundaries, forming a crazy 
quilt effect when these are mapped. Farm boundaries follow topo- 
graphic features or reflect merely the whims of the first settlers, 
together with the successive divisions made as each generation of 
heirs assumed ownership. Today, cultivated tracts are likewise 
irregular in shape, following natural features or the decisions of 
owners as to how much they wish to cultivate. 

A Chamorro farm must include not merely the cultivated area, 
but from one to three times as much land lying fallow. The reason 
is that the Chamorros are slash-and-burn agriculturists. They plant 
corn as a staple crop, and in the absence of the extensive use of 
fertilizers the cultivated areas must be rotated to preserve their 
fertility. Cultivated areas are generally small, seldom exceeding a 
hectare (approximately 2.5 acres) except in the few cases where 
power machinery has been used. The small size of the cultivated 
plots is a reflection of the use of hand rather than power tools, and 
of the fact that each farmer works alone most of the time, assisted 
only by his sons and occasionally by a friend or relative. Under 
these conditions, a farmer can cultivate a maximum of only one 
hectare or at the most a hectare and a half, exclusive of land planted 
only to coconuts, and most cultivated plots are smaller. 

A distinction can be made between cultivated land and land on 
which coconut palms have been planted. In 1948 a parasite was 
introduced to combat the coconut beetle and the local residents 
have been encouraged to plant coconuts. Since the war, it is esti- 
mated that at least twenty thousand nuts have been planted. Many 
more than these have been imported by the administration but 
have been diverted from their proposed destination by the Chamorros 
and Carolinians and consumed as food. If the pests can be con- 
trolled, Saipan will eventually once again be a copra-producing is- 
land. Coconut land requires little care, but it must be kept suffi- 
ciently free of bush so that the coconut seedlings are not smothered. 
Although some farmers plant corn around the seedlings during their 
first few years, much coconut land is uncultivated. 

Plan of the Farm. — A central feature of virtually every farm is 
the lanco, or farmhouse. This may be merely a shed to which the 
family can retire during a heavy rain and where they can eat a 
noon meal, but usually it is a frame house of varying quality. The 



more pretentious are well built, with corrugated iron roofs, beds, 
and other furniture, and sometimes with a separate cook-house. 
During 1950, many lancos were in process of construction, generally 
with materials removed from abandoned troop housing and military 
warehouse areas. The lancos, however, are usually simpler than the 

Fig. 14. Chamorro farmhouse, Saipan. 

houses in the village. They are generally unpainted, and less effort 
is taken to keep the surroundings neat, except in the case of the 
few that are used as permanent residences. 

Near the lanco is a small chicken house, and at a little distance 
there may be a pig pen, with a cow or bull grazing near-by. Close 
to the lanco are the cultivated plots of corn, taro, and other vegetable 

Drinking-water at the farm is usually procured through rain 
catchment, as there are few springs on Saipan. A plan of a Cha- 
morro farm is illustrated (see fig. 13). 

Crops and Livestock.- Sciiford's (1905) useful work describes 
the cultivated plants of the Guam Chamorros at the turn of the 


century. Virtually the same crops are raised on Saipan today. The 
most important of these is corn (mais), which has long been a staple. 
Since the nineteenth century food habits have changed sufficiently 
so that rice is preferred to corn, but the rice consumed is all imported. 
Following corn, in the approximate order of importance, are: 

Taro (suni). Four principal varieties are planted: sunin agaga 
and sunin apakn, both grown in wet areas or occasionally, in very 
rainy weather, in areas that are otherwise dry; and sunin Honolulu 
and sunin Japan, both imported varieties planted in dry land. 
Every farmer will plant taro if the land is suitable. 

Sweet potatoes (kamote). There are numerous varieties, some 
imported in Japanese times. 

Bananas and plantains (chotda). Every farmhouse has bananas 
planted around it. 

Yams {dago and nika). A principal staple in aboriginal times 
and still important. 

Beans (arbochelas, frijoles, pipino). Planted in most gardens 
where the soil is sufficiently rich. 

Eggplant (biringhenas) . A favorite crop. 

Onions {sehojas). 

Tomatoes {tamatas). 

Manioc (mendioca). A little is raised. 

In addition, some watermelons (melon) and cantaloupes (sandia) 
are planted, as well as chili pepper {doni). Pineapples (piha) have 
long been raised on Guam, and many are eaten on Saipan today, 
but the people use the extensive Japanese plantings rather than 
plant their own. 

The Chamorros today make little use of the breadfruit, although 
it was once a staple. The same is true of the pandanus. They are 
fond of mangoes (manga), found at many farms. Some local coffee 
is consumed, but the beans are harvested from Japanese plantings; 
the Chamorros do not know how to prune cofi'ee trees or how to 
cultivate the plant properly. Camachili nuts are a favorite of 
children when the tree bears, but it is not planted regularly. 

Every family should have at least one cow or bull according to 
Chamorro tradition, but the ideal is by no means realized. Cattle 
are used for transportation and ultimately for food. Some cattle 
are milked, as are the island's few goats. Chickens are raised for 
eggs and meat at virtually every farm, corn being used extensively 
as feed. Some cocks are raised for cockfighting. Pigs are common 


at many farms, but feed is a major problem as there are insufficient 
quantities of coconuts, breadfruit, and corn — the usual pig feed in 
the Marianas — to maintain large numbers of pigs. Horses are non- 
existent, except for one small apathetic specimen. 


In the Marianas, where there are distinct wet and dry seasons, 
Chamorro agriculture is regulated by the seasonal calendar. The 
dry season is the time for clearing and burning fields, the wet season 
for planting and cultivating. Despite administrative efforts to the 
contrary, the Chamorros continue to be slash-and-burn agriculturists. 

Towards the latter part of the dry season, fields are cleared, and 
the bush is gathered into piles and burned, though often the piling 
procedure and even the slashing are kept to a minimum and main 
dependence for clearing is put on the burning. Fires not infrequently 
get out of control and, to the exasperation of the administrative 
authorities, burn into what little forest remains on the slopes of 
Mount Tapochau. Apart from the difficulty in disposing of woody 
plants, there is a further rationale in the Chamorro's burning, for 
it helps destroy the eggs of the great African snail and the young of 
rats, the snail and the rat being the two most destructive pests with 
which the Chamorro farmer must contend. 

Cultivating commences after the fields have been burned, and 
planting starts with the first rains, which traditionally come in April 
though the rainy season may actually not get under way until May 
or early June. 

Corn. — Usually two crops of corn are planted each year. The 
first crop is planted after the first rains, the second crop usually in 
October. Corn takes from three to three and one-half months to 
mature. The Chamorros plant their corn in rows, but use the 
American Indian method of dropping from three to five grains of 
seed corn together, the plantings being from three to five feet apart, 
depending on the quality of the soil. For seed corn, the largest ears 
are selected at each harvest and only the central kernels on the 
cob are used. 

The Chamorros plant corn in several classes of land, and if they 
are wise and have sufficient land they shift their cultivated areas. 
The best land is the level, dark gray humus-filled soil found along 
the west coast of the island, but much of this land was covered 
with crushed coral limestone used in military construction. The 
next best soils are the reddish types found inland and along the 


western terraces. The poorest types are the thin soils on rocky 
Hmestone slopes and the sandy soils in districts such as Chalan Piao, 
where there is only a shallow humus. 

One crop of corn can be planted every year in the best soil, 
provided the ground lies fallow during the interim period. On poorer 
soils the land can be used for two years but must then lie fallow 
for two or three years, though there is considerable variation in 

Taw. Wet taro, as well as dry, is usually planted at the be- 
ginning of the rainy season. Sunin agaga, the common wet taro, 
matures in about eight months. Sunin Japon, a dry taro, is said to 
take only about six months and sunin Honolulu about eight. These 
latter two varieties can be left in the ground, whereas the wet taro 
must be harvested. The latter is preferred as food. Taro plots are 
generally used every other year. 

Sweet Potatoes. -Sweet potatoes are also planted with the first 
rains, preferably in sandy soil, or about October in well-drained 
land. Land planted to sweet potatoes must lie fallow for at least 
two years between crops. 

Yams. These are usually planted once a year in good soil 
during the early part of the rainy season. Planted areas are shifted 
each year. 

Onions. — These can be planted twice a year, at the beginning of 
the wet season and about October. 

Melons.- These are planted in January or February in sandy or 
well-drained soil. 

Beans, Eggplant. — These are planted in good soil twice a year, 
at the beginning and near the middle of the wet season. 

Tools. — The tools of the Chamorro farmer are simple. The two 
essentials are the machete and the fosinos, which no farmer is with- 
out. The machete is used particularly in cutting bush, but it has a 
hundred other uses. Every farmer carries a razor-sharp machete. 
The second tool, the fosinos, is of uncertain derivation but it, like 
the machete, was adopted in Spanish times. It is a long-handled 
scuffle hoe, used in cleaning off weeds and grass from fields and for 
shallow cultivation of the soil. 

In addition, the Chamorros have adopted three tools from the 
Japanese: the kama, a short-handled sickle-like instrument, particu- 
larly useful in clearing weeds from stony ground; and the kua and 
the kusakaki, both hoes, the latter a short-handled type used for 



It is on these tools that the Chamorro farmer relies. There 
were on Saipan during 1950 some six to twelve tractors, individually 
owned and used, that had been procured from the government. 
The Chamorros know that power tools will increase a farmer's pro- 
ductivity, but tractors, on Saipan, can be used only on level land or 

Fig. 15. Chamorro farmer using fosifios (scuffle hoe). 

gentle slopes; for steep-sloped rocky farms they are impractical. 
Also, through ignorance, when tractors were first used the plowing 
was too deep a grave mistake, as Saipan's soil is everywhere thin, 
being underlain with coral limestone rock or a sterile clay. 

Co-operative Labor. — The Chamorro farmer usually works alone, 
each man for himself. Such assistance as he receives he gets from 
his sons, though if they are married and working their own farms it 
is relatively infrequent. The Chamorros have, however, a system 
of co-operative labor (adalag) on which every farmer relies from time 
to time, whether it is to build a house, to clear land, or to accomplish 
any job that he feels is too large to be handled by himself alone. 
"Adakm" means "trading labor." It is practiced between neighbors 
or relatives and is a carefully delimited exchange of services. The 
unit of service is either a day or a week. A man will ask his brother 


or cousin or a friend to help him for a fixed number of days on a 
specific project. While they are working on the project, the man 
will usually provide food for the one who is lending his services. In 
return, the host will then give an equal amount of labor to the other 
man at a usually unspecified future date. 

Manuel is building his farmhouse. The materials are from an aban- 
doned government building near-by, which Manuel has permission to tear 
down. He has asked Antonio and Jose, his brothers, and Ignacio, his first 
cousin, to help him for two weeks. They will tear down the old building, 
carry the usable lumber on an oxcart to the site of Manuel's house, and, if 
time is left, help Manuel get his house started, as Manuel has a knowledge 
of carpentry. Antonio, Jose, and Ignacio have all agreed to give two weeks' 
labor. As a general principle, Manuel says he does not like to adalag, as it 
takes him away from his own work, and he feels that usually not much is 
gained by the concentration of several men's labor, except in extra big jobs 
where it is really necessary. 

While trading labor is a recognized institution, many feel as 
Manuel does, and restrict its use to the largest jobs. Also adalag is 
practiced primarily on unspecialized jobs. Many men have an ele- 
mentary knowledge of carpentry. Some, however, have a more 
specialized knowledge and for the use of their skill as carpenters 
expect to be paid in money, not in labor. Likewise, the men who 
own tractors will plow the land of others for a money fee but are 
reluctant to do so for a service. So adalag is practiced among farmers 
primarily on jobs that all of them can do. 

When trading labor with relatives, and even with neighbors, 
men usually co-operate more or less within their own generation. 
One can trade labor with a brother or a cousin, but one does not 
trade labor, if he is a proper son, with one's father. To adalag with 
a father is disrespectful, for one should always be helpful and aid 
one's father, and there is implied in adalag a business-like, impartial, 
day-for-day, or week-for-week, accounting of reciprocal services that 
is considered at variance with the filial respect demanded in the 
ideal father-son relationship. 

Farming is not easy on Saipan. Foremost among the farmer's 
handicaps are the pests. The myriad thousands of giant African 
snails plague the grower of vegetable crops at every turn and neces- 
sitate surrounding cultivated patches with wire screen fences. The 
rats are as discouraging and feed particularly on the corn. The 
coconut beetle is still present and supported in its work by a coconut 
scale. Minor pests such as a banana borer abound. Working with 


hand tools, in the tropic sun, the most adept of farmers must work 
long hours for a modest return on his labor and planning. 


Except for the rotation of cultivated plots, essential for the grow- 
ing of virtually all crops, the Chamorro farmer is — with but a few 
exceptions -unaware of conservation methods and unconvinced of 
their need. Steep slopes are cleared and planted to corn. Because 
it is easier to work up and down hill with a fosihos and hoe, furrows 
generally run at right angles to slope contours. In the case of fields 
plowed with a tractor, contour plowing is not followed, and deep 
plowing, undesirable in Saipan's thin soils, is often practiced. Ter- 
racing is not used. Burning tends to be uncontrolled, though one 
must admit that the Chamorro farmer must clear from his land a 
rank growth of woody plants and that no adequate substitute 
method has been proposed. 

In Spanish, German, and early Japanese times, Chamorro fields 
tended to be in more level areas than they are now, on land now 
covered by military construction. In later Japanese times, the Japa- 
nese, who were careful of the land resources, did most of the culti- 
vating. Today the Chamorros and Carolinians are forced to work 
what is relatively more marginal land. The destruction of soil 
resources has thus made the need for conservation measures more 

Apart from this fact, Saipan lies in a region of high rainfall and 
high temperatures, both of which favor oxidation, leaching, and 
surface erosion — all important factors in the deterioration of soil 
resources. Today many cultivated fields on steep slopes are rapidly 
losing their topsoil, and the depletion of the soil resources, given such 
impetus by the war, is continuing under local agricultural practices. 
If Saipan's soil resources are to support future generations of the 
island's residents, more effective conservation measures must be 


Despite the pronounced trend toward bringing more land under 
cultivation, observable in 1950, the Chamorros were far from pro- 
ducing their food requirements. Furthermore, there was a con- 
siderable discrepancy between the crops produced and food prefer- 
ences. Younger Chamorros in particular prefer rice to taro; white 
bread and biscuits, made of imported flour, to tortillas. Chamorro 


food habits have become diversified and are oriented largely in the 
direction of imported foods. The types of food plants grown, how- 
ever, are still those associated with traditional Chamorro agriculture 
and the food habits of the nineteenth century. The gap would not 
be particularly serious if the Saipan Chamorros were producing 
crops for export. This they are not, for only very small amounts 
of produce have been sold off the island. The contemporary agri- 
culture of the Chamorros, therefore, is neither adjusted to present 
food habits nor does it allow through exports the maintenance of 
those habits. In this sense, an agricultural equilibrium does not 


These subjects are so closely related to Saipan Carolinian kinship 
organization that they are discussed in Part IV (pp. 363 369). 

Utilization of Local Resources: The Sea 

On Saipan, men fish both for food for their own families and to 
sell fish to others. Most of the fishing is done by Carolinians and 
is not exclusively for one or the other purpose. The clearest dif- 
ference in Saipan fishing is that observable between the Chamorro 
and Carolinian types, rather than between subsistence and com- 
mercial fishing, and it is primarily from this point of view that the 
utilization of sea resources can best be described. 


It was pointed out in Part I that during the Chamorros' long- 
enforced concentration on Guam they ceased to build open-sea sail- 
ing canoes and largely lost touch with the sea, except as shore and 
reef fishermen. On Saipan today this trend is even more accentuated. 
Except as mechanics, the Saipan Chamorros are not sailors. Nor 
are they really fishermen. They are essentially landsmen. The 
Saipan Chamorros fish, but not as a regular pattern of their lives. 
Fish have a high preference value in Chamorro food habits, but for 
a fish supply the Chamorros rely primarily on the Carolinians. Be- 
fore the war there was an abundance of fish in the local market, 
provided for the most part by Okinawan fishermen who had migrated 
to Saipan. The Okinawans have since been repatriated. 

In fishing, the Chamorros use principally spears, nets, and 


Spear-Fishing. — This is practiced along the reefs by young men, 
primarily for sport. The Chamorros are not, however, as expert as 
the Carolinians in spear-fishing. 

Nets. — Two types of nets are used: the circular throw net, of 
the form widely diffused throughout the Pacific, and the chinchulu, 
a long, narrow net weighted along one side and used as a dragnet 
(cf. Thompson, 1947). The chinchulu is used in the lagoon, or on 
the fringing reefs at Obian and Laulau. In fishing with the chin- 
chulu, from ten to fifteen persons encircle a large area of shallow 
water with the net and gradually drag it inwards, finally contracting 
the encircled area to such a small size that the impounded fish can 
be speared, or are caught in the net itself. Although chinchulu 
fishing is usually done by men and boys, women occasionally par- 
ticipate. The group is directed by an older man. 

In 1950 there were two chinchulu nets owned by Chamorros. 
One was owned by a storekeeper, who rented it to any group that 
wished to use it. In return for the use of the net he received a share 
of the catch, which was sold or consumed by his family. 

The second chinchulu net was owned by the one Chamorro who 
specializes in net-fishing as an occupation. From seven to fifteen 
men help him. They volunteer their services, which he directs. The 
owner of the net takes one quarter of the catch and the remainder 
is divided among his helpers. Part of the owner's fish is consumed 
by his family; the remainder he sells by the pound to the villagers, 
who come to his house to buy it. 

Weirs. — A number of weirs, constructed of stakes and wire mesh, 
are also built by Chamorros along the shore of the lagoon. Both 
Chamorros and Carolinians say that these weirs (gigaus) are a recent 
introduction from the Philippines. The gigaus are usually wrecked 
by the rough winter weather, and any storm generally displaces 
them. As a result they are not used continuously. Approximately 
five Chamorro gigaus were in occasional operation during 1950. 
They were built by individuals, who took the catch for their family 
needs, selling any surplus. During much of the time, however, the 
gigaus were broken and not in operation. Although they are con- 
sidered private property, there is no tradition of private ownership 
attached to the lagoon area in which they are built. 


In contrast to the Chamorros, the Saipan Carolinians consider 
fishing a part of the normal routine of every man. In their home 


islands in the Carolines, the customary sexual division of labor allo- 
cated fishing to the men, gardening to the women. Today Carolinian 
men work on their farms, but many regard farm work as onerous 
and the shift to agriculture is far from complete. Fishing, however, 
is considered a pleasure and a sport as well as work, and in Carolinian 
eyes has nothing of the dull routine of farm work associated with it. 
The Carolinians are constant reef and lagoon fishermen. In each 
family one of the men will generally go fishing at least one day a 
week and often three or four times, in order to provide food for the 
family. The surplus fish are sold through the village, generally to 
Chamorros. Often the Carolinian boys are allocated the task of 
selling these fish and can be seen trudging through the village with 
small quantities for sale. In 1950 the selling price was 25 cents 
a pound. 

The actual amount of fish taken from the lagoon in this manner 
is difficult to estimate, for there is no central market in which fish 
are sold, no regular days are set aside for fishing, and each family 
plans its own fishing independent of the others. 

As a subsistence activity Carolinian fishing is closely adjusted 
to Carolinian food habits. In contrast to the diversity of Chamorro 
food habits, the Carolinian food preferences are still much closer to 
the original diet. The principal vegetable foods are taro, sweet 
potatoes, and breadfruit, supplemented but not superseded by rice. 
The principal protein food has always been and still is fish, and the 
Carolinians retain command of the techniques that allow them to 
satisfy this want. 

Spear-Fishing. — The Saipan Carolinians are adept spear-fisher- 
men, a skill they master while they are still adolescent boys. Their 
equipment consists of a pair of goggles and a fish spear with a 
single iron point. It is not uncommon for them to work a stretch 
of lagoon several miles in length, half submerged and slowly swim- 
ming all the time, diving periodically, for four or five continuous 

Spear-fishing is done usually in small groups, each man working 
alone, although sometimes a line of men will encircle a lagoon area, 
drive the fish into the center of the area and then spear them. In 
this type of fishing little leadership and only the loosest co-ordination 
of activities is required. 

Nets. — The Carolinians are acquainted with both the circular 
throw net and the drag seine (the Chamorro chinchulu), which they 
call "ating." There are at least three Carolinian-owned drag nets of 

Fig. 16. Upper: Saipan Carolinian men returning from spear-fishing in 
lagoon. Lower: Saipan Carolinian men making fish-trap. 



the latter type. The owner takes only from one to three of the total 
shares of the catch in case a group uses the net, the other participants 
dividing the remainder. The owner of the net or an older man directs 
the activities of the group. 

Carolinians say that the ating or chinchulu was formerly much 
used by them, and that many nets of this type were formerly made 
in the men's houses of the Saipan Carolinians. Today, however, 
the ating is little used and is of much less importance than the 
fish spear. 

Weirs. — The form of gigau built by the Chamorros is also used 
by the Carolinians, but only two Carolinian weirs, located at Tana- 
pag, were really in operation during my field work. The catch from 
these weirs was used for their owners' family consumption or sold 
in Tanapag or Chalan Kanoa. 

Traps. — A certain number of fish traps, of types common in the 
Carolines, are used in the shallow lagoon areas on the west coast of 
the island (see fig. 16). 

Boats. — A reflection of the Carolinian preoccupation with fishing 
is found in their widespread use of boats. Before the war, the Caro- 
linians made small outrigger canoes, primarily for use on the lagoon. 
The making of the old type ocean-going canoe has long been aban- 
doned. Today, even the small outriggers are not made, though 
there are two still in use, one of which has an old seaplane float as a 
hull. Instead, the Carolinians manufacture an Okinawan type sail- 
ing skiff. There are some five Carolinian boat builders who occa- 
sionally make these boats — all for sale. In September, 1950, there 
were forty-nine sailing skiffs in use. Twelve of these had been sold 
to Chamorros, who build no boats of their own ; the remaining thirty- 
seven were owned and used by Carolinians. 

The Carolinians occasionally use their boats for hook-and-line 
fishing, but this form of fishing is unimportant relative to spear- 
fishing. The principal use of the boats is for transportation to 
favorite fishing places in the lagoon and in calm weather to spots 
along the outer margin of the reef. Boats are also used as a means 
of transportation between the villages of Tanapag and Chalan 
Kanoa. No equivalent of a canoe house is built for these sailing 
boats; when not in use they are simply dragged onto the beach and 
turned bottom side up near the owner's house. Boats are freely 
lent by their owners to relatives and friends, in return for which a 
share of the catch is usually given the owner. 



The subsistence fishing described above is entirely the reef and 
lagoon type. None of it is deep-sea fishing, carried on to supply 
an export market. 

After the repatriation of the Okinawan commercial fishermen, a 
deep-sea fishing co-operative was formed on Saipan by Carolinians 
and started operations in 1946. Three old Japanese motor fishing 
boats were reconditioned by the administration and put at the ser- 
vice of the co-operative, which was named the Saipan Fishing 
Company. The company was started and the initial capital fur- 
nished by a small group of Carolinian men employed by the ad- 
ministration as policemen. The number of shareholders increased 
to 173, all of whom were Carolinians, with the exception of a half 
dozen Chamorros. The fishing company has been essentially a Caro- 
linian enterprise. The Carolinians are accomplished reef and lagoon 
fishermen and they have not lost touch with the sea, so it would 
seem that a co-operative fishing venture of this sort would give 
promise of success. Yet from its inception the Saipan Fishing 
Company has not succeeded, and in 1950 it was on the verge of 
bankruptcy and collapse. 

The reasons for this failure are several. First is the fact that 
commercial deep-sea fishing for bonito and tuna requires a different 
knowledge and a different set of techniques from those needed for 
reef and lagoon fishing, the principal type with which the Carolinians 
are familiar. In the first nine months of 1950 only 24,000 pounds 
of fish had been caught, of which 4,800 pounds had been lost from 
spoilage. For commercial fishing, this is a very small volume. 

A second factor has been one of mechanical competence to handle 
the types of equipment involved. Granted that the fishing boats 
are old, reconditioned craft that require constant repair and whose 
normal life has long been passed, and that cold storage reefers are 
difficult to maintain under tropical conditions, the Carolinians have 
not displayed the proficiency needed to maintain the equipment 
necessary for deep-sea fishing; it has been kept operational only 
through assistance from the administration. 

A third factor is the problem of management. A commercial 
fishing venture requires managerial skills that lie outside the tra- 
ditional co-operative patterns of the Carolinians. On a village and 
kinship basis, they possess patterns of co-operation that stem from 
their old social organization. Readiness to co-operate is not the 
problem; rather, it is the fact that the specific form of co-operative 


organization — the fishing company is the first share-holding co- 
operative among the Saipan CaroHnians — requires a knowledge and 
planning capacity lying outside the old Carolinian pattern. Fisher- 
men have gone unpaid for months and finally have had to take 
most of the catch to feed themselves, or have deserted and gone 
back to reef and lagoon fishing; equipment has been carelessly handled 
and allowed to deteriorate; cash receipts have been left unguarded; 
thefts of cash and equipment have occurred ; book-keeping has been 
virtually non-existent, except for a brief period; and in other ways 
the work of a few Carolinian participants honestly devoted to the 
enterprise has been nullified. Failure has been the inevitable result. 

Finally, commercial fishing on Saipan has been predicated on 
marketing fish on Guam, and the difficulties that have arisen in 
transporting fish to Guam and marketing it there have never been 

Yet the sea remains a principal resource of Saipan. If the in- 
habitants are to develop this resource, they will have to acquire the 
necessary technical knowledge and organizational skill. It is evident 
that the administration must proffer continuous and competent 
supervision of any co-operative venture. 

In the post-war period, individual administrators have from time 
to time been successful in resuscitating the fishing company, only 
to have it collapse when they departed. For certain reasons, many 
of which were beyond local administrative control, continuous com- 
petent supervision has not been given the fishing company. It can 
be argued that such a company is premature among the Carolinians, 
simply because continuous supervision is necessary. Yet without it 
a Carolinian commercial fishing venture may never be a success. 

Specialization and Exchange 

Although special skills in crafts introduced by the Spanish were 
long ago developed by the Chamorros, in Spanish times it was equally 
characteristic that few craft specialists supported themselves entirely 
through working at their particular specialty. With successive Ger- 
man, Japanese, and American administrations the acquisition of 
special skills received gradually increasing emphasis. Today a con- 
siderable number of Chamorros have a knowledge of skills associated 
with Western technology and such skills form a basis for economic 
specialization. With the post-war employment of Chamorros by 
the American military authorities, opportunities arose for Chamorros 
to fill jobs in a greater variety of capacities than had been open 


under the preceding Japanese administration. At the same time as 
the short-lived post-war wage-work economy developed, numerous 
retail enterprises came into existence, run by Chamorros who had 
at least some special knowledge. With the collapse of the wage-work 
economy most of these enterprises failed. By the latter part of 1950, 
few specialists could earn their entire living through the use of 
special knowledge, although many would have liked to do so. 

After the closing of military installations in 1950, approximately 
120 members of the local community with a few exceptions all 
Chamorros continued to be employed by the administration. Al- 
though these employees included both skilled and unskilled labor, a 
nucleus of the former category formed a group of wage-working 
specialists. Among the men in this group are a medical aide; a 
dentist; a pharmacist; several clerical employees, some with re- 
sponsible supervisory duties; the principal of the school; the super- 
visor of the branch bank; the sergeant major of the constabulary; 
the supervisor of the administration farm; and several well-trained 
carpenters and mechanics. The more skilled among the women 
employees include the hospital nurses, a competent hospital tech- 
nician trained in parasitology, and a number of stenographers and 
clerical workers. 

Specialists comprising a smaller category are employed by the 
municipality of Saipan. In this group belong the school teachers, 
though the men teachers generally have supplementary means of 
support; two electricians; several office workers; and the mayor. 

A number of these specialists have responsible supervisory func- 
tions over subordinate employees. None of them, however, perform 
entrepreneurial functions in the economic sense. Also, with only a 
very few exceptions, all are Chamorros. The Chamorro group as a 
whole shows a pronounced willingness to acquire skills, particularly 
those associated with wage-work. The rapidity with which young 
Chamorro girls have acquired a command of typing and clerical 
procedures is remarkable, as their knowledge has all been acquired 
since the war. Apparently the trend toward specialization is as- 
sociated with a desire for wage-work and is further coupled with a 
desire to maintain and increase what for Oceania is a relatively high 
standard of living. This trend undoubtedly received its first major 
impetus during the Japanese administration and was given further 
support by the demand for Chamorro labor by the government after 
the war. Today, the number of opportunities for specialized wage- 
work has been greatly reduced and the future holds no immediate 


promise of increase. Several hundred Saipan Chamorros have gone 
to Guam, where wage-work is still relatively plentiful, but immi- 
gration regulations make their status on Guam uncertain. 

In contrast to the Chamorros, the Carolinians display much less 
desire for wage-work and for acquiring the specialized knowledge 
associated with the higher-paying governmental positions open to 
local residents. Nor do they display the sophisticated range of wants 
for material possessions that characterize many Chamorros. The 
Carolinian living standard is lower and more closely linked to pre- 
contact Oceanic subsistence patterns. 

In a different category are the specialists who work not for the 
government but for themselves or for the three local Chamorro 
share-holding companies. These may be called village specialists. 


Village specialists are listed below. 

Dentists: A competent dentist, trained by the Japanese, main- 
tains an office in the village and also works on a part-time basis for 
the administration hospital. 

Blacksmiths: In the village there is one blacksmith shop, whose 
proprietor works full time at his job. His principal products are 
blades for machetes and fosinos, which he makes on order, although 
he also does occasional forge welding on automobile parts. He con- 
structed his forge. The tools he uses are simple — hammers and 
tongs, hot and cold cutters, and a few neckers. In addition to this 
blacksmith, at least two other men have a knowledge of the craft. 
One of them does occasional blacksmith's work at his home, but 
both men are mainly farmers. The proprietor of the blacksmith 
shop learned the trade from his father, who was also a blacksmith. 

Mechanics: There are four garages, three run by Chamorros and 
one by a Japanese married to a Chamorro. The four proprietors 
specialize in jeep and truck maintenance and repair and have a 
general knowledge of automobile mechanics, while several have as- 
sistants with a lesser amount of knowledge. Most of these men 
acquired at least a part of their knowledge during the Japanese 
regime. Since the war, many younger men have acquired some 
knowledge of motor mechanics. Each garage also sells gasoline, 
and there are two additional gasoline stations not connected with 
a garage. 

Silversmiths and Watch Repairers: One small shop is maintained 
by a young Chamorro, whose father is a silversmith. At least two 


Other men have an elementary knowledge of silversmith's work, but 
do not practice their trade regularly. 

Radio Repair: There are a number of radios in the village, and 
there is one shop operated by a Chamorro. With the departure of 
most Americans his trade has been insufficient to justify his keeping 
his shop open more than part of the time. He also operates the 
film projector at the village movie. 

Shoemakers: There are two cobblers' shops, but only one is 
really operative. The active shop is operated by a Chamorro who 
specializes in making leather sandals to order, primarily for Ameri- 
cans, although he also repairs shoes and makes leather sheaths for 
machetes. His leather is all imported. 

Bakers: Although there are two bakery shops in Chalan Kanoa, 
only one is fully operative and functions as a full-time bakery. It 
is a family enterprise operated by an excellent baker, who is assisted 
by two male relatives and by several part-time, women employees. 
The ovens were obtained from the military authorities when Saipan 
was abandoned as a base. The baker's products are primarily white 
bread and rolls, made from imported flour, although special orders 
for roskete, a Chamorro roll, are occasionally filled. The entire is- 
land is supplied with bread by this bakery. 

Barbers and Hairdressers: At least six barbers ply their trade 
regularly in Chalan Kanoa at small barber shops. In addition, one 
young Chamorro woman operates a hairdressing shop for women 
customers, offering shampoos, permanent waves, and miscellaneous 
allied services. The shop is patronized by both American and 
Chamorro women. 

These are the principal craft specialists operating small retail 
establishments. In addition, there are twelve or fifteen other retail 
stores in Chalan Kanoa, including three pool halls, one laundry, a 
restaurant, a popcorn stand, a movie theatre, and a meat and fish 
store. The remainder are general stores selling a variety of objects, 
from rice and canned foods to dress goods. Most of them also sell 
beer. The proprietors are small entrepreneurs and in this sense are 
specialists, but they are not craft specialists. During 1950, all but 
a few were on the verge of bankruptcy, and probably only a half 
dozen general retail stores will survive. Their owners will be those 
store-keepers with the most capital, the greatest restraint on the 
temptation to allow sales on credit, particularly to relatives, a knowl- 
I'flge of book-keeping, and adequate planning capacity qualities 
which several of the present proprietors possess. 


There is also in the village a group of part-time craft specialists. 
These include a half-dozen makers of bamboo rakes, used in every 
Chamorro household to keep the yards free of trash. The rake- 
makers sell their products to the retail stores, who resell the rakes 
to customers. The same procedure is followed by men who make 
suekos, the wooden clogs that most Chamorro women wear. In 
addition, there are a number of stone masons and cement workers, 
who build cisterns and ovens on contract. Several cooks hire out 
their services for large parties. There is also one woman who bakes 
pastries for sale at parties, and another who specializes in making 
flower leis for Americans. The most important of the part-time 
specialists, however, are the carpenters. A number of these men 
were so continuously busy during 1950 that they could be classed 
as full-time specialists, but the majority of the community's carpen- 
feros worked only part-time at their craft. 

Many Chamorro men have some knowledge of carpentry. Some 
two dozen have a more specialized skill and are acknowledged 
professionals. There is also an expert Japanese carpenter married 
to a Chamorro. In the post-war years there has been much house- 
building, so that the carpenters have been busier than usual. 

In hiring the services of a carpenter to build a house, one of two 
methods is generally followed. Under the first method the prospec- 
tive householder contracts with a carpenter to build a house to 
definite specifications for a fixed sum agreed upon in advance, al- 
though the owner usually provides the materials. The number of 
doors and windows, the size of the house, and all other structural 
details are decided on at the time the verbal contract is made. The 
carpenter may hire a helper or another carpenter to assist, after 
agreement is reached with the owner. 

According to the second method, the owner hires a carpenter by 
the hour and provides the materials for the house. In both methods 
compensation for the carpenter's services is always in money, al- 
though supplementary compensation may also be agreed upon. 
Thus, in one instance it was agreed that the carpenter was to be 
provided with one case of beer a week. 

Although craft specialization is characteristic particularly of the 
Chamorros, and is for the most absent or little developed among 
the Carolinians, there are about six Carolinian carpenters who work 
for both Carolinians and Chamorros. Characteristically, however, 
the Carolinian carpenter will seldom ask a fee from a kinsman; 
from a Carolinian who is not a kinsman he will ask only for a small 


sum; from a Chamorro he will generally demand the full price for 
his services. Among themselves the Chamorros follow the last 
practice. This difference is indicative of a contrast in the organiza- 
tion of kinship patterns between the two groups. 


Apart from the ill-fated fishing company, there are three other 
share-holding companies on Saipan (1950). The fishing company is 
primarily Carolinian, but the others are Chamorro. All are post- 
war innovations, and none have been outstandingly successful. 

The Saipan Importers: This is a wholesale importing company, 
supplying retail stores on Saipan. It commenced operations in 1947 
as an outgrowth of a government-run trade store. Stock was issued 
at $10 a share, the total shares outstanding in August, 1950, 
amounting to 688 shares, with about 500 shareholders. The com- 
pany employs a well-educated and competent Japanese-Chamorro 
manager and several assistants. For the first few years the company 
was very prosperous, but pressure from stockholders and directors 
resulted in the declaration of overly large dividends, to satisfy the 
stockholders' desire for quick and generous profits. In 1948, a 76 
per cent dividend was declared; in 1949, a 26.6 per cent dividend 
was issued; and in 1950, to the disgust of most stockholders, only a 
6 per cent dividend was possible. By 1950, the increasingly poor 
economic condition of Saipan made the continued success of the 
company doubtful. Past excessive dividends had stripped the com- 
panj^ of what should have been its working capital. At the same 
time, a provision in the incorporating articles of the company made 
it possible for stockholders to turn in their shares for redemption at 
par value. In the first eight months of 1950, many stockholders 
were turning in their shares, further depleting the capital. The 
future of the company is accordingly most uncertain. 

Arrow Transportation Company: This is a small trucking con- 
cern, which in 1950 was about to fail. It had five licensed trucks, 
which were for sale. The company's functions were to truck crushed 
coral limestone, on contract with the municipality, for local road 
maintenance, to haul garbage, and to do miscellaneous trucking. 
An unjustified 100 per cent dividend was declared in 1949 by the 
directors, the company's first and last dividend. The manager is 
an experienced mechanic and a garage operator. 

Northern Marianas Development Company: This company was 
chartered in 1948 to exploit the copra resources of Alamagan and 


Agrihan, in areas where the coconut beetle has not devastated the 
coconut palms. The company has 147 shareholders and a capital 
of about $9,000. The manager is an educated Japanese-Chamorro, 
originally from Guam, who once attended Oklahoma Agricultural 
and Mechanical College. The company assisted the present popula- 
tions of Alamagan and Agrihan to establish themselves — with much 
additional assistance from the navy and shares the return on the 
copra crop with them, marketing the entire crop. The amount of 
copra produced is not large- approximately 140 tons in 1948 and 
170 tons in 1949. The company has not declared a dividend, and 
it is not particularly profitable, one reason, according to the directors, 
being that the people of Alamagan and Agrihan are content with a 
simple life little above a subsistence level and are not interested in 
producing copra to the islands' full capacities. 

How long any of these companies will survive is difficult to 
predict. The Chamorro stockholders have little knowledge and ap- 
preciation of the problems of corporate finance and management and 
are motivated primarily by a desire for large and immediate divi- 
dends, a feeling that extends to the directors. The resulting pressure 
makes it difficult for even competent management to operate effec- 
tively, particularly in the prevailing difficult and uncertain situation. 

It can be seen that specialization, originally developing under 
the Spanish regime on Guam as part-time specialization in crafts, 
has steadily expanded among the Chamorros of Saipan, although 
the Carolinian group is much less affected. The development of 
economic specialization is on one hand linked to the desire for wage- 
labor, and on the other hand to the retail store; administrative 
activity also plays an important role, particularly as regards pro- 
fessional specialists in medicine and education. In 1950, however, 
the radical decline of government employment resulted in a great 
reduction in the number of opportunities for employing specialized 
knowledge and skill for remuneration. Chamorro attitudes favor spe- 
cialization, but the economic situation precludes its full realization. 

A word should also be said as to the fisherman and farmer. The 
small amount of specialization in fishing has been mentioned. Nei- 
ther Chamorros nor Carolinians regard the farmer as a specialist, 
for farming is an occupation in which virtually all Chamorros tra- 
ditionally participated. Farming techniques in most Chamorro eyes 
are part of a tradition shared by all, and to which there is attached 
none of the aura of special skill associated with such occupations as 
those of the mechanic, the teacher, the medical aide, and the nurse. 



The preceding material indicates that speciaHzation in govern- 
ment wage-work, in crafts, and in small commercial enterprises has 
been a prominent feature of the post-war Chamorro economy. This 
specialization was only maintained, however, by the large extent of 
wage-work for the government, as well as by retail sales — primarily 
of imports — to resident Americans. Today, with the contraction of 
wage-work and the departure of all but a handful of American 
personnel, local production cannot support the specialization to 
which the Chamorros aspire. Farm production primarily satisfies 
subsistence wants of farm families, and there is not even an organized 
local market for agricultural produce. 

After the war, commodities were imported into Saipan by the 
administration, and, beginning about 1947, by some dozen Chamorro 
importers, as well as through the medium of mail order purchases. 
When the economic situation started to deteriorate, local consumers 
began to use up their savings, to extend credit as far as it would go 
at retail stores, and to liquidate some capital wealth, such as cattle. 
Many retailers allowed themselves to over-extend their credit, and 
by 1950 a large number were bankrupt. The importers, who had 
large commitments on Guam, were thus also put into a very vul- 
nerable position. At the same time the Chamorro consumers were 
trying to cling to established living standards based largely on im- 
ported goods and were undergoing a painful process of relinquishing 

Beer and rice are predominant among the imported commodities 
to which the community clings. The excessive imports of beer 
relative to available foreign exchange represent a problem that goes 
far beyond mere economic factors. During the second quarter of 
1950, $22,000 worth of rice and $21,000 worth of beer were imported 
into the Marianas District (excluding Guam), and most of the beer 
was consumed on Saipan. Prior to the war, the administration 
prohibited the sale of all alcoholic liquors to Chamorros and Caro- 
linians, but not to Japanese. Consequently, the availability of beer 
is to Chamorros and Carolinians a symbol of social equality, and 
this feeling adds to the complexity of the problem from the ad- 
ministration's point of view. 

In the absence of the expansion of wage-work, there is no possi- 
bility for even a modest volume of imports of supplementary foods, 
clothing, tools, or commodities that the Chamorros consider essential, 
without the development of an export market for agricultural pro- 

170 ■ SAIPAN 

duce. The more competent farmers are capable of producing an 
export for surplus and are hopeful that such a market can be de- 
veloped on Guam. Under the guidance of responsible administrators 
both the small community on Rota and more lately that on Tinian 
have taken steps toward developing their own transportation facili- 
ties to Guam and marketing vegetable produce there. Although 
Saipan has exported a small amount of produce to Guam, no ap- 
preciable market has been developed. The potential of Guam as a 
market has not been analyzed, and the transportation and marketing 
problems have not been solved. 

Whether an appreciable trade eventually can be developed with 
Japan remains to be seen. This problem is made very difficult by 
the lack of shipping and by political factors too complex to be 
examined here. 


In the preceding sections, I have discussed the lack of adjustment 
between the Saipan community and the local resources which or- 
dinarily would provide the economic basis for its support. Economic 
instability was characteristic of Saipan in 1950, but it must be 
remembered that the island was completely devastated by the war. 
In the five years after the close of hostilities, houses had been rebuilt 
and the Chamorros and Carolinians removed from a state of com- 
plete dependence on the administration for every material need to 
one where they were at least partially self-supporting. This step in 
itself represents progress toward economic reconstruction, and is one 
for which the administration deserves credit. To those who know 
the destruction of war, the fact that the Saipan economy is not 
more closely integrated with local resources will not be particularly 

The fact remains that in 1950 the community did not display a 
stable economy based on an equilibrium adaptation to its island 
environment. Neither fishing nor agriculture was developed to the 
extent of providing the basic subsistence foods on which the people 
depended; both were far from being productive of a surplus whose 
marketing off the island could provide for necessary imports. De- 
terioration of land resources, ownership and tenure problems, and 
inadequacies in technological competence are all factors impeding 
an agricultural adjustment. In fishing, the Carolinians, despite old 
patterns of subsistence fishing and familiarity with the sea, have 
not been able to overcome the problems presented by commercial 
fishing for an export market. 


Three categories of factors underlie the present instabihty of 
Saipan's economy. The first of these refers to the natural environ- 
ment and includes the deterioration of the habitat subsequent to 
the wartime invasion and the construction of military bases, the 
introduction of plant pests, and comparable events. The second 
refers to social factors extraneous to the Chamorro and Carolinian 
community. In this connection, I should mention the international 
complications arising from Saipan's being a former Japanese man- 
date and of present strategic importance to American security. 
These complications are reflected in problems relating to the dis- 
position of lands leased by the Nanyo Kohatsu Kabushiki (NKK) 
or classed by the Japanese as public domain, to lands at present 
reserved for possible future use by American military operations, 
and to the administration's over-all control of land ownership. The 
third category of relevant factors is found in Chamorro and Caro- 
linian society and culture, and comprehends customary forms of 
inheritance, traditional subsistence techniques, the framework of 
institutions controlling exchange, preferences in types of specialized 
occupations, and comparable data. It is the first two categories 
that particularly underlie much of the present economic instability. 
In the third category, there is much that is stable, because it is 
rooted in tradition and in the generation-to-generation transmission 
of culture content. Chamorro agricultural techniques are an ex- 
ample. Yet within the culture there are incompatibilities such as 
the sophistication of Chamorro food preferences in relation to the 
products of traditional agriculture, that are complicating factors in 
the efforts to achieve an adjustment to present local resources. The 
difficulty of adjustment is also increased by trends in the culture, 
such as the preference for non-agricultural wage-work, that cannot 
be realized in the absence of a wage economy supported by the 
administration or by foreign capital and industry, as was the case 
with the NKK. These latter intracultural incompatibilities arise 
primarily from the pre-war existence of Chamorros and Carolinians 
in a highly specialized and developed Japanese colonial outpost whose 
entire economy was destroyed by the war, leaving the local people 
in an unfamiliar situation and without the economic underpinning 
to which they had become accustomed. 

XIL Political Organization 

A principal concern of post-war Trust Territory administration 
has been the extension of local self-government among the various 
island communities in Micronesia. During the war, as major sections 
of this island area came under American military control, military 
government authorities utilized existing local political organizations, 
usually following patterns already established by the Japanese ad- 
ministration. After the close of hostilities with Japan, greater effort 
was made to formalize the machinery of local self-government. In 
1947, while the ex-mandate was still under military government, 
Commander Marianas, then charged with the administration of the 
entire area, directed the various military government units to es- 
tablish local municipal governments and to set up local taxation 
measures to support these municipal governments (United States 
Navy Department, Commander Marianas, 1947). This directive 
was of particular importance in the Marianas, for prior to that 
time, although there were a number of Chamorro officials, there was 
little formal organization. 

Under the provisions of the 1947 directive, the administration in 
the Northern Marianas district was called upon to establish separate 
municipal governments on each island. The intent was to avoid 
imposing a single form of local government everywhere, and the 
directive provided that the local political organization might be 
organized in quite different ways in different areas — some with 
hereditary chiefs exercising most of the authority, others on more 
democratic lines. The directive states: 

These municipal governments need not be uniform in type and organization 
and they shall be adapted to the accustomed usages and desires of the resi- 
dents of each community .... It is desired that in so far as practicable these 
municipalities be molded out of existing native government organization. 

Other provisions of the directive relate to the levying and collect- 
ing of taxes to support the local municipal governments, formulation 
and enactment of local rules by such governments, and the means 



by which the supervisory functions of the administration with regard 
to poHce, sanitation, and education are to be made effective. 

On the islands in the Marianas district, apart from Saipan, the 
communities are small and the procedures of the local government 
informal. Adequate communication among the elected council and 
mayor, the people, and the representative of the American adminis- 
tration can be carried on by word of mouth. Legislative and execu- 
tive functions often overlap, without disrupting the limited muni- 
cipal operations. The small size of the communities is conducive to 
informal procedures and to word-of-mouth communication, con- 
sonant with the fact that relationships within the community are 
personal and face-to-face rather than impersonal and indirect. Each 
municipality is theoretically a tax-collecting and disbursing body, 
but budgets are very small, although the municipality pays the 
salary of one or more elementary school teachers, and additional 
financial support for education is provided by the Trust Territory 

The larger population and more elaborate municipal services on 
Saipan present a more complex picture. The organization of execu- 
tive functions is more complex, a sizable budget is normally involved, 
and formal procedures for collecting taxes, making disbursements, 
and keeping financial records are necessary for the effective operation 
of the local government. 

Organization of the Municipal Government 

The formal organization of the municipality of Saipan is primarily 
a cultural borrowing from Western sources, partly through the me- 
dium of the administration and partly in an indirect manner from 
the Chamorros of Guam. 

Executive Branch. — The executive branch is headed by a paid, 
full-time mayor elected by popular vote for a four-year period. He 
is responsible for overseeing the work of the several executive de- 
partments which comprise the executive branch: the treasury, eco- 
nomics, public works, education, public health, and public safety. 
Each department has either a full- or part-time head. The heads 
of the last three departments are, respectively, the school principal, 
the medical aide, and the sergeant-major of the constabulary. They 
are actually appointed, paid, and supervised by the civil administra- 
tion authorities, but their inclusion in the municipal organization 
has been a distinct advantage in co-ordinating the activities of the 
municipality and in facilitating communication between the adminis- 


tration and the municipality. The other department heads are 
appointed by the mayor. The function of the treasury department 
is to collect fees and taxes, to keep records of collections, and to 
make disbursements. The public works department is supposed to 
maintain the electricity, water, and road systems within the village 
areas, as well as the telephone system for the entire island. The 
economics department keeps vital statistics usually at considerable 
variance with the records of the administration- and has a number 
of other highly nebulous functions. The duties of the education, 
public health, and public safety departments have been briefly de- 
scribed in the section dealing with the relations of the administration 
to the Saipan community. The administration, rather than the 
mayor, is actually responsible for the effective functioning of these 
latter departments. 

The mayor prepares an annual budget for the municipality, 
recommends legislation to the legislative branch, and is the principal 
point of contact with the administrative authorities. The last is 
one of his most important functions. 

Legislative Branch. — The legislative branch consists of fourteen 
commissioners and eleven councilmen, who together form the Con- 
gress of Saipan. Originally there was only one group— the commis- 
sioners—but later the councilmen were added. The commissioners 
are the representatives of the various districts, each commissioner 
being elected for a one-year term by the voters of his district. The 
councilmen are elected at large, without respect to district, for a 
one-year term. At first these two groups met separately, but in 
order to simplify procedures and achieve a more workable organiza- 
tion they decided to meet together, which they do about once a 

The commissioners and council pass municipal ordinances and 
other local legislation, particularly pertaining to taxes and fees, and 
theoretically must approve the annual budget for the municipality. 
Minutes of their meetings are kept in written Chamorro, and legis- 
lation is promulgated in written form. 

Judicial Branch. — As mentioned previously, the mayor is also 
the judge of the municipal court, in turn the lowest tribunal in 
the court system, which as a whole is under the immediate super- 
vision of the administration. This supervision is at a minimum, 
however, at the municipal court level, where proceedings are con- 
ducted in Chamorro, usually with no American personnel present 
except as spectators. 


Elections. — Elections are held every year. Eligible voters consist 
of men and women over the age of eighteen years. Election polls 
are set up in each district and are under the supervision of officials 
appointed by the legislative body. Written ballots are used. 

The above outline indicates the principal characteristics of the 
municipality organization. A more important question is the manner 
and effectiveness of its functioning. The post-war period is the first 
time in their history that the Saipan Chamorros and Carolinians 
have been equipped with the organizational trappings of a repre- 
sentative form of government, in the Western sense. It is not 
surprising, considering the present disturbed local scene, that nu- 
merous difficulties have plagued the municipality. 

The Functioning of the Municipality 

Since its inception, the municipality has not functioned smoothly, 
partly for the perfectly understandable reason that it is a new 
organization and cannot be expected to work without difl^culty. It 
is worth-while, however, to provide an example of its difficulties 
and to indicate some of the underlying factors involved. 

The municipality operates on a sizable budget. Supposedly, the mayor 
draws up the budget for the following year, and it is thereafter examined, 
altered if necessary, and approved by the legislative branch, after which it 
receives final inspection and approval by the administrative authorities. At 
the close of the fiscal year 1949-50, the mayor presented a budget of $65,000 
to the legislative branch, covering expenditures for the following year. In 
the budget, expenditures exceeded the most generous expectations of revenue 
by over $7,000. The commissioners and councilmen cut the budget by several 
thou.sand dollars and passed it on to the administration, which pointed out 
that even with the proposed cuts there was little hope in the present pre- 
carious state of the island economy that revenues would be adequate for the 
proposed expenditures. Thereafter, the matter was dropped and nothing 
was done, except that the mayor did not accept the cuts recommended by the 
legislative branch. He further authorized the purchase of a new second- 
hand jeep for the municipality, much to the disgust of some citizens. In 
October, 1950, more than three months after the commencement of the new 
fiscal year, nothing had been done about final approval of the budget, al- 
though disbursements were being made. 

