Guam History and Culture
|Tumon Bay Sunset over the Philippine Sea.|
The island of Guam is the farthest Western patch of the United States in the Western Pacific. Guam’s unique culture derived from it’s original native inhabitants, the Chamorros, who were on Guam as early as 2,000 B.C. The proud Chamorro culture has survived and flourished to the present day and has been influenced and enriched over the centuries by the countless Pacific Islanders, Asians, Europeans, Mexicans and North American peoples who have visited, occupied, and immigrated to Guam, and who have contributed to make Guam the truly cosmopolitan community it is today.
The Ancient Chammoro
|Ancient Chamorros build a latte stone dwelling or lodge foundation stones. Painting, “The Beginning”, by David Sablan. Read More.|
The original inhabitants of Guam are believed to have been of Indo-Malaya descent originating from Southeast Asia as early as 2,000 B.C., and having linguistic and cultural similarities to Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. The Chamorro flourished as an advanced fishing, horticultural, and hunting society. They were expert seamen and skilled craftsmen familiar with intricate weaving and detailed pottery making who built unique houses and canoes suited to this region of the world. The Chamorro possessed a strong matriarchal society and it was through the power and prestige of the women, and the failure of the Spanish overlords to recognize this fact, that much of the Chamorro culture, including the language, music, dance, and traditions have survived to this day.
Latte Stones are the stone pillars of ancient Chamorro houses. Found nowhere else in the world, the Latte Stone has become a symbol and the signature, of Guam and the Marianas Islands.
Original Latte Stones were comprised of two pieces, a supporting column (halagi), made from coral limestone topped with a capstone (tasa), made from coral heads, which were usually carried several miles from the quarry site or reef to the location of the house. Customarily, bones of the ancient Chamorro’s, their possessions, such as jewelry or canoes, were buried below the stones. Latte Stones are respected and are untouched. A human interloper at Latte sites may encounter Taotaomona, or ancestral Chamorro spirits.
|Latte Stone Park, Hatagna, Guam|
Archaeological milestones of ancient Guam are tied to the Latte Stones as: Transitional Pre-Latte (AD 1 to AD 1000), the larger Latte Period (AD 1000 to AD 1521), and Early Historic Period (AD 1521 to 1700). The eight Latte Stones shown here can be seen in Hagatna’s Latte Stone Park where they were transferred from their original location in Me’pu in Guam’s Southern interior. Today, many Latte sites can be found in Northern Guam and replicas and images of Latte Stones can also be seen all around the Marianas, such as the “Welcome to Guam” monument at the International Airport , carvings, jewelry, in print or the logo at the top of this paragraph. Read more about Latte Stones at the Official Government of Guam WEB site and Science Frontiers.Com.