• Laenui discusses the processes of colonization (put forth by Enriques) as well as his own processes of decolonization.  Where do you see yourself, your culture in those processes.  Does decolonization make sense for you?  Where would you say you are in the process of decolonization?

-I feel, at this time in my people’s life (Guam) we are in an long drawn out dance of phase 1-3.

The culture is being exposed to a “cultural renaissance”. Many of our practices are being showcased and highlighted. But due to the centuries of colonialism by multiple colonizers, we have compromised our identify. Absorbing traditional practices from other places and not being authentic to the CHamoru lineage. This has separated the people into 3 different groups when it comes to the practices tradition, language and culture.

Fino Håya: a very indegenous way with limited to not outside influence.

Fino Chamorro: the more modern way of language, influences by other colonizers or modern influences.

I think Guam is also faced with a plague of self victimization. There is a lot of pointing fingers of the US military taking our lands and creating firing ranges. Although it seems like a negative dilemma, I have personally seen the positives to this as a environmental researcher. Ive seen endangered turtle population and other eco systems surviving because of the protection of the operations.

Ive also seen greedy people use activism for personal and political gain. Influencing decolonization and as a shift from unfavorable personal conditions.

Because of all of this Guam is in a state of misunderstanding. Its easy to be influenced on whats going on, on social media. Its also easy to be dependent on all the social constructs the United States has given to Guam.

But the people of Guam would benefit from being a part of the decolonization process, to critically think about the different political statuses and come together as one island… one people for the future of our people.

  • Tuck and Yang discuss the difference between reconciliation and decolonization.  What do you think about the difference?

-I understand the difference and I have personally seen the difference in Hawaii, Guam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Reconciliation is more of excepting the current socioeconomic political status and being paid out. I also see this as a means of integration furthering the commitment of coloization.

Decolonization insists more on the alternatives to integration, and follows more of an independence of a people and their lands.

  • We have all been colonized through our education and the influence of our social environment.  Even our participation in this course and work with the university can be seen as participating in a colonial system – what are some things that stand out to you in your social environments, e.g. family, work, school, communities, institutions that are unsettling now that you think about them.   Tell us what it was and how it impacts/ed you.

-I understand as an indigenous CHamoru Man, that I am influenced and educated by a western system. I also understand that the history that is given to me is one sided and given by the victors.

Through this education I have also been influenced to think for myself, be a critical thinker, and be resourceful. This western influence, allowed me to be a better advocate for social disparities and represent the unrepresented.

Yet, one example sticks out in a colonial system. The social work code of ethics. I understand that this ethical system is used to protect the client and the social worker but in the true essence of being a social worker we are here to increase the quality of life for individuals, groups and families. Meanwhile, client self determination restricts us from telling someone what to do, rather we have to convince enlighten them to seeks a better choice.

As a CHamoru man, it is my duty to protect and fix all problems affect my people. My culture allows us to be communal with everything, even absorbing others burdens. Rather in our current state and status, it is very individualistic.

But I have learned and would like to explore more on how to make both of these opposing structures work together harmoniously.

Join the Conversation


  1. Ray, I think your experience as a Marine and an Environmental Researcher brings an interesting perspective to the issue of the pending firing ranges. I do agree that because the military occupies & protects that land, most species are given a better chance of surviving. I just wish they could develop the range on property they already “own.” Maybe that beautiful golf course they have can be changed into a firing range (hahaha just an idea)!
    Your statement of how the western influence has allowed you to “be a better advocate for social disparities and represent the unrepresented”
    I also struggle with the concept of self-determination. I think that clients should inevitably have the final say but it can get frustrating especially having to watch them make- what we feel is- the wrong decision.


  2. Hi Shino,

    si yu’os ma’åse’ or saina ma’åse (if you’re on “team fino håya” lol) for your post.

    I also feel and see that feel, Guam we are in a long drawn out dance of phase 1-3.

    And I can relate to your comment about greedy people who use activism for personal and political gain, from both sides (because there are really two main arguments: from independence supports and Statehood supporters). I have seen that people might care about an issue but it becomes more about their ego than the issue.

    I see where you would think Guam is also faced with a plague of self-victimization. Perhaps this is part of the mouring phase of decolonization and critical to that process? Just a thought.

    Though I will say that on your comment about “a lot of pointing fingers of the US military taking our lands and creating firing ranges” sounds like you feel the are base-less accusation (Please do correct me if I am misunderstanding you). Despite your positive view on US military land use, do you those pointing fingers are not true or validated in that land is being taken and/or used to create firing ranges?

    I found your testimony of seeing the endangered turtle population and other ecosystems surviving because of protection of the operation very interesting. It is not one I have heard. It has challenged me to dig more into the research I have been reading.

    Sar ginen Guåhan


  3. I loved reading about the different stages all co-occuring on Guam. I can see a similar thing going on here in Hawai’i–we have political activists fighting for decolonization–or even just decolonization of a portion of our lands that were the Queen’s personal lands (Ceded) which are, in Hawai’i State law, meant to be for the benefit of Native Hawaiians as one of the five beneficiaries, so at least 20% should be ours. Of course there’s also 100% of Hawai’i should be ours–in the 90s Poka Laenui was an advocate for that model–return to the Kingdom government and allow people of any ethnicity to pledge loyalty to the Kingdom of Hawai’i and be considered citizens with rights–and shades in between. Then there are the language and culture people– revive our culture and language, raise it up to be respected and valued, regardless of political status–we don’t have to wait for sovereignty to reclaim our language and culture. Some of these groups are not Hawaiians, but love Hawaiian culture and language. Some are apolitical, or even anti-decolonization because they are settlers and perhaps afraid of their future status. There are the assimilators– let’s claim power and $ in this American system, buy a house, get an education and a good job–that’s how we can survive and live well–make it within this colonial system. Personally I see value in all of those iterations of modern Hawaiians navigating the colonized world we have inherited and I can honor and respect the motivations. I wonder if this is how the Social Work Code of Ethics plays out in me– looking for strengths in my clients, recognizing and respecting that their choices are made to survive the trauma of colonialism…
    Thank you for sharing your observations on Guam!


  4. Hello Raymond!

    The segment of your post that was very educational to me was this; “I think Guam is also faced with a plague of self victimization. There is a lot of pointing fingers of the US military taking our lands and creating firing ranges. Although it seems like a negative dilemma, I have personally seen the positives to this as a environmental researcher. Ive seen endangered turtle population and other eco systems surviving because of the protection of the operations.” It was educational to me in a sense that I am on the side that sees that situation as a negative dilemma but for your point out the environmental benefits that this can result from is definitely positive. Thank you for pointing that out.

    I also really appreciated your breakdown of Fino Håya and Fino Chamorro.

    All in all your blog was educational for me.

    Until the next blog,
    Aurea 🙂


  5. Raymond, Thanks again for your insights! Colonization is such a tricky thing. There is no way to not be influenced by the colonizer, positive or negatively. As indigenous people, we also evolve and grow. We are not static people that live in the past, but rather capable people who honor past and live in the present and think about our future. The same goes for social work practice. Through the colonizer lens, social work is a western concept. However, indigenous people can also define what social work means for them and it too can evolve.


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