Budget difficulties are by no means confined to Saipan these days, 
but the example is one of many that are indicative of uncertainty 
on the part of the Saipan leaders as to how to handle efficiently the 
municipal finances and other problems confronting their municipal 
organization. Numerous factors underlie these difficulties: 


Unclear Delineation of Functions within the Organization. — The 
municipal organizations of Saipan and the other islands north of 
Guam were set up in a relatively informal manner. A tentative 
municipal charter was drawn up by the mayor and a representative 
of the administration but it was conveniently forgotten. Saipan, 
however, is a much larger community than that on either Tinian or 
Rota and it is difficult to make a poorly delineated political or- 
ganization work. The deliberations of the legislative body on Saipan 
have been marked by endless discussion and bickering and general 
ineffectiveness, largely because the members had no clear idea as to 
what they were supposed to do, for the functions and extent of 
authority of the legislative group, particularly in relation to that of 
the executive branch, have never been clearly defined. Both Cha- 
morros and Carolinians are much in favor of the idea of representa- 
tive government but they are unfamiliar with its mechanics. Most 
of the discussion in council meetings that I attended revolved around 
procedural and jurisdictional matters rather than around specific 
action to be taken within a commonly accepted framework of legis- 
lative functions. Another factor is the keen sense of status that 
all Chamorros have and that affects the relations between com- 
missioners and council, the latter feeling that it is a somewhat 
superior body. In addition, as the legislative responsibilities were 
never defined vis-a-vis the executive branch, a small-sized power 
vacuum was created, which was quickly filled by the mayor, whose 
dominating personality, backed by the implied authority conferred 
by his closeness to the administration, helped put the councilmen 
and commissioners into a state of uncertainty and relative impotence. 

In order to correct this defect of unclear delineation of functions, 
a charter outlining specifically the functions of the various branches 
of the municipal government was drawn up in Chamorro in 1950. 
The step was logical in that the Chamorro leaders are a literate 
group, but whether the existence of the charter will have a permanent 
clarifying effect remains to be seen. 

Lack of Background in Political Affairs. — An important fact is 
that neither the Chamorros nor the Carolinian minority on Saipan 
had an indigenous functioning political organization of their own at 
the outbreak of World War II. Under the Germans and Japanese, 
there were appointed, and in the latter part of the Japanese period, 
elected, representatives of the Chamorro and Carolinian population, 
but these representatives were for the most only convenient channels 
through which the administration funneled rules, regulations, and 


miscellaneous information. Thus, despite their Westernization, the 
Chamorros have no poUtical organization and no real political ex- 
perience on which they can rely. Representative government is 
highly approved in principle, but its mechanics are not understood, 
nor is there a traditional form of political organization that can be 
drawn on for support. At the same time, the Saipan community is 
just large enough so that the informal personal, face-to- face type of 
relationship operative in the affairs of the single villages on Tinian 
and Rota is not completely adequate for effective political operations. 
A formal machinery of government is necessary. 

Lack of Clear Delegation of Authority. — The Saipan municipality 
is in no sense a sovereign unit and such political authority as it 
possesses is derived from the administration. A fundamental point 
in Trust Territory policy has been the extension of local self-govern- 
ment, and the administration on Saipan has been careful to avoid 
interference that might be construed as being unduly paternalistic, 
but there has been no delegation of political authority in terms 
clearly understood by the local people. If local self-government is 
to expand, delegation of authority will naturally increase and will 
be a changing rather than a fixed entity, but its limits must be 
clearly formulated at a given time. The fact that these limits have 
not been set is a contributing cause of the ineffectiveness of the 
legislative group in the municipal organization. 

Lack of a Stable Economy.— When the Chamorros and Carolinians 
were concentrated in Chalan Kanoa after the invasion, the military 
government authorities provided the area with running water and 
electricity. When Saipan was developed as a base, a central generat- 
ing plant was built and the local villages in 1950 were using power 
from this central plant and were continuing to utilize water from 
the navy's water system. In 1950, however, the municipality was 
paying a charge calculated on a cost basis for these services. Taxes 
and fees collected from the citizens were supposed to finance these 
and other municipal services, but the municipal government was 
facing serious problems in making its income meet its disbursements 
as the economic situation deteriorated with the collapse of the wage 
economy. Thus, the post-war attempt at local self-government — 
made difficult by the previously outlined problems — was operating 
under the additional handicap imposed by the prevailing uncer- 
tainties of the current economy. 

As a result of these factors, the municipal organization was 
operating in a creaky fashion, was facing many unsolved problems, 
and was in no sense stabilized. 


Political Leadership of the Electorate 

Saipan's political leaders in 1950 were neither the old nor the 
young, and in the selection of leaders there was not apparent a choice 
based on any single factor such as age. The criteria of selection for 
political leadership are varied. The following qualities seem to be 
the significant traits controlling the selection of leaders. 

(a) Ability as a public speaker. Among themselves, the Cha- 
morros enjoy discussion. Skill in argumentation and ability as a 
public speaker are important criteria of political leadership. This 
is an expression of the fact that the Chamorros tend to be argu- 
mentative, though a long tradition of emphasis on authority in 
church, family, and government has not favored the development 
of intellectually inquiring minds. 

(b) Willingness to speak out boldly against the opposition is 
likewise considered a desirable quality. This is particularly impor- 
tant in the informal discussions with neighbors, friends, and relatives 
through which a leader obtains his support. 

(c) Possession of formal schooling. All the political leaders are 
literate in Chamorro, all have a knowledge of spoken Japanese, 
some can speak English, and a few are linguistic virtuosos, knowing 
three or more languages. Knowledge of the language of the current 
administering power is considered particularly important, and formal 
schooling is felt to be desirable. 

(d) Being a good Catholic. By this is meant not only observing 
the orthodox obligations associated with confession, communion and 
other rituals of the church, but possessing a strong moral sense of 
helpfulness and respect for others. 

(e) Being well-known. All the leaders are prominent, not 
merely as a result of their election to office but because they have 
been concerned with local affairs as these have affected at least 
their own respective districts. 

(f) Being effective in dealing with the administration. The 
Chamorros, through experience with administrative officials during 
the last decade, generally maintain an outward mien of respect and 
agreement in the presence of such officials. There are very few who 
can state diplomatically a position or opinion at variance with one 
previously offered by an official, and who are able to meet an ad- 
ministrative official on relatively equal terms. This ability is ad- 
mired, and much of the present mayor's political strength derives 
from his capabilities in this respect. 


The attributes listed above pertain primarily to facets of a 
leader's behavior in relations with others, rather than to intellectual 
attainments, and it is my impression that the Chamorros place 
emphasis on the former. This is not to say that knowledge and 
judgment do not play a part, for the Chamorros are quick to point 
out an ignorant though voluble man as one of little account. All 
the members of the council as well as the mayor were intelligent 
men. But the maintenance of effective personal relationships is a 
criterion of the Chamorro leader, as it probably is in most societies. 

It should be noted that no one man possessed all the personal 
attributes given above, and several were conspicuously lacking in 
some of the more prominent leaders. Together, however, these 
attributes form a culturally sanctioned list of desirable qualities in 
the political leader. 

In addition to these positive criteria there are negative ones. 
The most important refer to Chamorro canons of modesty. A 
would-be political leader does not announce his candidacy for office, 
and for a man to campaign in his own behalf would be unthinkable. 
No man would state publicly that he wished to be elected to a 
particular office. 

One day I asked two of the more prominent young men in the village 
why this was so. They were slightly astonished at my asking. "It could 
never be otherwise among Chamorros," they replied. "What if one man 
openly campaigned for himself anyway? The people would say 'mahtgo hu 
magas' [he wants to be a 'big shot'!, and they would mistrust him immedi- 
ately, suspecting him of ulterior motives for personal gain." 

In addition to avoiding any statement that he is openly seeking 
office, the Chamorro political leader goes even further and says that 
he does not wish to be elected. This is particularly true of incum- 
bents. With the approach of election time, the incumbent will 
state that he has served long enough, that he has many pressing 
matters to occupy him, that he appreciates very much the people's 
support, but that it is time for him to step aside, to allow other 
and abler men to succeed him. These expressions are generally 
phrased in a stereotyped form and are in accordance with the strong 
Chamorro feeling that a man must not push himself forward publicly 
by making speeches in his own behalf. 

As a result, a leader who really does not wish to be elected must 
use very strong words indeed if he wishes anyone to believe him. 

Jose V. did not, for reasons of indifferent health and pressing personal 
problems, wish to run for office to succeed himself. He is a popular man and 


would probably have been elected. In order to make his position understood 
he asked the mayor to announce his stand over the village loud speaker sys- 
tem, a bit of equipment surviving from military government days. The 
mayor stated firmly over the system in Chamorro: "Sefior V. appreciates 
very much the support the people have given him, but in case anyone is 
thinking of voting for him, Seiior V. wishes me to say that it is impossible 
for him to be a commissioner and that such voters should vote for another 

There is a strong, culturally phrased sanction, therefore, against 
a man's openly seeking political office. The man desirous of a 
political career must use other and more subtle methods. In ac- 
cordance with the criteria previously stated, the leader should be 
known for the strength and firm phrasing of his opinions in neighbor- 
hood discussion, but he must carefully avoid expressing a high 
opinion of himself as the one most suitable for translating such 
opinions into action. 

It is my impression that the electorate has a keener interest in 
the persons to be elected than in political problems, a not uncommon 
feature in many communities in other parts of the world. The votes 
cast in the 1950 election amounted to slightly under 900, which was 
probably a bare majority of eligible voters. However, this is not a 
matter of indifference, for by Chamorro custom a family sends one 
or two representatives to social functions, and if the parents have 
voted, or even one member has, a family may feel that its responsi- 
bility has been fulfilled. 

There are no organized political parties on Saipan, and no groups 
among the electorate are organized to attain a specific political ob- 
jective. There is a division of opinion in the community favoring 
one or the other of the two most prominent leaders, both of whom 
hold political office, but this division is not crystallized into political 
parties. There are no ''platforms" on which these two leaders base 
their public utterances. There are no clearly defined "sides" on 
political problems, which in themselves have not been clarified. In 
voting, the electorate expresses preferences for leaders rather than 
for tentative solutions to political issues. 

There are also no nominations. One year, at the suggestion of 
the administration, nominations were held, but a number of Cha- 
morros expressed a dislike of the custom, probably because it carries 
a connotation of campaigning for office. 

No women are elected to political office, for politics is considered 
primarily a man's sphere of activity. However, there is a small 
group of women who maintain an active interest in community 


affairs. They number approximately thirty and are all matrons, 
most of them middle-aged or older. They support the Parent 
Teacher's Association and school activities, they are conscientious 
members of the church, they take an active interest in political 
affairs, and they vote regularly. Among the group are numbered 
the wives of the more prominent men in the community. They 
attend all community meetings conscientiously but seldom if ever 
speak in public, and yet through neighborhood discussion they in- 
fluence the selection of leaders and formation of public opinion. 

Cultural and Political Unity Among the Chamorros 

in the Marianas 

All the Chamorros of the Marianas realize that they are bound 
together by a common cultural tradition. This common tradition, 
including the Chamorro language, is a unifying factor that has not 
been nullified by political separation of the northern islands from 
Guam after the Spanish-American War. The Chamorros recognize 
themselves as a single ethnic group, regardless of which of the Mari- 
anas they happen to reside upon. At the same time, this unity 
does not (1950) find expression in a commonly accepted desire for 
political union of all the islands into a single political entity. Whether 
this attitude will develop remains to be seen. At present, local 
problems engage the people's attention. The Chamorros on Guam 
have been vitally interested in obtaining the full rights of American 
citizenship. As the center of the Chamorro world, the position of 
Guam and the political changes on Guam tend to set the pattern of 
thought for the Chamorros on the northern islands. The latter feel 
they are in an anomalous position as residents of the Trust Territory. 
When they journey to Guam to visit relatives they are confronted 
by cumbersome immigration regulations, and the few that have 
travelled to Hawaii have had to face comparable problems in gaining 
admittance. In 1950, the Chamorros of Saipan petitioned a visiting 
United Nations Trusteeship Committee that they be admitted to 
the United States, primarily, I believe, because they wished to 
attain the same political status as the Chamorros on Guam and 
probably because they also hoped that local economic conditions 
might thereby be ameliorated. 

The Carolinians 

As a group, the Saipan Carolinians are perhaps less concerned 
with local political affairs affecting the entire community than are 


the Chamorros. The Carohnians have a high degree of group con- 
sciousness, but their poHtical activity is largely directed toward 
protecting the interests of their own group. In elections they vote 
solidly for Carolinians. The present mayor is in part of Carolinian 
descent, speaks fluent Carolinian, and has an extensive knowledge 
of Carolinian custom. In the election that put him into office he 
received the entire Carolinian vote, whereas the Chamorro vote was 
split among several candidates, including himself. The Carolinians 
also have five elected representatives on the legislative body. The 
social solidarity of the Carolinians makes them an important political 
group; but the Carolinian representatives take only occasionally a 
part in the discussion of the legislative body. 

The Carolinians clearly choose as political leaders men with the 
best knowledge of English and of the administration's role in the 
current changing situation, in the hope that Carolinian interests will 
be protected thereby. There is no carry-over into modern political 
life of the former concept of chieftainship. There has also been a 
shift in representation since Japanese times in that the former prin- 
cipal representative, who has a knowledge of Japanese but not of 
English, no longer takes an active role, though he remains much 
respected by the Carolinians. As a group, the Carolinians have much 
less schooling and are much less interested in obtaining it for their 
children than are the Chamorros. Few of them have acquired a 
knowledge of English and they are consequently at a disadvantage 
in dealing with the administration. 

Carolinian political meetings also offer points of contrast to those 
of the Chamorros. In January, 1950, a crisis arose in municipality 
finances because the utilities bill was so high that drastic economies 
were necessary. After a meeting of the council, district meetings 
were held to urge the people to cut the consumption of water and 
electricity, to build their own cisterns for rain catchment, and to 
pay their taxes. 

In order to discuss this matter, the senior Carolinian member of the 
council met with the residents of the two Carolinian districts in the Caro- 
linian meeting hall. The meeting started late in the evening and to encourage 
attendance a man went down the streets shouting, "If your family can't 
send a man, send a woman!" Eventually some 75 or 100 family representa- 
tives arrived. Of these, five were women, though two left when men relatives 
arrived. The women entered the room in typical old-style crouching fashion 
to show respect and crept to places along the side. The scarcity of women 
and the behavior of the few present were clearly a reflection of the virtual 
exclusion of women from the men's houses, where political affairs were for- 
merly conducted. 


The senior Carolinian member sat in the center of the hall, with those 
present crowded around the sides. There were no benches or chairs. There 
was no discussion, and the proceedings consisted of a lengthy speech by the 
presiding officer, emphasizing the steps that should be taken. The Caro- 
linians are enthusiastic beer-drinkers, but they are not good tax-payers, and 
much of his speech was on the theme of beer or water. At the conclusion 
the audience thanked him and departed. 

The same night Chamorro district meetings were held, one of them in 
the town hall. The audience was mixed men and women, old and young. 
They sat in chairs and benches ranged around the room and there was much 
discussion and considerable argument, in which the women as well as the 
men participated. 

As this example indicates, Carolinian women take little part in 
routine political meetings. It is characteristic of the Carolinian 
women, however, that in a crisis it is they, rather than the men, 
who take real action, with a degree of co-operation, determination, 
and perseverance that is most impressive. 

The Carolinian group suffers, particularly at Tanapag, from a lack of com- 
munication with the administration. When it was announced that the last 
American naval governor was leaving Saipan, consequent upon the closing 
down of military facilities, the news was received at Tanapag in a garbled 
\-ersion that stated that the American government officials were departing 
and that made no mention of the continued residence of an American civil 
administrator. Tanapag was much disturbed, the people envisioning that 
the Americans were about to place the Marianas once again in the position 
of a football in the game of international politics and conflict. Unable to 
gain .satisfactory information from their menfolk, the Carolinian women 
descended on the governor to get the matter clarified. 


The political organization of Saipan represents a partially assimi- 
lated borrowing from Western sources, and its effective working is 
made difficult by unclear definition of functions within the frame- 
work of local government, a lack of recent experience and background 
in political affairs on the part of Chamorros and Ccirolinians, a lack 
of clear delegation of authority by the administration to the local 
unit, and the uncertainties of the economic situation. The present 
political organization is largely an innovation not yet established, 
though in time a more stable structure will probably emerge. 

Although the framework of the municipality organization is an 
introduced element, in the selection of leaders the Chamorros utilize 
distinctive criteria, and the political behavior of the leader is strongly 
influenced by culturally patterned canons of modesty. The Caro- 


linians as a minority ethnic group have a strong feeling of group 
consciousness that leads them to elect Carolinians and not Chamorros 
as their leaders and that makes their principal political preoccupation 
the protection of their own group interests. 

XIII. Religion 

Both the Chamorros and the CaroHnians are Roman Catholics. 
No rehgious organization surviving from pre-contact times com- 
petes for adherents with the Cathohcism introduced into the Mari- 
anas by the Jesuits during the Spanish period. There is no marked 
division of the community into Christians and non-behevers, or 
into Cathohcs and Protestants. All are at least nominal Catholics; 
the great majority are active participants in the church. 

The content and character of Catholicism have, however, national 
and local emphases in different communities in the world. As 
Foster (1948, pp. 188 189) has noted: "The total content of Catholic 
ritual, dogma, belief, and organization is so vast that any local group 
can absorb only a relatively small amount. . . . Hence, within the 
folds of true Catholicism there is room for a great deal of variation 
from place to place. In Mexico, no two towns have exactly the same 
combination of saints and virgins, of rituals and fiestas . . . ." These 
local emphases are present in the Marianas also, and a principal 
purpose of this chapter is to indicate some of the more important 
emphases on Saipan. 

A second purpose is to examine the place of the church and 
of Catholicism in the pattern and structure of local social organi- 
zation. Catholicism is deeply embedded in Chamorro culture and 
occupies a prominent place in Carolinian culture as well. It is an 
unvarying accompaniment of daily life. 

The long history of Catholicism among the Chamorros, stretching 
over several centuries, and the fact that all Chamorros in Saipan 
adhere to the Roman Catholic faith make Saipan comparable to 
those mestizo and Indian communities of Latin America that like- 
wise have a long history of Spanish Catholicism behind them. Cer- 
tain characteristics of Catholicism among the Chamorros may be 
noted in this comparison between the Marianas and Latin America. 

Although increments of ancient belief regarding the supernatural 
survive among the Chamorros, they are all essentially orthodox 
Catholics. There is no merging in Chamorro culture of two religious 



systems, one introduced and the other indigenous, with the latter 
maintaining intact a set of relatively systematic beliefs and practices. 
Saipan is in no way similar to Maya villages such as Chan Kom, 
described by Redfield and Villa (1934). In this respect, Saipan is 
much closer to Tzintzuntzan (Foster, 1948), Tepotzlan (Redfield, 
1930; Lewis, 1951) or Moche (Gillin, 1945). For more than fifty 
years, there has been an almost continuous succession of priests on 
Saipan, except for a brief period after World War I, and though the 
old religion had largely disappeared before their arrival, the presence 
of priests on the island for this relatively long period has ensured 
an essentially orthodox interpretation of Catholic dogma and a close 
attention to its prescribed rituals. In addition, the work of the nuns 
in the religious training of children has contributed to this high 
degree of orthodoxy. 

A second point relates to the degree of participation of the 
Chamorros in the rituals of the church and their acceptance of its 
ritual obligations. Church attendance is high on Saipan. In Chalan 
Kanoa, two masses are held daily. For the Sunday masses, the 
large church is usually full. Virtually as many men attend mass as 
women and there is a negligible difference in the extent to which 
each sex goes to confession and communion. Every Sunday over a 
hundred, and often many more, take communion. It is true that 
there are a few Chamorros whose religious obligations do not weigh 
heavily upon them; but as a group the Saipan Chamorros can be 
characterized as regular and steady churchgoers. One man said: 

Just because we are all Catholics does not mean we are all equally devout. 
Many take communion only twice or even once a year. Some families do not 
say prayers every morning and night, though I believe all the old people do. 
Anyone knows that, and it must be that way in any Catholic village. But 
all of us are baptized and all are married in the church, even though some 
separate later and a husband may even live with another woman and have 
children by her. But that is the way people are .... 

A third point is the close relationship of the church to familial 
life. Baptism, first communion, confirmation, marriage, and death 
are all important family occasions, and are occasions when the close 
relation of family to church is expressed and affirmed. The rituals 
of the church are performed for each Chamorro at these times, with 
the exception of the very few (such as suicides) who are not eligible 
for the final rites. Also, the compadrazgo system is very important. 

Finally, in contrast to many Latin American holy days, on Sai- 
pan the secular fiesta in connection with holy days is either lacking 

Fig. 17. Religious procession; Chalan Kanoa, Saipan. 



or does not receive the emphasis that is common in Latin America. 
Apart from Chahm Kanoa, the other villages on Saipan generally 
prepare and enjoy in common a large meal on the patron saint's 
day, but otherwise there is a noticeable absence of involved secular 
activities on holy days. Special secular activities are associated with 
rites de passage and with family novenas, but they are organized by 
individual families, and there is little community organization and 
participation in secular fiestas. There is in this respect a noticeable 
contrast between Saipan and Tzintzuntzan, Cheran (Beals, 1946), 
or Tepotzlan. 

In contrast to the Chamorros, the Carolinians on Saipan have 
not been subjected to intensive church work for more than sixty or 
seventy years. The Carolinians are all nominal Catholics, and some 
of them are among the most devout of the local residents. The only 
private chapel on the island is a Carolinian one. Carolinians as 
well as Chamorros observe annual family novenas. But Catholicism 
has not penetrated to the core of Carolinian culture as it has with 
Chamorro culture. This fact is expressed in a number of ways. 

Carolinian women are more active and regular church-goers than 
Carolinian men. Many Carolinian men are seldom seen at church, 
and many of them confess and take communion but rarely. Among 
many there is only a superficial knowledge of the symbolic meaning 
of church rituals, though probably most are aware of the significance 
of the mass in a general way. A number of Carolinian women and 
a few men, however, are among the most faithful, though it is 
doubtful that they have the knowledge of church dogma possessed 
by the Chamorros. The point is that among the Carolinians there 
is a greater degree of variation both between the sexes and in the 
group generally with regard to church attendance, extent of partici- 
pation in confession and communion, and knowledge of the sym- 
bolism of church rituals and of church dogma. This is not so 
noticeable at Tanapag, where the Carolinians predominate, as at 
Chalan Kanoa, where they are a pronounced minority. 

Although Carolinians are baptized and usually married by the 
church, a few are not, and the formal aspects of Catholicism are 
not such a dominant part of familial life as among the Chamorros. 
Morning and evening prayers in the home are not so pronounced a 
feature. The compadrazgo system does not have nearly the same 
degree of importance. The virginity cult is not given the same degree 
of formal emphasis. Only a half dozen Carolinian men belong to 
the Chalan Kanoa Holy Name Society, organized particularly for 


adult men, the membership being predominantly Chamorro. Nor 
are there relatively as many family novenas among the Carolinians 
as among the Chamorros. 

A feature of Catholicism on Saipan is the veneration accorded 
the Virgin Mary. This is consonant with Guamanian practice, con- 
cerning which Thompson (1947, p. 259) notes: 

"... the Virgin Mary was early regarded as the patroness of Guam and 
is today the special protector and guardian of the people. Every Saturday 
is consecrated to her worship. Numerous novenas and two Catholic societies, 
the Daughters of Mary and the Correa, are devoted to her honor. The cult 
of the Virgin reaches its most elaborate expression in the rites of the Im- 
maculate Conception when hundreds of young women, members of the 
Daughters of Mary, dressed and veiled in white, accompany the image of 
the Virgin in solemn procession through the streets of Agana and the villages." 

Although San Rocce rather than the Virgin Mary is the patron of 
Saipan, the latter is a much more important figure to the people 
of Saipan and occupies a special place in their devotions. The Virgin 
Mary is their special protector and guardian; Saturday mass draws 
many who wish to observe this day in her honor; and the Daughters 
of Mary and the Correa are particularly associated with her name. 
The prominence of the Virgin, as well as the major holy days, sug- 
gests a Jesuit pattern. 

Church Buildings 

As noted in a previous section, there is a Roman Catholic church 
in each village, except at Susupe and San Antonio, the people of 
which use the Chalan Kanoa church. This church is a massive con- 
crete building of post-war construction, designed by the priest, built 
by local artisans, and paid for by contributions from Chamorros 
and Carolinians as well as from Americans. It dominates the cul- 
tural landscape of Chalan Kanoa and to the satisfaction of Chamor- 
ros and Carolinians is larger than any other church building in the 
Marianas, including Guam. In addition, there is a large parish 
house (convento padres) under construction (1950) next to the church 
to replace the small quarters now used by the two priests, while 
within the village is also the convento niadres, a two-story frame struc- 
ture set in a garden, that serves as quarters for the nuns. 

The church buildings at Tanapag, Oleai, and As Lito are much 
more modest structures, which will probably be replaced in the future 
by more durable buildings. Materials were already being accumu- 
lated for a concrete church at Tanapag. There are no parish houses 


at the other villages, as the two priests usually in residence on the 
island live in Chalan Kanoa and drive to the other villages to per- 
form their duties. 

A patron saint is of course associated with each village and its 
church. On Saipan the patron saints are as follows: 

Village Patron Saint Saint's Day 

Chahm Kanoa Bitgen (Virgin) del July 16 

(including Su.supe Carmel 

and San Antonio) 

As Lito San Isidro May 15 

Tanapag Bitgen (Virgin) de los 

Remedios Second Sunday in 

Oleai San Jose Marcli 19 

The patron saint of Garapan was San Isidro, who, as the patron 
saint of farmers, was taken by the village of As Lito when it was 
established. When the village of San Antonio was frst formed, a 
church was started but abandoned and the people now attend the 
Chalan Kanoa church. San Antonio's patron was San Antonio de 
Padua. San Rocce is the patron for Saipan as a whole. 

Religious Personnel 


The church organization of Saipan is under the supervision of 
the Bishop of Guam, as are the Catholic churches on all the other 
islands in the Marianas, a fact that contributes to the importance 
of Guam in Chamorro eyes. The bishop and all the other priests 
in the Marianas are today American Capuchins. On Saipan there 
are generally two priests in residence, one of whom has been there 
almost continuously since the death of the Spanish Jesuit priest who 
resided on Saipan in Japanese times. The other priest is younger 
and was sent to Saipan partly to attain fluency in the Chamorro 
language. On Saipan only a few Chamorros speak English, so that 
the island provides an excellent training ground for newly arrived 
priests who wish to learn the language. Priests are rotated to Saipan 
for this purpose. All the Capuchin priests in the Marianas are ex- 
pected to learn Chamorro. All sermons are preached in Chamorro 
and on Saipan virtually all communication between the priest and 
the people is in Chamorro. 

As mentioned previously, although the priest is neither Chamorro 
nor Carolinian, he must by virtue of his role be considered a part of 


the Chamorro and Carolinian community. The priests do not cut 
themselves off from contacts with Americans. American Catholics 
in the small administrative group on Saipan attend the Chalan 
Kanoa church and maintain informal relations with the priests, but 
the latter's duties are primarily connected with ministering to the 
Chamorros and Carolinians. 

Since the war, the American priests have been extremely active 
in rebuilding and re-establishing the churches on the island, in 
erecting a new parish house, and in various organizational activities 
associated with the church. 

The position of the priest is one of great authority, particularly 
among the older people. He is in a very real sense the shepherd in 
Christ of his congregation of believers. In direct address he is 
always spoken to in the third person. In his presence children ob- 
serve the characteristic 'ninge, the Chamorro bow and simulated kiss 
of the hand. His brown or white robe is a distinctive dress that in 
itself sets him off from the people as their special link with the 

Since the war, however, the behavioral differences between the 
American priests and their Spanish predecessors have made for some 
slight blurring of the priest's position in the eyes of the villagers. 
The Spanish Jesuits who officiated on Saipan during the Japanese 
times brought to Saipan the ultra-conservative outlook of the 
strictest kind of Spanish Catholicism. They were unalterably op- 
posed to dancing in which both sexes took part, although they did 
not oppose the Carolinian dances because these did not involve parti- 
cipation of both sexes at the same time. They encouraged the strict 
chaperonage of unmarried girls, and they were very strict and con- 
servative in matters pertaining to the relationships of unmarried 
men and women. They did not go out at night except in case of 
emergency or under unusual circumstances, did not attend parties 
or informal gatherings, and maintained at all times an aloof and 
formal position of respect and authority. 

The American Capuchins are of course essentially American in 
their attitudes. They are more informal in their contacts with the 
people, they smoke tobacco and they do not frown on a less strained 
relationship between the unmarried of opposite sex. They enjoy 
picnics, on which they take children and young people. However, 
the people still tend to regard them with reserve and at least two of 
the priests remarked that "the people are hard to get to know" 
and that many walk down the street with downcast eyes when pass- 


ing the priest. Many of the Chamorros are still not quite com- 
fortable in this more informal day-to-day relationship of the priest 
and the laity. On the other hand, the attitudes of the Spanish Jesuits 
were not characteristic of the entire pre-war period. In Spanish 
times, the Spanish Augustinians are said by the older people to have 
been informal and in no way aloof, enjoying sports such as spear- 
fishing on the reef, and participating in family gatherings. 

These differences in attitude of the various orders which have 
worked on Saipan, however, have affected mainly the periphery of 
the priest's role in the community; the major functions of the priests 
have always been discharged in the same manner. The present 
more informal attitude of the American Capuchins is important 
primarily in that in the situation of post-war culture change on 
Saipan, the inflexible formality of the Spanish Jesuits would un- 
doubtedly have hindered rather than helped the Chamorros and 
Carolinians in their effort to adjust to their changed circumstances. 


At the convento madres in Chalan Kanoa live seven nuns of either 
Spanish or Latin American extraction. They belong to the order 
of the Sisters of Mercy, which was established on Saipan during 
Japanese times. The mother superior has lived on the island for 
twenty-nine years and, together with most of the other resident 
nuns, went through the invasion battle, in which one of their number 
was killed. 

The principal occupation of the nuns is the religious instruction 
of Chamorro and Carolinian children. The nuns, assisted by lay 
teachers, hold daily classes in catechism. Instruction is given en- 
tirely in Chamorro. Every Chamorro child and most Carolinian 
ones attend these classes after the public school has recessed for the 
day. The classes last from an hour to an hour and a half. The nuns 
also give additional religious instruction and secular training in 
household arts and duties to a number of older girls at the convento 
madres. Some eight of these girls are studying for the sisterhood. 

In the religious instruction of children, use is made of several 
Catholic texts that have been translated into Chamorro. These 
consist principally of the catesismo and the debotionario (prayer 
book). In addition, Chamorro texts include the catisa, a small 
elementary text for the youngest children; the historia sagrada, a 
collection of Bible stories; and several novenas. 


The nuns also train and supervise the choirs, of which there are 
two, a Chamorro choir and a CaroHnian one. The former sings at 
the first mass and the Carolinian at the late mass, though on special 
occasions they combine. 

Religious Societies 

Associated with the church there are today on Saipan five re- 
ligious societies: 

San Stanislau: For boys from the time of first communion (six 
to seven years of age) to the age of about fifteen, 

San Luis: For youths from the age of about fifteen until the 
time of marriage. 

Holy Name: For adult men. 

Daughters of Mary : This society has two divisions, one (famaguon) 
for girls from the time of first communion until they are twelve or 
fourteen years of age, and the other (aniko) for older girls from twelve 
or fourteen until the time of marriage. 

Correa: For adult women after marriage. 

These societies span the life cycle of an individual of either sex. 
Each is confined to a particular age group, and an individual passes 
out of one society and into another as he or she grows older. The 
two societies for adults are composed primarily of married men and 
women, as marriage is the event that generally marks the time of 
entrance into either society. However, the Holy Name society con- 
tains one elderly bachelor, for an elderly adult would be out of place 
in San Luis. Membership in the society for younger women is based 
on virginity as well as on the age factor, so that in this society there 
are a number of older unmarried women, including the senior mem- 
ber, a vigorous gray-haired spinster, who always leads the members 
of the society in religious processions and who takes her position 
very seriously. 

In the various shifts of political authority that Saipan has under- 
gone since Spanish times and the consequent changes in the priestly 
orders resident on the island, the religious societies have likewise 
changed. I was told that originally the only society was the Correa 
and that it was not until the Spanish Jesuits came to Saipan during 
the Japanese period that the Daughters of Mary or the men's 
societies were established. At this time there was no Holy Name 
society, which was established after the war, but in addition to San 
Stanislau, San Luis, Daughters of Mary, and the Correa there were 


two societies, the Apostillado and the Carmelita, each for both men 
and women. The latter two are now inactive. 

The size of the societies varies considerably. San Stanislau and 
the younger division of the Daughters of Mary include most of the 
age groups concerned. San Luis is smaller. In Japanese times, the 
Spanish lay brother on the island took charge of meetings of San 
Stanislau and San Luis and they were more active than at present. 
Holy Name had a membership of sixty-five and was planning to 
initiate twenty-five more members in 1950. The Correa had about 
three hundred members, and the Daughters of Mary probably as 
many. On the whole, the women's societies are larger and more 
active than the men's, partly because the nuns are able to devote 
time to them. The priests are so occupied with rebuilding the 
churches that only limited time can be given to the two boys' so- 
cieties. Each society has a special Sunday designated as particularly 
appropriate for the members to take com^munion. 

As on Guam, the Daughters of Mary reflects the strong emphasis 
on the virginity of unmarried girls that was a particular preoccupa- 
tion of Spanish teaching. All the Chamorro girls of respectable 
family belong to this society, as well as many Carolinian girls. It is 
their obligation to guard their chastity in emulation of the Virgin 
Mary. The society has its own uniform of white dress and blue 
sash with white veil, worn on the occasions of religious processions 
and other major church events in which they participate. They 
hold regular meetings and under the supervision of the nuns perform 
various duties in connection with the church, such as washing the 
vestments, decorating the church with flowers on special occasions, 
and cleaning the statues and the altar. 

The Correa, the society of married women, likewise performs 
various duties such as keeping the church clean, adorning the statues 
of the Virgin on special occasions, and fulfilling certain functions 
such as carrying a statue of the Virgin in the Good Friday procession. 
Every member of the Correa wears a leather belt, specially blessed, 
with which she practically never parts. When a member of the 
Correa dies, other members may contribute to pay for the mass for 
the deceased. 

The Holy Name Society, the most active of the men's societies, 
also has regular meetings. It has been primarily devoted to assisting 
the priests in getting the new churches and parish house built and 
in facilitating the organizational activities of the church, such as 


seeing that children attend catechism classes regularly. As a new 
society, started since the war, it is still a small group and in 1950 
was in process of expansion. 

The religious societies of Saipan are thus primarily devotional in 
nature, in that they further a more active participation of the com- 
munity in the rituals of the church, in the training of the young in 
Catholic dogma, and in general dissemination of Catholic belief. 
At the same time they perform duties such as caring for the clean- 
liness and the decoration of the church. They make floats and other 
accessories associated with religious processions and help to overcome 
the practical difficulties of building and maintaining the church 
structures. On the whole, the women's societies are somewhat more 
active and include a greater percentage of the population than do 
the men's. It is probable that under the present leadership of the 
priests and nuns, membership and activities of the religious societies 
will expand. 

Lay Assistants 

In addition to the religious societies, other members of the com- 
munity are essential parts of the church organization: The priest 
appoints the conciergon guma juus, a small group of men who assist 
in the collection of contributions to the church and stress among 
the people the desirability for confession and communion and regular 
attendance at mass. A special pew is reserved for the conciergon 
guma juus in the church at Chalan Kanoa. 

Important also are the priest's tanores, or servers, whom he selects 
and trains from among the young boys. In addition, one or two 
young men perform the duties of assistants. There are also two 
choirs (koros), one Chamorro and one Carolinian, including both 
young and middle-aged men and women. The choirs are conscien- 
tious groups devoted to their task, which they perform very credit- 
ably. The succession of religious orders on Saipan has given the 
choirs familiarity with a greater range of choral numbers than they 
would otherwise have had. 

Church Services and the Church Calendar 

The yearly round of holy days is of course controlled by the 
intricate ecclesiastical calendar of the Catholic church. The church 
services are divided into the ordinary routine of week-day and Sun- 
day masses and rosaries, punctuated at intervals throughout the 


year by special days of particular significance for the village as a 

For Sunday masses the church is usually well filled, on week 
days less so. The daily evening service (lisajo) draws more women 
than men and only the most devout attend. The early mass at 
5:00 A.M. (misan mona) is known as the Chamorro mass; the late 
mass at 7:30 a.m. (misan tale) is for the Carolinians, though as 
previously noted the attendance is by no means restricted to either 
group, and members of both are present at early or late mass. 
However, more Chamorros attend early mass than late mass and 
early rising is considered a virtue among them. It is at the early 
mass that the respected citizens of the Chamorro community are 
to be seen. 

Within the church, there is a definite seating arrangement: Men 
and boys sit on the left, women and girls on the right. In the first 
pews are the children, and behind them sit the nuns. Off the center 
aisle on the men's side are benches for the conciergon guma juus 
and for the commissioners and councilmen, though only a few of this 
political group sit there. The other people distribute themselves as 
they wish, though at early mass Chamorros tend to sit farther for- 
ward than Carolinians. Some of the older people have places they 
habitually occupy and which other people do not usurp. 

The older Chamorro women wear the brightly colored Filipina 
mestiza costume, with full skirt, beaded slippers, net bodice with 
peaked sleeves, and either a lace or fine net head -covering, or as in 
the case of many of the older women, a black or white head scarf 
that drops to the shoulders. The younger women all wear American 
fashions, the degree of chic correlating with the status of the wearer. 
Men wear freshly pressed cotton shirts and trousers. The people 
always wear their best clothes to church. 

The days of obligation are the same as those prescribed for the 
United States. Apart from Sunday they include New Year's, As- 
sumption (August 15), All Saints (November. 1), Immaculate Con- 
ception (December 8), and the Nativity (December 25). However, 
the Saipan calendar of religious fiestas has a more distinctive pattern 
than is implied by the list of the days of obligation alone. 

Certain days of the week are also designated as being particularly 
appropriate for special individual devotions. A man or woman may 
make a vow to attend mass regularly on one of these days, either in 
gratitude for recovery from sickness or to seek protection from ill 
fortune. On Saipan, a number of men have made a promessa to 



attend mass on Saturday, the day devoted to Santa Maria. During 
the Japanese period, the men in particular were urged to attend 
mass on this day. 

Fig. 18. Religious procession, Chalan Kanoa, Saipan. 

The first Friday of the month is also important. Several attend 
mass and take communion regularly on this day, to receive the special 
protection of Santa Maria, particularly that they may not die sudden 
deaths without the possibility of repentance. Wednesday figures 
significantly as a day of devotion to San Jose. 


The following special religious occasions are the principal high 
points in the calendar of holy days on Saipan: 

January 1: New Year's Day. Circumcision of our Lord. A day 
of obligation. 


March 19: San Jos6, patron of Oleai. Novena in the village 
church and procession in the village on the day of the patron saint. 

Holy Week (March or April) : The high point of the year, par- 
ticularly from Maundy Thursday through Sunday, when there is a 
large attendance at the religious solemnities and an impressive degree 
of participation. The various lay religious societies perform special 
obligations, such as taking turns at standing vigil in the church 
from the close of mass on Thursday until Friday morning. On 
Friday afternoon a procession proceeds from the church through 
Chalan Kanoa and back to the church. In the procession, crucifixes 
and religious statues are carried. The latter, of pre-war origin, were 
hidden in the hills during the invasion. As there are only two priests 
in residence, church services during Holy week are concentrated 
at Chalan Kanoa, though Tanapag, the village farthest removed 
from Chalan Kanoa, also has its own Good Friday procession. 

May 15: San Isidro (the Laborer), patron of As Li to and of 
laborers. Novena and procession in the village on the patron saint's 

June: Thursday after Trinity Sunday is Corpus Christi, an im- 
portant day. In 1950, the procession was postponed until the Sun- 
day following Corpus Christi. Four shrines (lancon corpus) were 
erected in Chalan Kanoa. The Carolinian districts erected one, the 
Susupe villagers another, and various other Chamorro districts com- 
bined to build the remaining two. The framework of each shrine 
was erected by the men; then the women decorated it with religious 
pictures and statues, flowers, greenery, colored paper streamers, and 
electric lights. As the procession passed through the village, it 
stopped at each shrine for the benediction. Much care and effort 
was spent on each shrine, and there was considerable competition 
to have the most effective one. Solemnities concluded with a bene- 
diction in the church. 

July 16: For the day of Bitgen del Carmel, patroness of the Chalan 
Kanoa church, a novena is held. There is no procession. 

August 15: Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a day of 
obligation. At this time girls about 12 or 14 years old take com- 
munion and enter the older division of the Daughters of Mary. 

August 16: San Rocce, patron of Saipan. Celebrated by a no- 
vena, with a high mass on the Saint's day. 

Last Sunday in August: Consolation of Mary. Particularly im- 
portant for the Correa. During the previous week the Correa makes 


a special collection of alms for the church and presents these to the 
padre. A novena is held and a high mass celebrated on the day of 
the Consolation. In the afternoon, at Chalan Kanoa, there is a 
procession around the village. A large float containing a statue of 
the Virgin is made for the procession. Small girls in white dresses 
and wearing angels' wings are perched on the float. 

October, Second Sunday: Bitgen de los Remedios, patroness of 
Tanapag. A novena is held, with a procession around the village. 

November 1-2: All Saints Day, a day of obligation, followed by 
All Souls Day, a day of mourning for the dead. On All Saints Day, 
there is a procession to the cemetery, where the graves have previ- 
ously been decorated with flowers and candles. 

December 8: Immaculate Conception, a day of obligation, of 
particular significance for the Daughters of Mary. There is a 
novena and a procession through the village. The Daughters of 
Mary wear their white uniforms and form a prominent part of the 

December 25: The Nativity. The midnight mass at the Chalan 
Kanoa church is a particularly important event. The church is 
filled to overflowing, with everyone dressed in his or her best. During 
the long mass all are very attentive. In 1949, more than 2,000 
people took communion at this time. 

These are the special religious occasions of the year. The year 
1949 also was marked by the consecration of the new Chalan Kanoa 
church by the Bishop of Guam. Virtually the total population of 
the island was present. This occasion was also distinguished by a 
program of secular festivities, following the religious services. An 
improvised open-air stage was built in the area outside the church. 
A program of songs and dances given by children of different age 
groups under the tutelage of the nuns was presented, followed by a 
stirring series of Carolinian traditional dances, the most striking 
being the stick dance that is widespread in the central Carolines. A 
rosary service at about 7:00 P.M. in the church ended the day. 

Religious processions through the village are an outstanding 
feature of the more important holy days on Saipan. The Good Fri- 
day procession draws the greatest number of participants; the pro- 
cessions on the days of Corpus Christi, Consolation of the Virgin 
Mary, All Saints, Immaculate Conception, and the patron saints' 
days of the individual villages have a lesser number. In 1950, 
about 500 persons participated in the procession on the day of the 
Consolation of the Virgin Mary, while that on Good Friday had 


well over twice this number. With tlie possible exception of the 
Good Friday procession there are very considerably more Chamorro 
than Carolinian participants, relative to the size of each group. 

Every procession incorporates a fixed marching order. On Good 
Friday (1950) this order was as follows: (1) Three tanores, carrying 
a crucifix flanked by two candles. (2) Small boys, Chamorro and 
Carolinian, aged seven to fourteen, and all nominal members of San 
Stanislau. (3) Older boys and young men, aged fifteen to about 
twenty, including members of San Luis. One of this group carried 
a large cross. (4) The Holy Name Society of Chamorro and some 
Carolinian adult men. This group carried a statue of Jesus con- 
demned to die. (5) Other Chamorro men, bearing a statue of Jesus 
carrying the cross. (6) Chamorro men carrying a large crucifix, 
followed by the two priests. Behind the priests came a group of boys 
carrying on pillows the articles important in the Crucifixion. (7) The 
choir, both men and women. (8) Carolinian men, carrying a statue 
of Mary with Jesus after he was cut down from the cross. (9) Small 
Chamorro and Carolinian girls. (10) The Daughters of Mary, most 
of whom were in their white dresses. (11) The Correa. Several of 
the oldest women in the Correa carried a statue of the Virgin Mary, 
draped in black. (12) Other adult women, both Chamorro and 

In the processions men precede women, and the young precede 
the old. The lay societies participate as a group. The people pre- 
serve a mien of great solemnity, and children in the procession are 
carefully cautioned to maintain silence and to observe the proper 
attitude of respect for the occasion. 

Stability of Religious Organization 

Of all the various aspects of community organization on Saipan, 
that pertaining to the Catholic church and religion is among the most 
stable. The reason is obvious, for it is the explicit purpose of the 
priests and nuns to keep religious organization stable and to further 
church activities, educate the young in Catholic belief, and expand 
the church organization. However, the fact that Catholicism has 
long been established at the core of Chamorro culture greatly facili- 
tates the task of the missionaries in maintaining the stability of 
religious organization and the authority of the church in all aspects 
of life into which it enters. The Chamorros in particular have long 
been accustomed to accord respect and obedience to the word of 
the church. They are regularly warned that they must eschew the 


views of other faiths. Although there are a small number of Baptists 
and Seventh Day Adventists among the Chamorros on Guam, to 
my knowledge there were none in the Saipan community during 
1950. The people are well aware that there are many non-Catholics 
in the world, for during German, Japanese, and now American times 
they have had much contact, a great deal of it friendly, with persons 
of other denominations. Catholicism, however, is dominant in Cha- 
morro life. 

From the foregoing pages it can be seen that the Catholic religion 
enters into the pattern of community life in a number of ways: the 
regular week-day and Sunday services in the church; the special 
holy days with their observances, including religious processions; 
the lay societies and lay assistants with their particular functions; 
religious education of the young, supervised by the nuns, principally 
at the catechism school; and individual devotions on days of special 
significance. In addition, the church enters the realm of family life, 
at the times of crisis rites, through daily devotions held at home, 
and during family novenas. 

Survivals of Ancient Chamorro Belief 


Though there is no religious system surviving from ancient times 
among the Chamorros, an important increment of old belief still 
exists in connection with the supernatural and takes its form in the 
concept of the taotaomona. 

As Thompson notes, little is known of pre-contact Chamorro 
religion, but the fragmentary documentary evidence indicates that 
the Chamorros believed in a variety of supernatural beings. With 
the coming of the missionaries these concepts were largely super- 
seded by Catholicism, but those that survived tended to be merged 
into a belief in a class of powerful supernatural beings called taotao- 
iHona. Although the taotaomona may represent a post-Spanish con- 
cept, as Thompson holds, it is undoubtedly rooted in the pre-Spanish 
religion and is part of the widespread Micronesian preoccupation 
with anrl elaboration of concepts regarding the ghosts of the dead. 

In contemporary usage, the word "animas" means both "ghost" 
and "soul." Those who have died and are in purgatory (purgatorio) 
are termed animas. There are many stories of animas gathering in 
the church at dusk to pray that they may reach heaven. Virtually 
every boy who has served as a tanores can report having seen shadowy 


figures, dressed in somber dark-colored clothes, with the women 
wearing long, full, head scarves, kneeling in silent prayer in the 
church; or similar figures may be reported as having been seen in 
the early evening, praying in the cemetery. These are all ghosts 
of those sent from purgatory to remain for a moment in prayer on 
earth, after which they return to purgatory. 

Another important concept is called "aniti," an old Chamorro 
word whose usage today is not entirely consistent within the group 
on Saipan. In the Catholic prayer book "aniti" (pi. "umnganiti") 
is used for "demon"; "satinas" is also used to signify "Satan" or 
"devils." Thompson states that in the days of early contact San- 
vitores first translated "aniti" as the "souls of the ancestors," and 
later as "demons," while in the nineteenth century Freycinet used 
the term to mean "evil spirit" and still later Safford translated it 
as "spirit" (Thompson, 1945, pp. 20 21). Today, on Saipan, "man- 
ganiti," or even "satinas," is often used to mean "evil spirits." 
"Aniti" can also be used to refer to those in hell, though the term 
"i man majogua" is more commonly heard. There is thus a definite 
usage of the term "aniti" to mean "demon" or "devil." The fol- 
lowing note on local belief is taken from a Chamorro informant: 

When someone is about to die, the manganiti gather to tempt his soul. 
A crucifix may be held before the dying man and he is asked to fix his eyes 
upon it. This will thwart the manganiti in their attempt to take his soul. 
If the dying man turns his face from the crucifix it means that the manganiti 
are getting the upper hand, and the watchers by the bedside beseech him to 
oppose them with all his will. Also, if the dying person does not make a final 
confession, it is thought that the manganiti have tempted him. Holy water 
may be sprinkled around the death bed to drive them away. 

In view of the Micronesian pattern as a whole, it is probable 
that the original meaning of the term "aniti" conformed to Sanvi- 
tores' first translation, "souls of the ancestors," who had supernat- 
ural power to help or harm the living. Today, the word is also 
applied, however, to someone supposed to be in contact with super- 
natural power, without particularly evil connotations. Thus a 
Chamorro woman once described a Carolinian medicine man to me 
as being hula manganiti ("full of spirits"), though this man was in 
no way considered as being other than helpful. The context of the 
conversation indicated that the man was not literally "full of spirits" 
but was rather in contact with the supernatural and derived magical 
powers thereby for curing disease. This latter usage is perhaps closer 
to the original than that deriving from Catholic belief. 


Finally, there is the term "taotaomona," to be differentiated from 
both "animas" and "aniti." Thompson (1945, p. 22) says that 
"the taotaomona . . . are believed not to be gods or ghosts but to be 
men of superhuman strength, the ancestors of the modern Cha- 
morros." In the light of contemporary belief on Saipan, the state- 
ment requires rephrasing. The taotaomona ("people of early times") 
are supernatural and the term clearly refers to the ancestors of the 
modern Chamorros. To the latter, however, they are the ghosts of 
the ancient dead. These were both ancient and pagan, and their 
ghosts clearly are thought to lie outside the sphere of Roman Catholic 
belief regarding the supernatural. Some are indeed considered to 
possess superhuman powers, such as the famous Taga of Tinian. 
Saipan, being recently re-settled, however, possesses, so far as could 
be ascertained, no taotaoniona with personal names, nor is there a 
body of specific legendary material connected with particular tao- 
taomona, as is the case with Taga. An educated Chamorro has 
written (Sablan, 1929) : "These taotaomona are supposed to be the 
spirits of the aboriginal Chamorros who lived before and immediately 
after the conquest of Guam .... If any person incurs their wrath 
these spirits will certainly inflict some type of punishment in the 
form of diseases . . . ." 

The taotaomona appear to the living at dusk, in the form of 
ghostly shapes. Those described to me were of approximately the 
same size as living men, though occasionally they are larger. Some- 
times they are headless, undoubtedly a survival of the ancient custom 
of removing the skull after death. Both sexes are represented, and 
one Chamorro said that he saw at one time a man, a woman, and a 
child taotaomona. The taotaomona sometimes reveal their presence 
by sweet-smelling perfume, though remaining invisible. As on 
Guam, they are associated with the banyan tree, which is accordingly 
treated with respect as their abode. 

Thompson (1945, pp. 22 23) notes the belief on Guam and Rota 
that the taotaomona were once chiefs of the various districts and that 
each taotaomona guarded his own district jealously. On Saipan today 
this belief is not prevalent, perhaps because the island was unin- 
habited by Chamorros for many years. The taotaomona are believed 
to live in the bush, or near archaeological sites, though occasionally 
they are seen in the village. One taotaomona is said to live in a ban- 
yan tree near the center of Chalan Kanoa. 

The taotaomona are feared because their wrath may be incurred, 
and as a consequence they may inflict disease on the living. One 


may be liked by the taotaontona {magufli'i) or hated by them {ma- 
chali'i). One is hated because he may have urinated in the taotao- 
mona's area without excusing himself (virtually all Chamorros excuse 
themselves to the taotaomona when they urinate in the bush); or 
shouted loudly and thus disturbed the taotaomona; or cut down or 
disturbed a banyan tree where the taotaomona lived; or may have a 
body odor offensive to the taotaomona. For the latter reason, women 
who are menstruating or who have just given birth to a child must 
be particularly careful. A crucifix or holy water are both protective 
devices against the taotaomona, as are bright lights at night. In 
one recent case, a family built a new house. Thereafter a death 
occurred in the family, which also met with other serious misfortune, 
though the neighbors were not similarly affected. The spot was 
considered to have been inhabited by a taotaomona, who had been 
disturbed and angered by the building of the new house. So the 
owner asked the priest to bless his new house and to exorcise all 
evil influences. 

If one is liked by the taotaotuona, the latter will help him, make 
his fishing good, put coconut crabs in places where he can find them, 
and otherwise bring good luck. I was told that some people have 
claimed that a particular taotaomona is their distant kinsman, in a 
manner comparable to the taotaomona partner described by Thomp- 
son (1947, p. 176). This aspect of the belief, however, is not elabo- 
rated and is minor compared to the malignant forces exercised by 
the taotaomona. There is a distinct feeling that the taotaomona are 
dangerous and usually evil. To establish a cordial relationship has 
connotations akin to selling one's soul to the devil. As Sablan 
(1929) has noted: 

These spirits {taotaomona) sometimes show partiality to those who are 
friendly and sympathetic to them. This is done by conferring some super- 
human power on their favorites, who, in turn, can afterwards lift very heavy 
weights without assistance, and overcome obstacles of every description; or, 
if they so will, a third party may be punished if they are in any way offended 
or displeased. However, this privilege is only given provided the recipient 
does not attend church services or approach any church premises. If one 
wishes to deprive them of their additional power, all there is to be done is to 
sprinkle a small amount of salt on their bodies, and behold, the transforma- 
tion is finished. (The belief in the efficacy of salt is no doubt related to its 
ritual use in Catholic baptism.) 

The belief in the taotaomona is deeply imbedded in Chamorro 
thought. Probably there is not a single adult Chamorro regardless 
of how much he belittles the concept as a superstition to Americans 


— who does not firmly hold to the belief. The reason is that the 
taotaomona concept is not a functionless survival but is part of a 
system of thought and action, closely related to illness and its 


A number of symptoms are characteristic of illness caused by 
the taotootfioua. A sudden constriction of the throat, a feeling that 
one cannot swallow, difficulty in breathing, difficulty or inability to 
urinate, sudden inability to talk, sudden paralysis of the limbs, and 
radical loss of appetite may all be put down to attacks by the 
taotaomona. One man in Japanese times suddenly became paralyzed 
in the legs, lost his appetite, and grew thinner and thinner. After 
two weeks of hospitalization, he showed no improvement. The 
Japanese doctors could do nothing and discharged him, whereupon 
he was cured by a medicine woman. Another case, also in Japanese 
times, involved a man who suddenly found himself unable to talk, 
and opened his mouth only with great difficulty, but who was like- 
wise cured by local medicine. A case that occurred shortly before 
my arrival involved a young Chamorro woman, who was looking 
for mangoes in an area away from any of the villages. She was 
suddenly made ill by a taotaomona and was taken to the hospital. 
She had previously been under severe emotional stress. Her symp- 
toms were clearly hysterical — extreme muscular rigidity, insensi- 
tivity to verbal stimuli (though a knife prick made her jump), 
inability to talk or to eat. After two days' hospitalization, during 
which no improvement occurred, on the advice of the head nurse 
the medical officer sent her home, where she was cured by a Caro- 
linian medicine man. 

The case material inadequate though it is — suggests that on Sai- 
pan illnesses caused by taotaomona are largely hysterias. These 
hysterias are closely related to a well-defined culture pattern. For 
an individual under great emotional stress the culture provides the 
concept of the taotaomona. The taotaomona attacks the individual, 
who then exhibits an hysteria, a traditionally sanctioned form of 
reaction to extreme anxiety and to a taotaomona attack. The culture 
in addition provides a mechanism for cure — the therapy of the medi- 
cine man. The taotaomona themselves represent a sort of personi- 
fication of the collective anxieties of the group, or at least it is the 
anxieties of the group that support their continued existence. From 
experience in other parts of Micronesia, I believe it is probable that 


we are here dealing with a widespread Micronesian pattern, and that 
in Micronesia there is the possibihty of making a systematic study 
of the relation of hysteria to culturally sanctioned mechanisms. 
Such a study would include types of psychic disturbance, anxiety 
reactions, and the form of therapy used. Also, why hysterias should 
be produced rather than neuroses involving different syndromes is a 
problem that can be examined in Micronesia in all its cultural 
ramifications. As a problem for future investigation, it demands the 
joint efforts of an anthropologist and a psychiatrist. In this con- 
nection, a recent paper by Spiro (1952) on the function of the belief 
in ghosts as a means of displacing aggression and hence contributing 
to the survival of Ifaluk society and culture should be mentioned. 

In the curing of taotaomona attacks, the Chamorros, despite their 
widespread acceptance of Western medicine, rely on the medicine 
men. There still survive among the Chamorros a number of people 
(suruhana), mostly old women, versed in purely Chamorro medicine. 
They are essentially herbalists and use various medicines concocted 
of plants to effect their cures. Their plant medicines are either taken 
internally or applied externally to affected parts of the body. Al- 
though the suruhana are sometimes used in cases of taotaomona 
illness, the Chamorros generally agree that they are not nearly as 
effective as the Carolinian medicine men, and it is on the latter that 
the Chamorros primarily rely. 

To the Chamorros the taotaomona represent a cultural heritage 
from the ancient past. The Carolinians are less acculturated and 
are clearly closer to this past than are the Chamorros. The Cha- 
morros, despite the fact that they consider themselves socially su- 
perior to the Carolinians, do not hesitate to utilize the services of a 
Carolinian medicine man, for the latter is credited with superior 
knowledge in the handling of illness caused by the taotaomona. 
Actually, in Carolinian culture the taotaomona concept is not quite 
the same as that of the Carolinians, for it is a Chamorro, not a Caro- 
linian formulation. However, the Carolinian medicine men are ac- 
customed to dealing with illness caused by the ghosts of the dead, 
and the taotaomona are merely one class of such ghosts. They are 
exorcised from the living through the use of an involved procedure 
including divination, plant medicines, and a spell, without which 
the medicine would not be effective. 

The taotaomona concept, therefore, is an important integrating 
factor in the relationship between the Chamorro and Carolinian 
groups. It tends to keep Carolinian medicine and magic alive and 


functioning, and it maintains the position of the Carohnians as a 
necessary part of the larger Chamorro-CaroHnian community. 


It is probable that in pre-contact times the Chamorros had a 
considerable number of classes of supernatural beings. During the 
contact period these have gradually been all but forgotten, or have 
tended to merge into the taotaomona concept. Thus the hirak, prob- 
ably once a distinct class of supernatural being, are now regarded 
as the same as taotaomona or as purely imaginary beings about 
which little or nothing is known. The same is true of the fafanague 
— beings one hears or senses but does not see — which are purely 
imaginary to most younger people today. 

More important are the duhendis ("little people"), considered 
by most persons on Saipan as a species of taotaomona. The beliefs 
regarding them are similar to those held on Guam (cf. Thompson, 
1947). Small children and babies are particularly susceptible to the 
machinations of the duhendis, as the following incident related by 
a Chamorro illustrates: 

My grandmother adopted a baby, who was about ten months or a year 
old when my grandmother and some other women were washing clothes by 
the side of a small stream, while the baby slept on a mat near-by. No one 
was paying much attention. Suddenly one of the women looked up and the 
baby was gone. There was much commotion, with everyone searching here 
and there. Finally they found the child in a thicket. It was unable to speak 
or to cry and had obviously had a spell cast on it by a duhendis. To snap 
the spell the child was struck on the back with a belt. Then it was all right. 

In summary, the corpus of contemporary Chamorro religious 
beliefs, while primarily consistent with orthodox Catholicism, in- 
cludes one important element stemming from ancient times — the 
concept of the taotaomona. Although the taotaomona belief involves 
the supernatural, it is actually important not as a religious belief, 
but rather as one affecting the day-to-day sickness and health of 
individuals. Its roots seem to lie in contemporary Chamorro anxi- 
eties, attached primarily to social relationships; it is closely related 
to behavior disorders, particularly hysteria, and local methods of 
magic are effectively utilized as psychotherapy. 

Carolinian Ghosts 

Like their cousins in the Caroline Islands, the Saipan Carolinians 
preserve a strong belief in ghosts. Today, this belief is primarily 


associated with the treatment for disease and is not the basis for an 
organized system of religious thought that competes with Cathoh- 
cism. As the behef in ghosts is firmly grounded in concepts of the 
supernatural, however, a brief note on Carolinian ghost concepts is 
here included. 

The Carolinian word for ghost is "alii." There are two classes 
of alii: alii luwal and alii leim. The former are rather ill-defined 
and may be thought of as the ghosts of the ancient ones. It is to 
this kind of ghost that the Chamorro concept of taotaomona has 
been assimilated. The Carolinians have also adopted Chamorro 
beliefs that aliX luwal live in banyan trees and around archaeological 
sites, and that they are made angry if a human being urinates on 
the ground near them, or shouts, or has odors offensive to them. 
The alii leim, on the other hand, are ghosts of the known dead, and 
usually of the recently dead. Both kinds of ghosts are capable of 
causing disease and of harming the living in other ways. 

The potential harm that ghosts may cause the living is held in 
check by the medicine men. Although most Carolinians know some 
magic used in treating disease, there are about fifteen people, both 
male and female, whose knowledge and ability place them in the 
role of specialists. These persons are called sausafei. 

The Carolinian medicine man must possess (1) a knowledge of 
divination; (2) a knowledge of plant medicines; and (3) a knowledge 
of spells. Each of these kinds of learning involves a body of data 
too complex to be discussed here, though it should be noted that 
through divination the medicine man determines whether a partic- 
ular sickness is caused by a ghost, the kind of ghost that is doing the 
harm, and the type of medicine that should be used. The therapy 
itself involves a type of medicine, plus a spell that makes the medicine 

The medicine man obtains his knowledge from an older relative 
— usually a father or uncle — but it is dangerous for him to use this 
knowledge as long as the person he learns it from is still alive, for 
he may become ill and die. In addition, by establishing a relation- 
ship with an alii leim, a medicine man may learn new spells and new 
medicines. This information is transmitted through dreams, or in 
the half-waking, half-sleeping period at night. 

Today, on Saipan, there is very considerable secrecy surrounding 
curative practices, and even concepts of the supernatural. This is 
partly a reaction to ridicule and antagonism from persons of the 
several dominant political powers. Curiously, however, the most 


knowledgeable medicine man was the least secretive. He was a 
born ethnologist and had been on a visit to the Carolines, as well as 
to other parts of the Pacific. He offered the perfectly sound hy- 
pothesis that when systems of magic start to disintegrate under 
acculturation, the element of secrecy surrounding them tends to 
increase. In any case, however, the spells used in curing are secret; 
if they become common knowledge, their efficacy is lost. 

A final word concerns the relation of the belief in ghosts to the 
maintenance of the social structure. The Carolinians believe that 
a ghost may cause a person to become ill if he has not been fulfilling 
his kinship obligations. If a man is neglecting his children, the ghost 
of the man's dead father may become angry and make the man ill. 
In other ways, the ghosts of recently dead ancestors keep an eye on 
the acts of the living. In this way, the belief in ghosts acts to sanction 
the moral order. 

XIV. Change^ Stability^ and the Dependent 


The continuing strength of a culture pattern is exempHfied by 
the post-war Chamorros and Carolinians of Saipan. In the invasion 
battle for the island, the entire assemblage of their artifacts was 
swept away and their pre-war economy destroyed. During the six 
years following the invasion, the Chamorros and Carolinians have 
reconstituted their island society, utilizing the culture patterns with 
which they were familiar. Regardless of discussion as to the nature 
of culture, post-war Saipan is an excellent example of the enduring 
vitality of culture as a traditional way of thought and action that 
organizes social relationships and provides means of adaptation to 
the social and natural environment. 

Nevertheless, since the war numerous changes have taken place 
among Chamorros and Carolinians. Today they drink Coca-Cola 
and beer; they repair and drive jeeps; the men wear sport shirts 
and the women lacquer their finger nails. These changes lie on the 
surface, however; it is the more fundamental aspects of life that 
demand attention. In the context of post-war change on Saipan, 
what parts of the social organization are stable, what unstable? It 
is true that "stability" is a difficult concept to apply to the eth- 
nographer's data. Change of itself need not imply instability. 
Change is always present in greater or lesser degree in every culture 
and society. Stability is not. Stability lies in orderly change and 
finds expression in a continuing successful adaptation to habitat 
and in non-violent shifts in the patterns of social organization. 

The various aspects of Saipan's social organization show varying 
degrees of stability. 

(1) Local organization. The settlement pattern is in flux. Since 
the war there has been a movement out of Chalan Kanoa, the main 
village, to a number of recently established satellite villages whose 
number appears to be growing. Some of the satellite villages may 
be abandoned in the future because of poor geographic location. 
The post-war distribution of population in the various villages has 



not yet become fixed. The local organization is at present unstable 
in the sense that it reflects a lack of adaptation to local habitat and 
resources. The village-farm pattern of Chamorro life, however, is a 
long-established element that shows little disposition to change. To 
the extent that it impedes efficient farming because of the many 
hours spent by the farmers in traveling between village and farm, 
it can perhaps be considered maladaptive; to the extent that it 
strengthens the integration of village life, it may be considered 
adaptive and stabilizing. 

(2) Economic organization. This aspect of Saipanese life is 
least stable of all. In view of the devastation caused by the war, 
the instability of economic organization is not surprising. Much 
has been done to remove the Chamorros and Carolinians from a 
state of complete dependence on the administration to one of partial 
self-support. Nevertheless, the economic organization remains un- 
stable, largely because the society is not in adjustment with the 
resources of its habitat. An equilibrium adaptation to the island 
environment has not been achieved. Furthermore, within the econ- 
omy there are many contradictions. Wage-work and the acquisition 
of clerical and mechanical skills are much more attractive to the 
Chamorros than farming, to which they are urged to devote them- 
selves. Traditional methods of farming are not adapted to the 
steep slopes of the less fertile land the people now cultivate. Cha- 
morro food preferences are adjusted to imported foods rather than 
to those that can be raised locally. A major part of the difficulty 
is that Chamorros and to a lesser degree Carolinians had become 
adjusted in Japanese times to a highly developed pre-war colonial 
economy, in which, however, they played a role of minor importance. 
The colonial economy became a casualty of the war. 

(3) Political organization. The machinery of government in 
many ways does not work well. The present formal political organi- 
zation tends to be unstable in that it is an innovation for which 
there must be a period of establishment; Saipan is in this period. 

(4) Religious organization. This exhibits little fundamental 
change. New lay societies may be introduced, or the attitudes of 
American Capuchins may vary from those of Spanish Jesuits, but 
the basic framework of Catholic organization, ritual, and dogma 
remains the same. Nevertheless, these seemingly minor changes 
reveal the church's ability to adapt itself to changing circumstances, 
and this adaptability contributes to the stability of the church as an 
element of social structure. Religious organization on Saipan is 


very stable, in part because it is the business of priests and nuns to 
keep it so, and in part because Catholicism is long established among 
the Chamorros, and if less long established, at least fully accepted, 
by the Carolinians. 

(5) Familial and kinship organization. These parts of Saipanese 
social organization are given separate treatment in the following 
two parts of this monograph. On the whole, although changes are 
occurring in both Chamorro and Carolinian kinship organization, 
neither can be said to exhibit marked instability. 

What is called instability in the facets of Saipanese social or- 
ganization noted above is primarily a matter either of innovation, 
as in the case of the machinery of municipal government, or of 
maladjustment, as in the case of economic organization. On Saipan, 
the latter is perhaps more complex. 

The maladjustment of Saipan's economy involves a complex set 
of relations among Saipan as an island society, Saipan as a habitat, 
and Saipan as a dependent on a larger society of which American 
administrators are the immediate representatives. Each of these 
entities, taken in relation to the others, contains elements of mal- 

As an island society, the Chamorros and Carolinians were before 
the war a minor and subordinate segment in a highly developed 
Japanese colonial outpost. Since the war, the Chamorros and Caro- 
linians have formed the major segment of the population but at 
the same time have lost their economic underpinning with the 
destruction of the Japanese-built economy. Furthermore, Saipan 
as a habitat has deteriorated. Much fertile farm land has been lost 
through military construction. Although sufficient land remains 
for the present population, slash-and-burn agriculture and the Cha- 
morro cultivation techniques reduce soil fertility, though these 
features of agricultural technology are extremely resistant to change. 
For subsistence agriculture, rather than the intensive cultivation of 
the island for sugar cane, there is also a dearth of economically 
important food and timber trees. These features of habitat and 
technology will become more significant as the increasing island 
population exerts greater pressure on resources. 

The relation between the Saipanese and their habitat is further 
complicated by problems of land ownership and tenure. Here the 
larger society enters the picture, for the former Japanese holdings 
and the pre-war system of control of land resources as well as the 
present American administration are involved. The solution of the 


land tenure and ownership problems is directly dependent on the 
action taken by the American administration. Furthermore, the 
development of off-island markets for agricultural and fish products 
— Saipan's only possible off-island exports is dependent on the 
larger society, including the people of Guam, the American admin- 
istration, and probably also Japan. Lastly, such wage-work as will 
be available will also depend on the administration. The picture is 
therefore complex, but until the economy becomes more nearly 
adapted to the resources of the habitat the society will always con- 
tain a serious element of instability. 

These features of change and instability on Saipan provide a 
partial answer to the question: What is a dependent society? Saipan 
is a dependent society, not in the sense that a measure of interde- 
pendence is characteristic of most societies in the world today, but 
in a one-sided dependence on a larger society. This is true, economi- 
cally speaking. It is also true politically, not merely because the 
Chamorros and Carolinians do not possess political autonomy, but 
because in attempting to make the machinery of local government 
work, continuous, intelligent coaching on the part of the administra- 
tion is necessary. Instabilities introduced by incompletely estab- 
lished innovations and by maladaptation to a social and natural 
environment lie at the roots of Saipan's dependence. It is probable 
that these are components of dependence among most dependent 

A final comment deals with concomitants of Saipan's dependence 
in the area of personality structure. In their study of the Chamorros 
and Carolinians, Joseph and Murray (1951) include as characteristics 
of Saipanese personality "strong but vague aspirations" and "marked 
anxiety, based largely on feelings of inadequacy . . . ." They note 
that precarious economic conditions and sudden change of status 
after the war are important factors contributing to the feeling of 
insecurity. I feel that incompletely established innovations (as 
in the case of the municipality government) and maladaptation (as in 
the case of the economy) have led to uncertainty among Chamorros 
and Carolinians, and this in turn has contributed to anxiety as a 
characteristic of personality structure. From an administration 
point of view this result does not mean that innovation per se is 
bad. It does mean that it enters the complex of social dependence, 
which the administration must strive to reduce. 


XV. Social Significance of the Chamorro 


The family plays a particularly important role in the Chamorro 
section of the Saipan community. A Chamorro feels more strongly 
bound to his family than to the community as a whole. A nexus of 
attitudes and behavior centers in the family, and the complexities 
of family relationship largely preoccupy a Chamorro in his relations 
with others. The Chamorros possess no unilineal descent groups 
according to which kinship relations are widely organized, but the 
genealogical ties of family with family result in a web of relationships 
growing out of the bonds of parenthood and marriage. It is with the 
structure of the Chamorro family and with the wider system of 
relationships developing from the family that this part of my report 
is primarily concerned. 

Apart from its structural significance in the community, the 
Chamorro family has an added interest in that it reflects the influence 
of Spain in the refashioning of Chamorro life. One can discern the 
product of Spanish contact in the activities that center in the family 
and in the organization of intra-familial relationships, even though 
the events of the last fifty years have undoubtedly modified the 
form of the Spanish-Oceanic familial type that reached its final 
crystallization in the nineteenth century. 


XVI. The Household 

The word "household" is here used for the group that Hves, eats, 
and sleeps under one roof. Usually the household coincides with 
the elementary or nuclear family, but in some cases ^such as indi- 
viduals living alone — it does not. The household is the smallest 
local group forming a unit of residence. The term applies specifically 
to common residence, not to the nature of the kinship bond uniting 
the component members of the household. 

Size and Composition 

The following table gives the result of a census of 100 Chamorro 
households consisting of a total of 529 individuals. 

{Based on a Sample of 100 Families) 

No. of persons 

Frequency of 

No. of 

in household 







































The second table gives the frequencies of the forms of household 
composition present in the same sample of 100 households. From 
the table it is readily apparent that the great majority of households 
consist of parents and children. Most of the remainder are variations 
on this basic pattern and are direct outgrowths of the Chamorro 
emphasis on the conjugal tie and the elementary or nuclear family. 
In the ten households formed by only husband and wife, either the 



pair had recently married and did not yet have children, or they 
were elderly couples whose children had grown to adulthood and 
were married, with families of their own. It is essentially the 
elementary family that is the primary unit of household composition. 
Apart from the family's significance as the basis of household social 
structure, in Chamorro culture there is an emphasis on the elemen- 
tary family that strongly patterns the relations of its members with 
persons outside this group. The manner in which this emphasis 
is expressed in inter-personal behavior will be considered in detail 
in the following sections. 


Composition Frequency of 

Single individuals: 

Male 1 

Female 4 

Husband-wife 10 

Husband-wife with one or more children 66 

One parent with one or more children 7 

Husband-wife with one or more children and with one or more 
grandparents 6 

Husband-wife with parent of either 3 

Husband-wife with grandchild 1 

Grandmother-grandchild 1 

Grandmother-mother-two children-mother's sister 1 

Total 100 

Household Routine 

The household group is the medium through which the needs of 
shelter, food, and clothing are satisfied. As the Chamorro household 
is based essentially on the elementary family, the routine of house- 
hold tasks tends to crystallize around the separate and combined 
activities of the father (padre de familia) and the mother (madre 
de familia) . 

It is the father's responsibility to provide the economic support 
of the family, through procuring a money income from wage-work 
or as a small entrepreneur, or through the sale of farm produce, 
though in 1950 the latter source of income was of minor importance 
in the island economy. It was of greater importance in that many 
families did obtain some subsistence income in the form of agri- 
cultural produce from their farms. The father is accordingly absent 
from the household during most of the day, and if he is a farmer 



and his farm far removed from the village, he may be away from 
his family for several days at a time. 

The father is further responsible for obtaining a house for his 
family. With the prevailing pattern of each family's having a house 
in the village and one on the farm, his task is two-fold, though the 
farmhouse is often the simplest of structures. If the family spends 
most of its time in the village, the village house will be the one 
which he attempts to make substantial. He is also responsible for 
its maintenance, particularly in obtaining materials necessary to 
keep it in repair. The house structure and that which is outside the 
house [hijon guma) are his particular concern. 

Contrariwise, everything inside the house (halom guma) is the 
mother's responsibility. She must keep the house clean and in order 
and must perform other tasks that take place within the walls, such 
as caring for small children; washing, ironing, and mending clothes; 
dressmaking; and preparing food. When she accompanies her 
husband to the farm, she may help him feed the chickens and 
do other light farm work. Together with the father she attends to 
sick members of the family, though actually most of the burden 
falls on her. Both father and mother are concerned with the work 
involved in properly celebrating crisis rites within the family, par- 
ticularly those at marriage and death and at family novenas. 

Children of pre-school age stay with the mother through the 
day. If she visits a friend or relative in the afternoon, the young 
ones go along. Boys of school age are expected to assist the father 
and girls should assist the mother after school hours, on week-ends, 
and during vacations. Boys over school age are supposed to get 
wage-work or help their fathers on the farms. Girls who are out of 
school but unmarried work in stores or seek employment as school 
teachers, nurses, or clerical help, or in such other jobs as are open to 
them, although this outlet for girls is a post-war phenomenon ini- 
tiated by the American administration. The old pattern required 
them to remain well chaperoned at home, assisting their mothers 
with household chores until marriage released them to set up their 
own households. 


Spanish influence resulted in the introduction of Spanish forms 
of architecture into Guam, but native house types continued to 
survive, particularly in the villages outside of Agana, the capital. 
At the beginning of the present century, on Guam, Safford (1905, 


pp. 123 124) noted that masonry houses with tile roofs, constructed 
on a Spanish pattern, co-existed with the older type, which were 
raised from the ground on heavy posts and were built with sides of 
bamboo and woven reeds, and with thatched roofs. The latter form 
of architecture suggested to a number of observers that it was de- 
rived from a prehistoric and early historic form in which the house 
posts were stone rather than wood, the ruins of these early houses 
being the latte sites common in the Marianas today (Fritz, 1904; 
Thompson, 1940). 

The earlier house type was principally used when the Chamorros 
resettled Saipan. Fritz (1904, pp. 45 ff.) gives a detailed description 
of the common type characteristic of the early German period : 

The houses of today have two rows of five wood pillars each, instead of 
stone columns. They support the roof, which consists of plaited coconut 
leaves, and the walls, which are made either of the same material or of plaited 
reeds. The floor of the house is attached to the pillars about one meter above 
the ground; it consists of planks made of betel wood or of boards and is also 
supported by five beams .... In the center of the long side, sometimes the 
gable side, there is a small veranda with a roof which is connected with the 
living room by a wooden step. Sometimes a similar structure, called kahita, 
is also found in back of the house .... There are four or six openings which 
serve as windows; they are closed by crudely fashioned shutters, made of the 
same material as the walls. These are attached to the walls with fiber, as 
are those of the two doors in front and back. 

Going up the steps from the annex (kahita), one enters the living room 
.... The furniture consists of a table, a bench, two or three chairs, an oil 
lamp made of stone, and sometimes a sewing machine. German pictures of 
saints are hung on the walls. The bedrooms are to the right and left of the 
living room, separated from it by partitions made of plaited reeds or palm 
leaves. The bed consists of a mat spread on the floor; the pillow is stuffed 
with cotton. The wooden devices used to support the neck (aluna), are now 
being used less and less. Hammocks are also in use. 

Fritz mentions that the houses of the wealthier families were 
constructed with walls and floors of Japanese pine. He also notes 
the occurrence of one-story houses modeled on an American style of 
architecture. This latter type was probably the result of diffusion 
from Guam, which, at the time of Fritz's observations, had recently 
come under American administration. Also in German times, cor- 
rugated iron roofs began to supplant the older palm thatch. 

With the inauguration of Japanese administration on Saipan, 
other changes gradually occurred. Bowers (1950, pp. 189-192) de- 
votes considerable space to the description of contemporary house 
types, and notes that about 1920 cement walls instead of wood began 


to be used, a trend that corresponded with the developing shortage 
of lumber following the clearing of land for sugar cane and the 
depletion of timber trees, as the population rai)idly increased through 
Japanese immigration. 

During the Japanese period many differences arose in the size 
and quality of the living house and in the quantity and pretension 
of the interior furnishings. The houses of the wealthier families 
were always built of cement, usually of two stories, with the walls 
resting directly on the ground. Usually the first floor was a low- 
ceiling bodega, used for storage, and the living quarters were on the 
second floor. The houses of this type were often large, with as 
many as nine rooms. They were comfortably furnished with furni- 
ture largely imported from abroad. Some families owned several 
houses all save one rented to the Japanese but most of the Cha- 
morros had much simpler living quarters, though the trend to cement 
construction was general. These differences in house construction 
reflected developing differentials in wealth and in social status within 
the Chamorro group. With the invasion of Saipan during World 
War II, material possessions, apart from the land, were completely 
destroyed, and the entire group was reduced to a minimum level of 
subsistence. By 1950, differences in housing were again beginning 
to take form, though only on a modest scale. 

Contemporary Chamorro houses are of two vintages: small recon- 
ditioned cement houses in Chalan Kanoa that before the war housed 
Okinawan mill-workers and that were fortunately spared during 
the invasion; and houses in Chalan Kanoa and the satellite villages 
built after the war. By 1950, the construction of new houses had 
relieved the extremely cramped and crowded living conditions that 
existed in Chalan Kanoa until several years after the invasion. 
Also, at As Lito and San Antonio, quonset huts vacated by the de- 
parture of the military were being used, though it is doubtful how 
long this type of housing will last. 

In Chalan Kanoa most of the cement houses into which Chamorro 
families have moved have wood additions built on to them to en- 
large the living quarters. The newly constructed houses are all 
built of sawed lumber, generally with much use of plywood for walls 
and floors, the lumber having been salvaged from abandoned military 
installations. Corrugated iron roofs are used on all houses. Thanks 
to the navy, electricity is available and running water is piped to 
faucets in the several neighborhoods of each village. In addition, 
considerable use is made of drums and pre-war cement cisterns for 

22-2 SAIPAN 

rain catchment, t^ach household operating its own system of rain 
catchment. All houses are set close together on small lots, those of 
pre-war vintage in Chalan Kanoa being particularly close to one 

Chamorro houses of today do not vary greatly in size, but they 
do exhibit differences in the degree of care with which they are 
maintained. Paint is difficult to obtain, but the better houses are 
well painted inside and out. Another difference is found in the 
interior furnishings, which in the better houses include easy chairs, 
tables, beds, curtains, floor linoleum, and occasionally kerosene 

The designation of living spaces in and around the house is es- 
tablished by custom and is generally similar for all houses. An 
outline of these features, illustrated in figure 19, is given below: 

Chamorro-built houses of today are raised on posts above the 
ground, with an open space (papasatgi) from one to three feet high 
beneath the house. A few are two-story, with the lower floor resting 
directly on the ground and with enclosed sides to form a storeroom 
(bodega). This latter type was more common before the war and 
can be seen in greater frequency at the Guamanian villages of Uma- 
tac and Merizo, which escaped war-time destruction. Before the 
war, the bodega was used to store the very hard and prized ifil wood, 
as well as other lumber, for seasoning. Here too were stored extra 
oxcart wheels, bicycles, tools, and occasionally dried or canned 

Wooden steps iguaot) lead up to the front door (entrada), which 
generally opens into the central room of the house, the sala, which 
is always kept neat and clean. In the better houses, the sala is 
carefully painted and comfortably furnished, though it is usually 
rather painfully correct, like a nineteenth century American parlor, 
with a center table and stiff chairs around it and against the wall. 
On the sala, the housewife lavishes her limited means, with drapes 
on the windows if she can afford them. The floor is kept clean and 
polished, there are religious pictures on the walls, and a vase of real 
or artificial flowers is on the table. Before the war, a few families 
had small libraries consisting of German books such as Weber's 
Weltgeschichte, as well as others in Spanish, English, and Japanese. 
These families are again attempting to collect reference volumes, 
such as a set of an encyclopedia, to maintain a tradition of literacy. 
The late Gregorio Sablan, a prominent Chamorro who died in 1945, 
had the largest existing Spanish manuscript collection on Saipan 







( u 


© © o U 







5 5 10 



Fig. 19. Plan of Chamorro house, Saipan. 



and was the local historian, though unfortunately his collection was 
destroyed during the invasion. 

Off the sala are one or two bedrooms {apusento), depending on 
the size of the house. Beds have come into general use, particularly 
since the war, though it is still not uncommon for bedding to be 
spread on the floor. In the parents' apusento is a small table, called 
la masan Juus (God's table), on which is placed a statue of a saint 
or of Christ. Sometimes a shelf is used instead of the table, or a 
crucifix is placed on the wall. In addition, paper flowers and reli- 
gious pictures are used to decorate this small shrine, before which 
the family prayers are said. Occasionally a house will have two 
shrines, one in the parents' apusento and one in the bedroom of 
older children. 

In the passage on Chamorro houses quoted from Fritz (p. 220), 
the bedrooms are described as being merely partitioned off from the 
central room by plaited reeds or palm leaves. Today solid walls 
are used, but often a bedroom will be partitioned by a cloth curtain 
to give the occupants of the house more privacy. 

At the back or sometimes at the side of the house is a covered 
veranda (beranda), though by no means all houses have this feature. 
The kahita, as described by Fritz, is rarer. From the heranda 
or from the rear door of the sala, a short passageway, sometimes 
raised above the ground and if so called a batalan, leads to a separate 
structure, the kitchen (korsina). 

It is the Chamorro custom to separate the kitchen from the 
main house (guma), but today some houses have incorporated the 
kitchen under the roof of the main house. Virtually all the concrete 
pre-war houses in Chalan Kanoa have had kitchens added to them, 
as separate structures. 

The separate kitchen (korsina) is a small one-room building. 
Whereas the main house is always painted if possible, less care is 
spent on the korsina, whose interior is often unpainted. A dis- 
tinction is also made with respect to the floor. The floor of the living 
house is always clean and much care is spent in keeping it so. Shoes 
are always left at the door. On the other hand, it is permissible to 
wear shoes in the korsina. 

Meals are eaten as well as cooked in the korsina, so it is divided 
into two areas: the komidot, for eating, and the space reserved for 
cooking. These two areas may be divided by cupboards or shelving, 
or, very occasionally, by a partition wall. In the komidot there is a 



table, with benches or chairs. The central feature of the cooking 
space is the table-like cooking hearth (fogon) ; on top of the table is 
a bed of sand, on which is built the cook fire (guafe). There is no 
chimney, and the smoke escapes through holes left under the eaves. 

Fig. 20. Piling firewood in the yard of a Chamorro house, Saipan. 

Underneath the fogon or at one side there is a place {sagaii hajo) 
reserved for firewood. The metate and mano, of concrete or stone, 
are set by the fogon, and near-by is a sink, either imported and 
made of metal, or made locally of concrete, for washing dishes. 
Pots, pans, and dishes, and food are placed on near-by shelves. 

Part of the korsina or of the house may be walled off, or a place 
may be simply reserved, as a labadot, a place for washing of the 
person. Also, outside the korsina, every house has a hatea, a shallow 
trough of wood or concrete, for washing clothes. The hatea may be 
set up in the back yard in the shade of a tree. FYeshly washed 
clothes are hung up on a line or are spread out flat on the grass, 
to dry. 


By the side of the house there is sometimes an open shed, origi- 
nally used to provide cover for an ox, with a place for parking the 
oxcart (kareta) near-by. On post-war Saipan, such a shed often 
shelters a jeep instead. 

At the front of almost every Chamorro house are planted hibiscus, 
bougainvillia, and other shrubs, and the better-kept houses always 
have a small plot of ornamental plants, the hatin. The back yard 
is reserved for more utilitarian purposes, and here may be found a 
stack of firewood, or sometimes a small chicken pen, though chickens 
are usually kept at the farm rather than at the town house; also 
there is a latrine. 

Associated with these features of architectural arrangement are 
established customs regarding use. The sala, or sitting room, is of 
course the place for entertaining visitors and is the show room of 
the house. During the day the housewife may sew or iron clothes 
in the sala, but after her tasks are done she is careful to put the room 
in order again. The sala may also be used as a sleeping room, with 
mattress, blankets, and pillows spread upon the floor at night. This 
removable bedding is called kama, and in the morning it is always 
folded and removed to an apusento until needed again at night. 
Before the war, a good many hammocks are said to have been used, 
but today they are mainly reserved for infants. 

The apusento is a "respect" room. Politeness requires that one 
knock or call out and one does not enter the bedroom of another 
member of the family unannounced, particularly if the occupant is 
one of the opposite sex. Children of opposite sex above the age of 
puberty occupy separate bedrooms. Small children sleep in the 
same room as their parents. As Chamorro houses are small and 
families large, the arrangements may become rather involved as the 
children become older. 

One family of two parents and five children occupied a two-bedroom 
house. The parents and two small children slept in the sala; two girls over 
puberty occupied one bedroom; and an adolescent son used the other bedroom. 

In another case, a family of seven was divided as follows: One bedroom 
was curtained down the center, each part being used by a boy over sixteen. 
The other bedroom in the house was used by the parents and three children. 
One of the older boys went to Guam, so his place was taken by another son, 
aged fourteen, leaving the other bedroom to the parents and two children. 
One of the latter is a girl, who, when she reaches the age of thirteen or fourteen 
will have part of the parents' bedroom curtained off for her own use. 

If a house has a veranda at back or rear, it becomes a principal 
work area for the housewife. Here too the family will visit and talk 



in the evening, and neighboring housewives drop in to gossip. The 
same is true of the korsina, which is a favorite place for a comfort- 
able chat on Sunday morning after mass. 

Fig. 21. Neighbors chatting, Chalan Kanoa, Saipan. 

Every house is equipped with shutters, essential during stormy 
weather. Mosquitoes are troublesome, wandering taotaomonas 
should be prudently excluded, and "peeping toms" discouraged, so 
shutters and doors are closed tightly at night regardless of the 
weather. Also, when the family goes to the farm for the day and 
the house is deserted, the shutters are closed and the doors locked. 

The foregoing description applies to the Chamorro house in the 
village. The farmhouses (lancos) are much simpler, except those 
of a few families who live permanently at their farms. The lanco is 
unpainted, with a very few exceptions. Usually there is a separate 


korsina, but the house often will have only one or two rooms, both 
used for sleeping. Furniture is at a minimum and bedding is usually 
spread on the floor at night. There is no separate sala as a rule. 
Most lancos are not particularly neat and the outside is usually 
littered. Seldom are ornamental shrubs planted. This difference is 
a reflection of the Chamorro attitude toward Icmco and village house. 
The latter is related to social status and may become an object of 
display. It is there that one's "nice" possessions are kept. The 
lanco, on the other hand, is primarily a convenience in working a 
farm. It is first of all a place that provides shelter, and it is not a 
show place. At the same time, it is a place where everyone is free 
to relax in his oldest clothes. 

The Household and Its Food 

■' ■" MEALS 

During the Spanish and German periods, meals were eaten at 
four regular times during the day. According to Fritz (1904, p. 51) 
and Prowazek (1913, p. 48), breakfast (am oca) was served at about 
6:00 A.M. and consisted of a hot drink — tea, cocoa, or coffee — and 
tortillas, wheat bread, zwieback, or roskete, a roll usually made of 
arrowroot flour. The mid-day meal (nataloane) consisted of rice, 
fish or meat, tortillas, and, according to season, yams, taro, bread- 
fruit, and bananas. About 4:00 P.M. the family had mirienda, con- 
sisting merely of coffee, cocoa, or aho, a liquid made of coconut milk 
mixed with arrowroot starch and sugar. The evening meal (sena) 
was served between 7:00 and 8:00 P.M. and was very similar to the 
noon meal in the type and quantity of food consumed. Fritz re- 
marked that the Chamorros ate comparatively well and though 
they liked to eat rice every day, they were content with locally 
produced substitutes. 

Today, most Chamorros eat three meals a day and omit the 
afternoon mirienda, though a few still follow the old custom. Supper 
is accordingly eaten earlier, though here again there is considerable 
variation, and it may be served at any time from 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. 

Meals in the home are prepared by the women. The men and 
children may procure, cut, and stack the firewood, but it is the 
women who prepare the family's food. Although in the household 
women are the cooks, men are not ignorant of cookery. On the 
farm they may have to prepare their own meals if their wives are 
not with them, while at home they will often do the cooking if their 



wives are ill. Tn addition, several men are accomplished cooks and 
are employed to serve family parties. In the latter case, however, 
they are considered chefs (korsineros) possessing skills comparable 
to of artisans such as carpenters, barbers, blacksmiths and 
the like. 

Fig. 22. Chamorro housewife grinding corn on a Mexican type of metate 
(courtesy of Raymond M. Sato, Honolulu Academy of Arts). 


These fall into two major classes: food produced on the island, 
and that imported. In the former category are foods derived from 
the domesticated plants grown in pre-Spanish times together with 
that derived from plants and animals introduced since the time of 
contact, principally by the Spanish. 

The main types of food produced locally are corn (the principal 
local staple), taro, sweet potatoes, yams, breadfruit, arrowroot, 
cassava, tomatoes, beans, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, chili pepper, 
pineapple, coffee, mangoes, watermelons, and cantaloupe. Other 
foods are fish, which is taken from the sea; meat, procured from 


cattle, pigs, and chickens; eggs; and a small number of land crabs 
and fruit bats caught in the bush. Tobacco is also grown. Although 
this does not complete the list, it gives an indication of the relative 
variety of local foods. They are by no means, however, of equal 
importance in the diet. Corn, taro, and sweet potatoes are much 
more important than yams, breadfruit, or cassava. Neither pine- 
apple nor coffee is actually planted, as the people use Japanese 

The imported foods include rice (the most significant), canned 
meat and fish, wheat flour, lard, and canned milk. Since the war, 
imported food has actually been the mainstay of the community. 
Although rice appears to have been grown in prehistoric times, it is 
not produced in any quantity on Saipan today. 


The Chamorros, partly through long contact with Spain and 
Japan, have a sophisticated cuisine and many are excellent cooks, a 
point noted by Prowazek forty years ago. They have adopted many 
food plants from outside sources, and their cookery likewise reflects 
diffusion from foreign lands. Through the influence of Spain, tor- 
tillas, tamales, ensaladas, balensiana (Spanish rice), various forms of 
brojas, admondigas (fried meat balls), coffee, cocoa, and a variety of 
other dishes were incorporated into Chamorro cookery. German 
influence appears to be negligible, though perhaps Chamorro com- 
petence in baking wheat bread can be partly traced to this source. 
Japanese influence is much more marked. Methods of preparing 
rice, and the adoption of soy sauce, Japanese noodles, misu soup, 
Sashimi (raw fish), sukiaki, manjo (a sweet rice cake), and tea are all 
due to contact with the Japanese. Also, although knives, forks, 
and spoons are the eating utensils commonly used, the Chamorros 
of Saipan shift with ease to chopsticks. When men are working on 
the farm and take a lunch with them, it usually consists of rice and 
a little meat sauce, which is eaten with chopsticks cut from the 
branch of a near-by tree. 

The ancient foods are also prepared in a variety of ways. As in 
other parts of Micronesia, coconut cream is theoretically a prime 
ingredient for many dishes, though the destruction of the coconut 
palms on Saipan has largely removed this item from the diet. The 
starch foods — taro, breadfruit, yams — are combined in a variety of 
ways, often with fish, octopus, and crab, to form fried, baked, 
roasted, or boiled dishes and sauces. Particularly important is 


finedeni, a hot sauce made largely from vinegar, soy sauce, and chili 

The Chamorros divide their foods into several classes. Probably 
most important is the distinction between aggon and toci. The 
former category consists of starch foods, the latter of proteins. Rice, 
taro, cooked bananas, sweet potatoes, breadfruit, yams, tortillas, 
tamales, wheat bread, and rolls are all aggon. Fish, meat, crabs, 
fowl, and eggs are toci. A third important class is 7ia'jin nengkano 
(the ingredients that generally go into sauces), which includes onions, 
garlic, tomatoes, soy sauce, pepper, and salt. The Chamorro con- 
cept of a noon or evening meal is one where the body of the meal 
consists of aggon, combined with a small amount of toci, usually in 
a sauce containing various ingredients of na'jin nengkano. Rice is 
considered virtually indispensable in the aggon class. 

Other general classes are fruta, including all fruit eaten raw 
(mangoes, pineapple, bananas, melons, papayas, oranges, and sour- 
sop), and postri, including all cakes and sweet rolls. The recent 
appearance of ice cream has caused some difficulty in classification. 
Usually it is grouped with postri as a dessert, though some informants 
put it into the fruta category. Gimen includes milk, coffee, tea, and 
cocoa, while manesca includes alcoholic liquors. Except for beer, 
these latter are not permitted to be sold openly on the island. Beer 
imports, however, have been so large they have occasioned much 
concern to the administration and to the more thoughtful of the 
Chamorros. In 1950, the value of beer imports amounted to more 
than that of any other class of food commodity imported, including 
rice. Before the war the sale of any alcoholic beverage was pro- 
hibited to the Chamorros and Carolinians, though not to the Japa- 
nese. Today, freedom to buy beer is for many Chamorros a gain in 
social status for their group. Yet the dissipation of so much income 
on beer imports at a time when the island's economy is anything 
but healthy presents a difficult problem. 

Food dishes are also classed according to their appropriateness 
for party foods as opposed to those used for ordinary daily fare. 
Chamorro parties are the secular concomitants of religious rites in- 
volving members of the family, and take place especially at baptism, 
marriage, death, and family novenas. On these occasions, a large 
amount of food must be prepared. Typically, the food dishes served 
at times reflect Spanish influence. Rice, especially balensiana 
(Spanish rice, prepared with tomato), is considered a nece.ssity, as 
well as one or preferably .several meat dishes of beef, pork, or chicken. 


White bread, tortillas, rolls, and postri in the form of cake are also 
usually served, as well as ensaladas. Tea, sometimes cocoa, and 
today beer and Coca-Cola generally accompany the meal. Of the 
presumably older foods, taro and fish may be prepared in one form 
or another, but breadfruit, yams, and sweet potatoes seldom appear. 
Rice and meat, and usually beer, are the backbone of the meal. 
Thus, party foods reflect strongly the long period of contact. The 
daily fare is relatively simple, in contrast to the large total of food 
dishes in the Chamorro cuisine. 

Food preferences are also associated with age differences. During 
Japanese times, rice became established as the preferred starch food 
for ordinary as well as party fare, to a considerable extent at the 
expense of tortillas made from locally grown corn. Today it is 
common to hear older women complain that young women do not 
know how to make tortillas properly nor do they wish to learn. 
When making tortillas for breakfast, Chamorro women rise at about 
4:00 A.M. and tortilla-making is considered arduous. In the words 
of an informant: 

In the morning the wife rises early and puts the water pot on the fire. 
If she is going to make tortillas, she takes the corn, which has been softened 
with lime (in this state called eskomi) and washes it and grinds it on the 
metate with her mano. After this first grind, she should grind it twice more 
(though most people today do not). Before putting the tortillas on the grill, 
the dough is spread on a banana leaf. On the grill the tortilla should be 
turned three times, though twice is enough for a soft tortilla, and four times 
is necessary for a hard one that keeps longer. One family of five will need 
four or five tortillas. To make this many will take the wife an hour and a 
half. They cannot be made without the wife's perspiring, for it is hard work. 

The older people are not so wedded to a rice diet as young 
adults. Among the former, corn is preferred above all other starch 
foods, with taro probably next, followed by bananas, sweet potatoes, 
yams, cassava, and breadfruit, in that approximate order. Bread- 
fruit is today seldom used by Chamorros, an indication of how far 
their diet pattern has diverged from the Oceanic norm. 

A diet study was not undertaken during the course of my field 
work, but in order to make general observations regarding the degree 
to which the Chamorros rely on imported as opposed to locally pro- 
duced food, the food consumption of two households was carefully 
checked for a one-week period during August, 1950. The data are 
given below. Household I was that of a man who is an intelligent 
farmer, who is attempting to establish a farm which he expects will 
eventually provide his main source of support. Household II is 



that of a salaried, full-time employee of the school, who maintains 
a farm on which he works during week-ends. Both households are 
above average in the amount of food they produce. 

Household I 
(2 adults, 2 children) 
Imported food: 

Rice 30 lbs. 

Canned meat 2 cans 

Canned fish 1 can 

Milk 11 cans 


Bread (baked locally) 4 loaves 



Coffee 1 lb. 

Sugar 1 lb. 

Salt M lb. 


Local food, purchased: 

Fresh fish 10 lbs. 

Fresh meat 4 lbs. 

Produced by household: 

Chickens 2 

Beans about 5 lbs. 


Corn 2 lbs. 

Onions 6 

Bananas (cooking) 

Bananas (eating) 1 bunch 

Cucumbers 6 

Mangoes 6 

Household 11 
(4 adults, 3 children) 

50 lbs. 

7 cans 

2 cans 

7 cans 
1 box 

2 cans 

2 cans 

1 lb. 

2 lbs. 

1 bottle 

enough for 10 


1 bunch 

The data given in the preceding table, together with the material 
presented in Chapter XI, are sufficient to establish the fact of the 
Chamorros' reliance on imported foodstuffs at the time of the field 
study. An important corollary is that Chamorro food habits are 
adjusted primarily to imported food. This adaptation is certainly 
one factor in the Chamorro's desire for wage labor and the reluctance 
displayed by many to attempt to procure a cash income through 
farming at a time when there is no organized export market for farm 
products. As far as the organization of household activities is con- 
cerned, this fact is also relevant in that it acts as a force impelling 
the father of the family to seek wage labor and small entrepreneurial 
jobs. In farm production, the family is a co-operating production 
unit, whereas in wage labor the father's productive work, in the 


economic sense, takes place outside of the sphere of household 

In connection with the subject of food, the observations of 
Joseph and Murray (1951) are relevant. In their medical examina- 
tion of Chamorro school children on Saipan, they found that nearly 
half of their sample group exhibited symptoms of malnutrition, with 
conditions suggestive of deficiency in the A, D, and B-complex 
vitamins. Although, as they further note, any statements regarding 
malnutrition must take into account the fact that most of the popu- 
lation suffers from infestation of intestinal parasites, their conclusions 
indicate that a large section of the Chamorros do not have an 
adequate diet. At the time of their study (1947) the community's 
total food supply was also by no means assured and dependable, 
and anxiety over food was commonly expressed. In 1950, the situa- 
tion was if anything aggravated, for economic uncertainty was more 
acute. Undoubtedly, this fact increased the current anxieties of the 
Chamorro group. It is perhaps doubtful that malnutrition, the lack 
of an assured food supply, and the consequent raising of the level 
of anxiety to which this lack contributed have affected the pat- 
terns of relations within the household and family in the ordinary 
activity of daily life. However, in the following sections, the impor- 
tance of crisis rites in the total kinship structure will be examined 
and emphasized. In the secular aspects of these rites, the consump- 
tion of food plays a major role, and the abundance and quality of 
the food are directly linked to the proper performance of these rites 
and to a family's status in the community. Without an assured 
food supply, the obtaining of the food necessary for the celebration 
of various crisis rites was in 1950 becoming of great concern to 
affected families, a fact that must be kept in mind in the following 
discussion of family structure. 

Illness and Health 

Within the household, parents share in the responsibility for the 
care of ill children and assist each other when either is sick. How- 
ever, much of the actual responsibility for procuring aid at times of 
sickness devolves upon the mother. It is generally she who takes 
small children to the dispensary when they are unwell. She in turn 
has often a greater knowledge of the simple folk medicines used as 
supplementary aids in curing. Most of the Chamorro suruhana 
(herbalists) are women. Women's responsibilities in preparing the 
household food, in caring for small children, in assisting other 


women at times of pregnancy and birth make it natural for them to 
assume a hirge share of responsibility in the prevention of sickness 
and in aiding the ill. 

The Chamorros readily accept the practices of western medicine. 
Understandable exceptions occur occasionally in tubercular patients 
who are loath to be isolated in the hospital's tuberculosis ward, where 
terminal tuberculosis is all too often their fate. But there is widely 
accepted use made of both the in- and out-patient services available 
through the dispensary, particularly in the matter of maternity care. 

Supplementing though not competing with the accepted western 
medicine is a body of folk medicine of long standing in Chamorro 
culture. This latter corpus of Chamorro belief and practice refers 
to concepts regarding disease and to beliefs regarding its prevention 
and cure. Whereas virtually all western medicine is a matter of 
esoteric knowledge, put into practice by specialists and primarily 
outside the range of Chamorro culture, many of the folk concepts 
are a matter of common knowledge. Furthermore, all of the Cha- 
morro folk medicine is handed down within the family, which is the 
mechanism by which it is transmitted from generation to generation. 
Thus folk medicine is intimately related to family and household. 

The following brief section on Chamorro medicine is not intended 
as a thorough treatment in any sense, but is included to indicate 
some of the principal features of the surviving system of thought 
and practice of local folk medicine. 


Widespread in Hispanic America is the concept of "hot" and 
"cold" qualities, as these are applied to the natural make-up of 
individual persons, to foods, to kinds of disease, and to kinds of 
medicines used in the curing of disease. Foster (1951, p. 321) notes 
that this concept is at least as old as the humoral pathology of 
Hippocrates and Galen and by way of the Arabs was passed on to 
Spain, where it became a part of the relatively esoteric knowledge 
of the learned class but did not establish itself among the people as 
a whole. Foster further notes that from Spain it was transferred to 
Hispanic America, where the concept became one of the most wide- 
spread of popular beliefs. Undoubtedly the agency of dissemination 
was the missionary priest, in whom most of contemporary learning 
reposed. This same concept was further diffused to the Marianas, 
in a form virtually identical with that prevailing in Spanish America. 
Undoubtedly in the Marianas too the agents of dissemination were 


the priests, who also introduced such basic cultural elements as the 
growing of corn and other food plants previously unknown in the 

Among the Chamorros of Saipan this concept of hot and cold 
still exists. The younger people are not as well acquainted with its 
ramifications as older adults, but it is still an important part of 
Chamorro culture. As elucidated by Chamorros, the concept is 
first of all connected with the nature of an individual. In theory, 
every person tends by nature to be a bit "hot" or a bit "cold." 
As a matter of practice, a person's natural tendencies in this line 
are usually strongly influenced and probably largely determined by 
the opinion of his parents and elders when he is a child. If a child 
breaks out in a rash, or is rosy in color, he has a predilection toward 
"hotness." If his eyes are sad, or his skin is cold and damp to the 
touch, these are symptoms of "coldness." As one might expect in 
a tropical climate, most people tend toward the "hot" side. A first 
rule of good health is to maintain an even balance between "hotness" 
and "coldness." Thus, foods are classed according to "hot" and 
"cold," terms which do not bear any relation to temperature. A 
person who tends to be "hot" should therefore not eat too much 
"hot" food, for an imbalance may result and he may become ill. 
The same is true for avoiding too much "cold" food in case he has 
tendencies toward "coldness." An expectant mother, for instance, 
particularly avoids too much "hot" food and continues to be careful 
for about a month after the birth of her child, for at this time she is 
in a condition of delicate balance that can be easily disturbed. The 
period of pregnancy through the time of birth and until a mother 
resumes her normal routine is one when the dangers of imbalance, 
particularly toward "hotness," are especially to be avoided, both 
for her own sake and for that of her child. 

All foods are not rigorously classed as hot or cold. Rice and 
bread, for instance, are neither hot nor cold, and recently introduced 
foods are often not within the classification. For another group of 
foods, informants would disagree or be in doubt. But there is a 
remaining group on which general agreement exists. This latter 
class of foods is listed below. 

"Hot" Foods 

Animal fat, particularly pork fat. 

Soup made from boiling meat of large chickens. Meat per se is not neces- 
sarily hot, but in boiling or stewing a large chicken, for instance — particularly 
an old chicken — the "hotness" is boiled out into the soup. 


Sugar cane 


Coconut cream and oil 

Finedeni, made principally from vinegar or soy sauce and chili pepper. 




Alcoholic liquors 




"Cold" Foods 

Chamorros use the adjective "fresco" ("cool") rather than "mnninqhincj" 
("cold") in classifying hot and cold foods. But they describe a person as being 
"cold" {"minaninghing na laolao") not "cool." 


Fruit, except cantaloupe 



Tuba (coconut palm toddy) 



It sometimes happens that a person gets out of balance and 
becomes ill, usually from over-eating foods in either the hot or the 
cold category. Thus if a person has a disposition to "hotness" and 
eats too much hot food, he may suffer headaches, fever, or diarrhea. 
Thereupon he should take a "cold" medicine to restore the balance. 
On the other hand, if "coldness," which is also associated with 
chronic fatigue, is responsible for illness, such as pain in the joints, 
the person affected should take a "hot" medicine. Medicines them- 
selves are consequently part of the concept and a group of them 
are classed as "hot" ("amot maipe") or "cold" ("amot fresco"). 

There is also the feeling that in so restoring a person to health, 
the excess "hotness" or "coldness" is physically ejected from the 
body. In the case of chicken pox, several informants expressed the 
belief that the breaking out of pox on the body was an indication 
that the "hotness" was coming out. One man said that after taking 
a medicine for "hotness," he breathed deeply and could feel the 
"hotness" being ejected from his lungs. Pneumonia (pasmu) tends 
to be associated with "hotness," which is imprisoned within the 

It should also be noted that some symptoms, such as diarrhea, 
may be either "hot" or "cold," depending on the circumstances 
surrounding the illness. In such case it is often necessary to ask 
a suruhana to diagnose which quality is causing the difficulty. 


The concept of "hot" or "cold," therefore, is well established in 
Chamorro culture. Two other traits common in Hispanic America, 
the belief that winds cause sickness, and the evil eye, do not seem 
to be present in the Marianas. 


Thus far, two primary causes of disease as formulated in Cha- 
morro thought have been mentioned: (1) Disposition of persons to 
be either "hot" or "cold" and the resulting sickness from an im- 
balance in either the "hot" or "cold" direction; (2) supernatural 
causes of disease as expressed by the malevolent acts of the taotao- 
mona, who then cause the person to become ill. There is some over- 
lap of the categories. Bad breath, disliked by the taotaomona, is 
considered a symptom of "hotness." 

In addition to causing symptoms of hysteria, the taotaomona 
may cause fever {chetnot maipe, "hot sickness"). As a remedy, 
amot fresco ("cool" medicine) is taken internally (see Thompson, 
1947, p. 202), another manifestation of the "hot-cold" dichotomy. 
Taotaomona are also particularly dangerous for pregnant and men- 
struating women, and for infants and small children. In the case 
of the latter, loss of appetite, continual crying, and general debility 
may be the result of an attack by a taotaomona. 

Other Chamorro categories of disease-causation fall within the 
realm of natural causes. They include injury by mechanical means 
— burns, abrasions, bruises, and fractures — and by forms of micro- 
organisms. The latter category is very imperfectly understood, and 
the range of information very great. Ascaris infects most of the 
population and all recognize the adult Ascaris as a disease-causing 
agent. The life cycle of Ascaris, however, and its relation to methods 
of transmission of the parasite from person to person are known and 
understood by only a half-dozen people, all associated with the ad- 
ministration medical department. It is thought by some Chamorros 
to be caused by over-eating the toci class of food, or over-eating 
"hot" foods. The reasons for vaccination against smallpox and 
inoculations for typhoid are probably as well understood by the 
Chamorros as by most Americans. On the whole, however, the Cha- 
morros are comparable to many folk peoples who are in the 
process of adoption of modern medical practice, which itself is con- 
stantly changing. Acceptance of modern methods of therapy is 
general. But beliefs regarding the causes of disease have been much 
less affected and show the greatest time lag. 


An intermediate level of disease concepts is found in the classi- 
fication of disease itself. Chamorro has words for particular symp- 
toms such as fever, ulcerating lesions of the skin, burns, and fractures. 
The language also classifies particular diseases with which these 
symptoms are associated. This latter classification partly reflects 
the old folk medicine, whereby difl"erent diseases may be classed 
together according to supposed cause, or where somewhat similar 
symptoms lead to the classing together of different diseases, such as 
leprosy and yaws. The latter practice may be partially due to ac- 
quaintance with Western medicine, for less than fifty years ago yaws, 
syphilis, and leprosy were often confused by American and German 
physicians in the Marianas. Diseases are also classed according to 
whether they are caused by taotaomona, or according to "hotness" 
and "coldness." 

There are, therefore, at least three levels on which change is 
taking place in regard to disease and its treatment. The first level 
is that of therapy, where there is general acceptance of western 
medicine and where the folk medical arts are primarily supplemen- 
tary (except for psychiatric treatment of taotaoniona-caused hys- 
terias, where the folk methods are still primary). The second and 
intermediate level refers to the classification of disease itself. At 
this level Chamorro concepts reflect both new and old beliefs and 
show less rapid change. The third level is that of concepts regarding 
the causes of disease. At this level old folk beliefs are strongest and 
show least disposition to change. Although the concept of "hotness" 
and "coldness" is itself an introduced belief, it lies now at this level. 

These differential levels of change are primary to an under- 
standing of the reasons folk medicine continues to exist. The folk 
therapy is tied directly to concepts of disease causation and has its 
raison d'etre in its intimate relation to this level of thought. 

Local Chamorro medicine is of two kinds: preventive and thera- 
peutic. Preventive medicine may consist of various objects used to 
ward off sickness and death, particularly that caused by the taotao- 
mona. In this category are night lights, which the patients in the 
hospital wards keep burning to repel taotaomona; strong-smelling 
objects such as garlic and onions, used by women to ward off tao- 
taomona; and objects associated with Catholicism, such as the leather 
belts worn by members of the Correa, rosaries, and medals of the 
saints (cf. Thompson, 1947, pp. 201-202). 

In addition, there are medicines taken as prophylactic measures. 
A common one is termed labatorio. This is a plant preparation made 


of the leaf of a plant called hagon abas, a small plant called maigu- 
lalii, and the bark of two trees, lasas annonas and lasos baninalo. 
The preparation is made with hot water, put into a tub, and used 
by women as a sitz bath. The lahatorio is used primarily by older 
women who have had children. It is a general prophylactic, as well 
as a specific one for urogenitary difficulties. 

The therapeutic medicines are plant preparations taken internally. 
For certain types of illness, such as pains in the joints and muscular 
pains of the back, massage is also used. The medicines utilized 
comprise a long pharmacopeia of plants, a number of the more 
important of which are mentioned in Thompson's account (1947, 
pp. 198 203). In connection with the "hot-cold" dichotomy, certain 
medicines are "hot," others "cold." Thus, the leaves of the kama- 
chili (Pithecolobium duke), a plant called granada, one called luluhut, 
and tobacco are all "hot" medicines. "Cold" medicines include 
koroson galak, hagon tagua, tomates chaka, a'gaka, halea nanasu, and 
gapgap (Tacca pinnatifida). 

For minor ailments, every housewife knows a number of simple 
plant medicines, but for more serious illness it may be necessary to 
call one of the suruhanas. These are for the most part elderly women, 
all of whom are very secretive about their knowledge. The suruhana 
diagnoses the ailment and generally sends one of the family to collect 
the plants which she needs, though she reserves certain trade secrets 
by supplying some of the medicines herself. Part of the secrecy that 
the suruhanas preserve about their calling is probably due to fear of 
ridicule, but it may also be due to the slow decline of the profession 
itself. Most of the Carolinian medicine men are also very secretive. 

In Micronesia, a magical spell is very often associated with a 
plant medicine in order to make it effective. Perhaps because of 
Catholic teaching, the spell does not seem to be associated with the 
plant medicines of the suruhana. This difference I was never able 
to check by direct observation, though it was often pointed out as 
a contrast between Carolinian and Chamorro medicine by inform- 
ants. Instead of a spell, however, a short prayer, which is a func- 
tional substitute for a spell, is often said when the medicine is taken. 

The suruhana is generally given a small gift, usually of food, at 
the time her services are used. 

XVIL System of Kinship Terminology 

We turn now to the culturally patterned relationships among 
kinlolk. These relationships taken as an organized whole are here 
referred to as the kinship system. As the relationships of kinship 
grow out of parenthood and marriage, and, as among the Chamorros, 
the elementary family unit in which parenthood and marriage take 
place is of particular social significance, a consideration of relation- 
ships within this family group will occupy a large place in the 
following analysis. We shall first consider the terminology of kinship 
as a mechanism for grouping and classifying relatives. 

Referential Terms 

The kinship terms in referential use among the Chamorros of 
Saipan are given in the list below, and the application of these 
terms is shown on the accompanying charts (figs. 23, 24). The 
Chamorro terms for Saipan are the same as those previously collected 
by Thompson for Guam (Thompson, 1945, pp. 14-15). In actual 
use, the terms are joined with a possessive sufRx. In order to illus- 
trate common usage, in the following list two forms of kinship term 
are given, the root word and its form when combined with the 
possessive suffix for the first person, singular. 




























la' hi ho 




cousin (male) 



cousin (female) 






Used with a qualifying term to indicate sex. 







grandchild (male) 

n ieio 


grandchild (female) 

n ieia 


















s negro 






jet no 























These terms are all derived from Spanish, except for the terms 
for "son" riahe"), "daughter" ("haga"), "child" C'patgon"), "sib- 
ling" C'celo"), and "spouse" {"asagua"). The borrowed Spanish 
terms have replaced the old Chamorro terms in the other categories 
of relationship. 

In daily speech, personal names are used as much if not more 
than kinship terms for referential use, except in the case of "father" 
and "mother," where the kinship terms are always preferred. In 
the use of a personal name a prefix "si" ("si Juan," "si Maria") is 
always included. It is very bad form not to do so. For older persons, 
the prefix 'Hun" for males and 'Han" for females is often substituted 
for "si" as a mark of respect for age. 

A very important aspect of the relationship between persons of 
different ages is reflected in the kinship terminology by the use of a 
collective term for "parents" {"saina"). The plural form ("man- 
naina") is extended to include, besides the parents, the siblings of 
father and mother, the grandparents, often the siblings of the grand- 
parents, and the godparents. Theoretically, even the first cousins 
of grandparents and parents may be included, though actually they 
usually fall outside the range of social obligations associated with 
the term. A married man or woman also includes the spouse's 
mannaina with his own, so that on marriage a person greatly in- 
creases the number of persons in this category. 

There are also a few variations on the pattern of terminology as 
shown on the accompanying charts. Occasionally a grandchild will 
refer to a grandfather as "tatan dangkulo" ("big father") and to a 
grandmother as "nanan dangkulo" ("big mother"). Likewise, I 

r O 




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have heard a cousin's children referred to by the son and daughter 
terms C'la'hiho" and "ha'gaho"), though the usage is not general. 

The application of the kinship terms as shown on the charts 
(figs. 23, 24) is the same regardless of the sex of ego. In the extension 
of terms, the system is bilateral in that terms are extended as far on 
the paternal as on the maternal side. Likewise, neither side is 
favored in the remembrance of genealogies. The Chamorros on the 
whole are not concerned with remembering genealogies far back in 
either the maternal or paternal lines of ancestry; more often than 
not a man or woman cannot trace a genealogy back of the grand- 
parental generation. It must be remembered in this connection that 
Saipan was populated in relatively recent times from Guam, so 
that the migration itself may have acted to remove concern with 

Vocative Terms 

As in referential use, personal names instead of kinship terms are 
much used in direct address among relatives. Names are generally 
used among siblings, often among cousins, and for relatives of de- 
scending generations in preference to kinship terms. For relatives 
of ascending generations other than the parents, personal names are 
also used more than kinship terms, but are often joined with the 
respect prefix, tun or tan. The use of names and of vocative kinship 
terms is explained in the following list. 

For siblings of either sex: personal names are used; brothers 
among themselves may occasionally use "lake" ("man," "son"). 

For cousins: personal names are generally used among children; 
among adults either personal names or "primo" and "prima." 

For parents: "tata" ("father") and "nana" ("mother") are em- 
ployed. The terms are the same as those in referential use, but in 
the vocative term the accent shifts to the second syllable. Actually, 
the familiar forms "ta" and "na" predominate. Occasionally the 
referential "ta'taho" and "na'naho" may be used vocatively. I have 
also heard the father's name used, preceded by the possessive form 
of the father word ("tatan"). 

For parents' siblings: Personal names are generally used, prefixed 
with the respect form "tun" for males and "tan" for females. In- 
terestingly enough, occasionally the terms for "father" and "mother" 
{"tata" and "nana") are used for siblings of the parents. Also, 
the possessive form of the familiar word for "father" {"tan") may 




















O ^ 
o o 














<] UJ 
















o ^j :s 

o i3 S" 
bo I •>. 

I- •- 

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'I' '^ rt 
c Vj I 


.1 -G 

a: C = 


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W > M 

- o II 




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be prefixed to the personal name and used for uncles who are "close" 
to the family and who are frequently on the family scene. The 
possessive form of the familiar term for "mother" ("nan") may be 
similarly used for aunts. Thus there is a classificatory element in 
the vocative terminology for parents' siblings that is not present 
in the referential terminology. 

For grandparents: In direct address, the referential terms "guelo" 
and "guela" are seldom if ever used; during the period of field work 
I never heard them used vocatively. The most usual manner of 
address for a grandfather is to use his name with a respect prefix. 
This prefix is the possessive form of the father term, either "tatan" 
or "tan." Thus, vocative usage for "father" and for "grandfather" 
is often the same. For the grandfather the word "bihu" ("old man") 
may be substituted for "tan" or "tatan" as a respect prefix. The 
grandmother's name is used, preceded by a respect form, usually 
"6//m" (possessive of "hihan"), meaning "old woman." Likewise 
"tatanbiJm" ("old father") for the grandfather and "nananhiha" 
("old mother") for the grandmother may often be heard. 

For grandparents' siblings: The personal name is correct, pre- 
ceded by the honorific "tun" for males and "tan" for females. This 
usage of "tun" and "tan" as respect prefixes may be extended in 
direct address to all elderly people. 

For own children : Personal names, usually nicknames, are mostly 
used. The kinship terms "la'hiho," or " 'iho" ("my son") and 
"ha'gaho," or " 'aho" ("my daughter") may also be used. I have 
heard the kinship term followed by the name. 

For nephews and nieces: Personal names are most frequently 
employed. If a kinship term is used, which it is very frequently, it 
is the son and daughter term, another reflection of a classificatory 
element in the vocative terminology. This same usage holds for 
the children of cousins. 

For grandchildren : The personal name is used for grandchildren as 
well as for other related children of the second descending generation. 

For the spouse: The personal name is used. 

For the spouse's brother: The referential kin term, "cuniao," or 
"hiao" (derived from "cuniado") is most frequently heard, although 
sometimes the personal name is used. This is true regardless of 
sex of ego. 

For the spouse's sister: Here the personal name is more fre- 
quently used; occasionally I heard the kinship term, "hiao. 



For cousin's spouse: Brother-in-law and sister-in-law usage is 
also extended to the spouses of cousins. 

For parents-in-law: Usage is the same as for parents. 

For godparents: The godfather is usually called "nino" (shorten- 
ing of "padlino," derived from Spanish), and the godmother is 

For godchildren: The godson is "la'hiho" or "iho," after the refer- 
ential term for "son"; the goddaughter is "ha'gaho," or "aho," after 
the referential term for "daughter." Personal names may also be 

For compadre: In formal usage "compaire" is correct; on most 
occasions the word is shortened to "paire." Names may also be 
used, though "paire" is more frequent. 

For comadre: Usage parallels that for compadre; on formal occa- 
sions, "comaire" (informally "maire"). 

The most significant differences between the referential and voc- 
ative terminology are the relative extent to which Spanish terms 
have penetrated the system, and the presence in the vocative but 
not in the referential terminology of a trace of a classificatory, 
generation type principle. In the vocative terminology, Spanish 
terms for certain classes of relatives are not noticeably present, a 
principal example being the use of "guelo" and "guela" for grand- 
parents in the referential terminology but not in the vocative. The 
second point is illustrated by the occasional use in the vocative sys- 
tem of parental terms for uncles and aunts, and of son and daughter 
terms for the children of siblings and cousins, a feature absent from 
the referential terminology. This usage may be a retention from the 
pre-contact Chamorro system but the source cannot be determined 
on the basis of available documentary materials. It is normally a 
feature of generation type systems of nomenclature. In view of 
the pronounced culture change among the Chamorros since the time 
of first Spanish contact, it is doubtful that the usage is a survival, 
particularly in view of the fact that vocative terminology elsewhere 
seems more susceptible to change than referential terminology 
(Spoehr, 1947, 1949). Rather, it might be viewed as an expression 
of a certain inadequacy of "fit" of the adopted Spanish terminology 
to the behavioral system, the latter having in it certain elements 
favoring the classing together of parents with parents' siblings, and 
of own children with nephews and nieces. This tendency finds 
further verbal expression in the extension of the referential term 
"manhaina" to include parents and parents' siblings, associated 


with a distinct respect relation to all persons in this category, who 
as a unit are particularly important at times of crisis rites. 

Extension of Kinship Terms 

It has already been noted that the Saipan Chamorros as a whole 
are not particularly preoccupied with remembering genealogies. On 
the other hand, for a group in which the conjugal tie and the elemen- 
tary family are particularly stressed and where unilineal exogamous 
descent groups are absent, the Chamorros extend relatively widely 
the limits of their kinship terminology. The lateral extension of 
terms is effected largely by using the known relationship of members 
of the first ascending generation. Thus two men will recognize each 
other as being second cousins because their fathers were known to 
be first cousins; seldom will they bother to attempt to trace the 
actual link through additional ascending generations. 

Among the Saipan Chamorros, there are two distinct aspects of 
terminological range: (1) assumed range and (2) observed range. If 
one discusses the subject of kinship range in a general way with a 
Chamorro, more likely than not he will say that kinship terms are 
applied to third cousins, that they are included in the extension of 
terms, but that they mark the outer limits of the system, fourth 
cousins being too far removed to be referred to by a kinship term, 
though logically the system can be extended indefinitely. This limit 
marks the assumed terminological range. Closer investigation will 
then reveal that the terminology is seldom if ever applied beyond 
second cousins. It is doubtful that any person knows all his third 
cousins; they are not of particular importance. The observed range 
is here indicated. Thus the assumed terminological range is wider 
than the observed range. For purposes of structural analysis, the 
observed range has greater significance because it is more closely 
linked to behavior among relatives. 

In the determination of observed range, cousin and sibling rela- 
tionships — that is, consanguineal relationships within the same 
generation — are of particular importance. It is this category of 
relationships which is principally relied upon to include or exclude 
individuals within the range of a person's kin term extensions. 
Cousins are classed as "primo gi priniet grado," "prinw gi secundo 
grado," and "primo gi terced grado" and the genealogical distinctions 
that separate these classes are known and remembered by all adults. 

XVIIL Formation^ Functioning^ and 

Dissolution of the Family 

Marriage is the prerequisite to the formation of the family; the 
family becomes a functioning unit with the birth of children and 
their rearing to adulthood; and with the marriage of the children 
and the establishment of their own families, a group of linked 
families results. The death of the original parental pair dissolves 
the ancestral family. In the following sections, the data are or- 
ganized according to this sequence of events. Much of the descrip- 
tion concerns crisis rites, considered not for their relevance in the 
relation of culture to personality formation, but rather for their 
significance in delineating the structure of family organization and 
of the kinship system as a whole. 


Courtship. — As a result of Spanish influence, a system of strict 
chaperonage of unmarried girls was introduced among the Chamorros 
and was still a strong tradition among the families of higher status 
during Japanese times on Saipan. As a result, courtship activities 
were narrowly channelled, and a young man admired from a distance 
the girl in whom he was interested. Though the Chamorro com- 
munity was actually not large, and young people might have known 
each other from childhood, there was little opportunity for boys 
and girls of marriageable age to be alone together. Girls were not 
supposed to go unaccompanied about the town of Garapan, and 
they were by custom expected to remain at home assisting their 
mothers with household tasks. Many middle-aged Chamorro hus- 
bands and wives told me they had barely spoken to each other in 
the years immediately prior to their betrothal. 

Although the strict supervision of unmarried girls is still looked 
upon with favor by many of the more conservative families, rela- 
tionships, at present, between unmarried young men and women are 
considerably more informal. They meet casually in stores, at bap- 
tismal and wedding parties, at family novenas, in government ad- 



ministration offices, and on the street. It is not inappropriate for a 
young man to call on a girl at her family's house in the evening. 
On the other hand there is no "dating," and there are no parties 
primarily for young people. Unmarried girls do not go out alone, 
particularly at night, if their parents can help it. At wedding par- 
ties, young unmarried men and women seldom meet and talk in 
casual fashion ; there is often a certain stiffness and self-consciousness 
in their relationship, though they may have gone through school 
together and have known one another for years. Although the 
pattern is not that of a rigid social separation of the unmarried 
under the constant surveillance of their parents and elders, the con- 
trols of custom over social contacts between young men and women 
are still rather rigid. This is partly related to the inhibitions sur- 
rounding the subject of sex, about which the Chamorros tend to be 
very reticent. 

In courtship it is the man who takes the initiative and by small 
attentions attempts to elicit an occasional smile and a friendly word 
from the girl of his choice. Beyond this, the proper girl seldom 
goes. As one might expect, there are a number of approved ways 
of helping a young man in his suit. 

Juan was in love with Maria and having a hard time making headway. 
So a married friend of his asked him to be his compadre at the time his second 
child was born, and the friend's wife asked Maria to be comadre. Juan and 
Maria went alone to the church for the baptism, Maria carrying the baby 
and Juan an umbrella. In this simple way they shared together an important 
occasion, for the parents of the child do not go to the church when their 
child is baptized. 

Marriage Prohibitions. — In 1917 the Catholic Code of Canon 
Law was changed to allow the marriage of third cousins without 
special dispensation. Some older Chamorro adults, however, are 
still opposed to third cousin marriage, an attitude undoubtedly re- 
lated to the former position of the church. Actually, there are a few 
second cousin marriages in the village. These are church-sanctioned 
and were performed with the full consent of the resident priest, who 
as a missionary is allowed considerable discretion by the church 
authorities in performing marriages. By and large, most of the 
community would not favor a second cousin marriage, though they 
would tend to be guided by the decision of the priest. One second 
cousin marriage aroused great opposition from the family of the 
bride, who disapproved highly of her marrying a relative of such 
close degree. The bride insisted, however, and the priest gave his 
consent, so that the marriage was performed. 



The Chamorros follow church teaching in that they regard the 
Catholic marriage ceremony as an essential sanction for the existence 
of a marriage. Legal provisions for civil marriage exist but they had 
not been taken advantage of by anyone on Saipan in the post-war 

Fig. 25. Chamorro matron, Chalan Kanoa, Saipan. 

period, although one civil marriage had been performed on Rota. 
A few common-law marriages have existed in the past and at least 
one was an established union on Saipan in 1950, though the Cha- 
morros do not regard such unions as marriages. The offspring of 
common law marriages are considered to be illegitimate. 

Asking for a Girl's Hand. — When a boy has finally decided to 
ask a girl to marry him, he goes to the girl's parents or he asks his 
own parents to call on them. The Chamorros do not use a special 
"go-between." "The parents are enough of a go-between," one in- 


formant explained. If the boy's own parents go first, the girl's 
father will say, "Send the young man over, so that we can talk to 
him." With the ice thus broken, the young man goes to the house 
of the girl's parents. 

He knocks on the door, and says "Good evening." 

"Come in," says the padre de familia. "Who sent you?" (Boys and un- 
married young men are often sent with messages.) 

The young man enters and sits down stiffly. "Do not be angry, senor. 
I have come because I wish to marry your daughter." 

The girl is not present. Her father assumes a judicious manner. "Do 
you love her?" he asks. 

"Yes, very much." 

"Can you support her?" continues the father. 

"Yes, indeed," says the young man. 

The discussion continues politely in this vein. Finally, the girl's father 
.says, "We shall ask our daughter and consider the matter. It would be well 
if you returned at a later time — in two weeks." So the young man leaves. 

At the appointed time, the suitor returns to the house of the 
girl's parents. In the meantime they, particularly the mother, have 
discussed the question with the girl. If they dislike the boy and feel 
he is unsuitable they will attempt to dissuade her, but if the girl 
stands her ground they usually agree. So if the word is favorable, 
the parents then give the boy his waiting period, the plaso. Usually 
today it is six months, often even three, but most married men of 
middle age waited at least a year. Sometimes the girl's parents 
may say, "Find or build a house first. Then we shall see." 

If the girl's parents do not like the boy or wish to hinder the 
marriage in the hope that arrangements will be broken off, they 
make the waiting period longer. In this connection, a number of 
instances were recorded of virtually pathological resistance of fathers 
to the marriage of their daughters. In one case this apparently has 
doomed an attractive woman to spinsterhood, as she is now nearly 
middle-aged and no longer has suitors; in another case it was only 
the stubbornness of the girl, whose previous suitors had been chased 
away by her father, that led to the marriage; in a third case, the 
girl eloped. 

During the period of engagement, the young man calls regularly 
on the girl. He is particularly respectful to her parents and to the 
girl's manhaina. He helps at odd jobs and generally makes himself 
useful. Finally, the engagement period draws to a close. The boy's 
parents pay a formal call on the girl's parents to seal the under- 
standing. Together they speak to the padre. Then comes the pre- 
sentation of the aog, and the publishing of the banns in church. 


announced by the padre on three successive Sundays before the 
wedding. Thus the plaso is terminated. This termination is called 
"gutus finiho" ("cut the words"). 

llie Aog. — A Chamorro marriage involves an intricate pattern 
of reciprocal obligations among relatives of the groom, among those of 
the bride, and between these two groups. The aog is an expression 
of these relationships. 

Shortly before the banns are published, the groom's nuclear 
family formally notifies the groom's mannaina of the forthcoming 
marriage. The bride's family does the same for her mannaina. 
Today, the mannaina comprise essentially a man's or woman's 
parents, the parents' siblings, the grandparents, and the godparents. 
Although they all know about the engagement of bride and groom, 
they must receive formal notification. The godparents are notified 
by the bride or groom personally, or, in the case of the former's 
godfather, by her parents. The other mannaina are notified by a 
family representative, often a sibling of the bride or groom. 

Following this notification, it is usual for the mannaina of the 
groom to meet on a succeeding evening at the house of the groom's 
parents. A parallel procedure is followed on the bride's side. At 
the meetings, the work of the wedding day is organized. Also, the 
groom's relatives discuss who is to take the aog to the bride's house. 

The aog is a gift made by the groom's family to that of the 
bride. By custom, it consists of food to be used at the bride's 
wedding banquet. The aog is provided by the parents of the groom, 
though uncles or aunts of the groom may contribute to it. A typical 
aog traditionally consists of a live pig, a 100-pound sack of rice, 
a 100-pound sack of flour, 5-10 pounds of lard, 10 liters of vinegar, 
and 10 pounds of beans. Sometimes a large stack of firewood, cut 
by the groom, and other food items are added. 

On the Saturday night before the banns are to be published, 
this gift is loaded on an oxcart, or today more often a jeep, and 
taken to the house of the bride's parents by the groom's relatives. 
Included in the party will be the siblings of the groom and sometimes 
his first cousins. The party may be led by a brother of the father 
or of the mother, preferably an older brother, for thus more respect 
is shown. Sometimes a sibling of the father and one of the mother, 
with their spouses, will lead the party, thereby representing both 
sides of the groom's family. The groom himself does not go. When 
the party approaches the bride's house, it is traditional for one of 
the group to give the pig a sharp kick. The pig squeals loudly. This 


is the signal for the neighbors to rush to peek through their windows 
to see the aog. If it is large, credit is reflected directly on the groom's 
family, and indirectly on the bride's. "It is a competition," said 
one Chamorro. 

The party unloads the aog and the spokesman knocks on the door 
and presents the gift to the bride's parents. 

"Excuse us," he says, "we have come about the case of the two young 
people that are planning to be married." 

"Good. We appreciate very much your coming," the girl's parents will 

After a short time spent in conversation, the party leaves. 

Formerly, about three days before the wedding, the masa was 
taken over to the bride's house by the groom's relatives. This gift 
consisted of gold jewelry (necklace, ear-rings, and bracelet), the 
bride's wedding clothes, and a sum of money. Today, more often 
only money — properly at least $100, sometimes $500 — is given, or 
money and jewelry, and the gift is presented with the aog. The 
money is used by the bride's parents for her wedding clothes. Ac- 
tually, some families buy the wedding clothes for their daughters, 
and, if they are fairly well off, may present the money gift to the 
bride and groom to give them a start on married life. 

Approach of the Wedding Day. — The final three weeks is a period 
of much planning and increasing activity on the part of the families 
of bride and groom. The publishing of the banns in church on three 
successive Sundays serves to announce the forthcoming marriage to 
the community. No further invitation is sent to the manhaina, but 
friends and distant relatives are invited to the wedding festivities. 

On the day before the wedding there is great activity at the 
houses of the families of bride and groom, for on this day much of 
the preparation for the wedding festivities takes place. The groom's 
family sends two or three young men who are relatives of the groom, 
often cousins, or younger brothers, to the house of the bride. These 
young men are called "taotao i nobio" ("people of the groom"). 
Their job is to do heavy work — cut firewood, haul water, move 
tables and chairs and the like. They are helpful and do a good job 
because it reflects adversely on the groom's family if they do not. 
The bride's family does not send helpers to the groom's home. If 
the groom's parents slaughter a bull for the wedding, they send a 
hind leg to the bride's house. 

In the morning of this same day, the groom and his godfather 
go to the bride's house and ask her parents if it is agreeable with 


them to have a kumplimenfo. If it is, at about eight o'clock in the 
evening, the groom, his godparents, his parents and his other man- 
naina and younger relatives go to the house of the bride. They take 
with them betel nut and tobacco, soft drinks, and often beer. The 
bride's family and relatives are assembled in the sala when they 
arrive, but the bride is in another room. The boy's godfather pre- 
sents the things they have brought to the bride's family. The 
groom is then seated on a chair in the center of the room. His 
godfather calls, "Where is the bride? Let her be seated with the 
groom." The bride then makes her entrance and takes her place 
next to the groom. The refreshments brought by the groom's 
family are served, and later the bride's family reciprocates by serving 
similar refreshments. Sometimes the groom's family hires musicians 
to play. Before leaving, the groom's godfather tells the girl's parents 
that he and the groom will call for the bride in the morning. 

The kumpUmento in the old days did not last much longer than 
an hour. Today, it is often omitted entirely, the reason given being 
that it is too much work, for the house of the bride must be cleaned 
again before the activities of the next day. When the kumpUmento 
is held, it usually lasts longer than before and seems to be less staid. 
To judge from informants' accounts, it used to be rather a stiff and 
formal occasion. 

By tradition, following the kumpUmento a fandango, with music 
and dancing, was held at the bride's house for her family, relatives, 
and friends, and another was held at the groom's house for his 
family, relatives, and friends (see Thompson, 1947). Today this is 
omitted, and the term "fandango" on Saipan is generally used for 
the festivities held on the wedding day rather than on the night 

In the afternoon of the day before the wedding, the godfather 
of the groom and the godmother of the bride escort their respective 
charges to the church for confession. The groom and his godfather 
then go to the groom's house for supper; the bride and her godmother 
go to the bride's house for this meal. It is customary for the god- 
parents to provide cakes, coffee, chocolate, cream, and sugar for 
these suppers. 

Wedding Day. — At about four o'clock in the morning, the god- 
father of the groom goes to the latter's house, and the two proceed 
to the house of the bride, where the bride and her godmother await 
them. The bride, the groom, the bride's godmother, and the groom's 
godfather then go to the church, arriving just before early mass. 


The wedding ceremony, conducted in accordance with Roman Catho- 
Hc ritual, then takes place in conjunction with the mass. 

Only girls who are members of the sodality (ihas de Maria) may 
be married on Saturday. All others are married on a week-day, 
generally Thursday. When a marriage takes place on Saturday, 
the church is usually well filled. Chamorros enjoy watching a bride 
walk down the aisle quite as much as do Westerners. 

After mass, the newlyweds walk to the house of the bride, fol- 
lowed by their mannaina. 

This Saturday, there were two weddings, both held at the same time. 
After mass, in the Hght of the early dawn, each party walked homewards in 
two quaint processions, the bride and groom leading, followed by the man- 
naina and by the younger relatives, all strung out in an uneven line. One 
wedding party was enlivened by three young men playing guitars as they 
walked behind the bride and groom. The bride also was attended by two 
bridesmaids and two flower girls, a decidedly post-war innovation. 

When the wedding party reaches the house of the bride, she and 
the groom then kiss the hand {'ninge) of all the mannaina present. 
Thereafter they go to pay their respects to any of the bride's man- 
naina who are ill or too old to attend the wedding. After this, they 
return to the bride's house for a wedding breakfast. The parents 
of the groom and his mannaina are invited to the breakfast. The 
meal is served at a long table. At the head of the table sit the bride 
and groom. Next to the bride sits her godmother; the godfather of 
the groom sits next to his godson. Often there are so many people 
that at least two seatings are necessary. In this case, usually the 
groom's mannaina are served at the first sitting. The guests are 
served by the women relatives of the bride, usually sisters and 
cousins, who generally eat after the others have been served. 

After the wedding breakfast, though sometimes before, the bride 
and groom go to pay their respects to the groom's mannaina who 
could not come to the wedding, after which the couple returns to 
the house of the bride. About noon, a messenger arrives from the 
groom's family and invites them to the noon meal. The bride 
changes her wedding gown for a colored silk dress, removes her white 
veil, and puts a flower in her hair. The bride and groom, together 
with the girl's mannaina, then repair to the groom's house, where a 
second repast is served. Here, too, the diners are served at a long 
table placed on the house veranda or in the yard, with the bride and 
groom at the head of the table. The servers are in this case the 
women relatives of the groom. 


For each of these meals there is an appropriate menu. For both, 
a great effort is made to serve only the best food. In the morning, 
at the house of the bride, the menu consists of a variety of cakes, 
bread, and pastry, with an abundance of coffee. At a small party 
this is enough, but at larger ones several beef, pork, and chicken 
dishes will be added, together with plain rice. The noon meal at 

Fig. 26. Preparing food for a Chamorro wedding party, Chalan Kanoa. 

the groom's house is more elaborate. Soup, beef, pork, chicken, 
eusaladas, two kinds of rice (plain, and the Spanish balensiana), 
tortillas, bread, cake, lemonade, cocoa, and beer will all be served. 

Both the wedding breakfast and the noon meal are sumptuous 
and leisurely. The emphasis of the occasion is placed on an abun- 
dance of well-cooked food. After eating, the guests talk and drink 
beer and soft drinks. Sometimes there is music, supplied by two or 
three musicians playing guitars, or by a gramophone. Seldom, how- 
ever, is there dancing. After a time the guests thank their hosts 
and depart. 

In the afternoon or evening, the bride and groom must call 
on all the mannaina of each. If they do not finish their calls they 
continue on the succeeding night. The first to be called upon are 
the godparents, who at this time give them advice for a happy 
married life. 


The first night of married life is usually spent at the house of 
the bride's parents. Bride and groom may continue to stay here 
for several days, and then either live in their own house or remain 
at the house of the groom's parents until they have a house of their 
own. During the latter part of the Japanese period, the island was 
so crowded and housing so difficult to obtain that patrilocal marriage 
seems to have been common. The Chamorro ideal, however, is for 
each married couple to have its own house. 

Organization of the Guput. — In Chamorro, a festive party or occa- 
sion is called a "guput." A baptismal party is a "guput hautismo;" 
a birthday party is a "guput compliamos;" a family novena is cele- 
brated with a "guput nobena;" and the secular festivity on the wed- 
ding day is a "guput fandango." All kinds of guput require organi- 
zation, but the guput fandango is the largest and requires the most 
complicated organization of all. 

There are actually two guput fandango, one given by the groom's 
family and one by the bride's. The organization of each is similar 
and the events leading up to each parallel one another. However, 
the financial burden is much heavier on the groom's family, for it 
must supply the aog to the bride's family, and this gift in itself 
greatly lightens the responsibilities of the latter in providing suf- 
ficient food. 

For the smooth running of a Chamorro guput fandango there are 
two key roles that must be performed effectively : those of the mentu 
halom guma ("supervisor within the house") and the mentu halom 
korsina ("supervisor within the kitchen"). In addition, there is 
occasionally a mentu sanhijon ("outside supervisor"). The mentu 
halom guma and the mentu halom korsina, who are usually chosen by 
the bride's or the groom's mother, are always women and by con- 
vention usually sisters of the bride's or the groom's father, or some- 
times sisters of the two mothers. These two mentu have the direct 
responsibility for seeing that the party runs smoothly. 

The mentu halom guma receives the guests; often receives and re- 
cords the chenchuli (money gifts) brought to the family by the guests; 
sees that the long banquet table is properly set and that there are 
chairs enough; decides when the food should be served; and oversees 
the serving. In addition, she sends gifts of food to mannaina who 
are unable to attend, and takes care of the multitude of small details 
that inevitably arise. 

The mentu halom korsina is responsible for the kitchen. She 
does not do the cooking, for by custom a cook, preferably a man, 


is hired for the day. The cook tells the mentu halom korsina the 
food items he needs. She then sends a person to the store with the 
money from the parents of the bride or groom to cover such expenses. 
As a result, she controls the disbursements. In addition, she or the 
mentu halom guma notes the relatives who have come to help and 
those who bring gifts of food. 

After the festivities of the day are over, the two mentu sit down 
with the parents to settle the accounts of the party. The cash 
disbursements are listed, the gifts of chenchuli recorded, and the 
gifts of food recounted, if not listed. This closes the affair for the 

The size of a guput fandango varies with the wealth of the family. 
Friends as well as relatives attend these occasions; at a large party 
several hundred people may be present, at a modest party forty 
or fifty. 

Maria F.'s gupnf fandango was the largest of the year. Over two hun- 
dred guests attended, and $450 was received from them as chenchuli. It 
took three days of hard work to get ready for the party. In this case, there 
were three mentu halom guma — two sisters of Maria's mother and one sister 
of her father — and two mentu halom korsina — one sister of Maria's mother 
and one of her father. 

Ajudo, Chenchuli, and Ika. — A characteristic feature of all Cha- 
morro guput fandango is a system of gift-giving. A gift of food or 
service is called "ajudo." A gift of money is called "chenchuli," 
except when the occasion is a funeral, when it is properly called "ika," 
though younger Chamorros often use the word "chenchuli" for 
both gifts. 

Every Chamorro guput fandango involves the giving of food, 
services, or money by relatives of the bride to her family, and by 
relatives of the groom to his. The brothers and sisters of the parents 
have a strong obligation to give ajudo at this time. If a brother 
of the father or mother of the groom gives a pig for the aog, his 
obligation is fulfilled. Otherwise he gives chenchuli, the size of which 
depends on what he can afford. Likewise, it is the obligation of 
married siblings of bride and groom to help to the limits of their 
economic circumstances with gifts to their parents. If they are 
unmarried, they need not contribute formally, for ajudo and chen- 
chuli are gifts from elementary family units, not from individuals 
within a single family. 

A grandparent or a grandparent's sibling may make a gift, but 
it is not considered really necessary, for service is due the aged, not 



expected of them. Married first cousins of the bride or groom should 
also give a small gift of chenchuli, two or three dollars. Married 
second cousins of the bride or groom and first cousins of their 
parents do not today always give chenchuli, but by convention they 
give one or two dollars. Third cousins of the bride and groom may 

Fig. 27. Diagram of Chamorro reciprocal obligations. When 5 is married, 
3 and ^ as a unit will give ajiido and chenchnU to 1 and 2 as a unit. If 6 and 7 
are unmarried, they will be expected to give ajiido to 1 and 2 as part of the ser- 
vices rendered by the family of 3, 1^, 6, and 7. 6 and 7 are not obligated to give 
chenchuli, because 3 and It have already contributed. 6 and 7 may if they wish 
give a little chenchuli directly to 5, who will repay it when 6 and 7 marry. If 6 
and 7 are already married, they should give chenchuli, and preferably ajudo too, 
to 1 and 2; in this case, the chenchuli will be presented by the spouses of 6 and 7 
to emphasize the fact that the gift is from a family unit. 

not attend the wedding guput; if they do they will give a dollar or 
two, as will invited friends. 

In addition, ajudo in the form of service is given at the fandango. 
This is particularly true of women relatives, who help in the kitchen 
or serve. On the day of the wedding, it is virtually obligatory for 
at least one representative of the families of the parents' siblings to 
help. Married women who are first cousins of the bride or groom 
will also often help or will send one of the members of their families. 
Women who are helping in the kitchen almost invariably bring some 
small gift of food. 


These donations of ajudo and chenchuli are made, it should be 
emphasized, not to the bride or the groom but to their famihes, 
and in particular to the parents. Furthermore, these gifts come 
from related family units or from non-related but friendly family 
units, not from individuals, usually. A specific illustration is given 
in the accompanying chart (fig. 27). 

Another characteristic of ajudo and chenchuli is that any specific 
gift is but one event in a chain of reciprocal gift-giving. The parents 
of bride and groom record, in writing, after the guput fandango, the 
amounts of chenchuli that have been received. It is their obligation 
to return this chenchuli to the donors when the latter give a wedding 
party, a baptismal party, a novena party, or experience a death. 
In the last-named case, the return gift {"ika") evens a chenchuli 
account. Thus, sooner or later, chenchuli given is cancelled by chen- 
chuli returned. Among close relatives, the return gift need not be 
equal. There is a nice adjustment according to ability to pay. A 
man would not expect much chenchuli at his son's wedding from a 
poor brother. He would appreciate whatever the brother felt he 
could afford to give. On the other hand, a man might be hurt if a 
wealthy brother gave only a very small gift of chenchuli; and he 
would be indignant if his brother was a wastrel, spending money on 
beer, and on women other than his wife, and then gave only an in- 
significant gift of chenchuli, for the brother's actions and his small 
gift would be an insult to family solidarity. 

Though leeway is allowed in return gifts of chenchuli to close 
relatives, in the case of more distant relatives, such as the varying 
degrees of cousins, and of friends, the reciprocity is usually exact. 

When ajudo in the form of service is given, it too is returned at 
a future date, though a written record is not kept. Here too, though 
the return in hours of work need not be exact, the Chamorros have 
a sensitive eye to reciprocity of service. If a woman comes to help 
at a guput fandango but spends most of her time sitting in the kitchen, 
drinking coffee, and gossiping, she will not get much ajudo in return. 
Also, it should be noted that work is given for work, chenchuli for 
chenchuli. The two are kept separate and I learned of no instance 
where one was substituted for the other in the return gift. 

Finally, ajudo and chenchuli at the time of marriage are given 
only within the circle of relatives of the bride's family on one hand 
and of the groom's on the other, and are not made between these 
two constellations of relatives. Ajudo, chenchuli, and ika are material 
expressions of reciprocity among family units already linked by con- 


sangiiineal ties. It is probably a very old aspect of Chamorro social 
organization and may well date from pre-contact times. 

Obligations of Attendance. — At marriage, obligations between ele- 
mentary families linked by relationship ties also include the obliga- 
tion to attend the guput fandango. Siblings of the parents, siblings 
of the bride and groom, and also their first cousins must either 
attend personally, or, if they cannot and are married, must send a 
family representative from their own elementary family groups. 
The sending of family representatives is characteristically Chamorro 
and occurs not only at the guput fandango, but also at other kinds 
of guput, at ceremonials at the time of death, and on all other occa- 
sions in which the elementary family is obligated to participate. 
Even in local elections a family may feel it has fulfilled its responsi- 
bility by sending one representative to cast his vote. 

A usual term for the family representative is "kuentan i familia." 
On arriving at a guput fandango, the family representative always is 
careful to tell his or her host that he has come "for the family" or 
"for his father and mother," if the representative is an unmarried 
child. In this way the attendance of the family as a unit is recog- 
nized. Thus, attendance, like chenchuli and ajudo, emphasizes the 
fact that reciprocity units are elementary families. 

Non-attendance at a guput fandango results in hurt feelings. 
Any manhaina who have been notified but who do not come or who 
fail to send a representative are sure to incur the hard feelings of 
the parents; the latter will take this as a distinct offense. On the 
other hand, non-attendance is also used as a means of showing 
disapproval of a marriage. If any of the mannaina strongly disap- 
prove of the marriage of a nephew or niece, they will use this method 
of indicating their disapproval, realizing nevertheless that friction 
will be sure to result. 

Carmen M.'s marriage to Jose was marked by the absence of at least one- 
third of her mannaina. Jose is from the Philippines and is a merchant sailor 
aboard a ship that only rarely touches at Saipan. The mannaina felt that 
his absence augured ill for a stable marriage. They strongly disapproved 
and for this reason absented themselves. 

The Expense of a Fandango. — The actual cost of r fandango varies 
with the degree of Saipan's prosperity. When government employ- 
ment was high after the war, an expensive fandango might cost the 
groom's family at least a thousand dollars. Even in 1950, a preten- 
tious wedding would cost as much. An estimate of the expenses 
would be approximately as follows: 


Aog: jewelry for the bride; her wedding dress and accessories; 

food gifts to the bride's family S600.00 

Knmplimento (often omitted): tobacco, betel, soft drinks, beer. . 30.00 

Groom's gupnt fandango 350.00 

Groom's clothes 45.00 

Gift to the padre 5.00 


Whatever the cost of a fandango, it is almost always more than 
the groom and his parents can afford. Gifts of chenchuli and ajudo 
assuredly help them a great deal but do not defray the total expense 
by any means. The remainder must be raised by the groom and his 
parents through earnings or by borrowing from those better off. 

The elaborateness associated with a Chamorro guput fandango is 
based on the reciprocal nature of the wedding arrangements between 
the family and kinfolk of the groom on one hand and the family 
and kinfolk of the bride on the other, and the relation of this reci- 
procity to social status. A wedding is the occasion for one side to 
show proper respect to the other and at the same time enhance its 
own prestige and status. A baptismal party is much easier to simplify 
— and during 1950 many were less elaborate — because only one set 
of related families is involved. But in a marriage there are two 
such sets and a much larger number of people are affected. It is 
much more a public affair and is the occasion of display. The size 
and elaborateness of a gupnt fandango enhance a family's prestige, 
and its social status is accordingly buttressed. For this reason, the 
appeals of non-Chamorros, from Governor Fritz onward, to simplify 
not only wedding parties but also parties held on the occasions of 
large family novenas have had little effect on Saipan's status-con- 
scious Chamorro group. 

In connection with the payment of debts and the raising of cash 
for fandangos and other family expenses, the Chamorros have a 
custom called "uhon," particularly used in reference to the slaughter- 
ing of livestock. A bull, steer, cow, or pig represents more meat 
than one family can eat in the limited time that fresh meat will 
keep without refrigeration in the tropics. Also, a cow, bull, or pig 
represents considerable wealth. So a man who wishes to slaughter 
an animal asks each member of a small group of relatives and friends 
to buy a share of the meat at an agreed price. The Chamorros are 
very fond of fresh meat, and there is usually not enough to supply 
the demand in the stores; so a man seldom experiences difficulty in 
getting others to unon an animal with him. 

264 • SAIPAN 

On the day agreed upon for the slaughtering, several of the per- 
sons entering into the uTion agreement gather at the house of the 
owner of the animal. After the animal has been slaughtered, and 
the meat butchered and hung up, the host serves a meal to the 
workers. Then the meat is delivered and the cash collected. 

About two months ago, Joaquin's son was married. After providing for 
the aog and the fandango, Joaquin was over two hundred dollars in debt. 
All he had left was a very large bull. So he made an uflon, got as high a price 
as he could for the meat, and was able to pay off his debts. 

In proposing an unon, a man will always ask a core of relatives. 
If he asks a brother or a cousin he always uses the second person 
plural to indicate that he is asking the brother and his wife as a 
unit. The man usually replies that he will ask his wife. The next 
day an agreement is reached and the date set for the slaughtering. 

I observed a typical case of the unon of a young bull. The 
owner of the animal asked these people, in the order listed: his 
parents, his wife's parents, three married brothers and sisters, his 
mother's mother, a favorite uncle of his wife's (his wife's mother's 
brother), his father's two brothers, his wife's father's brother, his 
wife's father's sister, his father's first cousin, and seven friends, 
three of whom are neighbors. 

The owner's father, his brother, his brother-in-law, his father's 
two brothers and his father's first cousin helped to slaughter the bull. 
After the slaughtering, the owner and his wife served a meal to 
these men. The meat was then delivered; 45 to 50 cents a pound was 
collected for the meat and 15 cents a pound for bones only. The 
owner also gave small gifts of meat to his parents and parents-in-law, 
to his mother's mother, and to his married brothers and sisters, 
about seven dollars' worth in all. This meat was in addition to the 
amount purchased by these relatives. 

I was told that in later Japanese times the unon for slaughtering 
animals became mainly a social occasion, as the Japanese butchers 
bid up the prices of beef and pork so high that the Chamorros who 
wanted to make money sold directly to the butchers. 

The term "unon" is also used for other co-operative ventures. 
Thus, a man died, leaving his family very poorly off and without a 
proper house. His married brothers and sisters all contributed 
enough to buy a small house for the widow and her family. This, 
too, was called "uhon." 

Parental Resistance to Marriage. — The sequence of events outlined 
above is the general marriage pattern for Saipan. However, out of 


some thirty marriages that were intensively investigated during the 
year, at least half were marked by some initial disapproval of the 
groom by the girl's parents and four of these marriages by extreme 
resistance to the marriage on the part of her parents. That the 
reason for this resistance is economic, in that the family is losing a 
productive member, seems very doubtful. A similar pattern of 
parental resistance did not occur among the parents of boys, an 
important fact in that the elementary family is strongly emphasized, 
bilateral kinship ties are strong, and a boy after marriage shifts his 
primary economic responsibilities from his family of orientation to 
that of his family of procreation. A complex of factors is un- 
doubtedly responsible. One of these may well stem from the fact 
that the parents are the guardians of a daughter's sexual inviolability 
before marriage, and this responsibility is coupled with an emphasis 
on restrictions surrounding relations between the unmarried and an 
emphasis on sexual inhibitions as such. I suspect that in this cultural 
tradition the prospect of marriage gives rise to internal psychological 
conflict, particularly among those fathers labelled as "very conser- 
vative" by the community, and that this is an important factor in 
parental resistance. However, a degree of parental resistance seems 
to be an expected part of the culture pattern. Foster (1948, p. 246) 
describes similar forms of parental resistance, particularly on the 
part of the father, for Tzintzuntzan. Among the Chamorros this 
feature is undoubtedly due to Spanish influence. 

On Saipan today the waiting period is shorter than it used to 
be. Three months is often the duration, instead of the six months 
or longer of former times. A number of elderly women commented 
adversely on this trend by stating that the waiting period is now too 
short, for "it makes girls too cheap," or "marriage is now too easy; 
the couple should really know they want each other." A case of 
parental resistance is given below. 

Joaquin fell in love with Maria and wished to marry her. He pressed his 
suit, for he knew that Maria was willing to marry him. He could not, however, 
obtain a definite answer from Maria's parents. They did not like him, nor 
did a number of Maria's ma)iiiaina. They circulated ugly rumors about him 
— that he had an illegitimate child, that he was afraid to work, and that he 
was fickle and unsuitable for their daughter. Finally, Joaquin went to the 
girl's parents and asked them how long he was to wait. "Your waiting period 
will last until the girl's death," Maria's father answered. 

"I shall remember that statement as long as I live," Joaquin said after- 
wards. "I rose and left. I was embarrassed and hurt and angry. That 
night I went to Maria's house after everyone was asleep. I succeeded in 
awakening Maria. I took her from that house to the house of Maria's uncle. 


This uncle's wife was the first cousin of my mother, and both she and her 
husband were friendly to me. About 4:00 A.M. someone in Maria's house 
awoke and found that she had gone. There was a big uproar. One of the 
boys was sent to see if she had gone to early mass. But she was not there." 

This created a curious situation. Maria's uncle refused to turn her out, 
and as long as she was under his protection, her father could not force her 
return. The next morning, Joaquin's mother went to Maria's parents. 
Maria's grandmother was there and said many ugly things about Joaquin, 
in order to make Joaquin's mother angry. But Joaquin's mother remained 
calm and finally convinced the parents to agree to the marriage. At the 
gupiif foudanyo, however, many of Maria's mannaina refused to come. How- 
ever, Joaquin and Maria went to 'ninge at the houses of these mannaina after 
the wedding. "Maria was now mine," said Joaquin. "There was nothing 
these mannaina could do about it. I wished to make friends with them, so 
we went to pay our respects. By custom, they could not refuse to receive us." 

The breach between Joaquin, Maria's parents, and these mayihaina has 
slowly healed, particularly as some of the latter have since died. Maria's 
parents now fully accept Joaquin as their son-in-law. 

Regardless of how Chamorro parental resistance to marriage is to 
be interpreted, in cases where the boy and girl are stubborn enough 
they win out in the end. Only one instance of elopement was re- 
corded, but it does show that elopement exists as a final solution to 
an impasse. Traditional Chamorro marriage customs do not favor 
the weak-hearted, but the strong-minded eventually get by the bar- 
riers of even the most discouraging parents. 

Structural Significance of Chamorro Marriage. — Apart from being 
a necessary condition for the establishment of the family, Chamorro 
marriage provides important data for understanding the range of 
the kinship system. At the time of marriage the kinship system, 
viewed as a system of reciprocal obligations and rights, expands to 
its full extent. This expansion is effected through the gifts of food 
and services and money to the elementary families of bride and groom 
by other families linked to them by ties of relationship, as well as 
by obligations of attendance at the guput fandango. Because these 
gifts are merely one step in a series of reciprocal gift-giving events, 
the range of the system thereby is established through time. Fur- 
thermore, the reciprocating units are essentially elementary families, 
so that Chamorro marriage brings out the significance of the ele- 
mentary family in the larger social structure. 


Divorce is, of course, not recognized by the church and in this 
sense does not occur. However, as one might expect, separations 


(umachuti) do occur, though they are not frequent. I recorded 
only four on Saipan during my period of field work, though a few 
others may well exist. In the case of separations, Chamorro inform- 
ants stated that it was often usual for one partner to move to a 
different island. This was true of two of the four cases recorded, 
one partner having gone to Guam and the other to Rota. The other 
two cases involved a married man and a married woman who sepa- 
rated from their respective spouses and formed a common-law union 
thereafter, both remaining on Saipan. They have since reared a 

In the case of three of the four separations recorded, the couple 
had one or more children. In two instances, the children remained 
with the mothers, who continued to live on the island. In the third 
case, an only child is being reared by the mother's brother, and the 
mother has moved off the island. 

In other parts of Micronesia the young people ordinarily partici- 
pate in several transitory unions which stabilize as the individual 
grows older and as more children arrive. This pattern is associated 
with a widespread system of adoption and a widely extended kinship 
system. The Chamorros ofi'er a marked contrast, for church-sanc- 
tioned marriages of greater stability are the rule, and separations 
much less frequent. 

Parenthood: The Formation of the Family 

Chamorro families are often large. I know a mother twenty-three 
years old with four children; her case is not thought to be unusual. 
The record for a living person is held by a village grande dame who 
had eighteen living children at the time of the war. Two were killed 
during the invasion of Saipan, but sixteen are alive today. She has 
over fifty grandchildren. 

Following a marriage, it is not long before children begin to 
arrive. They are desired and wanted. Contraceptives are known 
through contact with Japanese and more lately with Americans but 
are not in common use and are condemned by the church. 

Pregnancy and Birth. — Pregnant women observe certain restric- 
tions on conduct similar to those recorded by Thompson for Guam 
(Thomp.son, 1947, pp. 237 240). These restrictions are supposed to 
protect her from malicious attacks of the taotaomona, protect the 
unborn infant from harm, and ensure an easy birth, with no com- 


Pregnant women are considered particularly susceptible to the evil 
acts of the taotaomona. If a woman in this condition goes out at 
night she takes a companion, and she carries a strong-smelling object, 
preferably an onion, in her pocket or she rubs her hands with an 
onion, for the taotaomona are particularly sensitive to smells. In 
addition, a pregnant woman is careful to keep her diet in balance 
between "hot" and "cold" foods. The former she avoids. After 
being some five months pregnant, she takes a Chamorro plant medi- 
cine periodically, thought to be good both for herself and for her 
unborn child. Amot ka'ma, amot akangkang, and amot gasusu are 
three that are favored. 

She does not sleep in a doorway, and she walks directly through 
doorways. She does not wear a towel around her neck nor does her 
husband carry a coil of rope around his shoulders or lean with arms 
akimbo on a window sill. Neither she nor her husband sleeps cross- 
wise to and facing outward to a door. The woman avoids outbursts 
of spite or anger, for the spite will "turn itself" upon the child. 
"Utut han sa guaha nai man hujok i patgon" ("Cut out your whims 
or the child will resemble your acts") is a favorite saying. 

Enough birth difficulties occur to support this precautionary 
type of behavior. As a middle-aged woman observed: 

When I was pregnant with my first child I did not bother with these 
precautions. They seemed useless superstitions. My child was born with 
the cord wrapped around his neck and he strangled and died. My husband 
had carried a coil of rope over his shoulder one time during my pregnancy. 
When I became pregnant again, my husband and I were more careful. 

In addition, pregnant women observe precautions in no way 
magical. They avoid overly hard labor such as carrying heavy 
burdens and are careful about slipping and falling, particularly in 
the early months of pregnancy. 

When they have been pregnant for about eight months, women 
who have had difficulty in previous childbirths may ask a benediction 
of the priest. This is known as the "henedision palauan" and is 
given following mass. 

Before the war, unless complications were evident, Chamorro 
births took place at home, under the supervision of a midwife 
(partera). Although both Chamorro and Japanese midwives were 
licensed and practiced, a number of informants reported that the 
latter were preferred as being more competent. Today all Chamorro 
births take place in the maternity ward of the hospital, where the 
mother and child remain for about five days after birth. 



Baptism. — Every child must have a padlino ("godfather") and 
a madlina ("godmother"). The godparents for the first child may- 
be selected shortly after the marriage of the parents, or even when 
the latter's banns have been published and before they are married. 

Fig. 28. Chamorro godparents and godchildren waiting at the church before 
the baptismal ceremony, Chalan Kanoa, Saipan. 

Usually a number of people ask to be the godfather or godmother, 
and the parents fix on one of those who have made the request. 
Godparents are usually of the same generation as the parents and, 
unlike those in much of Latin America, they are often closely related. 
The parents' siblings often act as godparents. 

The baptismal ceremony takes place on a Sunday when the child 
is about ten days old, unless the infant is sickly and may possibly 
die. In the latter case the ceremony is held as soon as possible. 
The father of the child notifies the godparents when the baptism is 


to be held. He also notifies his own and his wife's godparents, his 
own and his wife's parents and mannaina, and his own and his wife's 
married siblings. 

On the day of the baptism, the godfather and godmother go to 
the parents' house in the morning after mass. The godmother helps 
dress the infant. Sometimes she gives the christening dress. When 
the child is ready, the godmother takes the child in her arms and 
with the godfather goes to the church, today usually by car. Neither 
the father nor the mother accompanies them, nor do any of the other 
relatives. Only once did I see a relative at the ceremony, in this 
case the child's grandmother. The infant is entrusted entirely to 
the godparents' care, a fact that emphasizes their responsibility. 

At the church, the godparents and child wait outside in the 
shade of the entrance. The birth rate is high on Saipan and usually 
each Sunday there are several infants and their godparents waiting 
for the priest. The ceremony takes place at about ten in the morning. 
The godmothers line up in front of the entrance holding the babies, 
with the godfathers standing behind, and the priest baptizes the 
infants in turn. Then they all enter the church for the concluding 
part of the ceremony. When the ritual has been finished, the god- 
parents return with the child to the house of the parents. 

During the time of the ceremony there is much activity at the 
parents' house, for this is the day of the guput bautismo. The guput 
consists of a meal served at about noon, or in the early afternoon. 
Baptismal parties are usually much smaller than weddings; less food 
is served and there are fewer guests. When many people were em- 
ployed by the government, baptismal parties were often large, but 
now the trend is to smaller parties again. A primerisa, or party for 
a first-born, however, is usually larger than succeeding ones. The 
primerisa is important, for it signalizes the establishment of a bona 
fide family and receives emphasis accordingly. 

At a guput bautismo, there are virtually always present the 
grandparents of the child, the parents' siblings, and usually the sib- 
lings of the grandparents, as well as the godparents. These are the 
child's mannaina, to which ever after he must accord marked respect. 
In addition, the godparents of the parents usually attend, as well 
as a few close friends. First cousins of the parents need not come, 
though usually some will be present. The size of the party depends 
primarily on the family's economic circumstances. At an average 
party, twenty to thirty people will be present, at a larger one, fifty 
to seventy-five or even a hundred. 


The women do the kitchen work and serving; the men cut wood, 
fetch soft drinks, carry tables and chairs, and sit and talk when 
there are no small jobs to be done. One woman takes charge, often 
the sister of the mother. At a larger party a cook is hired, if the 
family can afford one. 

At a guput baiitisuio, ajudo is given but chenchuli is not obligatory, 
though it may be given. The siblings of the parents and the grand- 
parents, particularly the paternal ones, give food as well as service, 
I hough the provision of adequate food is still a large burden on the 
parents. The godparents bring no food but give about ten dollars 
each to the mother of the child; this is not considered chenchuli. 
Either the father or the godfather pays the priest for his services. 

The party itself usually lasts for about two hours. The food is 
served buffet style. Before and after eating, the guests converse 
quietly among themselves. The baby remains in a bedroom under 
the mother's care. The child may be taken before the guests, and 
in any case all the elderly women stop to see the baby in the bedroom. 
"Now you have seen God," they will say to the child, or "now you 
are a Christian." 

The guput bautismo, like the guput fandango, is an expression of 
kin solidarity among elementary families linked by relationship 
bonds. As such, it is an indication of kinship range. However, the 
guput bautismo is smaller than the guput fandango and usually does 
not bring in relatives at the outer peripheries of the system. Nor 
does it, as does the fandango, involve two large unrelated constel- 
lations of kinfolk, one centered around the groom's family, one 
around that of the bride. There is not the same pressure to put on 
a big show to maintain or improve status. 

Names. — The name given a Chamorro child is selected by the 
parents. Most given names among the Saipan Chamorros are of 
Spanish origin, the familiar "Jesus," "Maria," and "Jos^" being 
favorites in the community. The German, Japanese, and now 
American periods of administration have also left their mark. 
During German times, "Herman," "Oscar," "Victor," "Wilhelmina," 
and "Frida" came into favor, though these names no longer are 
selected with as much frequency. In the Japanese period, the 
Spanish names continued to provide most of the given names. Japa- 
nese names do not fit well into the European name system estab- 
lished among the Chamorros, and I recorded no Japanese names 
given at baptism. According to informants, in Japanese times when 
a Chamorro went to a Japanese school he was required to assume a 


Japanese given name. Students who went on for further training, 
including those few who went to school in Japan, acquired an entire 
Japanese name, a process that was looked on with favor by the 
Japanese authorities as leading to a greater assimilation of Japanese 
culture. It is doubtful that more than a dozen individuals were 
affected, however, and they have since resumed their Chamorro 

Today most Chamorro names are still drawn from the corpus of 
Spanish-diffused given names. A few names of American origin are 
making their appearance and others are being Anglicized, for ex- 
ample, "Guillermo" to "William." In most cases single names are 
given, but a few double combinations have appeared in the last few 
years, two examples being "Victor Segundo" and "Evelyn Ruth." 
On the whole, however, the Spanish tradition survives as the main 
source for given names. 

Spanish practice also is followed with respect to surnames. A 
Chamorro bears first, his given name; second, his father's surname; 
and third, his mother's surname. The father's surname descends in 
the paternal line. The mother's surname is used by her children, 
but descends no farther. Thus, in the example, "Juana Reyes Guer- 
rero," "Reyes" is the father's surname and "Guerrero" the mother's 
surname. Juana's children will use her father's surname "Reyes," 
as their third name. In common speech, the third name is usually 
omitted. Sometimes it is referred to by initial only, in which case 
it shifts position, for example, "Juana G. Reyes" rather than 
"Juana Reyes G.," the more usual Latin-American practice. 

By Chamorro custom a woman does not change her surname 
to that of her husband. If Juana has married Francisco, she is 
referred to as "Juanan Francisco" (Juana of Francisco). In com- 
parable fashion her husband is designated as "Franciscon Juana." 
This is the usual way of referring to a married person. 

The coming of the Americans has brought some uncertainty to 
the naming system. With large numbers of Chamorros on govern- 
ment payrolls confusion resulted, because Americans did not under- 
stand Chamorro practice with respect to surnames. As a result, 
the mother's surname is shifting position. Thus Juana may call 
herself "Juana Guerrero Reyes" as much as "Juana Reyes Guerrero." 
Fortunately, the middle initial custom of Chamorro and American 
usage is close enough so that "Juana G. Reyes" does not require a 
shift. Also, a few wives are taking their husbands' surnames, though 
the practice has not gone far. The titles "Mr.," "Mrs.," and "Miss" 



usL'd with a name have made greater headway. "SeTior," "Senora," 

and "Senorita," it should be noted, are not by custom used with a 

name and in this respect do not offer competition. 

Saipan Chamorro surnames, Hke the given names, are largely 

derived from Spanish sources. A few English surnames exist as a 

result of marriages with English or Americans. There are likewise 

a few Japanese surnames. Chamorro-derived names, linguistically 

speaking, are much in the minority. The following Chamorro names 

were collected. A longer list made on Guam and Rota by Gertrude 

Hornbostel and published by Thompson (1932, pp. 71-74) shows 

that the Saipan names are drawn from one or the other of the two 

southern islands. 

Aguon Gumataotao Quitugua 

Agulto Hokog Quitano 

Alig Mafnas Songao 

Apatang Manglona Taitano 

Atalig Matagolai Taimanao 

Attao Namauleg Taitingfong 

Ajuju Napute Taisague 

Babauta Pinaula Taisakan 

Chatfaurus Quichuchu Taga 

Chargaulaf Quinata Tatlahe 

Nicknames are of two types: personal nicknames and those ap- 
plying to a whole family. A personal nickname is associated with a 
given name, either by shortening the name or by substituting an 
entirely different root. The nickname is conventional, and its asso- 
ciation with the given name is rigid. For any given name, the 
nickname follows as a matter of course. Although a few nicknames 
were adopted in Japanese times, most have been long established. 
The following list of given names and their associated nicknames is 
included as illustration: 

Given Name Nickname 

Antonia Tona 

Antonio Ton 

Bicente Ben or Teti 

Concepcion Chon 

Francisca Ika or Tika 

Francisco Kiko, Tiko, or Pakus 

1 gnacia Acha 

Ignacio Acho or Inas 

Jesiis Chung 

Jose Ping 

Juan Iku 

Juana Ijang 

Luis Lito 


Margarita Magirik 

Maria Kita 

Mariana Manang 

Mariano Nanu 

Manuel Ne or Manium 

Ricardo Rikat 

Soleda Da 

Trinidad Trining or Nining 

Personal nicknames are used particularly for individuals of one's 
own generation or for those of younger generations. In this case, 
the nickname indicates affection. Among friends, in direct address 
the given personal name is considered too formal; the nickname is 
preferred for its greater feeling of friendliness. Nicknames used 
vocatively to older persons are appropriate, provided they are used 
with the respect prefix ''tun,'' or "tan." I never heard nicknames 
used in direct address to parents and was told it was impolite to 
use them in this fashion. 

The other kind of nickname is used for whole families. These 
are the type discussed by Thompson (1947, p. 245). These nick- 
names are descriptive terms, such as "katu" ("cat"), "katingting" 
(a sharp, repeated sound), or "lalo" ("fly"). They are used in 
conversation, often in jokes, not often when a member of the family 
concerned is present. A few of these family nicknames are resented, 
such as "chicken-stealer," whose use among children has resulted in 
more than one fight on the school grounds. A list of Chamorro 
family nicknames collected by Gertrude Hornbostel has been pub- 
lished by Thompson (1932, pp. 74-76). 

The Maina. — The maina ("churching of women") takes place 
about three weeks after the birth of a child. The ceremony is held 
in the church after early mass on Saturday. On the appointed day 
the godmother comes to the house of the child's parents and helps 
dress the infant; then, carrying the godchild, she accompanies the 
mother to the church for the ceremony, which is an orthodox Catholic 
one performed by the priest. After the maina there may be a small 
family party, attended by grandparents and usually by at least some 
of the siblings of the father and mother, as well as by the child's 
godparents, and usually by the godparents of the father and mother 
as well. 

The social significance of the mama is that it marks the return 
of the mother to normal life. Before the maina, the mother should 
not leave the household area, particularly at night. Partly these 
restrictions are linked to the fear of the taotaomona and the belief 


that pregnant women and those who have recently borne children 
are susceptible to taotaomona attacks. It is true that a Chamorro 
woman avoids hard labor for several months after the birth of a 
child. Otherwise, however, after the maina she tends to follow her 
routine activities. It is the maina which ends her isolation and marks 
her resumption of these activities. 

Children and Parents 

Small children spend their first years in the house and house 
area under the care of their mothers. If the mother leaves the house 
area she generally takes a small child with her. If infants and small 
children are left at home, they are cared for by an older sister, or 
sometimes by an adult sister of the mother, or occasionally by a 
neighbor. Older siblings — usually but not always girls — frequently 
watch over young children, and adult sisters help each other a good 
deal in caring for each other's young children. Grandmothers too 
are called upon for assistance in this way. But there is not, as there 
is among the Carolinians, a handing around of children for a period 
of days among related families. The child's life is tied to his parents 
and to his household and it is under his parents' roof that he spends 
his nights. 

In early years, Chamorro children are treated leniently. There 
is no early imposition of strict toilet training, though mothers are 
stricter with their children when they are in the house than when 
they are outside. Young children are free to play and roam about 
their yards. By the age of five or six, however, the Chamorro pat- 
tern of discipline has begun to take effect. This discipline is first of 
all focused upon obedience to the parents and upon respect behavior 
towards them. 

Children early learn the Chamorro 'ninge that is the charac- 
teristic mark of respect towards parents and elders. By tradition, 
every morning and every evening before retiring, the children 'ninge 
to their parents, though the morning 'ninge is tending to be omitted. 

In the imposition of discipline, Chamorro parents use both verbal 
scoldings and physical punishment. Ears are tweaked (deska), 
pinched ichaga), and twisted (atilik). Children are spanked (saulag), 
occasionally slapped {mapatmada), and whipped {kuatta). When 
children dawdle and are restless in church, do not say "buenos dias" 
or "adios" to visitors to the house, or do not 'ninge when they should, 
they are variously rewarded with a shake of the body or an ear 
twisting, accompanied by a scolding. More serious breaches call for 


a whipping, administered mostly to boys, though small mischievous 
girls are often spanked or slapped. For whipping, a switch, a braided 
bull's-tail, or a leather strap may be used. For light punishment 
one lash is given, for serious punishment five lashes. Boys between 
five and fifteen are the usual candidates for this form of discipline. 
The mother generally administers punishment to the younger 
children; for older children and for more serious infractions, the fa- 
ther generally metes out the punishment. Unquestioning obedience 
to the parents and the learning of proper respect behavior toward 
parents and elders are the first canons of Chamorro child-rearing. 

In addition to learning to obey their parents, children learn the 
appropriate patterns of respect for sacred places and occasions. By 
the age of six, they are familiar with the church, with religious sym- 
bols, and with religious occasions such as the performance of the 
mass. At home, morning prayers said by the family on arising and 
evening prayers before retiring are regular features of daily life. 
These prayers are learned and said under the mother's supervision. 

At about the age of six, children commence their schooling. On 
week-days they attend the public school in Chalan Kanoa and after- 
wards attend catechism school under the supervision of the nuns. 
At the same time, they start learning household chores, such as 
sweeping the yard, piling firewood, helping with small jobs on the 
farm, and the like. Home and the farm, the public school, and the 
church and the church school are the major loci of interest. Children 
are told not to tarry and loiter as they daily trudge from one of these 
places to another and are instructed not to wander from their familiar 

At the age of six or seven, children also experience the first 
major religious rite of which they are cognizant — their first com- 
munion. From thirty to forty children take part in this rite. An 
excerpt from field notes is given below: 

Today was Trinity Sunday (June 4, 1950) and at early mass a group of 
six-year-olds received their first communion. The children were dressed in 
newly pressed, spotless white clothes — the boys in shirts and long trousers, 
the girls in white dresses resembling miniature wedding dresses. After the 
church had filled, the group of small children filed down the center aisle, 
shepherded by older girls in white dresses and also wearing the white wings 
of angels. The children occupied the front pews. The sermon was directed 
toward the significance of the day for them. At the time of communion, 
they were brought to the communion rail in small groups, under the super- 
vision of the nuns. Many adults stood during this part of the service to get 
a better view, and parents held up small children so that they could see over 
the heads of others. The day clearly belonged to the children receiving their 


first communion. The service was impressive and smoothly conducted by 
the priests and the sisters. 

After the mass is over, it is the obligation of the child to call at 
the houses of his godfather and his godmother to 'ninge and to pay 
his respects. At this time, it is customary for the godparents to 
give their godchild a small gift. Thereafter, at the noonday meal, 
a small family party is held, given by the child's parents. At this 
giiput faiiiilia, there are present the members of the child's elemen- 
tary family, his grandparents, and his godparents. Often the parents' 
siblings may also come, though this is not necessary. A family 
friend or two may be invited, but the party is a small one. When 
the guests arrive, the child comes to greet them with a 'ninge, 
saying at the same time "hot" (from "senor") to a man and "Tiora" 
(from "seriora") to a woman. 

On post-war Saipan first communion is a larger event in Cha- 
morro eyes than confirmation. Before the war, the local priest was 
delegated authority to perform confirmation, as he was isolated from 
his superior. Today, with Saipan directly under the Bishop of 
Guam, the traditional procedure is observed, but confirmation ser- 
vices have not been held for some time. The regularity of first 
communion in the year-to-year cycle of events is at the basis of its 
marked social significance. 

Following the events that have been described, the child con- 
tinues in the same pattern of life, oriented primarily in the daily 
routine around school, church, and home. He attends the various 
weddings, novenas, and wakes in which his family participates, and 
is supposed to assume a larger share of the family work load. Girls 
are expected to help with the housework, to care for small children, 
and in other ways to assist their mothers. Older boys are expected 
to help their fathers on the farm. 

With adolescence and the approach of maturity, no puberty rites 
are held. The society makes no sharp cultural distinction in this 
transition period. Theoretically, adolescents, though they may 
have finished schooling, are still under the supervision and care of 
their parents. Economically, their role is conceived as giving greater 
support to the household economy. Socially, they are distinctly 
part of their family of orientation. At the same time, in Saipan of 
1950, there were marked innovations among the adolescent popula- 
tion, which had enthusiastically adopted bubble gum, aloha shirts. 
Sears Roebuck patterns for dresses, Coca-Cola, American slang and 
Wild West movies. 


With the onset of sexual maturity, there is no sex instruction of 
the young. In Japanese times, under the Spanish Jesuits, reference 
in conversation to sex functions and reproduction was firmly pro- 
hibited as sinful. This is the tradition in which adults of the present 
day have grown up. Words such as "pregnancy" were considered 
vulgar. If parents had need to speak of subjects with a sexual 
reference while in the presence of their children they tried to use a 
language not wholly familiar to the children, such as German, 
Spanish, or Japanese. The arrival of a baby was explained to 
children by the pronouncement that the infant "had come on a 
ship from Japan." Children were usually sent to the grandparents 
just before the arrival of another child. At adolescence, a boy would 
be told "not to make a girl sick" (malango), "malango" being used 
as a circumlocution for "pregnancy." Girls at puberty would be 
told to "protect their honor," but that was the extent of their in- 
struction. No teaching in biology was given in school. 

The picture of sex inhibition can be overdrawn, but it is still 
rather obvious today. At the present time, the attitude towards 
sex is not so stiffly conventional as it was. Words with reference to 
reproduction, formerly prohibited in polite conversation, are now 
more used, particularly by younger people, and the subject is not 
so surrounded with restrictions. Yet in no families that I knew was 
sex education given the children, and topics with a sexual reference 
are still largely avoided. The prevailing attitudes toward sex are 
undoubtedly related to cases of "peeping," two of which were re- 
corded; Thompson mentions similar cases on Guam (1947, p. 261). 
In speaking of this matter, a thoughtful young Chamorro father 
remarked : 

These things come from ignorance. I do not believe that sexual matters 
should be hidden from children. Instruction should be given to young people. 
But I myself could not speak on this subject to my sons. 

Summary of Behavior Patterns in the Family. — Behavior within 
the family stresses the obedience of children to their parents and 
the appropriate respect behavior that goes with it. It is particularly 
stressed that children should heed their parents' spoken word. "/ 
patgon ti dehe na uopi i sainana" ("a child should not talk back 
to his parents") is a common saying. If a child misunderstands a 
direction given by a parent, he should not say "what?," but will 
respectfully say ''hot?" ("sehor?") or "hora?" C'sehora?"). Older 
children are frequently admonished that "parents have experience 


— they know what is good and what is bad. They know the wisest 
thing to do. You, my son (or daughter) are too young." 

As long as a son or daughter is unmarried, regardless of age, he 
or she is directly under the authority of the parents. If a boy 
wants to go to the movie with some friends, by custom he should 
ask his parents. If permission is refused, he should not talk back. 
Unmarried adults likewise must show proper respect. I know of an 
unmarried woman of thirty who received a lash for talking back to 
her parents. As a result, proposed action by a son or daughter is 
usually put in the form of a question asking advice of a parent. 

In conformance with this pattern of parental discipline and filial 
obedience, the wise child soon learns to say little and keep quiet 
about his activities. 

Gregorio is a boy of sixteen. He is markedly taciturn in the presence of 
his parents, and his age mates consider him smart for his hold over his tongue, 
as it has reduced his physical punishment. Last week, however, he was 
whipped by his father for lying. His younger sister had "told on him." 
"Telling on others" is not uncommon. 

The father is traditionally a more severe figure than the mother. 
Over a century ago, Arago wrote (1823, p. 257) : "There is no country 
in the world where sons pay more respect to their fathers. Age 
does not free them from obedience, and I have seen men of forty 
tremble at a mere reprimand from their fathers." Today Chamorro 
fathers are not such authoritarian figures as this quotation would 
make them appear, but they are still the center of final family au- 
thority. It is they who administer the more severe forms of punish- 
ment, and they are the ultimate source of di.scipline. The mother 
is a milder figure, in much more constant contact with the children. 
This is certainly one reason for the affection so commonly displayed 
by Chamorros for their mothers, and which Thompson (1947, p. 248) 
observed in Guam. 

The relation between hu.sband and wife is not one of husband 
dominance. The father is the head of the family and is so ac- 
knowledged by the family members. It is true that husbands have 
beaten their wives, but not as a usual thing, and countermeasures 
have usually been taken. A spirited, middle-aged widow remem- 
bered her early married life in these words: 

Shortly after I was married I became pregnant, and during this time I 
got into an argument with my husband. He struck me. I became angry 
and returned to my father's house. My father said, "Why do you come, 


"I have come back here to live," I answered. 

My father said, "You can't do that, Maria. Did your husband beat 

"No," I replied. I wasn't going to tell. 

"You must go back to your husband," said my father. 

Just then my husband came to the house. "Please come back with me, 
Maria," he said. 

"No!" I replied. 

"I just gave her a small beating," said my husband to my father. 

"Small!" I cried. "Do you call that small?" And I showed them a big 
red welt on my arm. 

"Come home," said my husband. "I will never strike you again." So I 
went home. My husband was a good man and we never had any more 

Although the husband as the padre de familia is the spokesman 
for the family, it is the rare Chamorro man who does not consult 
his wife on all family matters of importance. Chamorro women 
play a large behind-the-scenes role. 

There is no general practice as to who handles the family finances. 
In some families, the wife handles all family cash and makes all the 
disbursements. In other families the husband is the treasurer. In 
the former case, the husband will say deprecatingly of families in 
which the man handles finances, "It looks as though the men do 
not trust their wives." The others say it is a man's job "because 
men know more about money matters." But in virtually all cases, 
the wife will have much to say about disbursements. 

The outward behavior between husband and wife is, on the whole, 
informal. In the families I knew there was freedom of discussion 
and argument, except in the presence of strangers. There is not a 
great deal of formal patterning of behavior in the husband-wife 

Among siblings, relationships are informal and familiar, con- 
ditioned after puberty by differences of sex and of age. After puberty 
brothers and sisters maintain no avoidance relation, but their spheres 
of daily interest tend to diverge and they are both subject to the 
conventions surrounding young unmarried men and women. Thus 
subjects with sexual reference are not proper ones for conversation. 

The Chamorro respect pattern towards parents and elders also 
affects the sibling relationship, particularly that of the oldest son, 
who is delegated authority by the parents over younger children, 
especially younger brothers. In numerous cases of punishment that 
were recorded, the oldest son had been told by the parents to spank 


a disobedient younger brother, and also a sister. Such punishment 
was administered even to adult brothers and sisters. 

One of Mario's teen-age daughters was seen riding in a jeep with an 
American sailor. She was upbraided by her parents, who do not approve of 
their daughters' associating with American personnel in this manner. The 
girl talked back, saying she would ride with whomever she liked. Whereupon 
Mario became very indignant and told his oldest son to give her a lash with 
a whip, which he did. 

Thus, the parents enforce respect for the oldest brothers on the 
part of younger siblings. "Within the family, the oldest son is next 
to the father," a Chamorro remarked. It is not only that the oldest 
son is an agent of discipline; he is also supposed to be looked to for 
advice by his younger siblings, and contrariwise he has a certain 
degree of obligation for their welfare during their youth. An older 
sister should also be respected by a younger sister, though this is 
not particularly marked. The respect of a younger brother for an 
older sister is largely a matter of politeness and is otherwise of no 
great importance. 

Discussion of the relations among siblings and between parents 
and children leads to an interesting facet of Chamorro family life — 
the selection by the parents of a "favored child." 

Favorite Child. — The Chamorros have taken the Spanish word 
"kirido" (fem., "kirida") and have given it a special meaning — 
"dearest" or "favorite" child. In many Chamorro families, one of 
the children is known as the kirido of one or both of the parents. 
Although the term is known to all Chamorros, it carries different 
shades of meaning, while the degree to which overt favoritism is 
manifest in parent-child behavior varies a great deal. The extent 
of formal patterning of intrafamilial relationships around the "fa- 
vorite" child is by no means uniform. 

In discussing the kirido as an aspect of custom, Chamorros usually 
bring up various factors that affect the choice of a kirido. These 
can be roughly classed as follows: 

(1) A child who displays affection and attentiveness toward the 
parents may be chosen as a kirido or kirida. This is the child who 
anticipates the parents' wishe.s — who finds the matches for father's 
pipe and the betel nut for mother. Or when the father comes home 
dog-tired from the farm, his kirido will be the son who massages his 
legs. Affection, responsiveness, attention to parents' wishes are all 
cited as important. 


(2) Children who, through physical illness or weakness, are par- 
ticularly dependent on the parents may become the kirido or kirida. 
The fact of illness draws the child and parents closer together. 

(3) It is often said that the kirido is the child who cares for the 
parents the longest, and that this child is usually the youngest son 
or daughter in the family. 

(4) Finally, a number of people pointed out that the Chamorros 
have large families and that it is difficult to have a large number of 
children without having a favorite among them. "After all, children 
are all different; one is sure to be more lovable, responsive, and affec- 
tionate than the rest," was the remark of several informants. 

These, then, are the more important concrete factors that affect 
the meaning of the term, "kirido," in Chamorro minds. Essentially, 
they all involve the selection of one of several children by the 
parents. The parents initiate the selection. However, the mere 
selection of a kirido or kirida does not necessarily mean that overt 
favoritism will be shown the child. Maria and Jos4 may agree that 
Juana, their second child, is the most affectionate and attentive of 
all their children; they may privately or together consider her their 
kirida; and they may also be careful that this feeling of fondness 
for Juana does not result in a display of favoritism for Juana that 
might cause hostility to develop among the other children. Many 
Chamorros are quite aware of the phenomenon of sibling rivalry. 
A number of parents said they had no favorite child and would have 
none. Although it was impossible to investigate all the families on 
the island, certainly over half had no kirido or kirida. In view of 
this fact, the presence of the concept as a facet of Chamorro culture 
and its manifestation in overt behavior among the families that do 
have kiridos are all the more striking. 

The kirido and kirida are in all recorded cases associated with 
families containing four or more children. It is essentially a large- 
family phenomenon. Chamorros often say that the youngest will 
be chosen as kirido or kirida. This choice is probably a common 
occurrence, but I recorded two cases where the oldest child — a girl 
in one case, a boy in the other — was the kirido or kirida and several 
others where the second oldest child was chosen. Also, the mother 
may have a kirido or kirida even if the father does not, the parents 
may regard one child as kirido or kirida of both, or each parent may 
have his or her own kirido or kirida. In the latter case, a family 
will have two favorite children. I did not record any instance of 
more than two favorite children in a single family. 


If the favorite child is the youngest, even though the parents 
give him particular attention and affection and openly announce 
that he is their kirido, little or no resentment may result on the part 
of the other children, simply because there is often a large age span 
separating the kirido from his older siblings. In this case he is the 
family "baby" and the object of affection by siblings as well as 

In other cases, however, overt favoritism is manifest in parental 
behavior, and relations become charged with tension. It is these 
we now consider. 

Overt favoritism shown by a parent toward a kirido may result 
in tension between the parents, though I recorded only one such 
case, and this was the result of an informant's observation. 

Concepcion, an adult woman, recalled her own upbringing. In her family 
were six children, of which she was the oldest. The second child, Joaquin, 
was her mother's kirido. The third child, Jose, was her father's kirido. Her 
father was a farmer and also a blacksmith. Often he had errands and small 
jobs for his oldest son — an adolescent — to do. Sometimes Joaquin would 
not be around when his father wanted him. 

"Where is Joaquin?" he would ask his wife. 

"He is not here," his wife would reply. 

"Why not!" the father would exclaim. "He knows I have work for 

"Why not have Jose do it? He is here," the mother would say. 

"It is Joaquin I want," the father would reply. 

Often there were angry words between husband and wife over incidents 
like these, where real or implied favoritism was shown by one parent for his 
or her kirido. 

Favoritism shown toward a kirido or kirida may also affect the 
relations between other children and the parents, in that animosity 
is focused on the parent rather than, or as well as, on the favored 

Juan is an adult and his mother, now elderly, is a widow. He complained 
one day of his mother's attitude. "I visit her, treat her respectfully, bring 
her food, and even money. Yet all .she does is talk, talk, talk about Jose, 
her kirido. Does Jose care for her as I do? No! he does little but neglect 

Magdalena is a widow with seven children. She says she has no kirido 
or kirida among her children, but she admits it is hard not to be attracted to 
Jose, her oldest and a lad of seventeen. He is always making jokes and trying 
to keep her spirits up, for times have been hard for Magdalena. Carmen, 
her fourth, is a lovable child and appreciates everything she gets, but Mar- 
garita, her sixteen-year-old second child, is brusque and short-tempered and 
she and Magdalena are always having spats. Margarita does what is asked 


of her and nothing more. She complains to Magdalena that Jose is Mag- 
dalena's kirido and receives favored treatment that she does not get. Jose 
was Magdalena's husband's kirido. Once, when they were at their farm, 
Magdalena was busy and asked her husband to look at the baby — their third 
child — who was inside the farmhouse crying. After a while the baby con- 
tinued to cry, so Magdalena went to investigate. She found her husband 
on the doorstep, playing with little Jose. 

"What's the matter with you?" said Magdalena. 

"Oh, the crying baby is all right," answered her husband, "and this little 
one needs company." 

Most pronounced, however, are inter-sibling hostilities over the 
favoritism shown a kirido. The following instances are illustrative: 

Benedict© is one of eight children. His parents are dead. The second 
oldest child was the kirido in their family. "There has always been jealousy 
among my brothers and sisters because one of us was kirido. It has done 
nothing but make for anger and bad feelings among us. Kirido is a bad 
custom. Never will there be a kirido among my own children." 

In Chalan Kanoa, there is a family of two middle-aged parents, who 
have four children. The oldest, a girl, is the father's kirida. She was often 
ill during her childhood and the father became very attached to her. The 
youngest child, a boy, is the mother's kirido. This favoritism is acknowledged 
by the parents. It is noticeable that the other two children resent it and 
express their resentment in verbal behavior directed against the other two 
when the parents are not present. 

Gregorio is a man of thirty-five. As a child he was thin and weakly. 
His parents considered he was having a hard time, and, according to Gregorio, 
this was the reason he became his father's kirido. Gregorio is the second 
oldest of five children. The youngest, a girl, later became his mother's 
kirida. Gregorio was seldom spanked as a child, though his brothers were. 
He was sent to school on Guam — his brothers were not. When he returned 
to Saipan, he noticed that gold teeth and gold fillings graced the mouths of 
many of the recently arrived Japanese and that it was becoming a matter of 
prestige among the Chamorros to have these also. Gregorio asked his father 
if he could have gold fillings in his teeth and perhaps a gold tooth also. His 
father consented. His brothers have no gold teeth or fillings. Gregorio re- 
ceived the gift of a wrist watch from his parents, the only child to receive 
one. Gregorio's brothers were jealous, and several times they upbraided 
him. They also complained to the father. 

Now Gregorio is a father himself, with four small children. He com- 
mented: "I remember the jealousy of my brothers and do not wish to have a 
kirido, but to treat all my children equally. And yet, Juana, my third child, 
is more loving and attentive than the others. She is sensitive and I have to 
be careful not to be too harsh; a scolding hardly affects the others. That is 
one way a child becomes kirido or kirida." 

A son or daughter who is kirido or kirida may be conscious of 
latent antagonism on the part of his brothers and sisters and may 
attempt to overcome it by special efforts of assistance. 


Augusto recalled his childhood, remarking that his brother Gregorio was 
a kirido and that often his parents overlooked Gregorio's misbehavior, while 
disciplining the other children. One day Augusto, Gregorio, and several 
other boys wanted some mangoes from a tree in their yard. They had been 
told not to touch the fruit. "Let me get the mangoes," said Gregorio. "I 
am kirido and they will not whip me." 

Manuel is a man in his late fifties, belonging to one of the landed and, 
in pre-war Saipan, wealthier families. He has always been concerned with 
his land and with farming. "I was my parents' kirido. Since the time I was 
a young man, I have always tried to help my brothers and sisters with their 
land problems. It is .something special that I could do to preserve harmony 
among us." In this he has been successful. A very intelligent man, he is 
among the most respected members of the community. 

A few other observations should be included. In no recorded 
case did a parent shift favoritism from one child to another. Once 
a kirido, always a kirido. Also, the selection of a child as a favorite 
is made after a family has at least three children, and usually more. 
Seldom is the oldest child a kirido; much more frequently the 
youngest is selected. 

In summary, the Chamorro institution of a kirido derives from 
the facts of temperamental differences among children and the 
tendency of some Chamorro parents to respond to a responsive and 
affectionate child by admitting that this child is the favorite. The 
ideal culture construct also pictures the parents as rather stern dis- 
ciplinarians; the kirido is an alteration of this role, allowing the 
parent to be an openly affectionate father or mother spoiling his 
favorite child. In one family a kirido or kirida may be no more than 
a name for a lovable child with the parents careful to show no overt 
favoritism, while in another family the kirido may be shown overt 
favoritism, accompanied by marked tension and outright hostility 
in intrafamilial relationships. It is interesting that the Chamorros 
are quite aware of the disrupting nature of the institution when it 
is carried to its extreme form. Yet it continues to exist, with no 
really effective counteracting institution, apart from the fact that 
kiridos are by no means a universal feature of Chamorro family life. 

Adoption. — Among many Micronesian societies, the adoption of 
children occurs with great frequency, often regardless of whether or 
not a child is lacking parental care. The incidence of adoption is 
much lower among the Saipan Chamorros, and the practice is more 
nearly similar to that prevailing in western Europe and America. 
The situations in which adoption occur are in the case of (1) orphans, 
(2) the separation of the parents, (3) childless couples desiring to 
adopt a child, and (4) the birth of an illegitimate child. 


An adopted child may or may not change his surname to that of 
his foster parents. There are at present no legal formalities attending 
adoption, common agreement among the families involved being all 
that is necessary. 

In cases where both parents die, leaving small children, a grand- 
mother will often care for the children. In Chalan Kanoa today two 
elderly women are caring for orphaned grandchildren, and these 
latter are considered as adopted children. Also, it must be remem- 
bered that there is often a considerable age difference between 
youngest and oldest child. At the death of the parents the older 
children may already have reached adulthood, in which case they 
will care for young siblings. Theoretically, the oldest brother has 
the primary responsibility for seeing that his young brothers and 
sisters receive proper care. 

There are on Saipan two Japanese children adopted by Chamorro 
parents. In one case, the child was orphaned during the war. In 
the other case, the parents were repatriated to Japan after the war 
but left one of their several children with Chamorro foster parents. 
Both of these children have changed their surnames to those of 
their foster parents. 

Only one case was recorded in which a childless couple adopted 
a child. 

Fernando and his wife are middle-aged and have not had children of their 
own. They adopted one of Fernando's sister's children, a twin. Fernando's 
sister has a large number of children. The adopted child, however, has not 
changed his surname. 

One case was recorded in which the only child of a couple who 
had separated was adopted by the mother's brother. This was the 
single case recorded of the adoption of children of separated parents. 

In all except three cases, the recorded adoptions took place be- 
tween relatives, grandparents, uncles and aunts being the adopters. 
Two of these exceptions are the Japanese children just mentioned; 
the third is a Chamorro. The third exception is interesting in that 
the adopted child became the kirido of the foster parents. At the 
time of the foster-parents' partido, the adopted child shared in the 
land division with the real children. The latter are still disgruntled, 
feeling that the adopted child should not have shared in the in- 
heritance. Whether or not an adopted child is entitled to a land 
inheritance is a matter of opinion. Most informants felt that if the 
foster parents had little land, the adopted child would not share 
the land with the real children, whereas if there was much land, he 


might. Also, the question is affected by whether or not the adopted 
child already had a land inheritance from his own parents. It is up 
to the foster-parents to decide; there is no well-defined customary 
practice in this matter. 

The Illegitimate Child. — The Chamorros have adopted the Span- 
ish word "bastardo" for children born out of church-sanctioned 
wedlock. The incidence of illegitimacy among the Saipan Chamorros 
is not particularly high. During the one-year period covered by my 
field work, illegitimate births constituted 3 per cent of the total 
births among the Chamorro group. It was not possible to obtain 
reliable data for previous years. The presence on the island of large 
numbers of American troops during and immediately after the war 
did not result in numerous American-Chamorro offspring, partly 
due to the measures taken to control contacts between American 
personnel and the Chamorros and Carolinians, partly due to Cha- 
morro attitudes against promiscuity, and partly due to the unplanned 
channelling of contacts resulting in sex relations to the ten to twelve 
prostitutes and promiscuous girls among the local residents and the 
use of contraceptives by service personnel. Only four American 
hastardos were recorded for the Chamorro and Carolinian community 
on the island, though there may be a few more. 

Among the Chamorros, the unwed mother is at some disadvan- 
tage. The unmarried girl who has become pregnant is constantly 
scolded by her parents and upbraided for having "lost her honor." 
There are two reputed infanticides of illegitimate children in the 
last four years, though no concrete evidence could be obtained. 
Although the unwed mother is not ostracized, there is no doubt 
that shame is attached to her status. 

Bastardos are also at a disadvantage. Normally they bear only 
two names: the given name and the mother's name. A giiput baa- 
tismo is held for a bastardo as well as for a legitimate child. As 
children, bastardos are occasionally taunted and fights sometimes 
result. Inasmuch as they bear only two names, when they reach 
adulthood and marry and their banns are announced in church, the 
older people frequently recall the circumstances of their birth in 
gossip afterward. On the other hand, in a good many cases — just 
how many it is very difficult to say — the father and mother of an 
illegitimate child marry after the birth of the child. The child takes 
the father's surname, the circumstances of the child's birth are for- 
gotten with time, and for all usual purposes the child is considered 


If an unmarried woman has an illegitimate child, and if she 
marries a man other than the father, the child will be taken with 
her, if her husband is agreeable, and will become part of the newly 
established family. On the other hand, if the husband is not agree- 
able to accepting the illegitimate child, the latter will be adopted 
by the mother's parents or by an older married sibling of the mother. 
In three recorded cases the mother's parents had adopted the child. 
In one of these cases the husband was notably jealous when the 
mother paid attention to her bastardo, instead of to his own children. 
In the other two cases relations were perfectly amicable, but the 
illegitimate children were clearly not a part of the families established 
through their mothers' subsequent marriages. It is relatively clear 
that a husband is not obliged to accept his wife's illegitimate child, 
born before the marriage. On the other hand, Chamorros typically 
will say that "a kind man will accept his wife's bastardo. He knows 
the situation when he marries her. He should accept the child." 

There is considerable variation in the degree to which the father 
of a child by an unmarried mother feels obligated to aid the mother 
financially and to include his bastardo in his partido. This question 
of the partido has been discussed previously in the section on Cha- 
morro land tenure (pp. 141 142). In at least three cases recorded, 
the father extended little or no assistance. In two other cases, the 
father or his family did extend assistance. It should be mentioned 
that if the fact of an unmarried girl's pregnancy is brought to the 
attention of the padres, they will attempt to persuade the couple 
involved of the desirability of marriage. 

One case of illegitimacy involved the "favorite child" institution. 

A young man's illegitimate child was adopted by the father's mother 
and became the kirido of the mother. The brothers and sisters of the father 
became disgruntled, because the bastardo had become the favorite of their 
mother and was given preferential treatment among her grandchildren. 

Only one case was recorded of a married man's having a child 
by a woman other than his wife. In this instance, the man later 
married the child's mother, after the death of his wife. 

Finally, the offspring of common-law marriages are considered 
illegitimate and bear only the given name and the mother's. 

Lengthening of the Generation Span: The Children Marry 

Until a person — either son or daughter — marries, he remains part 
of his parents' elementary family and subject to their word. In- 


vitations to wedding and baptismal parties go to his parents, not to 
him, even though he is automatically included. If he is to be the 
godfather of a friend's child, his compaire must formally notify his 
parents of the time of baptism; the parents will then tell him, even 
though informally he may have been told of the event. If an un- 
married child is working for wages, by custom he must turn all his 
earnings over to his parents and ask them for such sums as he feels 
he needs. If he wishes to take a trip to another island, he should 
ask his parents' permission before going. Socially and economically 
the unmarried remain under the authority of the parents, regardless 
of sex, age, or maturity. It is the unmarried son or daughter, fur- 
thermore, who has the first obligation to care for aged parents and 
to remain under the parental roof. 

Marriage is the event that sets a person up in his own right. It 
is the principal institution that serves to mark full adulthood. Mar- 
riage does not sever the bond with the parents, but it is a social 
acknowledgment that the basis of a new family has been formed. 
A married couple occupies a completely different position than either 
spouse did before marriage. Now invitations and announcements of 
weddings go to them directly, not indirectly via the parents. The 
newly married couple now forms a reciprocating unit in its own 
right. Its freedom of action is markedly greater. It was my 
experience that only a married person knew about the niceties of 
chenchuli reciprocity. 

Man and wife are inseparably linked as a social unit. In talking 
to a man or woman about a matter that might possibly involve the 
other's spouse, one always uses the second person plural form 
{"hamjo"); to use the singular form would be impolite. The usual 
method of referring to a married person by linking the given name 
with that of the spouse is another example of this principle. The 
same idea is expressed in the giving of a going-away gift C'tehgguan") 
to a person about to depart on a trip. An example follows: 

Maria was about to leave for another island to receive training as a 
teacher. She received a small going-away gift from each of her married sib- 
lings. In the case of Maria's married sisters, this gift was presented by the 
husbands of the sisters to Maria's mother. In the case of Maria's married 
brothers, the gift was given by the brothers' wives to Maria's mother. Thus, 
it was the brother-in-law or the sister-in-law who actually presented the gift, 
thereby emphasizing the fact that the gift came from a married couple, not 
from an individual. Furthermore, the gifts were not given directly to Maria, 
but to her mother, because Maria is unmarried and hence subordinate to her 
parents, and because the gifts were from one elementary family unit to an- 

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other — in this case the parental-family unit. If Maria had been a boy, the 
gifts would have gone by way of Maria's father. 

Thus, upon their marriage, a man and woman acquire a new 
status. When a child is born to them they have established their 
family. Important as this newly established familial unit is, it is 
nevertheless linked by bonds of consanguinity through the father 
and mother and through siblings to other elementary family units. 
The social nature of this linkage is important and is illustrated in 
figure 29. 

As far as the social concomitants of genealogical relationship are 
concerned, the Chamorros are essentially bilateral, but there are a 
few unilineal emphases. Surnames are inherited in the paternal line. 
Further, when a man's sons marry and establish their own families, 
he is still considered the head of the larger familial unit comprised 
by his own family and his sons' families. The amount of his authority 
varies a good deal, but he is still to be accorded respect by virtue 
of his senior position. If he has not yet made a partido of his land, 
his sons are to a degree economically dependent upon him. 

The tie between siblings and their families is also strengthened 
by the tie to the parents, particularly in the case of latent hostility 
between siblings. As long as the parents are alive they serve as a 
force strengthening the horizontal linkage between the families of 
siblings. On the parents' death, the children may tend to drift 
apart, and it is at this time that latent sibling conflict comes into 
the open. 

Joaquin and Jose are brothers, both married and with families. They 
have tended to quarrel since childhood. When they grew up they tried to 
keep their hostility subdued for their parents' sake, but when their parents 
died a few years ago they no longer made any attempt to stay friendly. 
Jose finally moved to another island. 

Finally, when a young man and a young woman marry, each 
assumes the respect attitudes toward the other's mannaina. When 
the young couple has children, these too assume the required re- 
spect attitudes toward the family elders. This raises the question 
of dyadic relationships outside the elementary family, a feature of 
kinship organization that is described briefly below. 

Kinship Behavior Outside the Elementary Family. — The Chamor- 
ros have no institutionalized avoidance or joking relationships. The 
formalized aspect of behavior patterns among kinfolk is largely cen- 
tered around expressions of respect. In a particular relationship, it 
is the presence or absence of verbal or non-verbal forms of respect 


that determine how strongly patterned the behavior will be. This 
respect behavior is closely related to differences of generation. To- 
ward the parents, a son or daughter observes patterns of respect 
and obedience. This same respect behavior is extended to uncles 
and aunts, though it is the outward forms of respect — the honorific 
prefix for the older person's name, the 'ninge, the avoidance of 
expressing an opinion that might lead to argument —that are par- 
ticularly obvious. The uncles and aunts, as well as the parents, 
are mannaina, and to all mannaina respect behavior is demanded. 

Toward the grandparents, also mannaina, as well as toward the 
grandparents' siblings, the grandchild likewise observes this same 
pattern of respect. There is no familiarity, expressed in joking or 
teasing or a relaxation of the outward forms of respect and politeness, 
on the part of a grandchild towards the grandparents. The face-to- 
face relation is not stiffly formal, but the respect component is never- 
theless marked. On their part, the grandparents have a more relaxed 
attitude toward the grandchild. They accept the politeness and 
respect extended by the former but do not have the immediate 
responsibility of inculcating the traditional pattern of respect into 
the behavior of the grandchildren. The older Chamorros on Saipan 
are, however, conservative as far as family matters go, and they 
lend their support to attempts at preserving the system of respect 
behavior toward the mannaina. 

It is toward those classed as mannaina — parents, aunts, uncles, 
grandparents, usually grandparents' siblings, and godparents— that 
respect behavior is particularly marked. This behavior is structured 
on the lines of the parent-child relationship as a cultural construct: 
the child respectful, helpful, obedient, attentive to the instructing, 
authoritative, wise, but strict parent. These attitudes are the model 
for mannaina relationships. 

The respect behavior toward members of ascending generations 
is extended in weaker form outside of the circle of relatives to elderly 
members of the community generally. Toward any older person a 
man or woman uses the honorific prefix ''tun" or "tan" in direct 
address, never ridicules the person, and usually assumes an attitude 
of deference, depending in its degree on the status of the person in 
the community. 

Towards cousins, behavior is largely an extension of that ex- 
pressed towards siblings. In the cousin relation, no particular re- 
spect forms need be observed, and behavior is generally relaxed and 
informal. The principal qualification is that introduced by dif- 


ference of sex. A brother does not joke with a sister on subjects 
with a sexual reference. Neither do cousins — at least first cousins 
— of opposite sex joke on such subjects. In relations within a single 
generation one finds the greatest degree of familiarity within the 
system of consanguineal relationships as a whole; this familiarity is 
tempered by the sex factor. On the other hand, where respect 
relations are dominant, it is the generation factor that is of most 

When a man or woman marries, he extends the vocative kinship 
terminology for parents to his father-in-law and mother-in-law and 
extends similar patterns of behavior. Immediately after marriage, 
parent-in-law-child-in-law relations are rather correct and formal; 
later they become more relaxed. Towards brothers-in-law and 
sisters-in-law, behavior tends roughly to conform to the sibling- 
cousin category. 


Among the Saipan Chamorros, the most important crisis rites 
are those at marriage and at death. Of the two, death is probably 
the more significant in bringing out the strength of social obligations. 
Two brothers may be enemies and have little or nothing to do with 
each other, ignoring the marriages of each other's children; but if 
one brother dies, the other will attend his funeral. Death cancels old 
conflicts and enmities. It is at the time of death that a Chamorro 
feels most strongly the obligations imposed by the ties of kinship. 

Despite the acknowledged benefits of medical practice, death to 
the Chamorro is an event one must be prepared for at any time. 
In the old days, everyone kept a suit of good clothes ready in case 
of death. Old people even had a coffin made ahead of time. Today, 
the attitude is perhaps not so pronounced, but many people are still 
careful to keep their best clothes in order. Parents also keep a suit 
of good clothes ready for each child. 

The rites at death follow a well-defined sequence of events that 
center around Catholic church practice but also embody usages de- 
veloped out of Chamorro tradition. 

Notification of Relatives. — If a person is about to die, every effort 
is made to notify the priest, so that the dying man or woman may 
receive the benefits of final confession. At the same time, or imme- 
diately after death, one of the family is sent to notify the mannaina 
of the dying person. If the latter is an adult, his parents, parents' 


siblings, grandparents, and godparents — all manhaina — will be 
notified, as well as his married brothers and sisters. First cousins 
will not be notified, but they will hear the word from their parents 
and they must drop what they are doing and come to the house of 
the deceased. Second cousins are not so obligated, but usually at 
least some of them will feel they should attend. 

If a child dies, his mannaina must likewise be notified. It is not 
so imperative that first cousins of the parents appear, but most of 
them will come. 

Neighbors and good friends, though they are not officially noti- 
fied, will also come. A death draws many non-relatives, probably 
because they feel that if they come to pray for the soul of the de- 
ceased and assist him on his way toward heaven, others will do the 
same for them when they die. 

The Vigil. — When death comes, the body of the deceased is 
dressed and placed on a bed or table in a bedroom and adorned with 
flowers. If the dead person is a married woman, her oldest daughter 
prepares the corpse; if a man, the oldest son fulfills this duty. A car- 
penter is hired to make the coffin. A married woman wears the 
plaited leather belt of the Correa in death. If the dead person is 
an unmarried girl and a member of the Daughters of Mary, she 
wears the white dress and veil of the society and a crown of flowers. 
If a child under the age of primet communion dies, the godmother 
and godfather may provide the death clothes and will tell the priest 
of the death. 

Burial is within twenty-four hours after death. During this 
period, relatives and friends join the immediate family in standing 
vigil at the house of the deceased. If a man dies, his widow, his 
sisters, and his daughters will stand vigil by the body all night. 
Men will walk around the house and yard, and, outside the room in 
which the dead person lies, the atmosphere is often not particularly 

After administering the last rites, the priest departs until it is 
time for burial, but during this interval prayers are periodically said 
by the assembled group at the house of the deceased. The prayers 
are led by a te'cha, usually an elderly woman, who comes for this 

During the period of the vigil, food is served to the people who 
have come to the house. If the vigil lasts through the night, coffee 
and biscuits are .served at midnight, and a full meal, including meat 
and rice, is served the next day at noon. The food is prepared at 


the house of a neighbor to avoid confusion in the house of the dead 
person. It is obtained, cooked, and served by the close relatives of 
the deceased, as well as by others who wish to help. A mentu is 
appointed who supervises the arrangements regarding the food and 
who receives the gifts of money. I was told that in case of a child's 
death there are four mentu, two from the mother's side of the family 
and two from the father's side, but I had no opportunity to observe 
such an instance. Often the mentu is a daughter of the deceased, if 
the latter was an elderly married person. The oldest son must help 
with matters such as obtaining the cofRn, getting a te'cha and the 
like. If the dead person was married, the surviving spouse need 
take no responsibility for the food or other funeral arrangements. 
The same is true of parents whose child has died. 

At the time of death, ika, a gift of money, is brought by those 
who come to the house. Ika is often called "chenchidi," but tradi- 
tionally a cash gift at death is known by the former term. As in 
the case of chenchuli at a wedding, the ika is a gift from an elementary 
family as a unit. To emphasize this fact, it is given by the spouse 
who is not related to the deceased. Thus, if Juan and Maria attend 
the funeral of Juan's cousin, the ika should be given personally to 
the mentu by Maria, who is not related to the cousin, thereby em- 
phasizing the fact that the money comes from the elementary family 
unit of Juan, Maria, and their unmarried children. The amount of 
the gift tends to vary in proportion to the closeness of relationship 
between the donor and the deceased. As in the case of chenchuli, a 
careful written record is kept of the ika given at a funeral. 

An hour or two before the body is taken away from the house it 
is placed in the coffin. At this time all the children and grandchildren 
will pay their respects to the dead person for the last time. 

At the death of Gregorio, before the body was placed in the coffin, all 
Gregorio's lineal descendants paid their final respects. First Joaquin, the 
oldest son, bowed and gently touched Gregorio's head. Then in turn each 
son and daughter bowed low and touched the hand of the dead man. Finally, 
the small grandchildren came forward and said "Tiof and bowed. 

About thirty minutes before the coffin is carried from the house 
to the church and the cemetery, the lid is nailed on. At this time 
there is loud weeping on the part of the women relatives. Otherwise, 
the mourners are largely silent as they mourn by the side of the 

Burial. — The coffin is carried from the house to the church and 
from there to the cemetery, accompanied by relatives and friends. 


The procession is led by a relative carrying a large crucifix, flanked 
by two candle-bearers. The pallbearers are also close relatives and 
friends. At the church and at the cemetery the rites are consonant 
with Catholic orthodoxy and are conducted by the priest. After 
the coffin has been lowered into the grave, the priest puts in a 
handful of earth, and the relatives follow his example. In case a 
woman's husband or child dies, it is not necessary that she attend 
the burial. 

Post-Burial Rites. — At 8:00 P.M. on the day of burial, a lisajo 
("rosarj^ service") led by the te'cha is held at the house of the de- 
ceased. This service is repeated for eight nights; the whole series is 
known as the "lisajon matai." Although some people who have come 
to the vigil do not come to the lisajo, it is obligatory for the relatives 
of the deceased to attend both. On the ninth day, a cow or bull — 
or at least a pig — is usually slaughtered, and meat is given to each 
elementary family who had at least one member present at the lisajo; 
or a large meal may be served at the house of the deceased for those 
who attended. The former practice is know as "mana'chan." Some- 
times as many as eighty families will expect a share of meat, while 
the te'cha will be given a generous gift for her services. The serving 
of a meal is more economical. 

Following the nine-night lisajon matai, a second nine-night ser- 
vice called "lisajon guma" ("house rosary") is held for members of 
the elementary family only, together with a close mannaina or two 
who wish to attend. No te'cha is engaged, and relatives need not 

For six months after the death, the elementary family is in 
mourning; widows and bereaved mothers stay in mourning for a year. 
The wearing of black clothes applies primarily to the women. For 
the first six months they wear full black, while thereafter they some- 
times wear a light blouse. Many of the older women wear partial 
mourning clothes for several years. 

Every year, on the anniversary of the death, a lisajon guma is 
held by the elementary family at home, and they may arrange for 
a mass for the dead to be said in church. The anniversary lisajo is 
not held for a child who has died before receiving first communion. 

Funeral expenses, including the church costs, the expense of the 
food served those who attend the lisajo, and the gift for the te'cha, 
are partly met by the gifts of ika, but the remainder must be paid 
by the elementary family suffering the death of one of its members. 
Also, the ika must be repaid at some future occasion. An exception 


is made in the case of the death of an elderly person who leaves a 
spouse of advanced age, for no one expects that the latter can 
maintain all the couple's chenchuli-ika-ajudo obligations. 


Chenchuli-ika-ajudo. — Marriage establishes a chenchuliika-ajudo 
reciprocating unit that further includes all children born to a couple 
until the children marry. The death of the parents then finally and 
completely terminates the couple's chenchuli-ika-ajudo obligations. 
These are not inherited by the married children. In a few isolated 
cases an older son may assume some of the obligations, but they are 
then his own family unit's, not his parents' duties. The social ob- 
ligations expressed by chenchuli, ika, and ajudo are essentially ad- 
juncts of the elementary family. As these families come into being 
through marriage and the birth of children, and as they dissolve 
through the death of the parents, social obligations likewise tend to 
form, adhere to the elementary family, and then dissolve. Marriage, 
birth, and death are therefore the biological facts to which social 
obligations adhere. 

Position of the Oldest Son. When the father dies, the oldest son 
is supposed to assume authority over his brothers even though they 
are married and to become head of the group bearing the father's 
surname. However, the oldest son's authority is usually more nomi- 
nal than real. It is tempered by the fact that the mother, if she is 
alive, has a good deal of prestige. It further tends to be controverted 
by the strength of the elementary family, which leads siblings to 
base their actions on the interests of their own elementary families. 
And finally, there are numerous cases of siblings who drifted apart 
in the daily routine of life when the authority of the father had been 
removed by his death. The succession of a father's authority to his 
oldest son is a type of unilineal emphasis that is not highly developed. 

Care of the Aged. — An elderly couple maintains its own household 
unit until one spouse dies. If there is an unmarried child, this child 
should remain with the parents and care for them. If either father 
or mother dies and there is no unmarried child who can care for the 
widow or widower, it is usual for the surviving spouse to move in 
with a married son or daughter. If an unmarried child lives with 
the parent the household continues to exist. There are also a few 
elderly people who prefer to live alone. Usually, however, elderly 
widows whose children are all married live with a married daughter 
— very seldom with a married son. Widowers live with either mar- 


ried sons or daughters, and, in two instances recorded, tended to 
rotate among their children, depending largely on the widower's 

Hardship Cases Caused by the Death of a Spouse. — Among the 
Chamorros, the primary subsistence and residence unit is the elemen- 
tary family. When one of the parents dies while the children are 
still young, a crisis is precipitated. If the grandparents are alive, 
they will be called upon first for help. 

Antonio's wife died, leaving six children. The oldest — a girl — was work- 
ing and was able to help, but some of the children were small and outside 
assistance was necessary. Antonio's mother, a widow, came to live at the 
house, to care for the children, and to supervise running the household. 

Gregorio's wife was killed during the invasion of Saipan. There were 
several small children, and Gregorio was badly in need of aid. His wife's 
parents were alive and moved into Gregorio's house. Later Gregorio remar- 
ried and his first wife's parents returned to their own household. 

If there are no grandparents alive, recourse must be had to 
brothers or sisters, usually but not always those of the surviving 

Francisco's wife died. They had several small children. None of the 
grandparents was living, and Francisco had no siblings. Francisco's wife's 
sister is married and has a large brood of her own, but she and her husband 
took all of Francisco's children to live with them, bringing the children up 
as their own. Francisco helps by supplying food, but lives in his own house 
nearby and cooks his own meals. 

Not always are siblings so generous or self-sacrificing. Often they 
are poor, with large families of their own to support. In such cases, 
real hardship may be the result for the family who has lost a father 
or mother. There are in Chalan Kanoa at least five or six families 
of this category, who are in very difficult straits. 

Juan's wife died, leaving a number of children, ranging from about five 
to fourteen years of age. The wife's mother is alive but has long been ill 
and cannot help. Neither Juan's wife's siblings nor his own brothers and 
sisters have given any real material aid. While Juan works, the fourteen- 
year-old girl struggles to care for the children. They have had a dif- 
ficult time. 

Maria is a widow with several small children. She has neither parents 
nor brothers and sisters, nor are her husband's parents living. The brother 
of her husband has said he would help her but has done very little. People 
say it is because the brother's wife is jealous. Maria works and barely ekes 
out a living. 

Francisca is also a widow, her husband having been killed during the war. 
Neither her own nor her husband's parents are alive. She has received a 


little help from her brother, and fortunately her two older children are now 
old enough to work and help, but it has been very difficult for her to raise 
her five children. Her husband's siblings have given her no aid. 

These few village hardship cases are significant in that they 
highlight certain characteristics of Chamorro family organization. 
First, the relationship of the elementary family with the grand- 
parents is particularly strong. It is to them that a distressed parent 
will first turn. If the grandparents are dead, the parent must turn 
to a brother or sister, and here feelings of mutual obligation in giving 
economic aid may be very much weaker, principally because each 
married brother or sister is committed to support his own elemen- 
tary family and there is little in the way of social sanctions to extend 
this commitment. In the three hardship cases given above, the mar- 
ried brothers or sisters felt little real obligation to help, granted 
that one case involved a sister-in-law jealous of any money going 
outside her elementary family. The municipality has attempted to 
maintain a welfare fund to aid these hardship cases. But it is in- 
structive to note that although comparable situations exist among 
the Carolinians, and although they have on the whole a lower living 
standard than the Chamorros, I did not record during the year a 
single case of familial hardship among them. The reason lies in the 
difference in kinship structure between Carolinians and Chamorros. 
Among the former group the extension of kinship outside the ele- 
mentary family involves a more or less continuous flow of food and 
assistance in the day-to-day routine of life. Among the Chamorros, 
the extensions of kinship are centered primarily on the obligations 
associated with crisis rites and not on economic assistance in daily 

XIX. Kinship Range and Family Status 

Kinship Range 

An important feature of every kinship system is the range of 
socially recognized kin relationships included within the system. In 
the preceding discussion, an indication of the range of Chamorro 
kinship has been given in connection with the description of kinship 
terminology and the organization of various crisis rites. In this 
section, the data will be drawn together and conclusions presented 
in systematic form. 


There are two distinct aspects to the range of the Chamorro 
kinship system. The first of these, the terminological range, refers 
to the relationships covered by the extension of kinship terms. The 
second aspect of range refers to the behavior associated with the 
terms. Among the Chamorros this behavior tends to crystallize 
around reciprocal rights and duties. Virtually every right is sooner 
or later associated with a duty, and it is convenient to consider the 
range of institutionalized kinship rights and duties as the obliga- 
tional range of the system. 

In the section on the extension of kinship terms, it was pointed 
out that the terminological range has two significant aspects: (1) 
an assumed range and (2) an observed range. The assumed range 
is that given by informants without reference to actual genealogies 
and is a kind of conjectural norm. The observed range is based on 
the use of terms in observed situations and on genealogies collected 
by the field worker. It was noted that the assumed range included 
third cousins, whereas the observed range seldom if ever extended 
beyond second cousins. The observed range of the terminology is 
therefore narrower than the assumed range. 

The assumed and observed aspects of terminological range have 
their counterparts in the obligational range of the Chamorro system. 

The obligational range finds expression in behavior primarily in 
crisis rites, particularly those associated with marriage and with 



death. At these times, the system of the reciprocal giving of gifts 
and services in the form of chenchuli, ika, and ajudo comes into play, 
associated also with the obligations of attendance at the secular 
festivities connected with the rites. The range of the system be- 
comes operative through these forms of reciprocity. They are the 
key to an understanding of obligational range among the Chamorros. 

Furthermore, obligational range is particularly clear in forms of 
interfamilial reciprocity. In the preceding pages, an attempt has 
been made to show how custom emphasizes the strength of the ele- 
mentary family as a social unit. Obligational range among the 
Chamorros cannot be understood only on the basis of dyadic rela- 
tionships between individuals. The elementary family is the primary 
unit in the system of reciprocal gifts, services, and attendance. 

If one combines the testimony of informants without reference 
to observed cases, and considers the resulting conjectural norm as 
the assumed obligational range, one finds that the range includes 
second cousins at times of major crisis rites. However, the observed 
range includes first cousins surely, but not necessarily all second 
cousins. The observed range is somewhat narrower than the as- 
sumed range, thereby paralleling the situation with regard to ter- 
minology. The assumed obligational range tends to be close to the 
observed terminological range. There is, therefore, a series of pro- 
gressively narrower kinds of kinship range. I suspect that this 
differentiation of the various aspects of range is a result of recent 
change in the kinship system. 

Obligational range may also be classed according to whether it 
is constant or fluctuating. It tends to be constant if it varies little 
from day to day; fluctuating if it shows swings from narrow to broad 
over a given period of time, such as a year. Among the Chamorros, 
obligational range finds its widest expression at the time of crisis 
rites; in ordinary day-to-day affairs the system is quite restricted. 
Interfamilial economic co-operation is greatest between parents and 
married children, weaker between siblings, and sometimes negligible 
among cousins. Also, there is considerable variability, some brothers 
working closely with each other, others having little to do with each 
other. On the whole, however, in the daily routine there is no 
strongly marked feeling of obligation and economic co-operation 
among the members of a widely extended body of kinfolk. The 
Chamorro kinship system is a fluctuating type, in that obligational 
range is narrow in day-to-day relationships, wide at times of crisis 


There is evidence that this difference was not always so marked 
and that formerly the range of the system expanded more frequently 
and at times other than at crisis rites. Examples are the building 
of houses and thatching of house roofs in the German and early 
Japanese periods, described by older informants as occasions when 
a wide circle of relatives would gather for the work. If a man needed 
his house thatched, he would ask his father for assistance. The 
father would tell his brothers, who could in turn inform their sons. 
All these relatives, together with those on the wife's side, would 
then go out with their oxcarts for thatch. About ten cartfuls of 
coconut palm fronds would be needed. Then, for several weeks, in 
the evenings the women would sew thatch. On the appointed day, 
the new thatch would be put on the roof by the men, with a few 
older men supervising. After the job had been finished, a large meal 
would be served by the man's family to the workers. The prepara- 
tion and serving of the food would be supervised by a mentu halom 
yunta, following the pattern of marriages, baptisms, and deaths 
today. Those who came would also give chenchuli to the woman's 
family. A similar procedure took place at a house-building. It is 
probable that an expanded obligational range was formerly more 
closely tied to economic co-operation in production than is the case 

Finally, for any given Chamorro family, obligational kinship 
range is related to intrafamilial conflict and tension. The kinship 
structure achieves the breadth of its range through the system of 
ajudo, chenchuli, and ika and attendance at crisis rites. In cases of 
bad feeling between relatives — first cousins, for instance — the parties 
involved may refuse to attend each other's social functions or give 
chenchuli. This is tantamount to a formal severing of relations. 
The person who does not give chenchuli to a relative at an appro- 
priate occasion is ignoring a kinship obligation and consciously 
committing an act of non-recognition of a kin relationship. 

The Chamorros are particularly touchy about attendance at 
social functions. If one cannot attend a guput, one should send a 
family member, preferably a grown, unmarried son or daughter, or 
explain carefully ahead of time why one cannot come, and perhaps 
leave a small gift. Two examples from field notes follow. 

Alberto and his first cousin once removed, an older woman who may be 
called Maria, live next door to each other. Two weeks ago was primet com- 
munion for Alberto's child, and a party was given by Alberto and his wife 
in honor of the event. Alberto and his wife invited Maria. Just before the 


party, Alberto saw her, all dressed up, with a bundle of what looked like 
food, pass his door. "Where are you going?" he called. 

"To the store," she replied. 

Alberto said nothing but knew she was not telling the truth. "Dressed 
like that to go to the store!" he thought. 

Actually Maria was on her way to another guput primet communion at 
the house of her sister. She did not attend Alberto's party, and he was hurt 
and angry. "To think of all the times I have helped her!" he said. 

On the same Sunday as Alberto's party, Henrici and his wife were invited 
to three guput primet communion, given by various relatives and friends. 
Henrici and his wife could attend none of them because the latter's sister 
was leaving that day by ship for Guam, and they had to see her off. So 
they were very careful to explain to each family that invited them to a pri- 
met communion party the reason that made it impossible for them to attend. 

So it is that the very mechanism by which obhgational kinship 
range is achieved — reciprocal gifts, services, and attendance — is at 
the same time a principal source of tension and conflict that disturb 
the smooth working of the kinship system. 

The Family and Status in the Community 

One cannot understand the Chamorros without knowing the 
Chamorro concept of champada, "to compete," in particular, to 
compete for status, with an underlying feeling of jealousy, real or 
implied. Two men compete for the affections of a girl, two girls 
for the handsomer sodality dress, two housewives for the more pre- 
tentious sala, two men for a better job, two or more families for the 
largest fandango. Champada explains some oft-repeated observa- 
tions made by the more thoughtful people: "The Chamorros are apt 
to be jealous; one man does not like to see another get ahead"; or, 
"The Chamorros are always competing with each other to see who 
is a little higher. I wish they would compete on their farms." 
Champada is related to the fact that the Chamorros are quick to 
criticize one another. It is, I believe, a basic factor in their difficulty 
in maintaining effective co-operating groups in situations where the 
group is not controlled by a strong authority. Champada also under- 
lies the large guputs which Chamorros enjoy so much and to which 
they cling tenaciously, for the guput is a principal form for the vali- 
dation of status. And finally, champada is a factor in the readiness 
with which Chamorros adopt new things, particularly goods such as 
radios, jeeps, washing machines and the like, for these are closely 
related to status. The newcomer to the village wonders why the 
few phonographs and radios (Guam has a radio station) are always 
turned up as far as the volume will go. The noise is deafening, the 


sounds raucous, but it is all sweet music to the owner, for he is 
letting the village know that he is the proud possessor of the radio 
or phonograph. Champada is a theme that runs throughout Cha- 
morro life. 

Manuel and his father-in-law, Jesus, started a store. At the same time, 
Jesus' wife's brother, Henrici, also started a store next door. Manuel, Jesus, 
and Henrici agreed on a common frontage for the two stores. Also, Henrici 
would sell only beer, and Manuel and Jesus only canned groceries. After all, 
they were all relatives and why compete? But the first thing Jesiis and 
Manuel knew, Henrici was selling canned goods, so Jesus and Manuel started 
selling beer. Then much to Jesus' disgust, Henrici built his store out five 
feet more in front. Jesus was angry. So he and Manuel built their store 
out fifteen feet, ten feet beyond Henrici's. Henrici bought a small radio, so 
Jesus got a larger one. Jesus' played considerably louder, so Henrici hired a 
man to put up a higher antenna. Then his radio played as loud as Jesus'. 
But as soon as this happened, Jesus' daughter administered a real blow by 
turning the volume up all the way on their radio, which had heretofore not 
been so extended. So Henrici bought a new radio, which is indubitably 
larger and louder than Jesus'. Henrici went bankrupt, but at least he has the 
consolation of having the louder radio. Here the matter rests. 

This example might be taken as merely an isolated instance of 
friction among relatives. But similar cases are constantly occurring 
in the daily life of the community. They are all examples of cham- 
pada and of sensitivity to status. 

This competition in Chamorro life goes on with reference to 
rather clearly discernible bases of prestige, which are in turn the 
foundations of status. To one who comes to Saipan, the Cha- 
morros do not at first appear highly differentiated in this matter. 
But the appearance is deceptive and due largely to the fact that the 
war wiped out all wealth except land, so that the people tend to 
live much alike. But differences are again emerging. What are the 
prestige bases that underlie status, in the sense that some people in 
the community are high and others low? 

Wealth is probably the most important of the criteria of status. 
With wealth differentials largely wiped out by the invasion, the 
place of wealth in the total scheme is perhaps not as clear as before 
the war. In pre-war Garapan the wealthiest man was clearly at 
the top. He owned fourteen houses, all except one rented to Japa- 
nese, and his total holdings of real property were worth over 400,000 
yen. No other individual or family was so rich, but there were about 
ten or twelve families who held considerable land, who were in the 
higher brackets of the tax rolls, and who were acknowledged as the 
superior Chamorro families of the island. 


Today there is some shift evident, as some of the older wealthier 
men of pre-war times have died, and in the unstable post-war scene 
a few others are managing to acquire some wealth through mer- 
chandising. Until the economy is more nearly stabilized, however, 
wealth will be much desired but hard to come by. 

Associated with wealth is "good taste" in house furnishings. A 
well-painted and comfortably furnished sala, running water in the 
kitchen, a washing machine, fresh curtains and drapes are all im- 
portant to the Chamorro matron and are characteristic of the families 
of higher social status in the community. Also, servants are em- 
ployed by a few families today. 

Occupation is also significant. Office and store work are more 
desired than work on the farm by the Chamorros as a whole, although 
the man who was the wealthiest in pre-war Garapan has always 
been and is today, in spite of his advancing years, a devoted farmer. 

Education, primarily literacy and the learning of foreign lan- 
guages, is likewise accorded prestige. The reason is obvious, for 
the Chamorros have come under successive Spanish, German, Japa- 
nese, and now American regimes, and to be able to understand and 
inter-act satisfactorily with the succession of foreigners that have 
seized control of Saipan has demanded linguistic facility and put an 
emphasis on literacy and on a command of the language of the 
governing power. 

Finally, political status is important. Although the post-war 
political organization is still in a state of flux, political leadership 
is of growing importance. 

These status criteria are all inter-related, though the ones that 
are emphasized vary with the occasion. Yet the Saipan community 
is not large and these status criteria tend to cluster, so that wealth, 
occupation, education, and political leadership tend to form a com- 
bined base for the higher status of the more prominent families. 

Status in the community is closely tied to the elementary family. 
Married siblings and their families do not necessarily occupy similar 
positions. It is true that since the war four brothers have joined 
forces and through shrewdness and hard work are accumulating 
wealth and they and their families are moving upward together; 
but, more commonly, adult siblings will occupy different positions, 
as far as the community is concerned. Likewise, there may be actual 
conflict between related families over the question of their status. 

Mario and Jose are brothers who lived with their families in adjacent 
houses. Mario had a little better job in the administration than Jose. Mario's 


wife had the interior of the house painted, and put up new curtains. She 
considered herself superior to Jose's wife and said so. Sometimes she sat 
complacently in the open window, which made Jose's wife angry, because 
she thought the other was gloating. The two women got on such bad terms 
that finally Jose sold his house and moved to a diflerent neighborhood. 

The status system of Saipan is not rigid from one generation to 
another. There is no sharply marked system of ascribed status 
associated with a hereditary class system, partly because Saipan 
was resettled in the nineteenth century, so that there are no families 
that have from time immemorial occupied high positions. The 
wealthiest man in pre-war Garapan, who is a respected leader today, 
is the son of a poor man who migrated from Guam. There is very 
considerable fluidity from generation to generation. At present, 
some twelve or fifteen elementary families are at the top, in the 
opinion of almost everyone. The rest of the community grades 
downward to the poorest families at the bottom, the members of 
which have also had the least formal education and exercise no 
political leadership. 

Particularly important to a family's status are properly impressive 
secular festivities at the time of crisis rites, especially those at mar- 
riage and death, and at the time of family novenas. These are 
occasions of special importance to the women. Women are not 
political leaders and they do not occupy any of the best jobs, al- 
though some of them are in very responsible positions, and until 
the post-war period they did not receive as much formal education 
as the men. The Chamorro tradition is for women's interests to be 
centered in the family and, associated with the family, in the church. 
The relation of church to family is expressed to a large degree in 
crisis rites, while it is the secular celebration of these that helps 
establish a family's social position in the community. It is not 
difficult to understand, therefore, a matron's concern that her 
family's crisis rites be properly celebrated. 

XX. Family and Church 

The relationship between family and church is effected first and 
foremost through the crisis rites, which have been described in the 
preceding pages. Baptism, maina, first communion, confirmation, 
marriage, and death all link family to church in a close and binding 
relationship. This tie is further strengthened by religious obligations 
that pertain essentially to the individual but are supported by 
parental encouragement: children must learn prayers in the home, 
must say family prayers, must go to confession, and must take com- 
munion. In addition, familial life on Saipan is related to Catholicism 
through family novenas, and even more importantly by the insti- 
tution of compadrazgo. 

Family Novenas 

By no means every Chamorro family observes a family novena 
but many of the more prominent ones do, and there are probably 
between forty and fifty family novenas celebrated each year. A 
novena is first held after a man or woman or a couple together make 
a vow (pro7nessa) to hold a novena in honor of a particular saint, 
usually though not always at the time of deliverance from illness or 
bodily danger, or when these threaten the safety or health of the 
individual. Thereafter the couple hold the novena annually on the 
saint's day until they die. The family novena is associated with a 
married couple, for it takes a man and wife to prepare properly for 
the celebration, though only one spouse may have made the vow. 

At the death of the couple, one of the sons or daughters may 
take over the novena, and the son or daughter and his or her spouse 
will continue to celebrate it. If a novena is to be inherited, however, 
the son or daughter must ask specifically for it, unless the child 
was the original cause of the novena, in which case he has an obliga- 
tion to continue it. 

Before the war, Vicente underwent an eye operation in the Japanese 
hospital. He was still a child at the time. Before the operation, Vicente's 
father and mother made a vow to St. Vicente. Vicente's operation was suc- 



cessful and Vicente's father and mother hold the novena every year. When 
they die it will really be Vicente's obligation to carry on the celebration, for 
it was instituted for his benefit. 

If a son or daughter does not ask to carry on the novena, it will 
cease to be held after the parents die. It is relatively common to 
find novenas that have passed through two generations, but only 
one instance was recorded of a family novena's passing through 
three generations. In this case, an elderly woman and her husband 
hold a novena that the woman took over from her mother, who in 
turn inherited it from her own mother. Inheritance need not, how- 
ever, be in the maternal line, as Thompson (1947, p. 192) reports 
for Guam. If all the children ask for the parents' novena, the oldest 
son has at least theoretical priority. Thompson also notes that, 
particularly in upper class families, novenas have been celebrated 
for generations and implies that these have been inherited in family 
lines. The different situation on Saipan is probably due to the fact 
that only a few Chamorros have lived on Saipan for any appreciable 
number of generations, and the nineteenth and twentieth century 
immigrants to Saipan were not of the upper class, landed, Guamanian 

The following saints were recorded in connection with family no- 
venas: San Vicente, San Isidro, San Antonio, San Jose, Correson 
Jesus, San Juan, San Rocce, Santa Cruz, San Ramon, Bitgen (Virgin) 
del Carmel, San Pedro. Undoubtedly there are others not on the 
list, but these are the most popular, particularly San Vicente. 

The procedure for holding a family novena is the same as that 
on Guam (see Thompson, 1947, pp. 191, 317, 336). For nine con- 
secutive nights, friends and relatives meet in the home of the family 
giving the novena. They join in a service led by a te'cha, who recites 
the prayers, the whole group joining in the responses and in the 
hymns. On the ninth evening, a large party, the guput novena, is 
held, to which many more people come. This party is organized in 
a fashion similar to the guput fandango, held at the time of marriage. 
A mentu is appointed, women relatives as far removed as first cousins 
help in the kitchen, and men and women relatives and friends con- 
tribute ajudo and chenchuli. 

Today, Francisco held his annual f/»pi// novena in honor of Bitgen del 
Carmel. Francisco's wife and her own and Francisco's women relatives 
worked in the kitchen most of the day preparing the food for the party. 
Francisco had slaughtered a bull for the occasion. About 5:00 P.M., guests 
started to arrive. They talked quietly in small groups in the house and yard, 
and smoked and drank some beer. About 6:00 p.m., the final night's services 


were held in the sala of the house. At the end of the room a statue of the 
Virgin was set on a table. The statue was flanked by candles, and the table 
and wall were decorated with paper flowers. The service was led by a man 
te'cha who read or chanted the prayers from a small leaflet, written in Cha- 
morro. These were followed by a hymn. Those present in the sala were 
mostly women — about thirty — with some children. A half dozen men took 
positions near the door. Most of the men stayed outside in the yard, drink- 
ing beer, smoking and talking about their farms, the difficult economic situa- 
tion, and family matters. The service lasted a little over half an hour. Then 
food was served, buffet style, the guests sitting at tables set up outside. 
The menu consisted of typical party foods: a variety of meat dishes, bread 
and pastry, rice, beer, and coflfee. Approximately one hundred people were 
present. After the meal, the guests talked, smoked tobacco, and chewed 
betel for a time, then thanked their hosts, and one by one gradually departed. 
It was an informal and pleasant occasion. 

The family novena party ranks with that at marriage in size 
and importance, and Hke all large Chamorro guputs it is completely 
bound up with family status. Certain foods, such as meat and rice, 
are essential. It is an old Chamorro feeling that the vow that is 
the basis of the novena includes the slaughtering of a cow, bull, or 
pig for the party. A man will feed a pig for a whole year. He 
will not sell it and will save it for slaughtering at the time of his 
novena. He and his wife will serve only party foods and will feel it 
necessary to invite many relatives and guests. Sometimes a husband 
will demur at going into debt, but usually to no avail. 

On July 16, Joaquin held his annual party in connection with his novena 
in honor of Bitgen del Carmel. Joaquin did not want a large party, as he 
has little money and gets only a modest wage by working for the administra- 
tion. But Margarita, his wife, insisted on a large party. Joaquin had to 
slaughter a pig and buy two hundred pounds of rice. He spent all his money 
and went into debt besides. But Margarita felt the size of the party was a 
necessity, as being consonant with family tradition. 

The large Chamorro party is an inseparable part of the pattern 
of interpersonal and interfamilial relations and is closely linked to 
the mechanisms for maintaining status. It is an essential element 
of Chamorro custom. As such, it is extremely resistant to change, 
even in the face of an unstable economy. 

Ritual Kinship: Compadrazgo 

Every Chamorro child on Saipan has two sets of godparents. 
The first are the godparents of baptism: the padlino bautismo and 
the madlina bautismo. The second are the godparents of confirma- 
tion : the padlino conjirmacion and the madlina confirmacion. 


The godchild refers to his or her godfather as "padlino" and in 
direct address uses the term "nino." The godmother is referred to 
as "madlina" and in direct address this is usually shortened to 
"nina." The godparents refer to a godson as "hado," the term for 
son; and to a goddaughter as "hada," the term for daughter. They 
also use these terms in direct address. 

Between the parents of a child and both sets of godparents the 
terms "compaire" and ''comaire" are used. In direct address these 
are generally shortened to "paire" and "maire" and often are sub- 
stituted for the personal names in greetings and conversation. 

The terminology of ritual kinship follows certain logical extensions. 
If a man is the padlino of a child, his wife is called a madlina of the 
child and a comaire of the child's parents, regardless of whether or 
not she is the actual madlina bautismo or madlina confirmacion. 
Similarly, if a woman is the madlina, her husband is a padlino of 
the child and a compaire of the child's parents, even though he is 
not the actual padlino bautismo or padlino confirmacion. However, 
no special obligations or functions devolve upon the "godparents by 
extension." Also, if a padlino is unmarried, after his marriage his 
wife becomes a madlina; similarly, if a madlina is unmarried, after 
her marriage her husband becomes a padlino. The use of these terms 
is again simply a logical extension of the terminology of ritual kin- 
ship and does not necessarily involve the assumption of special 
duties and obligations. 

The number of godchildren of a Chamorro adult more than thirty 
years of age varied from three to more than thirty in my sample. 
Persons of high status in the community invariably have the most 
godchildren, and few in this position have less than fifteen. The 
Chamorros also exhibit a contrast with many Latin-American com- 
munities in that godparents are very often relatives — either siblings 
or first cousins of the parents — particularly those of the first child, 
at least one of whose godparents is often a sibling of father or mother. 
If the first child is a boy, the padlino frequently will be the father's 
brother or first cousin, and if the godparent is married the madlina 
will often be his wife. Contrariwise, if the first child is a girl, the 
madlina often will be the mother's sister or cousin. I found no cases 
in which an adult did not have either siblings or cousins among his 
or her compaire and comaire. There is no conscious attempt among 
the Chamorros to exclude close relatives from the compadrazgo rela- 
tionship and to select instead non-relatives. Rather, the reverse 
is true. 


The fact that an uncle or aunt is often a child's godparent results 
in the possibility of using alternative kinship terms. The choice is 
usually made according to the following example. 

The padlino bantismo of Manuel's first child is Manuel's brother. In 
this case Manuel does not use the compaire term instead of the brother term, 
either for reference or in direct address. But Manuel's child uses the padlino 
term for Manuel's brother instead of the uncle term {tio). Padlino is a 
"closer" relationship than that of a tio, and the reciprocal obligations between 
a padlino and godchild are more specific than those between an uncle and a 
nephew. A padlino is not "closer" than a grandparent, however. 

A special case is that of the child of an unwed mother. If the 
child is a boy, he will have a padlino bautismo but no madlina 
hautismo, except for the logical extension of the term in the manner 
previously described. If the child is a girl, she will have a madlina 
bautismo but no padlino bautismo. 


In the institution of compadrazgo, there are two relationships of 
particular importance: that between the godparents and parents, 
and that between the godparents and godchild. These can be con- 
trasted and compared. 

The relationship between parents and godparents, whether of 
baptism or confirmation, is one of friendliness and mutual regard. 
The godparents are chosen largely on the basis of friendship when 
they are siblings, as well as when they are not related, and even 
when the godparent is of higher social position. The families of 
higher status are not a clique and do not confine their relationships 
out of working hours to their own group. Friendship is an important 
component in the initial relations among compaire and comaire. 

At the same time, the relationships between godparents and 
parents and between godparents and godchildren are treated seri- 
ously. These relationships in no sense belong to the trivial aspects 
of community life. Compadrazgo is a serious institution to the church 
and its representatives on Saipan — the priests and the nuns — and 
it is similarly considered by the people. 

On the other hand, just as the Chamorros have not made a point 
of using compadrazgo to establish a wide network of relationships of 
a personal kind among non-kin, so they have not used the institution 
to establish well-defined reciprocal economic obligations in production 
or exchange. Nor can the compaire relationship among the Chamor- 
ros be considered as a substitute for a widely extended, proliferated 


kinship system. In fact, specific obligations between compaire are 
few and are not sharply patterned. If a man dies, his non-related 
compaire and comaire need not be notified, and they will come to 
his funeral only if they were his close friends. They are under no 
obligation to attend it. If the compaire is related to the deceased 
and the relationship falls within the obligational range of the kinship 
system, he must attend the funeral, but his attendance is an obliga- 
tion of true kinship, not of compadrazgo. What specificity attaches 
to the compaire relationship is primarily derived from the godparent- 
godchild relationship. If the godparent of a man's child dies, the 
man should assuredly go to the funeral if the child is still very young, 
because surviving godchildren must always go to a godparent's 
funeral. This obligation is mutual, for a surviving godparent must 
attend the funeral of his godchild. If the godchild is still small, the 
father goes as an adult substitute for the child, as well as a friend 
of the deceased. Likewise, at the time of marriage of a godchild, 
the godmother will help the parents in the work of preparing for the 
guput fandango, but this is part of her obligation to the godchild. 
Among the Saipan Chamorros it is the godparent-godchild relation- 
ship that is strong and sharply patterned. 

Toward both sets of godparents — those of baptism and those of 
confirmation — a godson or goddaughter observes marked respect be- 
havior. At least once a year the godchild should call on his two sets 
of godparents. The approved time for this call is Christmas or 
New Year's. If the godchild calls on Christmas day, he will 'ninge 
to his godparents, saying "hot" or "hora," wish them SLfelis Pascua, 
and converse politely with them. When the godson is to be married, 
he should call on his godparents to inform them at the time or before 
his parents call on the girl's parents to ask for her hand in marriage 
to their son. A goddaughter may go to her madlina in similar fashion, 
though her parents will notify her padlino. 

Of the two kinds of godparental relationship, however, that with 
the godparents of baptism is stronger and more binding. It is as- 
sociated with greater obligations than is the relationship with the 
godparents of confirmation. At the time of marriage, for instance, 
the godson should call on his padlino hautismo before he calls on the 
padlino confirmacion. The former is obligated to give nearly twice 
as large a gift to the boy's family as the padlino confirmacion. The 
godparents of baptism are generally those referred to when a Cha- 
morro talks of his padlino or madlina. They assume important ob- 
ligations at the time of marriage of their godchildren, whereas the 


godparents of confirmation play only a minor role. If the godparents 
of baptism die before the marriage of the godchild, however, the 
godparents of confirmation step forward to take their place. The god- 
parents of confirmation can be viewed somewhat as "godparents 
in reserve," to be substituted for the godparents of baptism should 
the need arise. 

As every Chamorro will say, the padlino bautismo has the obli- 
gation of being the moral advisor of his godson, and the madlina 
bautismo that of her goddaughter. In the case of a respected padlino, 
the godson may call on his godfather for various sorts of advice. 
Yet in cases where a man has twenty or more godchildren, he will 
not take this day-to-day relation very seriously, for after all the 
godchild's parents bear the first responsibility for his upbringing. 
The same is true for a madlina with many godchildren. The specific 
importance of the relation of godparents of baptism to their god- 
children lies in the role the former play at the times of crisis rites in 
the lives of the godchildren. These roles are well defined and are 
the principal factors in giving the godparent-godchild relationship 
its distinctive character. 

The godparents of baptism first of all play principal roles at the 
baptism of their godchild. The godmother helps dress the child for 
the ceremony and may provide the christening dress. The god- 
parents each give about $10 to the parents at the time of baptism; 
this is an outright gift and not chenchuli. The godfather or god- 
parents may pay the priest for performing the ceremony. Together 
the godfather and godmother take the child to the church and assume 
responsibility for it on this occasion, while the parents remain at 
home. At the maina that takes place several weeks later, the god- 
mother assists the mother. 

At the time of first communion, the godchild calls on his godpar- 
ents after the church service, pays his respects, and receives a small 
gift, while the godparents attend the guput afterward at the house 
of the child's parents. • ■ 

At marriage, godparents of baptism play a very important role. 
They attend the kumplimento, and the godfather of the groom pre- 
sents the gifts of tobacco, betel, and the rest to the parents of the 
bride and asks that the bride come into the sala. He and the god- 
mother may sit with the nobio and nobia in the center of the room. 
Next day, the godparents escort their godchildren to church and 
attend them at the wedding ceremony. The godmother helps with 
the work of the guput fandango. Both godfather and godmother 


have places of honor at the first serving of food. They are each 
expected to give from $15 to $20 or more to their compaire and 
comaire. They receive formal calls from the newly married pair 
after the festivities. Finally, a man or woman always invites his 
godparents of baptism to the marriage party of his or her own child. 
At the party are present not only the godparents of the bride and 
groom but the godparents of the parents as well. At marriage, it 
should be added, the godparents of confirmation play no formal role, 
except that they are invited to the party after the ceremony. 

Death is just as important an event as marriage. If a child dies, 
the godmother of baptism dresses the body, while the godfather is 
responsible for procuring the coffin. Both godparents, as well as 
those of confirmation, must be notified of the death of a godchild, 
particularly if the latter is young. Regardless of the age of the 
deceased, they must come to the funeral and to the lisajo afterward. 
This is a reciprocal obligation. If a padlino or madlina dies, the 
godchild need not be specially notified, but word of a death passes 
quickly around the island, and when the godchild hears the news he 
must drop whatever he is doing, come to the house of the deceased, 
help with the work of the funeral arrangements — a goddaughter will 
help in preparing the food — and attend the funeral services and the 
lisajo afterwards. 

Because of the obligations of godparents and godchild, this rela- 
tionship is the emphasized one, rather than that of compaire and 
comaire. It is the vertical relationship between adjacent generations, 
not the horizontal relationship in the same generation, that is the 
stronger and more sharply patterned. 

In this connection, it should be mentioned that the institution 
of compadrazgo occasionally cuts across the two ethnic groups of 
Chamorros and Carolinians. The Carolinians have a kinship system 
quite different from that of the Chamorros. The former is a genera- 
tion type, with cousins classed as siblings and with the elementary 
family less sharply marked. The Carolinians too have adopted the 
compadrazgo institution as part of Catholicism. Among Carolinians 
the compaire relationship tends to reflect their sibling relationship, 
which is often important in day-to-day economic relationships. 
When the compaire relationship links a Chamorro and a Carolinian, 
it may result in a modification of the usual Chamorro pattern. The 
following instance from field notes is instructive. 

Antonio has eight compuires. One of these is a Carolinian friend, not a 
relative. Several years ago Antonio built himself a house. Without being 


asked, his Carolinian compaire appeared and helped Antonio with the house. 
This summer Antonio is moving to his farm and has just about completed a 
new and substantial house on his farm. By trading labor with a cousin and 
a brother he got assistance for the heavy work. He never thought to ask 
any of his compaire to help. But one day he met his Carolinian compaire 
in Chalan Kanoa. His compaire upbraided him in a friendly way. "Why 
didn't you let me know, Antonio, that you were building a new house? I 
would have helped you." Antonio said that a Chamorro compaire, on the 
basis of this relationship, would not have offered his services in this manner. 
My own observations confirm this. 

In a paper on ritual co-parenthood, Mintz and Wolf (1950) have 
summarized important features of Latin-American compadrazgo and 
offered a number of conclusions of comparative importance. In 
this wider perspective of comparative studies, Chamorro compadrazgo 
on Saipan has the following significant features: 

(1) Godparents are often chosen from the circle of relatives, and 
no attempt has been made by the society to limit godparents to 
non-kin, thereby expanding numerically the number of persons with 
whom one maintains personal, kin-like relations. 

(2) On Saipan, there is no proliferation of the kinds of compad- 
razgo, such as Gillin (1945) found at Moche, for which he describes 
fourteen forms of compadrazgo. Also, the Saipan Chamorros have 
not elaborated the institution so that it serves as a basis for a complex 
series of reciprocal obligations in the day-to-day economic organi- 
zation of production and exchange. On Saipan, compadrazgo is 
primarily associated with the ritual and secular celebration of crisis 

(3) Mintz and Wolf (1950, p. 355), citing particularly the Moche 
case, state that "while the custom [of compadrazgo] derives primarily 
from a conception of spiritual parenthood, modern Latin American 
emphasis seems to be rather on ritual co-parenthood; the compadre- 
compadre relationship outweighs the godparent-godchild relation- 
ship." On Saipan, the emphasis is the other way around. It is the 
godparent-godchild relationship that is more sharply patterned and 
that carries more specific obligations. 

(4) Mintz and Wolf (1950, p. 364) further conclude: "In cases 
where the community is a self-contained class, or tribally homo- 
geneous, compadrazgo is prevailingly horizontal (intra-class) in char- 
acter. In cases where the community contains several inter-acting 
classes, compadrazgo will structure such relationships vertically (in- 
ter-class)." The Saipan Chamorros are homogeneous in that every 
adult is conscious of Chamorro culture as a set of traditional customs 


whose principal characteristics are generally agreed upon. The Sai- 
pan Chamorros are not homogeneous in that there is considerable 
variation in the amount of formal education received by different 
individuals, in the degree of literacy, in land-holdings, and, particu- 
larly before the war, in wealth. Social status, in the sense of being 
higher or lower, is very important, but it pertains to a grading of 
families, not to socially defined classes. A well-defined class system 
can hardly be said to exist among the Saipan Chamorros, granted 
the differences among families and individuals. Compadrazgo is 
likewise not clearly either horizontal (intra-class) or vertical (inter- 
class). Compaires are often of the same degree of wealth, education, 
and social position, whether high or low. On the other hand, persons 
of admittedly high status often have a great many godchildren, 
frequently from families of lower status. The parent who selects a 
godparent of higher status than himself is — given the emphases in 
the system — opening the way for a future personal relationship be- 
tween his child and the godparent, rather than establishing a new, 
economically and socially important relationship for himself, al- 
though a compaire of higher status always adds "tone" to a baptism, 
wedding, communion, or confirmation party. Thus the Saipan Cha- 
morros do not provide a clear-cut case against which to test Mintz 
and Wolf's statement. 

(5) It is my suspicion that Chamorro compadrazgo is closer to 
Spanish practice than to that of Latin-American communities. Re- 
garding the comparative significance of compadrazgo in Spain and 
in the New World, Foster (1951, p. 321) notes: "In Hispanic America 
this is one of the most important features of social organization, 
with significant economic, religious, and emotional overtones. In 
Spain, it is (and from all evidence was) of moderate importance, 
invoked in the baptism and marriage of the individual, usually kept 
within the family, and relegated to the category of one of a number 
of routine rites de passage." 

On Saipan, compadrazgo as an institution may be more stressed 
than in Spain, but there seem to be more marked similarities in 
form to the Spanish practice than to that of Latin America. A 
decision on the question awaits clarification of the nature of the 
institution in Spain. 

XXL Conclusion 

Chamorro Kinship System as a Type 

It remains to summarize the principal characteristics of the Cha- 
morro kinship system as a type, in order to facihtate comparison 
with other societies. By the kinship system is meant not merely 
kinship terminology alone, for this is but one aspect of the system. 
Nor are the social usages associated with the system, in the sense 
that Eggan (1951, p. 4) has defined "social usage" ("behavior pat- 
terns expectable between different individuals or groups under given 
conditions"), of primary importance in themselves. Rather it is 
the principal structural features of the Chamorro kinship system, as 
a system of social relations, that need to be isolated and generalized 
in order to make the preceding analysis of use in a comparative 
framework. To me, the following characteristics of the Chamorro 
system seem particularly important: 

(1) The strength of the nuclear or elementary family. This is 
the residence unit, the production unit in agricultural activity, and 
the consumption unit. It is a significant factor in land tenure, in 
that the holdings of real property of a man and his wife are divided 
among their children. The elementary family is the reciprocating 
unit in the system of reciprocal giving of gifts and services — chenchuli, 
ika, and ajudo — associated with crisis rites. It is the unit assuming 
obligations of attendance at the secular festivities associated with 
crisis rites. These rites themselves support and emphasize the social 
solidarity and unitary nature of the elementary family. Marriage 
removes a couple from the immediate authority of their parents and 
establishes the necessary condition for the formation of the couple's 
own family of procreation. Baptism, first communion, and con- 
firmation all emphasize the importance of the elementary family. 
The death of the parents signifies the dissolution of the family and 
the termination of its existence as a unit in reciprocal kinship 

(2) The kinship terminology reflects this importance of the ele- 
mentary family. The referential terminology separates parents from 



their siblings and grandparents from theirs; own sibUngs from cousins, 
and own chikh'en from the children of siblings. The terminological 
emphasis is on the vertical linkage between the family of orientation 
and that of procreation. 

(3) The kinship system is rather widely extended, in contrast 
to urban Western society where the elementary family is also em- 
phasized as the principal kinship grouping. The extension of terms 
and obligations is bilateral, and although a familial surname group 
exists, on the basis of the inheritance of the surname through the 
male line, the extension of terms and obligations is not skewed by 
the presence of the surname group. The kinship terminology is 
presumed to include third cousins and theoretically could be ex- 
tended indefinitely. However, the observed terminological range is 
actually slightly narrower than the presumed extension to third 
cousins, while a distinction can be made between the extension of 
terms and the extension of obligations, with the obligational range 
somewhat narrower than the terminological range. The kinship 
range is also a fluctuating type, in that kinship extensions take 
effect primarily at times of crisis rites rather than in ordinary, day- 
to-day living. The extension of the kinship system is maintained 
through time by the operation of reciprocal gifts and services on 
the occasions of crisis rites. 

(4) Formal, dyadic behavior patterns largely express attitudes 
of respect toward relatives in ascending generations. In this latter 
group, the manhaina — in particular, the parents, grandparents, 
godparents, uncles and aunts with their spouses — are of special im- 
portance. On marriage, a person acquires a set of affinal manhaina 
to which he extends the respect behavior he accords his own nian- 
naina. On the other hand, there are no formalized joking and 
avoidance relations. 

(5) There are no clans, either exogamous or non-exogamous, 
named or unnamed. Some lineal emphasis is found in the presence 
of the patrilineal, surname group, but the significance of this group 
is much modified by the strength of bilateral ties. 

(6) The family and the kinship system, as a whole, is closely 
related to religious organization through the ritual performance and 
religious sanction given crisis rites, particularly those of baptism, 
marriage, and death. The secular celebration of religious occasions 
is more elaborated in connection with crisis rites than with the 
fiestas .set by the church calendar. The secular celebration of crisis 
rites is furthermore the obligation of family and kinfolk rather than 


of the community. Ritual kinship, in the form of compadrazgo, 
affects every individual. 

Spanish Influence on the Chamorro Kinship System 

The influence of Spain in refashioning the Chamorro kinship 
system has been noted in the first part of this report. Certain details 
are given further examination here. 

Spanish influence on Chamorro social organization was both ob- 
literative and substitutive. Old characteristics disappeared, and 
introduced patterns were substituted for old ones. Our knowledge 
of pre-contact Chamorro social organization is actually so slight that 
a detailed reconstruction of the former society is impossible. In 
general, we know that the Chamorros possessed matriclans or 
lineages; had a well-defined class system that may have tended 
toward endogamy, at least among the nobles; and possibly had 
extended families as residence units. A certain amount of material 
on matters such as the wide leeway permitted in pre-marital sex 
relations is recorded, but the specific social functions of matriclans 
are unknown. 

In assessing the degree of Spanish influence, recourse must be 
had to similarities to Hispanic patterns in Spain and Latin America, 
and to social usages and elements that are conceptualized through 
Spanish loan words. Thus compadrazgo as an institution is clearly 
identified with Roman Catholicism and is also associated with lin- 
guistic borrowing of terms for the social concepts involved. 

The positive elements introduced include most of the kinship 
terminology, the specific ritual forms of the major crisis rites, and 
some of the social usages that give definition and emphasis to the 
elementary family. The use of surnames, the social position of padre 
de jamilia and madre de familia, the authoritarian position of the 
former, the strict disciplining of children, inhibitions in relations 
between the unmarried of opposite sex — all are probably due to 
Spanish influence. Also due to this influence are the individual 
ownership of land and the custom of partido, or division of parental 
landholdings among the children. Compadrazgo as well as family 
novenas are of course also Spanish. The introduction of these pat- 
terns was accompanied by the disappearance of class and maternal 
descent, whatever tendency toward extended families as residence 
units that may have existed, and any formalized joking and avoid- 
ance relations that may have prevailed and that are commonly 
found in other parts of Micronesia. Although Thompson (1947, 


p. 51) reports traces of matrilineal descent surviving on Guam, 
specifically the matrilineal inheritance of surnames, there is no evi- 
dence of this on Saipan, unless it be the case of illegitimate children. 

What does seem to be a Chamorro inheritance is the system of 
reciprocal giving of gifts and services among relatives — the system 
of ajudo, chenchuli, and ika- as well as the social importance of 
kinship as such in the life of the community. Here there seems to 
be a carry-over from old times, though many associated social usages 
are undoubtedly Spanish. 

The principal Spanish contact agents responsible for altering the 
kinship system were undoubtedly the priests, and the principal me- 
dium through which change occurred was probably the church. 
However, Spanish lay individuals no doubt also played a role. Those 
who married Chamorro women may well have introduced the indi- 
vidual ownership of land and the custom of the partido. 

Contemporary Kinship Change 

The evidence for contemporary change in the Chamorro kinship 
system must be based largely on the testimony of groups of inform- 
ants of different age levels. Such evidence must be treated with 
caution, for past conditions as remembered by older persons tend to 
assume a rosy hue with the passage of the years. Nevertheless, the 
kinship system does appear to be changing with respect to two 
features: (1) its range; and (2) the relation between adjacent genera- 
tions, in particular that between parents and children. Each of 
these aspects of change is commented upon below. 

In discussing the subject of the assumed obligational range of 
the kinship system with older informants, I found that they generally 
extended the range of obligations farther than younger adults, to 
include either all second cousins, or, in specific illustrations, more of 
them. Also, older informants stressed the importance of keeping an 
exact record of chenchuli obligations, whereas some of the younger 
adults were considerably more casual in their attitude. Lastly, al- 
though there is no documentary proof of the fact, I suspect that 
the differences exhibited by obligational and terminological ranges, 
in their assumed and observed aspects, are at least partly due to a 
gradual retraction in the range of the system. Now that house- 
thatching and house-building are no longer the occasions for a 
gathering of relatives in co-operative work, the obligational range of 
the system does not take effect as frequently as was formerly the 
case. Change in the kinship systems of societies undergoing accul- 


turation is often marked by a retraction in the range of kinship, 
and I beheve this same process is operative among the Chamorros. 

Changes are also occurring in the relations of parents and children. 
The authority of the padre defamilia was considerably more stressed 
by older informants, who felt that it was once greater than now. 
The previously cited statement of Arago (p. 279) bears this out. 
The shortening of the engagement period before marriage and the 
greater freedom of girls from parental chaperonage are likewise in- 
dications that the relationship of parents and children is tending 
toward greater freedom of individual action on the part of young 
unmarried adults. On the other hand, taking the island as a whole, 
there remains a marked stability in Chamorro familial and kinship 
organization. There certainly is no widespread familial disorgani- 

The persistence of structural patterns in Chamorro kinship is 
partly due to the buttressing of these patterns by the church, par- 
ticularly through the maintenance of crisis rites. There is also a 
strong element of tradition that finds its sharpest definition in the 
family and the relations of kinfolk; and in the ongoing process of 
the transmission of tradition within the family, the strength of this 
tradition itself strikes the observer as being a stabilizing element in 
the perpetuation of the kinship structure. 

In connection with kinship change, mention should be made of 
juvenile delinquency. This is a community problem that exists 
among both Chamorro and Carolinian groups. During the period 
of observation, fifteen Chamorro boys between the ages of 15 and 
18, and six between the ages of 12 and 15 had either been suspected 
with good reason or apprehended by the constabulary for thefts of 
small sums of money or beer, principally from stores. A number of 
cases of vandalism were also reported. Most of these boys exhibited 
a disinclination to work and spent most of their hours loafing and 
riding around in jeeps. Without an intensive case history of each 
individual in this group — data which I do not possess — it is impos- 
sible to make a valid general statement of the relation of this form 
of juvenile delinquency to family structure and kinship change. A 
few points, however, can be mentioned. It is the obligation of Cha- 
morro parents to feed unmarried children. Though older children 
might be neglected, they would not be forcibly turned out of the 
home. So delinquents can generally count on food at least. In 
three of the cases, the children had been "spoiled" by their parents, 
according to American or Chamorro standards; my Chamorro friends 


strongly felt that the parents of these boys were not strict enough 
and considered these cases as deviating from the traditional norm. 
In two of the three cases, the fathers, like the sons, were no ornaments 
to the community as far as drinking, lack of industry, and theft 
were concerned, and they had consistently neglected their children. 
In probably most of the cases of delinquency there were maladjust- 
ments in family life. Yet it is doubtful that juvenile delinquency 
can be related in the Chamorro case to any general trend in kinship 
change. The problem is larger and must take into account the com- 
munity as a whole, the unsettling influence of the war and American 
occupation, and a certain resulting confusion in values. Some in- 
formants attributed the difficulties to the introduction of movies, 
while the lads who preferred to spend their time driving around in 
jeeps were commonly referred to as "cowboys." 

Juvenile delinquency among young women and older girls is 
much lower. Its primary expression is prostitution. In 1949 there 
were approximately ten Chamorro prostitutes, the number dropping 
by more than half in 1950 as American enlisted personnel left the 
island. In all cases there had been a marked lack of parental con- 
trol. Within the Chamorro community itself, prostitution would 
be unimportant. 

Despite the occurrence of delinquency, for the island as a whole, 
it is my impression that there remains a marked stability in Cha- 
morro familial and kinship organization. There certainly is no evi- 
dence that general familial disorganization has followed the strains 
of war and economic instability. Beals (1952, p. 230) has recently 
commented on differential acculturation in Mexico and noted that 
a sector of culture he terms los costumhres evidences most resistance 
to change. In Chamorro culture, the same phenomenon is found. 
Among the Chamorros, the pattern of family relationships and the 
activities which give this pattern definition belong to their own 
los costumhres. 


XXIL The Carolinian Comm 


In the introductory chapter of this account and in other sections, 
certain differences between the Chamorro and CaroHnian divisions 
of Saipan's population have been briefly described. The cultural 
contrasts between the two groups stem from their separate ethnic 
traditions and from the very long period of exposure to western 
and Japanese peoples and cultures experienced by the Chamorros, 
as opposed to the much shorter period of contact experienced by 
the Carolinians. Although the Carolinians share a common religious, 
political, and administrative organization with the Chamorros, and 
although they are more acculturated than their cousins remaining 
in the Carolines, the Saipan Carolinians are nevertheless a separate 
community on Saipan. In Chalan Kanoa, the Carolinians live in 
their own quarter; marriage between the Carolinians and Chamorros 
is not frequent; the Carolinians preserve their own language for use 
among themselves; their friends and associates are primarily Caro- 
linians; and they are very conscious of their own traditions and 
cultural background. The purpose of this final part of the mono- 
graph is to analyze certain features of Carolinian social organization 
that serve to set off the Carolinians from the numerically superior 
and socially dominant Chamorros. 

Saipan Carolinian Origins 

The Saipan Carolinians still preserve the memories of their is- 
lands of origin. On the basis of informants' testimony, the main 
body of the Saipan group migrated from atolls lying just to the west 
and north of Truk: Namonuito, Pulusuk, Lamotrek, Elato, Satawal, 
Tamatam, and Puluwat. 

Two of the principal islands of the Namonuito group are Pisaras 
and Onoun. The migrants from Pisaras settled Tanapag village, 
after a sojourn on Tinian. After Tanapag was destroyed by the 
invasion a number of families remained in Chalan Kanoa, but others 
moved back to Tanapag in an effort to rebuild the village. Mi- 
grants from Onoun, however, moved in with the Garapan Caro- 
linians and now most of them live in Chalan Kanoa. 



During the Gorman period, the devastation caused by the ty- 
phoons of 1905 and IHOT in the Carolines necessitated the removal 
of groups of islanders from the Oleai and Mortlock (Nomoi) groups, 
and from Pingelap and Sonsorol, to Saipan. Most of these people 
were later returned. However, on Saipan there are a few individuals 
who, though incorporated into the main body of Carolinians, trace 
their ancestry, or themselves came, from the following islands: Truk, 
Yap, Palau, Ifalik, Ulithi, Faroulep, Oleai, Sorol, Ngulu, Mortlock 
(Nomoi), Sonsorol, and Ponape. 

The Saipan Carolinians speak a single language, though minor 
dialectical differences exist between the groups in Tanapag and 
Chalan Kanoa. No adequate linguistic studies have been made, 
but the language is presumably a stabilized version of the dialects 
spoken in the Pulusuk-Puluwat-Satawal-Namonuito area. Fritz 
(1911, p. 7) noted that the Saipan Carolinian language contained a 
wealth of synonymous words and found that Saipan Carolinian in- 
terpreters, using the Saipan dialect, were possessed of a better 
medium of communication in the atolls west of Truk than were 
individuals from single atolls in this group. 

The Community House 

When the Carolinians established themselves on Saipan, they 
brought with them a typical Carolinian institution, the community 
house. In Damm's description of Pulusuk house types, a distinction 
is made between the community house and the canoe house, though 
their construction was much the same. The former was the center 
of village life and the place of village assembly; the latter served 
not only to shelter large canoes but also as a sleeping place for young 
unmarried men and visiting men (Damm, Hambriich, and Sarfert, 
1935, pp. 115 ff. ). On Saipan these two house types coalesced into 
a single form, the ut. 

The Saipan Carolinian ut disintegrated in Japanese times, but 
in the period just before their final abandonment, there were four ut 
in Garapan and one at Tanapag. They were all large, well-built, 
thatched-roof buildings located along the lagoon shore. The Caro- 
linians of Garapan were divided into ward-like districts, each of 
which had its own ut. The ut had names, those of the Garapan 
houses being, from north to south, falamagut, faltago, lugan, and 
falso. According to informants, falamagut split off from faltago about 
the year 1917, over a division of opinion as to the succession of the 
chieftainshif) of the faltago ut. 


The 7(t had no walls, but the low eaves of the roof afforded pro- 
tection against driving rains. The floor was the sand on which the 
house was built. At the height of the wall plate, the east half of 
the 2it was floored to provide a second story, or loft, where the 
young unmarried men slept. The west half of the structure was 
unfloored ; here fishing nets and other gear could be hung. 

Apart from its use as a dormitory for unmarried men and boys, 
the uf served a variety of functions. It was a work place for the men, 
married and single. In the ut they made fish nets and worked on 
canoes. The tit was the place of general assembly for all the members 
of the district associated with the ut. In it were held all political 
and judicial meetings, as well as the social occasions at which the 
striking Carolinian dances were performed. Although women did 
not frequent the ut in the daily routine of life, and in fact were not 
normally permitted in the building, on special occasions they were 
present as well as the men. 

As a social institution, rather than merely as a building, the ut 
was the nexus of political, economic, and festal life. For each ut there 
was a male chief isamol) and a set of male lesser chiefs or elders 
(repi), who in Japanese times numbered from six to fourteen, de- 
pending on the ut. Major communal activities centering in the ut 
were under the direction of the chief and the elders. The chieftain- 
ship descended within the limits of a single maternal clan; the suc- 
cession of repi offices is now difficult to ascertain and no definite 
statement can be made. 

The ut organization functioned importantly in political and ju- 
dicial activities. Matters involving the interests of the district 
were debated in the ut by the samol and his repi, and decisions were 
reached by these men. Offenses against the moral code were likewise 
heard by the assembled saiiiol and repi and penalties meted out. As 
in most Micronesian communities, offenses against life seem to have 
been rare; none were recorded for the Saipan Carolinians. More 
frequent were cases of theft, the punishment for which has been 
observed by middle-aged and elderly Carolinians. A suspected thief 
was brought before the samol and repi and his case debated. If the 
man was judged guilty, he was tied to one of the main posts of the 
ut. The relatives of the guilty man -particularly clan members — 
then had to bring gifts of handicraft and, in later times, money. 
These were placed before the chief. It was necessary for the relatives 
to continue bringing gifts until the chief judged the amount sufficient. 
These gifts were, in effect, ransom for the guilty man, and after 


they had been placed before the chief he would allow the guilty man 
to be untied. All the ransom would be given the injured party, or a 
part would be retained for communal ut occasions. The whole pro- 
cedure of punishment took place at a general assembly of the ut 
members, and much of the effectiveness of the punishment derived 
from its public nature and the shame attached not only to the guilty 
man, but also to his relatives and clan mates. A recorded instance, 
as told by a man who had been punished in this manner, is given 

When I was a boy of about sixteen, I did not return a large basket I had 
borrowed from Jose Q., who was a Chamorro but was respected and Hked by- 
all Carolinians, because he knew our customs and understood us. Jose com- 
plained to the repi of my ut. When I heard that Jose had complained I grew 
afraid and ran off to my parents' farm. The chief told the ut "policemen" 
to get me, and so they came to the farm and took me to the ut. There I 
was tied to a post in the customary way. My relatives had to place 200 yen 
before the chief and repi before I was released. This money the repi then gave 
to Jose. Jose said he did not wish to take the money, but the repi refused 
to take it back and insisted that Jose accept it, which he reluctantly did. 

According to informants, during the German regime. Governor 
Fritz thought well of this custom for punishing theft, and it was 
sanctioned by the German authorities. The custom, however, 
passed out during the ensuing Japanese period, partly because the 
Japanese officials wished to assume all responsibility for punishment 
of offenses, and no doubt partly because the ut was a dying institu- 
tion. The last instance I recorded of a man's being tied to a post 
in the id occurred in 1926. 

The ut organization also played an important role in economic 
life. At periodic intervals, the chief would announce that all men 
would gather for fishing. The catch would then be divided among 
all the families attached to the ut, or would be cooked and eaten by 
all together, as the climax to a communal job such as re-thatching 
the ut or making a large fish-net. The ut provided the normal 
working place for the men. In the old days, the school for young 
pilots was held in the ut, and it was the locale for entertaining visitors 
and holding feasts. 

Dances were held in the ut. The Carolinians were extremely 
fond of dances, their principal form of esthetic achievement. The 
young learned these dances from watching men and women and 
older brothers and .sisters perform. The ut was the center for this 
type of artistic activity, which gave color and to Carolinian 


The Carolinian ut as an institution declined during the Japanese 
period, and all the Garapan ut buildings were finally abandoned 
and torn down before World War II. The legal and political func- 
tions of the ut organization were assumed by the Japanese admin- 
istration. As Saipan was developed economically by the Japanese, 
wage-work opened for Carolinians and men's work tended to become 
more individualized and more closely related to money compensation 
■ — an economic change that may well have acted to weaken the ut 
as a co-ordinating agent in men's work. Today the ut is only a 
memory, remarked on fondly by older men, who contrast the place 
of the ut as a center of attraction where young men combined work 
and amusement and where boys learned the essentials of right con- 
duct, with the beer-halls, pool-parlors, and movies, where the boys 
now go for amusement. 

Survivals, however, persist. In 1947, a Carolinian meeting house 
was built in Chalan Kanoa by the Carolinians and it bears the same 
name as the traditional structure. Only infrequently, however, is 
the meeting house used as such. Most of the time it is merely a 
playground for young Carolinian children. 

Carolinian dances are still occasionally performed, and performed 
expertly, even though adults remark that the young no longer ex- 
press as much desire to learn them. The stimulus to holding these 
dances now, however, comes from outside the Carolinian community, 
as it did during the last years of the Japanese regime, when the 
Carolinians staged dances for the prominent Japanese officials, who 
in recompense provided food and tobacco for the performers. During 
my own period of field work, Carolinian dances were held only 
twice: (1) as part of the secular celebration following the dedication 
of the new Chalan Kanoa church; and (2) at the time of the visit 
of a United Nations inspection party. In the first case, the padre 
suggested that a dance would be appropriate; in the second, the 
mayor of the municipality suggested the occasion. Although the 
fondness for dancing is still strong and perhaps is half-consciously 
clung to as the only indigenous form of artistic achievement that 
exists in the Saipan community, which is otherwise virtually devoid 
of artistic forms of expression, it seems doubtful that the vitality 
of Carolinian dancing will long endure. The Chamorros tend to 
regard it as "uncivilized," and as the Carolinians become more 
acculturated they may adopt a similar attitude. 

The most important survival associated with the community 
house is on a less tangible level. Joseph and Murray (1951, pp. 


70 ff.) have commented on the communal feeling of the Carolinians. 
In comparison with Chamorros, the Carolinians display less indi- 
vidualism and less individual desire to raise material standards of 
living. Wealth as well as status differences associated with wealth 
are much less sharply marked. At the same time, co-operative 
activities are common. Friends and relatives frequently volunteer 
to help another Carolinian build a house or complete a job requiring 
more than one man's work. If a house is to be built, a Carolinian 
carpenter often does not ask for a fee, particularly if the house is 
that of a relative. Boats are borrowed and lent. Food is never 
denied another Carolinian. Carolinian medicine men freely offer 
their services in administering to the sick. The Saipan Fishing 
Company, though suffering from management difficulties, never 
really lacked the co-operation of Carolinian fishermen. Carolinian 
women still cultivate a communal taro plot. The Carolinians have 
a strong feeling of group identity. 

These co-operative activities are not, of course, survivals of the 
community house, but rather manifestations of the feeling of unity 
that expressed itself in the group activities associated with the ut. 
Though the latter is gone there is marked persistence of sentiments 
and attitudes that act to bind the Carolinian community together. 
Formerly, status differences among the Saipan Carolinians were 
based largely on the system of chiefs and elders, while men with 
special competence in navigation, canoe-making, medicine, and magic 
also enjoyed prestige. Though chiefly lines did maintain superior 
status, the atoll societies from which most of the Saipan Carolinians 
were drawn seem not to have been highly stratified. The same 
condition prevailed on Saipan. 

Today, status differences are not sharply marked, and there is a 
minimum of internal differentiation on status lines within the Caro- 
linian community. The male leaders are largely those who the 
Carolinians feel can cope best with present unsettled conditions — 
men with some knowledge of English and of local political affairs. 
Even in later Japanese times the principal Carolinian man was not 
of chiefly descent, but rather knew Japanese and the Japanese admin- 
istration and was the intermediary between the latter and the Caro- 
linians. Although he is no longer active in political affairs, he is 
often spoken of by the Carolinians as one of their prominent men. 
At the present time, the Carolinians are relatively homogeneous as 
regards occupation, economic status, amount of formal schooling, 
and knowledge of Carolinian custom, and a class structure cannot 
be said to exist among them. 


Carolinian Kinship 

The social organization of the Carolinians offers a marked con- 
trast to that of the Chamorros in the way in which kinship relations 
are organized and in the formal aspects of kin groups. Among the 
Carolinians, the extensions of kinship are of more pervading impor- 
tance in day-to-day life and in routine co-operative activities. The 
remainder of this report consists of an analysis of contemporary 
Carolinian kinship, from which spring many of the more significant 
characteristics of the Carolinian community. 

XXIIL Matnlineal Kin Groups 

Among the Saipan Carolinians there are two types of matri- 
lineal kin group: the clan and the lineage. Neither of these appears 
to have the vitality it once possessed. The characteristics of clan 
and lineage are described below. 

Maternal Clan 

On Saipan the maternal clan is a group consisting of individuals 
of both sexes who count descent through the maternal line and 
believe they are all related, though an actual genealogical relation- 
ship usually cannot be demonstrated. Each clan has a name and 
is traditionally exogamous. 

Although some of the young people were uncertain of their clan 
affiliation and had to check with an older relative when questioned, 
only one Carolinian adult was completely ignorant of clan affiliation, 
and this person was an orphan. Clan names are still remembered 
and are passed down to the young. Often, however, an adult will 
know his own clan but will be ignorant of more than one or two other 
clan names. 

As a social unit, the clan is called an ainang. The recorded 
names of the Carolinian clans are given in the following list. 












HI to 








So far as could be ascertained, these clans had no chiefs and held 
no land, although one clan, sauwalei, is the one from whom the 
chiefs isamol) of the falamagut and higan community houses in Gara- 
pan were drawn and with whom the acknowledged leader of the Caro- 
linians during later Japanese times was affiliated. There are no clan 
chiefs today, or clan lands, or clan meetings, or clan co-operative 



activities. In former times, the clan functioned to extend hospitality, 
as when the crews of visiting canoes were provided for by their clan 
mates on Saipan, but this kind of event lies well in the past. 

To judge from the seriousness with which elderly Carolinians 
discussed the matter, the clan was until recently exogamous. Neither 
marriages nor casual sexual relations were permitted between mem- 
bers of the same clan. Kinship terms were extended to all members 
of one's own clan and they were all considered related. Today, the 
situation is by no means the same. There are at least three intra- 
clan marriages and I found few young Carolinians who would con- 
sider the former exogamy a bar to either sex relations or marriage 
with a person of the same clan. There is in this matter a very marked 
contrast between old people and young adults in the way in which 
clan exogamy is regarded. Although there is no accepted, negative 
social sanction against those who break clan exogamy, elderly in- 
formants were most positive in their expressed attitudes against such 
infractions of custom, whereas young adults regarded clanship as an 
interesting part of Carolinian tradition but of minor significance in 
their lives. 

The clan is today a traditional entity with little or no actual 
function, but the ban on sex relations and marriage seems to have 
been the property longest retained and last to disappear. On Saipan, 
the lingering sentiments against sex relations within the clan bear 
on the general problem of incest regulations. Although it is obvious 
that incest within the nuclear or elementary family is not the same 
as sexual intercourse between members of an exogamous clan, it is 
not difficult to find societies where there is a strong aversion to sex 
relations among clan mates and where strong negative sanctions 
are applied to offenders. In cases where clan organization is breaking 
down, as on Saipan, attitudes against clan incest are among the last 
properties of the clan to disappear. At the same time, when clans 
cease to be functional and when an increasing number of clan mates 
have casual sex relations or enter into formal marriage, I have per- 
sonally never found that parties to this breaking with custom were 
bothered by the fact. The decline of clan organization among so- 
cieties such as the Saipan Carolinians is one further bit of evidence 
that incest regulations have a social and cultural basis rather than 
an instinctive one, and that when an exogamous group loses its 
social functions exogamy itself also eventually disappears. 

In summary, the maternal clan on Saipan today exists primarily 
as an element of Carolinian tradition rather than as a fully func- 
tioning social group. 


Maternal Lineage 

Of more importance in the contemporary scene is the maternal 
lineage. For the purposes of this report, the maternal lineage is 
defined as a group whose members trace descent In the maternal 
line from a known ancestor by virtue of a known genealogical rela- 
tionship. The Saipan Carolinians today are not particularly con- 
cerned with genealogy and seldom go back more than two or three 
ascending generations in tracing relationships. Maximal lineages 
among the Saipan Carolinians do not cover a span of more than 
five generations (usually two above and two below a hypothetical 
ego). Socially, furthermore, these maximal lineages are not very 
significant. A minimal lineage whose core is a grandmother-mother- 
daughter line is much more important, for these minimal lineages 
still have relevance to land tenure and formerly had to residence. 
Even then, the minimal lineage can not always be sharply differen- 
tiated from larger and more inclusive maximal lineages, because in 
some cases the actual functioning group may expand beyond the 
minimal lineage; in other cases it will not. For this reason, I have 
not differentiated the lineage into smaller component lineal units, or 
descent lines, in Goodenough's usage (Goodenough, 1951, pp. 65 ff.). 

The lineage is unnamed and has no formal head. Each clan is 
composed of a series of lineages, though in the case of one small 
clan all the members can trace an actual genealogical relationship, 
and hence the maximal lineage and clan coincide. 

Although the nineteenth century social organization of the major 
home atolls of the Saipan Carolinians is only sketchily known, the 
data gathered during the German period of administration, as well as 
Murdock and Goodenough's (1947) recent studies of Truk, an island 
complex which greatly influenced the atolls to the west, demonstrate 
that lineage groups are highly important functional units in the 
social organization of this area. On Saipan today, lineages have 
declined in social significance, a fact that can be demonstrated 
within the Saipan community alone. The important point in any 
analysis of contemporary Saipan Carolinian social structure is the 
extent to which lineality as a principle, rather than as manifest in 
clearly constituted descent groups with well-defined functions, tends 
to survive. Rather than devote further space at this point to lineage 
groups per se, I shall reserve further discussion of lineality to those 
aspects of Carolinian life where it is most relevant, namely, in resi- 
dence patterns, family organization, and land tenure. 

XXIV. The Household 

The residential group among the Saipan Carolinians is the house- 
hold, which usually consists of an elementary, or nuclear, family. 
Each household has its own living house, with a separate cook-house 
adjacent to it. 

Size and Composition of Households 

A census was taken of fifty Carolinian households in the Caro- 
linian district of Chalan Kanoa. This sample accounted for slightly 
less than one-quarter of the Carolinian population, but it is probably 
representative for the group as a whole. On the basis of the sample, 
the average size of the Carolinian household is 4.82 persons. 

Saipan Carolinian Household Size 

S[o. of persons 


uency of 

Total no. 

in household 


of persons 



- 12 

























Total 50 241 

Although most households consist of a nuclear family of husband, 
wife, and children, there are survivals of a matrilocal extended 
family organization that at one time was the prevailing form of 
residential kin group. Thus, in three cases that were recorded, 
married sisters were living with their spouses in a single household. 
Also, every household does not have its own farmhouse, and some- 
times married sisters, though living apart in the village, will share 
a farmhouse. Finally, there is one case of a group of seven nuclear 
families, all related through the female line, who moved out of Chalan 
Kanoa to a tract of farm land and are working this land as a co- 



operative group. These occurrences are facets of what was once a 
strong Hneage emphasis that controlled the composition of residence 
groups among the Saipan Carolinians. 

The traditional Saipan Carolinian residence unit was an extended 
family, based on matrilocal marriage. The core of this unit was a 
line of women mothers and daughters who owned the house, held 
title to much of the farm land, and controlled the household budget. 
This type of family organization prevailed on Saipan until World 
War II. It is therefore possible to plot its breakdown through use 
of the genealogical method. 

A sample of ten pre-war households in Garapan was taken and 
their composition determined for the year 1940. These households 
were all extended families, ranging in size from 11 to 37 persons. 
Despite the large size of some of these families, in only one case 
were they extended beyond the minimal lineage of three or four 
consanguineous generations of mothers and daughters. In the single 
exception, a maternal, parallel cousin — a female — of the oldest 
generation of women in the household was also a member of the 
group. Marriage was overwhelmingly matrilocal. Of the 51 mar- 
riages in the ten households, where both spouses were living and 
residing together, 45 were matrilocal. The remaining six were patri- 
local and are to be explained by a variety of circumstances. In one 
case, the wife came from Truk and had no kinfolk on Saipan. In 
another case, the wife was a poor orphan with no sisters and no 
house. In the other cases, the actual circumstances can no longer 
be reconstructed satisfactorily, though emotional attachment of the 
boy for his own parents was a factor in at least two instances. Each 
of these ten extended families lived in a single living house, with a 
single cook-house, and used a single farmhouse. 

Ten years later, with Garapan destroyed and with all the material 
possessions of these families gone, a new pattern of residence had 
emerged. Not including the marriages of sons during the ten-year 
period and the resulting establishment of their families, the ten pre- 
war households have now split up into 42 independent households, 
ranging in size from two to ten persons. Each of these households 
has its own living house and cook-house, though not its own farm- 
house. Marriage today is temporarily matrilocal, most husbands 
and wives attempting to set up their own households as soon as 
they commence to raise a family. 

There has consequently been a breakdown of the Carolinian ex- 
tended family as a residence unit in the Carolinian community as a 


whole. The factors involved in this breakdown are not entirely 
clear. One puzzling feature is the rapidity with which the process 
took place, for it occurred as soon as new housing became available 
after the invasion. The American Military Government officers en- 
couraged each nuclear family to have its own house, but if the matri- 
local extended family had had real vitality it would have persisted 
in at least an appreciable number of cases. It seems probable that 
in the years immediately preceding the war the extended family was 
held together as a residence unit primarily by the housing shortage 
in Garapan. The town was congested, houses were at a premium, 
and building materials were scarce. This situation encouraged the 
continuance of the extended family unit. 

A principal point of examination in the break-up of the matri- 
local extended family lies in the diminishing importance of the ma- 
ternal lineage as the core of this family organization. According to 
informants, the female members of the lineage owned the house. The 
lineage was furthermore a corporate group holding title to lineage 
land. Males married to female lineage members worked this lineage 
land and also supported the matrilocal family by fishing. Through 
most of the nineteenth century, Saipan did not have a full money 
economy, and off-island sale of local products was not of great sig- 
nificance. Beginning about the turn of the century, copra became 
more important as a product of sale, and money as a medium of 
exchange made a greater penetration of the island economy; also, 
the German homestead plan was designed primarily for the benefit 
of nuclear families, and elderly Carolinians said that the German 
administration encouraged young people to build their own separate 
houses when they married. In the ensuing Japanese period, periodic 
wage-work for Carolinians became possible, money became of in- 
creasing importance in the economic system, and land was rented 
and in the latter part of the period sold to Japanese. These changes 
in the island economy seem to have weakened the economic basis of 
the matrilocal extended family and the lineage around which it 
was built, and favored the nuclear family. I suspect that the pre- 
vious subsistence economy and the importance of the lineage as a 
corporation controlling land resources were important bases of the 
extended family. Unfortunately, the details of the breakdown of 
this family organization are not clear. The Saipan Carolinians 
provide one more example of the disintegration of extended families 
as residence units, and high-light our ignorance of just how this 
process takes place. 


Houses, House-Building, and Household Routine 

Carolinian houses today are much Hke Chamorro houses in out- 
ward appearance. In pre-war times there was a difference, as no 
Carohnian houses equalled in size and massiveness the houses of 
the wealthier Chamorro families. Carolinian houses are generally 
more simply furnished. Even today the more elaborate Chamorro 
houses are equipped with polished linoleum, easy chairs, slip covers, 
pictures, and other features of western furniture that are seldom 
found in Carolinian houses. The Carolinians also make more use 
of the floor for lounging and sleeping; and, though many Carolinian 
houses are clean inside and out, the Carolinians are on the whole 
much more casual about housekeeping. Their yards are more fre- 
quently cluttered with trash. 

The reason for this difference, I believe, is that housekeeping and 
a prettified house have decided status connotations among the Cha- 
morros, whereas these are of minor importance to the Carolinians. 
Carolinian nuclear families are not in competition for status in the 
way Chamorro families are. Houses do not have the same status 
connotations for their owners and users in the two groups. 

Another major difference lies in the way houses are built. Cha- 
morros usually build houses on the basis of contract and hire. 
Carolinians usually build houses through co-operation among kinfolk 
and friends. One of the distinguishing features of Carolinian co- 
operative labor is that it is still largely on a volunteer kinship basis. 
When a man needs assistance, his kinsmen usually offer to help. 
I found no instances among the Carolinians of the rather cut and 
dried adalag (institutionalized trading of labor) that is Chamorro 

As among the Chamorros, the Carolinians ask a carpenter to 
supervise the work, but they ask a Carolinian carpenter rather than 
a Chamorro one. Sometimes the carpenter is hired for an agreed 
upon sum, but in most cases he offers his services free, particularly 
if he is a kinsman. It is understood that at some time in the future 
the builder will return the favor by assisting the carpenter, though 
this fact is never actually mentioned. In addition, the builder lets 
it be known that he is building a house, starting on such and such 
a day. When the day arrives a number of kinsmen and friends will 
show up to help, generally without being asked; they have simply 
heard about the housebuilding and come to assist. The builder pro- 
vides a daily meal for carpenter and helpers. The helpers are not 



One (lifliculty with this system is that it makes house-building a 
slow process. Some days a large crew of helpers will appear, on 
other days none. In favorable circumstances, the crew will stay on 
the job until the heavy work is done, after which the builder and 
carpenter will finish the job. 

FiG. 30. Saipan Carolinian woman weeding sweet potato field. 

The kinship ties that are effective in the co-operative labor in- 
volved in house-building are not only lineal ones. Bilateral relation- 
ships on both mother's and father's sides of the builder are just as 
important, and affinal kinsmen, such as a wife's brother or a wife's 
sister's husband, will often assist. Kinship relations in co-operative 
labor are not sharply restricted to particular types of relationship. 

Within the Carolinian household, the men build houses and boats, 
and do all the carpentry. They spend a very considerable time fish- 
ing, at which virtually all Carolinian men are adept. They do some 
farming, though many are not particularly interested in this activity. 
They collect breadfruit and help in some forms of food preparation, 
such as pounding cooked breadfruit. Only a few Carolinians are 
steady wage-workers, even if the opportunity offers. They prefer 
not to be held to a steady work routine. Work in itself is not re- 


garded as a virtue. Lagoon- and reef-fishing are as much a sport 
as they are work. 

The women prepare the food. A cook-house or shelter separated 
from the living house is the rule. The Chamorros seldom use the 
earth oven, but the Carolinians make great use of it. The women 
are more energetic gardeners than the men. It is the women par- 
ticularly who plant taro and sweet potatoes, clean the plots of grass 
and weeds, and harvest the crop. They do some handicraft, make 
clothes, and do the laundry. They keep house in a casual fashion, 
and care for young children. Like the men, the Carolinian women 
do not follow a rigid, day-to-day work routine. Carolinians are sel- 
dom too busy to sit down for a talk with a casual visitor. 

Carolinian food habits are closer to the original Micronesian 
pattern and are more closely adjusted to the subsistence resources 
of Saipan than is the case with the much more sophisticated Cha- 
morros. Fish is the main source of protein, and taro, sweet potatoes, 
and breadfruit, when available, are important vegetable foods. Rice, 
tea, sugar, bread, and soy sauce are the principal store-bought 
items, exclusive of beer. Beef and pork are primarily festal foods. 
The "hot-cold" food dichotomy of the Chamorros is not a Carolinian 
culture trait, though individual Carolinians may be aware of the 

Combined Food Consumption of Four Carolinian Households 

in Two Weeks 

Food produced or collected by the Carolinians: 

Fresh fish (lbs.) 55 

Salt fish (lbs.) 95 

Small shore crabs (lbs.) 17 

Breadfruit 79 

Bananas (raw) 120 

Bananas (cooked) 210 

Fresh coconuts (grated) 9 

Store-bought food: 

Rice (lbs.) 65 

Sugar Obs.) 20 

Bread (lbs.) 24 

Tea (lbs.) IH 

Soy sauce (bottle) 1 

Betel nuts 145 

As this was the breadfruit season, no taro or sweet potatoes were consumed. 
A large number of mangoes, probably several hundred, were eaten, often between 
meals. These families have several large mango trees. It proved impossible to 
record mango consumption. 


Although three meals a day are usual, the mid-day meal is very 
light; the women usually cook only twice a day, once in the morning 
and once in the afternoon. Both sexes eat together; fingers are 
much used, as well as utensils. The combined food consumption of 
four families, consisting of a total of twelve adults and thirteen 
children, is given above. The data cover a two-week period, 
May 24 June 7, 1950. 

XXV. Kinship System 

Kinship Terminology 

The referential terminology of the Saipan Carolinians conforms 
to a generation type system. There has been no assimilation of 
Chamorro kinship terms into the Carolinian system, though adult 
Carolinians know most of the Chamorro kinship terms. The only 
exception to this statement is that the terms associated with the 
compadrazgo relationship have been adopted by the Carolinians. 
Carolinian referential terms are given below (for the sibling term, a 
possessive suffix, first person, singular, is included) : 

father semei 

mother ilei 

grandfather samalapei 

grandmother inelapei 

sibHng pwi 

child lei 

grandchild lailei 

spouse shalimwei 

brother-in-law haushumwei 

sister-in-law horshei 

The application of these terms is shown in figures 31 and 32. 
Certain characteristics of the referential terminology are as follows: 

(1) Among the Tanapag Carolinians, a slight dialectical dif- 
ference prevails, in that s changes to h, and I to n, in the terms 
themselves. Also, the initial consonant in the term for spouse 
shifts to r. 

(2) A sex distinction is made in the terms for the ascending 
generations, but not for sibling, child, or grandchild terms. For 
these latter, sex qualifiers are usually added to the kinship terms. 
These qualifiers are "mwual" for males and "shabot" for females. 

(3) The consanguine terms, particularly, do not indicate near- 
ness or farness of a relative referred to. In speech, the Carolinians 
often follow mention of a kin term with a description of the genea- 
logical relationship involved. 



(4) For ascending generations above the grandparental level, 
terms applicable to a grandparent are used. For descending genera- 
tions below that of a grandchild, the terms for a grandchild are used. 

(5) Personal names rather than kinship terms are used exten- 
sively in a referential context, particularly for persons outside the 
elementary family. 

(6) There is no reflection of maternal clan or lineage in the 
kinship terminology. 


Kinship terminology is primarily used as a system of reference. 
In direct address, personal names rather than kinship terms are 
used for real or classificatory siblings, children, and grandchildren. 
However, for own parents the referential terms for "father" and 
"mother" are used vocatively. For parents' siblings, the referential 
term is often prefixed to the personal name. For the grandfather, 
the referential term for "father" is used; for the grandmother, her 
referential term is used. For grandparents' siblings, the referential 
term, for "father" is prefixed to the personal name in the case of 
males; while the referential term for "grandmother" is prefixed to 
the personal name for females. The vocative terminology for 
spouse's parents follows that for own parents. Husband and wife 
usually address each other by personal name. For classificatory 
relatives of ascending generations, there is a wide use of personal 
names rather than kinship terms. 

Kinship Behavior 

Formalized joking relationships are not characteristic of the 
Saipan Carolinian kinship system. Formalized respect relationships, 
on the other hand, are characteristic, and behavior among kinfolk 
can be described largely according to degrees of respect demanded 
in particular relationships. 

Much of Carolinian behavior is oriented around two related 
concepts that permeate Carolinian thought: the concepts of "epil" 
and "esepil." "Epil" refers to behavior in which familiarity toward 
a person or thing is proscribed and respect demanded. A brother 
must never joke with a sister, or a sister with a brother. Further- 
more, epil behavior involves persons or things considered dangerous. 
It is epil for a menstruating woman to enter a taro field, for her 
state is believed dangerous to the taro plants. In the old days it 

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was epil for a woman to enter the community house (the ut), except 
on stated occasions. Certain forms of behavior, therefore, and, in 
particular, behavior considered famihar, are prohibited — they are 
epil. Hence there result from these prohibitions patterned forms of 
respect behavior toward things or persons. Much kinship behavior 
falls in this category. The similarity to Polynesian ideas of taboo 
is apparent. "Esepil" refers to the absence of the prohibitions that 
are effective in epil relationships. "Esepil" is the reverse of ''epil" 
and concerns things, persons, and acts which carry no prohibitions. 
In a rough and ready sense, "epil" and "esepil" embody the dichot- 
omy between the sacred and the profane. Projected into the realm 
of kinship behavior, "epil" refers to prohibitions on familiarity, 
"esepil" to the absence of such prohibitions. (For a discussion of epil 
behavior on Puluwat atoll in the Carolines, see Damm, Hambrtich, 
and Sarfert, 1935.) 

Respect behavior takes a number of conventional forms. Among 
older adults, women still walk hunched over, or, inside the house, 
on their knees, if a real or classificatory brother is present. A whole 
series of prohibitions is involved in the brother-sister relationship. 
Respect forms of speech are demanded in conversation between 
certain relatives. The outward and heavily formalized respect pat- 
terns are less apparent among young adults than in the case of older 
persons, but they are still noticeably present. 


Within the nuclear family, husband-wife relationships are in- 
formal and easy. Spouses call each other by their personal names 
and do not use respect forms of address. The women often hold 
the family purse strings. It is customary for a man to bring his 
fish catch to his wife, who will then distribute surplus fish to relatives. 
A wife never "crawls" in the presence of her husband. 

Young children are primarily under the care of the mother, but 
the father may help in looking after them when he is in the household 
area. Although the idea of corporal punishment is not alien to 
Carolinian culture, and I recorded a number of instances in which 
boys were whipped, the Carolinians as a group do not punish their 
children nor deal with them as strictly as do the Chamorros. Chil- 
dren are treated in a more relaxed fashion, and, as they grow older, 
boys particularly are given much freedom to roam about the island. 
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morro girls. The set of familial pressures that keep Chamorro chil- 
dren in the home-school-church circuit is considerably relaxed by 
the Carolinians (cf. Joseph and Murray, 1951, pp. 77 ff.). 

Carolinian parents do not give their children a great deal of 
formal instruction in skills, and a Carolinian child learns largely by 
watching and imitating others. Boys, for instance, start spear- 
fishing at about the age of ten, going out to the reefs and lagoons 
with an age mate, older boys, or occasionally adult men. By the 
time they are eighteen the boys are usually proficient swimmers 
and fishermen, able to spend hours in the lagoon. Girls spend much 
time around the house, learning household tasks from older women, 
caring for younger siblings, and making periodic trips to the sweet 
potato and taro plots to help with the garden work. 

By the age of puberty, Carolinian boys and girls are expected to 
know what is epil and what is esepil, what relationships among kin 
demand respect, and what the forms of respect behavior are. This 
knowledge they acquire from their parents and elders. As a mark of 
respect, the Carolinians do not use the Chamorro 'ninge, or kiss of 
the hand, characteristic of the relationship of Chamorro children to 
parents. Among the Carolinians, other facets of behavior are 
utilized. One of these is a series of polite forms of address associated 
with respect behavior. These are taught children by their parents, 
who use this form of speech in conversing with their sons and daugh- 
ters. The parents continue to use the respect forms after their 
children have grown to adulthood. The children, on the other hand, 
do not use the respect speech to their parents, although they do 
not act familiarly toward their parents; the relationship is one of 
mutual respect. The non-reciprocal character of the speech pattern 
emphasizes the difference in generation between parents and children. 
Carolinians often said that parents use the respect forms because 
these are an essential part of the language of instruction. The use 
of these forms in turn dignifies the user. 

Among siblings, patterns of respect and familiarity follow dif- 
ferences in age and sex. The oldest child is called "lap," and whether 
male or female is traditionally in a position of respect with regard 
to younger siblings. The latter, at least after puberty, use polite 
speech to the oldest sibling. The oldest, if a boy, will use familiar 
speech to younger brothers; he should use polite speech to all sisters, 
although some men today do use familiar forms to younger sisters. 
If the eldest is a girl, she will use the familiar forms to younger 
sisters and polite speech to all brothers. 


The respect patterns among siblings of the same sex are dependent 
on age differences. Theoretically the older sibling demands respect 
from younger siblings but treats them familiarly. As a matter of 
fact, the relationship between siblings of the same sex, particularly 
if there is no great age difference, is usually relaxed and casual. 
Jokes, often with a sexual reference, are not prohibited and the 
relationship is usually a familiar one. If there is a marked age 
difference, relations are more formal and there is a greater emphasis 
on the use of respect language of younger to older sibling. 

Probably the most obvious respect relation in Carolinian life is 
that between brothers and sisters. This is not marked among 
children, but at about the age of puberty it becomes highly forma- 
lized. In olden days, when a boy reached adolescence he was sent 
out of the household to the men's house to sleep. Today, an attempt 
is still made to separate siblings of opposite sex after they have 
attained the age of puberty. A boy will sleep in a different room 
or on the veranda, or he will be sent to a friend's house for the night. 

Excluding children, a brother must never joke with or tease his 
sister, and he should not address her in familiar language. Subjects 
with a sexual reference are carefully excluded from conversation. 
He should not touch his sister or her clothes. He should always be 
respectful and polite. The sister follows similar rules of behavior 
toward her brother. In addition, she must never use her brother's 
drinking cup. The cups of brothers and sisters are kept carefully 
separated in the household and should a sister by mistake use her 
brother's cup, he can not again use it. A sister is careful never to 
hang her clothes near the door, lest her brother touch them in passing. 
She never uses her brother's bed or his personal possessions. She 
does not use his betel or cigarettes. 

These prohibitions on personal contact and on familiarity in 
speech and manner are emphasized even more by two old customs. 
According to the first, a sister passes her brother in a stooped and 
hunched-over position, so that she will not be above him. If she 
must pass him outside, and he is sitting down, she will ask him to 
rise, so that she can pass, if he does not happen to see her. This 
practice is still followed by older adults, though it is passing out 
among younger people. The second custom is more widespread and 
takes place within the house. In this case, a woman always walks 
on her knees in her brother's presence when he is sitting down. 
Formerly, if she wished to leave the room she asked her brother to 
rise, but this custom is seldom followed today. 


Among most Saipan Carolinians, the brother-sister respect rela- 
tionship is still taken very seriously, and infringements are believed 
to bring illness and death. An example of the violation of prohi- 
bitions on familiar conduct in the brother-sister relation occurred a 
few years ago on Saipan. 

Manuel, a young man, did not take the brother-sister respect relation 
seriously. When his sister passed by, crouched over, he would mock her by 
stooping. He did not use the respect forms of speech to her and addressed 
her in familiar fashion. He even went so far as to try to joke with classi- 
ficatory sisters. One day Manuel fell ill. His condition worsened and soon 
he died. Today the old people and many young adults, too, feel that his 
illness and death are to be attributed to his breaking the rules of behavior. 


In contrast to that of the Chamorros, the Carolinian nuclear 
family is not so sharply marked off within the network of extended 
kinship relations. The extensions of kinship beyond the nuclear 
family among the Carolinians are characterized by a greater amount 
of sharing of food and labor without the sharpness of reciprocity 
characteristic of the Chamorros. The niceties of chenchuli, ika, and 
ajudo relationships are lacking among the Carolinians. The Cha- 
morro custom of unon in slaughtering cattle and selling agreed-upon 
quantities of meat to relatives is alien to the Carolinian custom. As 
one man said, "We do not like to sell things we should give." One 
abortive attempt by a Carolinian who decided to make money 
through uhon was recorded: 

Ramon bought a cow for $150, but soon he needed money; so he decided 
to kill the cow and sell the meat, after the custom of Chamorro ufioji; but 
after slaughtering the animal he gave away all except $50 worth of meat to 
his relatives. This left everyone with a full meal, but Ramon $100 poorer. 
The idea of sharing food with relatives is so strong that the Chamorro unon 
does not work. 

There is much visiting around of Carolinians among their kinfolk. 
Children roam between uncles, aunts, and grandparents. It is true 
that Chamorros are fond of visiting, but a Chamorro family generally 
returns to its own house at night. Carolinians may eat and sleep 
for a few days at a relative's house, especially between lanco and 
village. This fact results in an easy life for the "sponger"— the 
lazy individual who does no work and lives on his relatives' gener- 
osity. As one Carolinian remarked of the several examples of this 
sort of person to be found on Saipan: 


We never say anything directly to such a person about mending his ways, 
though we continue to feed him. In time he may be ashamed, and come to 
help us. One never knows when one may need help, and even a lazy man 
may be a friend in time of need. 

With this brief statement of the general orientation of the nuclear 
family in the larger network of kin relationships, we may next note 
the types of behavior involving relatives outside the nuclear family. 

Between parents' siblings and siblings' children, behavior is an 
extension, in weaker form, of that obtaining in the parent-child 
relation. Whatever the custom may once have been, no special 
rights, obligations, and duties were found associated with the avun- 
culate. Between grandparent and grandchild there is also a respect 
relationship, though it is not stiffly formal. A grandparent uses the 
respect forms of speech to his or her grandchildren. As with the 
parents, the grandchild need not reciprocate, but a grandchild does 
not really joke with a grandparent. One should always be respectful 
to all older people. 

Toward cross and parallel cousins, sibling behavior is extended, 
with the same prohibitions on conduct that affect the brother-sister 

Behavior toward parents-in-law is theoretically an extension of 
behavior toward parents and should be marked by helpfulness on 
the part of children-in-law toward their parents-in-law. In some 
cases this was not particularly noticeable. As one Carolinian man, 
who is markedly helpful to his parents-in-law, remarked: 

When some Carolinian men marry they will take their wives away and say, 
"Let her parents look after themselves." This is not right and it is not Caro- 
linian custom. 

Towards siblings-in-law, behavior is conditioned by the sibling 
relationship. A woman maintains a respect relationship with her 
brother. Her husband is likewise respectful toward her brother and 
does not treat him familiarly, make jokes with him, or argue with 
him. Her husband also uses the polite forms of speech. On the other 
hand, a man may use familiar speech toward the husband of his 
younger sister. Toward his wife's older sister he uses polite speech, 
toward his wife's younger sister, familiar speech. His age with 
respect to his own brother determines whether or not he uses polite 
speech forms toward the brother's wife. These variations in speech 
usages, however, do not fully reflect respect and familiarity behavior. 
In none of these sibling-in-law relationships is there formalized 
joking or even pronounced familiarity. 


Range of the System 

The range of Carolinian kinship terminology is based on two 
principal factors: (1) the bilateral extension of kinship terms; and 
(2) the extension of kinship terms to the maternal clan. According 
to older informants, kin terms are extended to all members of one's 
own clan, and probably once were to all members of the father's 
clan. This extension, however, is actually not followed by most 
younger adults, for the clan is passing out as a fully functioning 
group and has lost much of its social importance. The extension of 
terms on a clan basis falls within the terminological range of the 
system, as assumed by older adults. The observed range of the ter- 
minological system, as this has been defined in the chapter on 
Chamorro kinship, is based essentially on the bilateral extension of 
terms, with clan affiliation of minor significance. 

In the bilateral extension of terms there is some diflference be- 
tween assumed and observed range, but not a great deal. Third 
cousins roughly mark the outer limits of the assumed system. The 
observed range of the system for most people includes all second 
cousins and some but seldom all third cousins. The Carolinians as 
a group maintain a wider knowledge of actual genealogical relations 
than the Chamorros, though recourse is often had to such reckoning 
as "Juan's father was the second cousin of my mother; hence Juan 
and I are third cousins." This latter calculation does not rely on a 
complete knowledge of the genealogical relationship involved. Yet 
one man in his thirties in less than thirty minutes gave me his precise 
genealogical relationship to 174 relatives, which number does not 
include the deceased relatives included in the genealogy. This feat 
was not considered by the informant or any other Carolinian as in 
any way unusual. 

The extension of behavior follows the bilateral extension of the 
terminology. Brother-sister respect behavior is extended to classi- 
ficatory siblings. However, I did not personally observe that this 
conventional behavior ever went beyond second cousins. It is 
probable that for some individuals even second cousins may fall 
outside the obligational range of the system. The outer limits of 
the system, as far as observed obligational range is concerned, are 
not sharply delineated. The observed obligational range is also 
somewhat narrower than the assumed obligational range. Inform- 
ants will say, for instance, that third cousins are included within 
the range of persons toward whom sibling terms, as well as the ap- 
propriate behavior, are extended, whereas this is often not the case. 


The Chamorro kinship system is of a fluctuating type, whereby 
the obHgational range of the system is extended widely at the time 
of crisis rites but is retracted in day-to-day living. The Carolinian 
system offers a contrast. Its obligational range is more constant, 
for co-operative labor in house-building and farming is practiced on 
a day-to-day basis. There is more sharing of food, more visiting, 
more adoption of children by relatives. Less emphasis relatively is 
placed on crisis rites, though they are still important. The system 
as a whole is not of the widely fluctuating Chamorro type. 

Brother-Sister Respect Behavior and Exogamic Regulations 

As previously noted, the brother-sister respect behavior is ex- 
tended to classificatory siblings. The respect patterns are strongest 
between real brother and sister, weaker between first cousins, more 
of a formality between second cousins, and only theoretically ex- 
tended to third cousins. I observed no instances involving third 
cousins. This extension of sibling behavior is related to marriage 
rules. Older informants stated that third cousins could not marry, 
a rule that was undoubtedly a result of former church influence. 
Actually there are a number of third cousin marriages today. It is 
not clear from my data whether bilateral exogamy is in process of 
retraction or whether it was never sharply marked. I suspect the 
latter to have been the case, with marriage prohibitions formerly 
more a matter of clan exogamy than of prohibitions attached to 
various degrees of cousinship. The Saipan Carolinians are a small 
group and could not have extended bilateral exogamy very far. 

Among many Micronesian societies wide latitude was and often 
still is permitted in pre-marital sex relations. Marriage itself tends 
to be brittle. Although recently changed by church influence, the 
Saipan Carolinians shared this characteristic. It seems probable 
that there is a functional relationship between freedom in pre-marital 
sex relations and strongly marked brother-sister respect behavior. 
If incest rules are to be preserved in such societies, a mechanism 
must be developed to demarcate those with whom sex relations are 
not permitted from those with whom such relations are permitted. 
The formalized brother-sister respect relationship, extending to clas- 
sificatory siblings, serves this purpose. This relationship is further 
buttressed when it is tied to clan exogamy. However, even when 
clan exogamy weakens, the brother-sister respect relationship may 
retain its basic strength. This is the situation among the Sai{)an 


Kinship and the Life Crises 

Among the Chamorros, the life crises are the focal points for a 
long-established set of usages involving both family and church. 
The religious aspects of crisis rites are Catholic; other aspects, asso- 
ciated with the secular celebration of crisis rites, may stem from 
pre-contact times. But regardless of their origin, the usages affecting 
the relations among kin at the times of the life crises are crystallized 
into well-defined patterns. This is not entirely the case with the 
Carolinians. They are abandoning their aboriginal crisis rites, but 
they have not completely adopted Chamorro forms, nor even all 
the religious features associated with Catholicism. As a result, 
kinship usages at these times are not so sharply patterned. The 
Carolinians are comparable to many tribal societies undergoing pro- 
nounced acculturation. 


Carolinian women formerly gave birth to their children in special 
huts built near the main house. Here they were attended by elderly 
women midwives. Today Carolinian women are urged by the ad- 
ministration to use the facilities of the hospital, but the Carolinians 
are reluctant to do so. The birth hut has been abandoned, but some 
women still prefer to give birth to their children at home, attended 
by their own midwives. 

From two to four days after the child is born, relatives of both 
husband and wife bring food to the house for the use of the family. 
On the fourth night, a burning palm branch is taken through the 
house and around the outside, while the bearer of the branch recites 
a spell. After this ritual the house is no longer considered dangerous, 
and thereafter medicine men may enter it without fear of losing 
their power. For about a month, women relatives of husband and 
wife, particularly the mothers of each, cook food, wash clothes, and 
keep house. 

It is the Carolinian tradition that the parents of a newborn child 
should not engage in sexual intercourse for a year after the birth of 
the child, lest it become ill and sickly. Today this ban is modified, 
but, particularly after the birth of the first child, continence is 
observed by many Carolinians for at least six months. For the first 
few months after birth, it is customary for the wife's mother to see 
that the husband does not approach his wife at night. 

Carolinian children are now usually baptized in the church, but 
informants agreed that a generation ago many were not baptized. 


After the baptism, some parents may hold a small haplisinal party 
for close relatives, but this is not true of the Carolinian community 
as a whole. 

Carolinians have three names. One is a Christian name, Spanish 
in form, decided on by the parents after the birth of the child. 
Formerly, if a child was not baptized, a Christian name was simply 
given him. The second name, a purely Carolinian one, is given by 
the parents or an older relative. This Carolinian name as well as 
the Christian name is used in the household and among friends 
and relatives. The third name is the surname, also of Carolinian 
origin. To Chamorros and Americans, Carolinians are known by 
their Christian names combined with the surnames, but both names 
are post-contact innovations. It is now customary for a child to 
take his father's surname, but this is recent; only a few years ago 
the child took either parent's surname. Brothers often bear quite 
different surnames. Informants stated that the taking of surnames 
from one of the parents does not antedate German times. As Caro- 
linians are registered in the church baptismal records under a 
Christian name with a Carolinian surname as far back as the Spanish 
period, it is probable that in those days the surname was simply 
the child's given Carolinian name. Finally, some men have a fourth 
name, a nickname. It is often a joking name, used between friends. 

The Carolinians consider it disrespectful to utter a dead person's 
name in the presence of relatives of the dead person. 

With the adoption of Catholic baptism, the Carolinians have of 
course also adopted the institution of compadrazgo. Although time 
was lacking to make an intensive study of compadrazgo among the 
Carolinians, the institution is of modest social importance. It has 
not replaced the kinship system by substituting a widely ramifying 
set of ritual kin ties for the older, socially recognized genealogical 
ones. It is of little significance in economic activities. The god- 
parents of baptism have little function aside from their formal ritual 
one. Compadrazgo is not in conflict with the existing generation 
type kinship system, for the relation between godparent and parent 
is easily assimilated to that between classificatory siblings; that be- 
tween godparent and godchild is easily assimilated to the relation 
between parent and classificatory child. Godparents may be, in 
fact, siblings, real or classificatory, of the parents. As noted pre- 
viously, there are a number of cases of compadrazgo that cut across 
Chamorro-Carolinian lines. In such cases, Carolinian godparents 
follow Chamorro custom at times of life crises. 



Adoption is not a life crisis through which all Carolinians pass, 
but it is a common feature of most Micronesian societies and is still 
prevalent on Saipan. 

The Carolinians say that adoption was formerly more frequent 
than now. Their estimates of the number of adopted children at 
the present time range from 10 to 25 per cent of the total of the 
number born. My own estimate is from 10 to 15 per cent, though 
a more extensive survey is needed to determine the number with 
accuracy. Regardless of its incidence, however, adoption is recog- 
nized by the Carolinians as one of their own long-established insti- 
tutions, and a point of contrast with the Chamorros, among whom 
it is much less common. 

Children are adopted after they have been weaned, usually when 
they are from seven months to a year old. Only babies are adopted. 
No adoptions were recorded of older children or adults. 

The motivations for adoption are various. If a man and his wife 
have no children, or if their children are nearly grown and they 
wish a young child in the family, or if they simply wish to have more 
children about, they may ask to adopt a child. Babies whose mothers 
have died, and illegitimate children may be adopted. On the giving 
side, if parents have many children and are hard put to feed them 
all, they will be only too willing to have a new youngster adopted. 

With only one recorded exception, all adoptions take place be- 
tween relatives. Adoptions are usually initiated by the women, 
though it is actually a married couple who together socially adopt 
an infant, and I learned of no cases where a single person undertook 
to adopt a child. The adopters are usually of the parents' genera- 
tion, with respect to the adopted child, and most commonly are 
parents' siblings or parents' first cousins. Occasionally, however, 
they are farther removed. It may happen that grandparents, or 
grandparents' siblings, may adopt a grandchild. In any case, adop- 
tion takes place along lines of genealogical relationship. A relative 
of an older generation adopts one of a younger generation. At the 
same time, different households are involved. Whether this last 
was true in the days of extended domestic families is not certain. 

For an adoption to be consummated, the prospective adopters 
and the parents must be on friendly terms. It is the former who 
ask to adopt a child; the latter do not request the adoption. An 
offer of adoption can always be refused and will be unless the parents 


feel certain that the child will be well cared for; if he is not, they 
may take him back. 

At the time of adoption, an agreement is reached between 
parents and adopters as to the degree of severance of the child from 
its parents, and whether, as the child grows up, it can return to its 
parents' home. A number of Carolinians made a point of this 
feature, but the adopted children I knew apparently migrated back 
and forth between the households of their real and adopted parents 
and were quite at home in either. 

At the present time, an adopted child usually changes his sur- 
name to that of his foster father. He uses father and mother kin 
terms for his foster parents and sibling terms for his foster brothers 
and sisters. The adopted child cannot marry a foster sibling. There 
is a Carolinian saying that adopted children are treated "even better" 
than own children. The adopted child may or may not share in 
the land rights of his foster parents. If a foster mother states that 
her adopted child will share in land rights with her own children, 
the latter are obligated to share these rights with the adopted child. 

Adoption is also a form of old age insurance, for the adopted 
child is obligated to care for his adopters when they are old. This 
obligation is shared by the adopted child's spouse. 

Bicente and Maria adopted Juana, who is now grown and married, with 
a family of her own. Juana and her husband periodically visit Bicente and 
Maria, bringing them food and even money. Juana's husband works for 
Bicente and Maria if a job needs to be done. Both Juana and her husband 
are respectful and considerate of Bicente and Maria. 

In summary, adoption serves to seal a bond of friendship among 
relatives and is a strengthening agent in kinship relations; it serves 
to provide families with normal complements of children; it is a 
form of old age insurance; and it spreads out the resources of food, 
shelter, and parental care among the community's children. 


In former times, the Saipan Carolinians held puberty ceremonies 
for girls. The latter were isolated in a special house, where they 
remained for some eight days, secluded with older women. At the 
end of the period, a family party was held, and thereafter the girls 
assumed respect behavior towards appropriate relatives such as 
brothers, observed the forms demanded in polite speech, and followed 
the prohibitions pre.scribed at the time of menstruation. Although I 


learned of no comparable ceremony for boys, at the time of puberty 
boys were sent to the ut to sleep, and they also assumed the obliga- 
tions associated with respect behavior. 

The girls' puberty ceremony has now been abandoned, but pu- 
berty is still the age at which compliance with formalized behavior 
patterns is expected. Certain prohibitions are still attached to 
menstruating women and these are assumed by girls after puberty. 
They should stay out of the taro plots and should not visit a ceme- 
tery. Their condition is regarded as dangerous for medicine men, 
and in conservative families they still do not eat with the men or 
cook food for them, lest the latter become ill. Formerly, menstru- 
ating women retired to a menstrual hut for four days, but they 
may now sleep in a separate part of the house. The menstrual hut 
has been abandoned. 


Young people select their own spouses. The man or girl will 
inform the latter's parents and they may give the man a month or 
two as a waiting period to see whether the engagement will be 
permanent. The man informs his own parents and makes arrange- 
ments with the padre who is to marry the couple. Formerly, mar- 
riages were entered into with little formality, but today Carolinians 
are with minor exceptions married in the church. 

Among Carolinians there is a feeling that marriages should be 
within the same generation and the partners of approximately equal 
age. There is one case of a Chamorro who married his sister's 
daughter. This match was often pointed out to me by Carolinians 
as being very bad, for apart from uniting two who are by Carolinian 
kinship terminology father and child, and both in the same clan, it 
mixes the generations. However, it should be reported that one 
Carolinian man has married his deceased wife's sister's daughter. 

The involved Chamorro customs preliminary to the wedding 
have been adopted only in part by the Carolinians. I was told that 
fifteen or twenty years ago they were not used at all, but today 
there are some Carolinian families who have presented an aog to 
the bride's family and have held a kumplimento. 

The Carolinians also hold a fandango following the wedding. As 
with the Chamorros, two parties are held — one by the groom's 
family and one by the bride's. If one parent of either bride or groom 
is dead, however, there will be three parties, the third one given by 
the siblings of the deceased parent. The death of the parent splits 


one side into two parts, each of which has a consanguineal relation- 
ship with the person to be married and hence a responsibiUty to 
provide a party. 

The wedding parties are organized and the food is provided by 
the relatives of the bride and groom — parents, parents' siblings, and 
their elementary families. Gifts of food are given for the fandango, 
but chenchuli in the form of money is seldom given by more distant 
relatives. There is not the elaborate organization of the Chamorros, 
no emphasis on presentation of chenchuli by in-laws, no careful record 
kept of the donors in other words, the strong feeling for the details 
of reciprocity exemplified by Chamorro custom is lacking. After 
the wedding in the church, bride and groom go to the houses of 
each and to those of old relatives to pay their respects, much in the 
manner of the Chamorros. 

Although it is true that church-sanctioned marriages are now 
standard practice among the Carolinians, a feature of old marriage 
customs prevails in that separations occur with relative ease. These 
separations are essentially divorces, because sooner or later the 
separated spouses find new partners and establish a new union. 
Traditional marriage is relatively brittle in the Carolines until stabi- 
lized by the birth of children and the advancing age of the marriage 
partners. This old pattern tends to persist on Saipan. In case of 
divorce, children remain with the mother and the husband moves 
out of the household. 

It was once obligatory that a man marry his deceased wife's 
sister, real or classificatory. Contrariwise, it was obligatory for a 
woman to marry her deceased husband's brother, real or classifi- 
catory. Polygamy, however, did not exist, according to the state- 
ments of informants, and no cases were recorded. Sororate and 
levirate were both enforced by a custom called "ho." This negative 
sanction was applied in case a widow or widower did not observe 
the sororate and levirate and married somebody else. Thereupon 
the relatives of the deceased spouse could raid the newly established 
couple's household and make off with their personal belongings. 
This custom was abandoned in Japanese times. Sororate and levi- 
rate are still looked upon with favor, but only three contemporary 
cases were found. In two of the three, a widow married her deceased 
husband's brother; in the third case, a widower married a classi- 
ficatory sister a second cousin of his deceased wife. 

Remarriages involving stepchildren are also a point of kin soli- 
darity. If a mother dies, the mother's sister has the first obligation to 


care for the mother's young children. If a father dies, the children 
remain with the mother and the chances are that the mother will re- 
marry. In such a case, it is the obligation of the stepfather to treat 
his stepchildren with consideration and care. If he mistreats them, 
his wife's brothers will by custom force a separation as being in the 
best interests of the wife and her children. I learned of no contem- 
porary cases, however, where this has occurred. Actually, Carolinian 
women are fond of children and usually quite able to discard an 
unsuitable husband. 

A note should be made regarding illegitimate children. In con- 
trast with the Chamorros, the Carolinians are more concerned with 
social than physiological paternity. Although a married woman's 
having an illegitimate child would generally result in a divorce, an 
unmarried girl's having a child would be regarded as regrettable but 
certainly not a calamity. The Carolinians have not absorbed western 
concepts of the disgrace attached to both mother and child in the 
case of illegitimacy. I recorded several instances of Carolinian 
women who bore illegitimate children and later married men other 
than the genitor. Their husbands treated these children as their 
own. One friend, an adult in his thirties, had discovered only a 
year past that he was an illegitimate child. This was not because 
his parents concealed the fact particularly, but rather that they re- 
garded it as of slight importance. The Carolinians as a group are 
particularly concerned with fatherhood as a social role. 


In death rites, as at marriage, Carolinian usage is gradually 
moving toward Chamorro custom, largely because of the influence 
of the church. At the time of death, Carolinians seek the offices of 
the padre, the rites are those of the church, and the dead are buried 
in the Catholic cemetery. 

In older days, when a man was about to die he was removed 
from his house to that of his mother or his sister. If this was im- 
possible before death, the body was moved immediately after. The 
vigil was then held in the house of the mother or sister, and the 
funeral expenses were borne by them and their consanguineal rela- 
tives, not by the widow or her family. If the wife died, her body 
remained in her house, and her family bore the expense. This return 
of the dying man to the household of his mother or sister was an 
expression of the strength of the maternal lineage, combined with 


matrilocal residence. At death, this act of removal symbolized the 
importance of lineal ties as opposed to those of marriage. 

Today most Carolinians leave a dying man at his own house of 
residence, and relatives of both sides contribute labor, food for the 
vigil and wake, and a small amount of cash for the church rites, as 
well as taking part in the mourning. If a child dies, the parents 
mourn but take no part in the funeral arrangements. These are 
taken care of by the brothers and sisters of the parents or by the 
grandparents, if the latter are still living. 

The Carolinians, as do the Chamorros, ob.serve an all-night vigil 
prior to burial. Around the body gather the close women relatives 
of the deceased, joined periodically by other women. Formerly, 
the old women of the clan would gather by the corpse and would 
sing ancient chants dealing with traditional legends applying to the 
clan. The women take the dominant role in mourning during the 
vigil, and an Oceanic pattern of wailing is still followed. The men 
are less conspicuous. The remainder of the house is kept quiet, 
however, and there is not the matter-of-fact talking that goes on in 
a Chamorro house outside the room in which the deceased lies. 
During the vigil, Carolinian women give gifts of cloth and money to 
the close female relatives mourning by the dead person. 

For four days after burial, the close relatives gather at the house 
of the deceased. Twice a day, early in the morning and at dusk, 
they go to the grave, spread it with sand, and sit quietly talking of 
the dead person and of other dead relatives. On the third day, the 
ghost of the deceased is expected to give a sign of his presence, 
often a mark on the sand of the grave. On the fourth day, a medicine 
man may cast a spell on a stone and gently tap it on the grave, to 
keep the ghost henceforth where he belongs. 

Also on the fourth day the relatives of the deceased clean the 
house of the dead person and rake the yard. Formerly all the per- 
sonal possessions of the deceased were burned or thrown into the 
sea but now only his clothing and bed clothes are destroyed. A 
plant medicine is also burned in the house to rid it of attraction 
for the ghost. 

On the tenth day after death a wake is held. The male relatives 
of the deceased go fishing, a cow or pig is slaughtered, a sack of rice 
is bought, and vegetable food procured. These foodstuffs are pro- 
vided by siblings and close consanguineal relatives, as well as by more 
distant and affinal relatives. Again, however, in contrast with the 
Chamorros, the reciprocity associated with ika and ajiido is lacking. 


Today there is no well-defined shift in residence after the death 
of a spouse. If a woman dies, her husband and children may remain 
in the same house or go to live with his parents or sisters. If a 
man dies, a widow may remain where she is or combine forces with 
her mother or sisters. It is by custom the duty of the mother's kin 
to care for orphaned children if they have no older married sisters. 
In the four cases of orphaned children I recorded, two were cared 
for by older married sisters and two by the sister of the mother. 

XXVI. Carolinian Land Tenure 

The post-war complexities regarding land tenure, described in Chap- 
ter XI, apply to the Carolinians as much as to the Chamorros. The 
destruction of farm land through construction of military bases, of 
records regarding land titles, and of boundary markers, together 
with the lack of a clear-cut post-war program of resettlement and 
clarification of land ownership, has resulted in a highly confused 
situation for the Carolinians as well as the Chamorros. In this 
section an attempt will be made to set forth the contemporary prin- 
ciples of Carolinian land tenure, though this is largely based on 
pre-war events. 

Carolinian real property, as in the case of the Chamorros, consists 
of farm land and town site (sitio). It was the consensus of inform- 
ants' opinion that, by traditional Carolinian custom, farm land, 
sitio, and buildings upon either were "owned" by the women mem- 
bers of a maternal lineage. If a man built a house, it automatically 
became his wife's. On his death, or in case of divorce, the house 
was retained by his wife. Further, the land of the lineage was not 
divided on the death of members of the lineage but was retained 
for the individual use of lineage members, who might build separate 
houses upon it and cultivate different parts of it but who did not 
split ownership of land holdings among themselves. The vehicle 
for the ownership and control of land was therefore a corporate 
group, a maternal lineage. Some older women said that clans were 
the corporate groups, and this may once have been the case, but I 
could find only one instance, later to be described, to support the 

Unfortunately, contemporary Carolinian land tenure cannot be 
comprehended on the relatively simple basis of the maternal lineage 
as a corporate, land-holding group, for contact of the Carolinians 
with Chamorros and with European and Japanese administrators 
has acted to produce a complex system in which introduced factors 
have modified original concepts. 

The German administration issued certificates of title to all land- 
holders. The Japanese continued this system and kept careful 



records of land titles and transfers. In cases where Carolinian 
lineages held land, the oldest woman in the lineage was apparently 
considered for administrative purposes the legal owner of the land. 
On her death, either the next older sister or the deceased's eldest 
daughter — the point is not clear succeeded to the position, and a 
new name was then entered as that of the legal owner. In some 
cases, more than one name might be entered, probably because the 
Carolinians began to rent their land to Japanese, and other lineage 
members wished to have their names registered as co-owners in 
order to protect their share of the rents received. Unfortunately, 
very few certificates of title survived the invasion, so the effect of 
the introduction of written records is not altogether clear. 

The system of using a maternal lineage as a landholding corpora- 
tion has by no means passed away. A number of cases follow: 

At the time of World War II, a piece of farm land consisting of 1.7 hec- 
tares was recorded as belonging to Joaquina, the oldest of three sisters. 
Joaquina had in turn received this land from her mother, Maria, who in turn 
had received it from Dolores, her mother, who came from Satawal in the 
nineteenth century. In 1950, all these women were dead. The land was 
being used by Joaquina's daughter, her son, two daughters' daughters, one 
daughter of one of Joaquina's sisters, and a daughter and daughter's daughter 
of Joaquina's other sister. All these women, as well as Joaquina's son, were 
married. The land had no registered living owner, as the American adminis- 
tration had not recorded land titles. But it was clearly understood by the 
users that the land was to be kept undivided and that the maternal lineage 
was the landholding group. 

Also at the time of World War II, Katalina was the recorded owner of 
three hectares of land, used also by her three younger sisters. Her brother, 
Frederico, did not use this land, but worked the land of his wife instead. 
Katalina and two of her sisters are now dead, as well as her brother. Katalina 
had one daughter, Rosa, and three sons. At the present time Rosa and her 
husband are working part of the land and have built a farmhouse on it. 
The consensus of Carolinian opinion was that when a new owner is to be 
recorded, Rosa, and not Katalina's surviving sister, should be the one, though 
all female members of the lineage and their elementary families of procreation 
have a right to use the land. 

Leonora is the older of two sisters and holds title to two pieces of land 
totalling about two hectares. Leonora received the title to this land from 
her mother, who in turn received it from her mother. Leonora was positive 
that on the death of an oldest sister, title to the land should pass by custom 
to the daughter of the oldest sister and not to younger sisters first. In the 
case of Leonora's land, Leonora's assertion has held true. The older sister 
has only title to the land, however, and the other female members of the 
lineage have usufruct rights. In fact, the old woman who holds title to the 
land has a responsibility to provide land plots for younger sisters. 


The largest single piece of Carolinian-held land is located at As Maliti, 
on the northwest fringe of Lake Susupe, and is about ten hectares in size. 
Just who is the actual title holder is not clear. The Carolinians using the 
land say that it belongs to the re-sauw(dei clan and was first settled by a 
woman of this clan who came from Pulusuk in the nineteenth century. In 
the Japanese period there were said to be five persons recorded as the legal 
owners; four of these (three men and one woman) were re-sauwalei and the 
fifth was a man married to a re-sauwalei woman. There are, however, other 
re-sauivalei people in the community who do not have any connection with 
this land, and I suspect the corporate unit in this case has been a maximal 
Hneage rather than a clan. Also, men are named as title holders rather than 
only women, a feature that may be the result of Japanese influence. At the 
present time there are six farmhouses built on the land, with six families. 
In three families, however, the husband's or wife's father belonged to the 
re-samvalei lineage holding the land. The land itself has never been divided, 
as far as ownership is concerned. 

These three illustrations are given to indicate that the lineage 
still has strength as a mechanism for holding ownership of land. A 
question arises as to how sharply the Carolinians differentiate owner- 
ship from usufruct rights. I could not find that the distinction is 
sharply made. Informants will often say that a single man works 
his sister's land for the benefit of his sister and her family, but that 
a married man works his wife's land in order to support his own 
wife and children. This statement is true enough, but one can also 
find examples of a married man's working a plot of land belonging 
to his own lineage in order to support his wife and children, not his 
sister. One can find additional cases of a husband and wife who are 
working a plot of land they occupy by virtue of a connection, through 
the father of either one, to the lineage controlling the land, as in 
the last example cited above. Whether these people are making 
use of usufruct rights only was certainly not clear to either the Caro- 
linians or the ethnographer. The answer is probably that in the 
present confused land situation it does not matter to the Carolinians 
so long as those families who wish to cultivate a plot can do so. It 
should be added that Carolinians do not rent land from one another. 

When the Germans initiated a homestead plan, a number of 
Carolinians homesteaded land, the title to which was registered in 
the man's name. Land of this type has been inherited in several 
ways. There are cases in which the father gave this land to his 
daughters, who have since kept it intact and undivided as the 
property of a maternal lineage of which they were the founders. 
In one other case, the father gave his land to his two children, a 
son and a daughter, who have kept the land undivided. The 
daughter has died, though the son is still living. Children of both 


work the land, but its eventual disposition is undecided. Finally, 
there are cases where the father has given his land to a single child, 
male or female, who considers it his own, to dispose of as he 
sees fit. 

The mechanism by which land is held and passed on from genera- 
tion to generation varies from a maternal lineage to individual in- 
heritance from parent to child. In none of the cases so far cited, 
however, has land been divided, when it passes from one generation 
to the next. Carolinians are emphatic in asserting that by Carolinian 
custom land should not be divided. Nevertheless, cases to the 
contrary do exist. 

Jesus owned two hectares of land, to which he held sole title. Before 
World War II, he divided this land equally among his two daughters and one 
son. Jesus has since died and each child has taken his own share as his or 
her individual property. 

In German times, two sisters received five hectares of land from their 
father. One sister had three sons; the other sister three sons and one daughter, 
Maria. When the two sisters died, formal title went to Maria, the land being 
kept intact. When Maria died, the land was divided among her three brothers 
and her three male cousins, with one share going to Maria's children, who 
were all small. 

From this discussion, it should be evident that Carolinian land 
tenure is in a period of flux. Case material indicates that land in- 
heritance exhibits much variation, though the lineage is still im- 
portant. In cases where land is owned by an individual and inherited 
from individual to individual, and where it is divided among heirs 
at each successive generation, Carolinian practice has been assimi- 
lated to Chamorro custom. 

The Pwol 

A distinctive feature of Carolinian farming is the women's com- 
munal taro plot (pwol). Before the war, there were two of these: 
one in the swampy area just to the south of Tanapag village, and a 
second at Puntan Mucho, near Garapan. In 1950, the Tanapag 
pwol was on a military reservation and not available for the use of 
the Tanapag women, much to their resentment. However, the 
Chalan Kanoa Carolinians cultivated two plots, totalling about five 
acres, located in a swampy area in the low-lying land at the margins 
of Lake Susupe and east of Chalan Kanoa village. Approximately 
fifty women work these two plots. 

The women do not work these communal plots as a single group. 
The two cultivated areas are divided into small patches, called ruo. 


Each of these small patches is cultivated by one woman, or a woman 
and her daughter. Boundaries between ruo are sometimes marked 
by stakes, but the plots are small and each woman knows by sight 
the limits of her own plot. The women often help each other in 
planting and cultivating. The area was originally cleared of its 
dense cover of swamp grass by the Carolinian men, but the com- 
munal plots are maintained by the women. 

In old days, the organization of male elders (repi) of the com- 
munity house was paralleled by a similar organization of female 
repi. Among the duties of the latter was the supervision of the 
pwdl. Taro from the pivol was used to feed visitors who came to 
the community house, and for special feasts held at the ut. Features 
of the older organization tend to survive, in that one old woman is 
today acknowledged as the repi, or leader, of the Chalan Kanoa 
women who cultivate the present two plots. This old woman was 
the pre-war repi and assumed the position when the post-war plots 
were started. She arbitrates disputes that may arise over ruo 
boundaries and can expel a woman from the plots in case the woman 
takes someone else's taro. The use of individual patches is said to 
pass from a mother to her daughters, or a mother to her sisters. 

In pre-war times, attempts were made by both Chamorros and 
Japanese to encroach on the Carolinian pwdl. The two post-war 
plots are on government land and are held under two revocable 
permits issued to two well-known, part-Carolinian men, who ob- 
tained the permits so that the women might have their communal 
plots. As revocable permits were issued up to 1950 without the 
administrator's having an exact knowledge of the boundaries of 
land covered by such permits, disputes over boundaries have arisen. 
In one such case a Chamorro and the Carolinian women were dis- 
puting over the boundary of one of the taro plots. In characteristic 
fashion, the Carolinian women rose in a body and went to the 
administration, pressing their case until the matter was settled. 
Once aroused, Carolinian women will act in a group toward a com- 
mon objective, undaunted by official red tape and unabashed in the 
presence of an administrator. The pwol is of fundamental concern 
to these women and it is an element of Carolinian culture that re- 
tains much vitality. 

Farms and Farming 

As mentioned previously, Carolinian men have not made a com- 
plete adjustment to farming, nor have the Carolinian women shifted 


their interests from gardening to "keeping house." I would estimate 
that whereas all able-bodied Carolinian men still enjoy and practice 
reef- and lagoon-fishing, only about half of them do much agricul- 
tural work. 

In contrast to the Chamorros, Carolinians plant relatively less 
corn and rely more on taro and sweet potatoes. Taro-raising is 
primarily women's work, and women likewise spend much time in 
the sweet potato fields, though the initial clearing may be done 
by the men. Some half dozen varieties of sweet potatoes are grown. 
The planting and cultivation of corn, bananas, cassava and the few 
vegetable crops (onions, beans, etc.) grown, as well as the collection 
of breadfruit, is primarily man's work, as is the care of livestock. 

Old prohibitions on conduct still have some force, particularly 
in connection with taro. Traditionally, a woman did not plant taro 
after eating a meal, and she slept apart from her husband the night 
before. Menstruating women never entered a taro plot, and both 
men and women did not walk directly through a plot but rather 
walked around the margin to the point closest to the interior spot 
they wished to reach. These prohibitions are still strong with respect 
to taro, but they do not apply to crops adopted from the Chamorros, 
such as corn, except that menstruating women still do not work in 
the fields. 

The calendar of planting and harvesting is approximately the same 
as in the case of the Chamorros. Taro is planted in September and 
December and again in June, depending on the drainage of the plot. 
Sweet potatoes are planted in June and in late September, corn after 
the beginning of the wet season and also in December. Carolinians 
have adopted the tools used by Chamorros. 

As in house-building, the Carolinians rely largely on kinfolk to 
provide co-operative labor in farm work. This co-operative labor is 
confined primarily to the clearing of fields and to the building of 
farm houses. The relatives on whom a man can call need not be 
only those of his own or his wife's lineage, and friendly feeling that 
may prevail between two relatives is always important. Nor is 
there the Chamorro custom of measuring amounts of labor given as 
a claim for labor to be received, in precise fashion. 

Jose wished to clear about three-quarters of an acre in order to plant 
corn. He asked the following relatives to help him: Manuel, his father's 
mother's sister's son; Francisco, his father-in-law; Raphael, his mother-in- 
law's maternal cousin's husband; and Juan, his mother-in-law's brother. The 
land was Jose's own, inherited from his father. 


Just as production activities may involve a number of kinfolk, 
a number of relatives may share in the harvest, even though they 
did not plant the crop. Though a man and his wife will first provide 
for their own children, the rest of the crop will often be shared with 
relatives, in this case particularly those of the wife. Even apart 
from relatives, a Carolinian will not, by and large, refuse a request 
of another Carolinian for food. 

XXVIL Changing Patterns of Kinship 

Apart from whatever usefulness the preceding data on the Caro- 
linians may have in a purely descriptive ethnographic sense, as 
showing a pattern of Carolinian social organization contrasting with 
that of the Chamorros, the theoretical significance of the data lies 
in the field of culture change. In the crops they grow, in the way 
they live, in their religious beliefs, in crisis rites associated with the 
church, there is little doubt that in the last half century the Caro- 
linians have gradually become more like the Chamorros. In this 
process, the most striking feature of change in Carolinian social 
organization is the gradual diminution in importance of the lineage 

Recent ethnographic field research in various parts of the world 
has greatly increased our knowledge of lineage-structured societies, 
a matter that has most recently been reviewed, in masterful fashion, 
by Meyer Fortes (1953). At the same time, case material is accu- 
mulating on the changes produced in lineage-structured groups under 
the force of acculturation. A common feature of the acculturation 
process in societies where kinship provides a broad base for the or- 
ganization of social relations is the decline in the social importance 
of descent groups, such as clans and lineages, a retraction in the 
range of the kinship system, a breakdown of extended families as 
residence groups, and a relative strengthening of the elementary or 
nuclear family. Among the Saipan Carolinians there has indeed 
been a decline in the social importance of clan and lineage, as ex- 
pressed in political organization, in land tenure, in the matrilocal 
extended family, and in marriage and crisis rites. Maternal clan 
and maternal lineage both appear to be going the way of functionless 
groups, and lineage as an organizing principle seems to be of less and 
less significance. 

At the same time, kinship is still a major facet of Saipan Caro- 
linian social organization. The kinship system is widely extended, 
and the bonds of kinship underlie many co-operative activities. 
Kinship terminology, it should be noted, is of a generation type. 
This fact leads to the main point of this concluding section. Has 



the terminological system always been of a generation type or was it 
once of Crow type, later changing its form as maternal clan and 
lineage themselves became of less and less significance? 

Enough is known of the group of atolls just to the west of Truk, 
atolls from which the main body of Carolinians migrated to Saipan, 
to be able to recognize that clan and lineage were important social 
units. Unfortunately, there are no detailed studies of the kinship 
systems of these atolls. To the west. Burrows and Spiro's (1953) 
data from Ifaluk reveal a variant form of a generation type system, 
as does Sarfert's material from Sorol (Damm, Hambrtich, and Sar- 
fert, 1938). On Puluwat, a main home atoll for the Saipan Caro- 
linians, however, Murdock and his colleagues found a Crow type 
system (n.d., Human Relations Area Files). Truk itself has a Crow 
type system (Murdock and Goodenough, 1947; Goodenough, 1951). 
Truk exerted a dominating influence on the neighboring atolls, and 
it is more than likely that a Crow type kinship terminology pre- 
vailed not only on Puluwat but also on the other atolls listed on 
page 326 as being the principal ones from which the Saipan Caro- 
linians came. This can at least be proposed as a hypothesis of a 
marked degree of probability. 

If the hypothesis is true, then the Saipan Carolinian termino- 
logical system has changed its form from a lineage to a generation 
type. Inconsistencies that may have appeared have been ironed 
out. The present terminology is consistent and shows no glaring 
contradictions of the system of kinship behavior as a whole. 

From this conclusion we may derive a second hypothesis: When 
Crow type terminology is found in a society that is strongly struc- 
tured on lineage lines, and lineage as an organizing principle under- 
goes progressive weakening in that society, the kinship terminology 
will shift to a generation type. 

Finally, such a shift in terminology is expressive of a tendency in- 
herent in changing societies toward patterned forms of social organi- 
zation. The study of kinship terminology is useful primarily in the 
insight that results as to the nature of these forms and the manner 
in which they change. What we know of kinship systems as con- 
figurations of behavior leads one to believe that when a kinship type 
changes, it does so in a definable direction toward another definable 
type. An important task, as Murdock (1949), Eggan (1951), 
Schmitt and Schmitt (1952), and others have indicated, is to deter- 
mine the conditions controlling the direction in which kinship sys- 
tems can and do change. 

Appendix: Population of Saipan (1950) 

As of March 23, 1950, the official administrative records of the 
Saipan District gave the following population figures for Saipan: 


Males over 15 years of age 849 

Females over 15 years of age 884 

Children under 15 years of age 2,088 

Total 3,821 3,821 


Males over 15 years of age 309 

Females over 15 years of age 281 

Children under 15 years of age 514 

Total 1,104 1,104 

Total Chamorro and Carolinian population 4,925 

The reason for the difference in sex ratio between adult Cha- 
morros and Carolinians is unknown. There is a marked difference 
between the two groups in the ratio of children to adults. The 
Chamorros have a higher birth rate and a lower death rate than 
the Carolinians. Registered births and deaths for the period from 
June, 1949, to May, 1950, are as follows: 

Births Deaths 

Chamorros 181 54 

Carolinians 55 35 

Total 236 89 



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1948. Handbook on the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. Washington, 

United States Navy Department, Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands 

1947-50. Office of the Civil Administrator, Saipan District. Quarterly reports. 
Saipan. Typescript. 

1948a. Interim regulations. Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii. 
1948b. Reports on the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands transmitted by 
the United States to the United Nations. Washington, D.C. 

Yanaihara, T. 

1940. Pacific islands under Japanese mandate. New York. 




Acapulcc), 39 

Adalag (trading labor), 153-155 

Administration, American, 98-106, 212- 
213; Chamorro employees of, 163- 
164; German, 26, 75-82, 134; Japa- 
nese, 25, 83-90, 134; Spanish, 41-74, 

Adoption, 37, 142, 285-287, 356-357 

Agana, 41, 45, 48, 49, 50, 59, 62, 71, 
74, 219 

Aged, care of, 298-299 

Agingan, 52, 107 

Agrihan, 46, 48, 69, 78 

Aguijan, 20, 37, 46, 48, 51, 54 

Alamagan, 46, 48, 78 

Alexalde, Antonio de, 49 

Anatahan, 46, 48 

Animals, domestic, 35, 63-64 

Anson, George (Lord), 37, 68, 70 

Arago, J., 69, 279, 322 

Archaeology, 7, 17, 34-36 

Architecture, 62-63, 219-228 

Ascaris, 238 

Asuncion, 45, 46, 48 

Augustinians, 60, 74, 81, 192 

Bach, L. E., 127 

Bank of Guam, 104-105 

Baptism, 42, 74, 269-271, 311-312, 313- 

314, 354-355 
Baptists, 106, 201 
Bazan, Diego, 50 
Beals, Ralph, 188, 323 
Birth, 267-268 
Bonin Islands, 106 
Bowers, Neal M., 22, 29, 40, 85, 86, 

87, 128, 220 
Brown, Captain, 69 
Bryan, E. H., Jr., 18, 21 
Burney, James, 37, 40 
Burrows, Edwin, 371 
Bustillos, Lorenzo, 48, 49 

Calangson, Pedro, 50 

Cano, Sebastian del, 37 

Canoes, 34, 46, 64, 70, 73, 89, 156, 160 

Capuchins, 81, 88, 106, 190, 191, 192, 

Cardenosa, Padre, 48 
Carolinians, islands of origin, 326-327 
Cassanova, Padre, 48, 49 
Castellanos, Lorenzo, 48 

Cavendish, Thomas, 39 

Cemetery, 116 

Chamisso, Adelbert von, 61, 69, 70 

Chomornta, 66 

Chamorro-Carolinian contrasts and re- 
lations, 24, 26-28 

Chiefs, Carolinian, 328-329 

Child, attitude and behavior toward 
youngest, 141; favorite, 281-285 

Choco, 42 

Christianity, conversion of Chamorros 
to, 41-54, 57 

Clans, Carolinian, 333-334 

Class system, 36 

Climate, 20 

Clothing, 58-59 

Cloud, Preston E., Jr., 107 

Coburn, R. C, 129, 130 

Coconut beetle, 128 

Communion, first, 276-277, 314 

CompadrazQO, 188, 310-317, 320, 355 

Companies, share-holding, 167-168 

Conservation, 155 

Coomans, Peter, 40, 51-52, 53, 59 

Co-ordinated Investigation of Micro- 
nesian Anthropology, 29 

Corte y Ruano Calderon, F. de la, 41, 
65, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74 

Costenoble, H., 80 

Cotton, in Marianas, 58, 59, 66 

Courts, 102-103 

Crampton, H. E., 83 

Damm, H., 327 

Dances, Carolinian, 329, 330 

Death, 315; Carolinian rites, 368-371; 
Chamorro rites, 294-298; social con- 
sequences of, 298-300; see also In- 

Dependency, 30, 210-213 

Derbii, 69 

Descent, 36 

Discipline of children, 275-276, 346, 

Disease, changing concepts of, 239-240; 
"hot" and "cold" concepts of, 235- 

Districts, 107-108, 111, 112 

Divorce, 266-267 

Domestic animals, 35, 58, 60 

Drake, Sir Francis, 39 




Economy, instability of, 170-171, 211, 
212 213; institutional framework, 
125-126; post-war, 126-127 

Eggan, Fred, 318, 371 

Elato, 326 

Elections, 179-181 

Ezquerra, Francisco, 49, 50 

Family, 249 300; behavior patterns 
among Carolinians, 346 350; among 
Chamorros, 278-281; extended, 337- 
338; novenas, 308-310; pre-contact, 
37; significance, 216; stability, 212; 
status, 304 307 

Farallon de Pajaros (Uracas), 20 

Farms, Carolinian, 367-369; Chamorro, 

Faroulep, 327 

Fejos, Paul, 9 

Filipinos, 25, 56, 57, 60-61 

Fishing, 35, 156 162 

Food, cuisine, 230-234; habits, 155-156; 
"hot" and "cold," 236-238; meals, 
116-118, 228-229, 256-257, 341-342; 
plants, 34-35, 58, 59, 60, 63, 149-153; 
sources, 229-230; wild, 35 

Fortes, M., 370 

Foster, George M., 29, 183, 185, 235, 
265, 317 

Freycinet, L. C. D. de, 41, 56, 60, 64, 
65, 70, 202 

Fritz, Georg, 76, 77, 78, 79, 81, 117, 
121, 220, 224, 228 

Gali, Francisco, 39 

Gallahue, E. E., 29, 125 

Garapan, 17, 71, 72, 73, 74, 83, 85, 89, 
107, 108 

Garcia, Francisco, 41, 42, 44, 46, 59, 63 

Ghosts, Carolinian, 207-209, 361; Cha- 
morro, 201-207 

Gifts, reciprocity in giving, 259-260 

Gillin, John, 186, 316 

Goodenough, Ward H., 335, 371 

Government, functioning of, 175-177; 
leadership of, 178-181; organization, 

Guguan, 46 

Herbalists (suruhana), 206, 234-235, 

Hispanic-American studies, 29-30 

Hispanicized Chamorro culture, charac- 
teristics, 61-67; formation of, 55-61 

Holidays and holy days, 118, 186-188, 
190, 195 200 

Hornbostel, Gertrude, 273-274 

"Hot" and "cold," concepts pertaining 
to, 235-238 

Houses, building of, 166 167; Caro- 
linian, 327 331, 339-340; Chamorro, 
219-228; men's, 58 

Household, definition of, 217; Caro- 
linian, 336 338; Chamorro, 217-219 
Hysteria, 205, 207 

Ihanez y Garcia, L. de, 72 
Ifaluk, 206, 327 

Illegitimacy, 141-142, 287-288, 360 
Inheritance, 135 144, 363-366 
Irisarry y Vivar, Francisco de, 44 

Jesuits, 41, 55, 57, 59, 60, 185, 189, 

191, 192, 193, 211 
Johnson, H. G., 71 
Joseph, Alice, and Murray, Veronica 

F., 29, 30, 72, 79, 81, 213, 234, 330 

Kinship, changes in, 321-323, 370-371; 
characteristics of Chamorro type, 
318-332; range, 248, 294, 301-304, 
319, 352-353; ritual, 310-317; termi- 
nology, 241-248, 318-319, 332, 343- 

Koror, 83 

Kotzebue, Otto von, 60, 61 

Lamotrek, 70-71, 326 

Land, deterioration, 127-128; owned 
and leased by Chamorros and Caro- 
linians, 86, 130-131; ownership prob- 
lems, 132-133; partido, 135-144; 
records, destruction of, 129; revo- 
cable permits, 131-132; survey by 
Japanese, 128-129; tenure, 128-144, 
363-367; titles, 134 

Language, Carolinian, 26, 327; Cha- 
morro, 26, 34, 66-67 

La Trinidad, 38 

Laulau, 49, 107, 131 

League of Nations, 83 

Legazpi expedition, 38 

Le Gobien, Charles, 41, 42, 51, 52, 54, 
58, 59 

Leprosarium, 71, 106 

Lewis, Oscar, 186 

Lineage, Carolinian, 335, 364-366; 
Chamorro, 36, 65 

Local organization in flux, 210-211 

Lopez, Alonzo, 46, 47, 49, 50 

Loyasa expedition, 37 

Magellan, Ferdinand, 37 

Maiiia (churching of women), 274-275 

Mammals, 24 

Manila, 39 

Marche, A., 56, 72 

Marianas, conquest by Spain, 41-54; 

discovery, 37-40, 46; island areas 

and elevations, 18; Spanish names 

for, 45 
Markets, town, 64, 114-115 
Marriage, Carolinian, 28, 358-360; 

preferential marriages among, 359 



Marriage, Chamorro, 28, 36-37, 288- 
292; nog, 253-254, 263; courtship, 
249-250, 251-253; expenses con- 
nected with, 262 263; obligations of 
relatives, 262; parental resistance to, 
264-266; prohibitions, 250-251; rela- 
tion to land ownership, 135; role of 
god{)arents in, 314-315; structural 
significance of, 266; wedding, 254- 

Marshallese, 28 

Maug, 45, 46, 48 

Maunahun, Francisco, 48, 50 

Medicine men, Carolinian, 208-209 

Medina, Padre, 46, 49 

Men's house, Carolinian, 327-331; 
Chamorro, 36, 37, 42, 58 

Mexico, 38, 39, 46, 49, 60, 61, 185; 
residents of Marianas from, 62 

Mintz, S. W., and Wolf, E. R., 316-317 

Monsoon, 20-21 

Morales, Padre, 46, 48, 49 

Morga, Antonio de, 40 

Mortimer, George, 68 

Murdock, George P., 371 

Murillo Velarde, Pedro, 41 

Names, personal, 271-274, 355; place, 

45-46, 107-109 
Namonuito, 71, 326, 327 
Nanyo Kohatsu Kabushiki Kaisha 

(NKK), 84, 129, 136, 146 
Nassau Fleet, 40 
Nomoi, 327 

Norega, Diego de, 49, 50 
Novenas, 189, 308-310 
Nnestra SeTiora de la Concepciou, 39, 

40, 48, 49 
Nnestra Senora del Bnen Socorro, 49 
Ngulu, 327 

Obian (Objan), 49, 52, 53, 107 
Olive y Garcia, Governor, 72 

Pacific Science Board, 7, 29 

Pagan, 46, 78 

Palau Islands, 75, 327 

Personality structure, 213 

Philippine Islands, 38, 39, 49, 60, 61, 62 

Physical anthropology, Carolinians, 27; 
Chamorros, 25-26 ' 

Pigafetta, Antonio, 37 

Pobre, Juan, 39 

Police, 76-77, 80; Central Pacific Insu- 
lar Constabulary, 103 

Political organization, innovative char- 
acteristics, 211; participation of Caro- 
linians in, 181-183; pre-contact, 44 

Ponape, 17, 327 

Population, 24, 55-57, 78, 85, 110, 372; 
1816 census, 61; decline after Spanish 
conquest, 61 

Post office, 105 

Pottery, 35 

Pregnancy, 267-268, 354 

Priests, as agents of diffusion, 235-236; 

see also Augustinians, Capuchins, 

Jesuits, Religion 
Prowazek, S. J. M. von, 121, 228, 230 
Puberty, Carolinian ceremonies, 357- 

Pulusuk, 326, 327 
Puluwat, 326, 327, 371 

Queba, Thomas, 74 
Quiroga, Jose de, 44, 50-54 

Radiocarbon dating, 34 

Rainfall, 21 

Redfield, Robert, 186 

Religion, calendar, 195-200; church 
buildings, 189-190; church participa- 
tion, 116, 185-186, 188-189; lay as- 
sistants, 195; nuns, 88, 106, 192-193; 
patron saints, 189, 190; priests, 88, 
106, 190-192, 321; societies, 193 195; 
stability of organization, 200-201, 

Repetti, W. C, 41 

Retirement, 139 

Roads, 77, 121-122 

Saavedra, Alvaro de, 38 

Sablan, Gregorio, 57, 76, 81, 203 

Saflford, William E., 63, 73, 149, 219 

Saipan, appearance of, 17-20; field re- 
search, 28-29; settlement of, 25, 26; 
war devastation, 30 

Samoans on Saipan, 78 

Sanchez y Zayas, E., 71, 72, 73, 74 

Sande, Francisco de, 39 

San Juan de Lateran, college of, 48, 59 

Santa Cruz, Juan de, 49 

Santa Margarita, 39 

Santo Toryias, 39 

Sanvitores, Luis de, 41-50, 55 

Sarfert, E., 371 

Sariguan, 46, 78 

Satawal, 70, 326, 327 

Sauzedo, Ffelipe de, 39 

Schmitt, Karl and Iva, 371 

Schools, 75-76, 101-102, 115 

Scientific investigations in Micronesia, 7 

Seventh Day Adventists, 106, 201 

Sex instruction, 278 

Social Science Research Council, 9 

Solano, Francisco, 49, 50 

Solorzano, Emmanuel de, 51, 58, 59 

Sonsorol, 327 

Sorcerers, 49 

Sorol, 371 

Spain, 106, 321; disintegration of em- 
pire, 60; influence on Chamorros, 



Spanish-American War, 25, 74 

Specialization, 162 168 

Spells, 240 

Spilbergen, Joris, 40 

Spiro, Melford E., 371 

Status, Carolinian, 331; Chamorro, 88, 

89, 304-307 
Stores, 114-115, 116-117, 126, 164-166 
Strobach, Padre, death of, 53 

Tamatam, 326 

TaotaomoHa, 201-205, 275 

Temperature, 21 

Thompson, Laura, 25, 35, 36, 37, 55, 
56, 107, 189, 201, 202, 203, 204, 238, 
240, 241, 267, 273, 274, 278, 279, 
309, 320-321 

Tools, agricultural, 152-153, 155 

Topography, 20, 21-22 

Torres, Luis de, 69 70 

Trade, 169 170 

Truk, 83, 326, 327, 371 

Tuberculosis, 101 
Typhoons, 21, 26 

Ulithi, 327 

United Nations, 100, 181 

U. S. Commercial Company, 29 

U. S. Navy, 8, 98-106, 172-173 

Urwn, 263-264 

Urdaneta, Andres de, 38 

Van Noort, Olivier, 40 
Vegetation, 22 
Vigo, Goncalo de, 38 
Villa, Alfonso, 186 
X'illage, 108-123; names, 108 

Wage-work, 145 146 
Wenner-Gren Foundation, 9 
World War I, 83 

World War II, 7, 17, 87, 90, 91-95, 
98, 128, 176 

Yap, 75, 76, 80, 327 

Publication 728 

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